This is how it can be done

by Dave on January 29, 2009

in E-Democracy

After all my moaning of recent times, a good news story. Lincoln City Council have released a site called Community Voice which links to all their ongoing consultations, with an RSS feed to keep up to date with new ones and comments so that people can have conversations about them.


What’s more, they have done it by simply creating a blog on the free service.


This demonstrates to all the other authorities that I have been raging about recently that it can be done, the simple stuff an be got right, and it doesn’t have to cost much – or even anything. Apart from a bit of imagination, I guess… I hope that this site is promoted well by the Council so that residents are aware of how they can use it to engage with their local authority.

Just goes to show, all the best things come out of Lincolnshire…

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Community Voice « StudioAB
January 30, 2009 at 10:17 am

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Andrew Beeken January 29, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Thanks for the props, Dave! :)

2 Stuart Harrison January 29, 2009 at 5:06 pm

I’ve been sweating over putting together a bespoke consultation system over the last few weeks, and this just goes to show that simple can sometimes be better! I’m spitting feathers! Great stuff

3 Shane McCracken January 30, 2009 at 9:30 am

I’m really glad to see Andrew and the City of Lincoln using Wordpress to run the site and it is a great step forward.


that’s just the technology. The bigger step will be make the consultations engaging and deliberative, to make them interesting, to let people know what effect filling in a questionnaire will have…

4 Dave January 30, 2009 at 9:31 am

Small steps, Shane, small steps…

5 Andrew Beeken January 30, 2009 at 9:55 am

I think the first thing for us is giving people a platform that they can use for communication to both ourselves and between themselves (too many selves!), to see what kind of takeup we get. It’s early days yet but we’ll be promoting this and I hope to see some conversations running on it soon.

Dave, I’m writing up a blog post regarding this divulging some of the thoughts behind the project; do you have a problem if I pop a link in the comments of this post once it’s done?

6 Shane McCracken January 30, 2009 at 10:32 am


I appreciate that and Dave is right about taking small steps. I’m just cautious because those of us who are heavy users of social media can get carried away with the technology and forget to look over our shoulders to make sure the rest of the world are with us.

One of the things that Steve Clift from recommends is that you don’t launch a discussion site until you’ve done the offline recruitment first. If you want to generate conversations you don’t want an empty space. You need a critical mass of participants.

I don’t want to put people off experimenting. It’s vital. But so are the more boring parts such as offline recruitment.

7 Andrew Beeken January 30, 2009 at 11:46 am


Thanks for the concern; this isn’t solely my project, however. It’s being driven by Policy who will ultimately take the reins and they are planning to do a number of workshops both internally and externally to promote the use of the site as a discussion area. Communications will also be backing promotion through the local media.

I’ll certainly be keeping all up to date via Twitter and my blog, so I’m hoping it’s not a tremendous disaster!

8 Shane McCracken January 30, 2009 at 11:53 am


It won’t be a disaster. That’s the beauty of doing what you have done. You’ve nothing to lose. Disaster isn’t an option.

9 Andrew Beeken January 30, 2009 at 12:48 pm


“Disaster is not an option!” I think I’ll take that to use for the future! :D

Seriously, though, probably disaster was a strong word. Failure or disappointment; those are better suited.

10 Harry Harrold January 30, 2009 at 4:38 pm

@Andrew – but the beauty of this approach – small experiment, low investment – means if it doesn’t work you haven’t lost much. You’ll learn and iterate – and we’ll learn from you.


I’ll be looking forward to seeing… How easy it is to keep up with the conversations on that site – rss of comments? Wordle of all comment text? What sort of people take part – digital divide and technocracy issues? How do the consulators show they’re listening – just add a comment?

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