This site was developed to support the Government 2.0 Taskforce, which operated from June to December 2009. The Government responded to the Government 2.0 Taskforce's report on 3 May 2010. As such, comments are now closed but you are encouraged to continue the conversation at

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.

Author Comments

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.

3 Responses
  1. 2010 April 7
    Madeleine Kingston permalink

    Whilst I have made several recent postings as Gov2 blogs demonstrating a willingness and interest in such engagement, I have not had time to look backwards to develop a robust understanding of the parameters discussed above of decommissioning, transition and sustainability.

    Being inexperienced at blogging, whilst willing to share ideas and maintain engagement, I could do with much more guidance as to the most effective way of using the space provided under the right headings, and how continuity of a theme may be achieved. I have ended to return to an original posting even if the heading is not ideal.

    If developing a theme that may lead to other considerations, I am unclear where to look to identify the correct topic space to make the posting and how to continue the thread.

    It is my view that more guidance to users, especially novice bloggers like myself may recruit wider engagement if that is indeed what is sought.

    I would like to hear much more about sustainability goals, especially with regard to how or even whether material will be utilized by government in cases where blogs go further than complementing the Taskforce on this initiative and head towards making practical suggestions or other observations as to

    The quality of engagement perceived by citizen or other stakeholders is an important factor, and of course the case at some stage for two-way engagement may be valued by all participants if developed in a structured way that will lead to real life (i.e. non-virtual) outcomes.

    It is not yet clear to me whether inputs are being regarded as material useful to evaluation of general outcomes associated with online efforts to achieve enhanced community engagement, or whether the Taskforce goals are to seek concrete suggestions and proposals from the community as to how real-life governance and service delivery may be achievable.

    For those whose lives or career paths have been centered on digital, social and emerging technologies, information management and cyber communication strategies little direction may be needed.

    For mere mortals like myself, more practical guidance on the most effective use of this valuable facility would be invaluable as well as answers to the ongoing intent of the scheme regarding sustainability of engagement and the use that it will be put to beyond the developmental stages.

    Rodger Hills as the author of The Consensus Artifact: 2007 Astro Projects Sydney discusses eloquently the principles of political governance like social justice, sustainability, human rights, participatory democracy, alternative monetary systems, limits on corporate power, cutting out political corruption, and holding governments accountable for their policies and actions.

    These principles appeal to my personal ideals especially as the material is presented in the context of how an ideally designed constitution may work to achieve collaborative democracy through the best use of citizen engagement.

    If any of these long-term goals are on the radar of the Taskforce, and if there is a genuine desire to create a new means of dialogue with this nation’s constituents, keep me posted.

    And bear with me also as I find out how best to capitalize on what I hope will prove to be a sustainable communication strategy grounded in a plan to secure effective community engagement.

    I must confess these brief blogs are a welcome relief from the strenuous demands of formal consultative processes in the policy debate. Never have I experienced such consultation fatigue as in the last few months. The stamina required to keep up is grossly under-estimated and that is saying quite something coming from the likes of me.

    Individual Stakeholder

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