Project 19: Online Engagement Review
Collabforge undertook a review of the effectiveness of the online engagement practices, techniques and tools used by the taskforce and recommended that they had lead to the establishment of a unique online community and recommended that a Government 2.0 community of practice be established to allow discussion to continue.
Collabforge was given the opportunity to review the Taskforce’s online activities based on publicly available metrics collected across a variety of engagement spaces between 22 June & 7 December 2009. Personal interviews with members of the Taskforce, Secretariat and International Reference Group yielded candid behind-the-scenes insights, while public participants provided rich feedback for this project via the blog.
Each engagement space was evaluated and ranked according to quality & quantity of contribution, community management, quality of outcome and meeting the Taskforce’s ‘terms of reference’. The Taskforce blog received 4.5/5 stars for it’s consistently high quality of posts and commentary; the IdeaScale site received 3/5 stars for a good effort but would have benefited from participation guidelines; the Twitter account received 2/5 stars for its limited use (where was the backchannel at the roadshow events?); Mashup Australia received 4/5 stars for its high quality of outputs (although vote gaming could have been addressed head on); and the Facebook fan page received 1/5 stars for not doing enough to reach out to the wider community.
The Collabforge review makes a number of recommendations about how to manage the conclusion of Taskforce activities. The first response must be to protect the legacy of the outputs generated by undertaking an audit of the blog, IdeaScale and Mashup Australia sites (test & fix all broken links, untagged posts etc). In parallel with the audit activities, the various assets of the Taskforce blog, IdeaScale, Mashup contest, as well as Twitter and Facebook groups must be archived and indexed for future reference purposes.
As the Taskforce nears its completion, in the experience of Collabforge the primary consideration will be how the online community is handled during this final phase. It is all too easy to consider the Taskforce engagement spaces in terms of just information residing on web servers. While this is true, when it comes to online community engagement, it is imperative to remember this information represents time and energy invested by those who are essentially unpaid passionate members of the public. This equates to an investment made not only in the ideas developed, but in the relationships that have formed.
In the final section of the review Collabforge outlines its approach to community life-cycle management, and suggests a number of pathways the Taskforce could take to manage and leverage the small but committed online community (comprised of Taskforce members, public servants, web consultants and interested members of the public) during and beyond the inquiry’s conclusion, and links these activities to broader questions of public sector reform & innovation.
This is a summary of Collabforge’s recommended pathways for future development:
- Decommission: A communications strategy for managing the online community’s relationships and expectations, in addition to legacy issues surrounding the state in which established Taskforce engagement spaces are left.
- Transition: Establishing a Government 2.0 Community of Practice to maintain community cohesion during transition from formal Taskforce activities to Government adoption of any recommendations.
- Sustainability: Include in the Taskforce report recommendations for a Whole of Australian Government (WoAG) Community of Practice dedicated to implementing Government 2.0 within a secure environment accessible to WoAG staff, as well as a linked, open access engagement space aimed at facilitating greater public online engagement.
The Collabforge review is available for download here in PDF & Word formats, and we hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it!
Please fire away in the comments with your thoughts and reflections.