Regional web based discussion forum regulation effects

Open discussion forum of Vysocina Regional authority was established on regional web portal and it was quite popular communication channel from public side to regional politicians and officials. Usual month attendance was more than 500 sessions and 10 new contributions to many regional issues. After 3 years of random, voluntary and little bit chaotic system of responses to public questions from regional authority and politicians the communication department made written internal rules of response system and more than 5 years was public forum regularly maintained by regional authority (typical response within 3 days to new topic or question).



Main goal

Change in mechanism of regional web based forum usage. Moderated discussion.

In year 2010 started in web forum new discussion topics series concerning public tenders and investment actions made by Region Road Maintenance Company. After several personal changes in management of this organizations established by the region, the discussions changed to attack new organization management and regional politicians. Some of topics were behind legal limits and were hidden and archived by editorial board decision what was publically announced. This process has provoked some of anonymous users of forum and nearly all discussion turned to be impertinent, personal and some illegal. As a result of external financial and process controls in Region Road Maintenance Company CEO of Regional Authority give criminal notice to state police on unknown criminal offender because of suspicion of financial machination. As part of set of proofs state police asked RA to provide web discussion forum archive of all topics and contributions including end user public IP address. After internal discussion of editorial board was all forum cleared and turned to be moderated. After this change there are no new topics published from public for more than 3 months. This status of web forum was widely discussed by political opposition on Regional Assembly meetings and is turning to be one of upcoming regional election public topics.

Lessons learned

Public, open, regional web based discussion forum which enables to internet users publish in anonymous way their opinions to regional topics is in long term indefensible from personal and impertinent attacks. Its moderation leads to end of open discussions and forum usage. Same lessons were learned on municipal level in last years in Vysocina region.

Only possible solutions is organized discussion based for example on social networks and sophisticated systems such as Valma model or “Vas nazor”.

Recommendations

  • Clearly give public forum rules before its start.
  • Publish and moderate topics of discussion.
  • Archive all trials of forum penetration.
  • Engage all public authority officers in forum operation.
  • Establish regular editorial board responsible for forum maintenance.
  • Involve your official spokesman in editorial board

http://www.kr-vysocina.cz/diskuze
http://www.vas-nazor.cz/

 

Location

Vysocina, Czech Republic

Author

Petr Pavlinec (Vysocina Region)

Info

pavlinec.p@kr-vysocina.cz

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