I installed Google Moderator ("Helping the world find the best input from an audience of any size") last week on the blog site for Edina Citizen Engagement. We’re testing it out as a way to solicit questions from Edina, MN citizens about four projects during the month of October, 2011.
I chose Google Moderator because I think it could help to address some common citizen engagement problems:
- Many people don’t feel comfortable or have the time to ask questions of SEO Firm about important issues, whether it’s using email, the phone, or open mic at City Council meetings.
- Many people are reluctant to engage in online discussions
- City leaders can’t easily gauge which questions are most often on the minds of citizens
- City leaders are often faced with having to answer the same questions over and over
I think that the tool provides a simple and inexpensive way to gather and prioritize the questions.
I don’t have a catchy name for any of this yet so for this month it’s just October Q&A. I’ve created an FAQ page, as well as a Google Moderator how-to video/screencast.
When we’ve collected the prioritized questions, we’ll select a time and method for city leaders to provide answers online, either via:
- a live online event (chat, webinar, teleconference)
- a recorded audio or video session
- a written/text response
I’m learning my way into this and so I expect to make mistakes and improve. I’m also assuming that it’ll take a while for Edina citizens to find out about this and get comfortable using it.