One of the ongoing challenges for anyone involved in online public engagement is determining which comments on an online platform warrant a response, and which ones… well, don’t, for whatever reason. Especially when we’re personally attached to our project, we sometimes don’t want to let anything go un-commented, even when dealing with a something that your rational brain might say you should just ignore.
The Australian province of Victoria posted this flow chart that I think summarizes pretty nicely the types of comments you are likely to get through any types of open-ended response platform, and how a public representative should most appropriately respond. I think it’s a useful framework for online engagement, and probably also beneficial to keep in mind during in-person public meetings (admittedly, ignoring the goat-getting kind of comments is a little harder there).
Of course, my own belief is that if you can, you should limit these kinds of free-for-all feedback opportunities, and instead use targeted methods focused on specific issues or projects. You’ll get much more constructive and useful feedback that way, and open yourself up less to Santa Claus wish lists and frustrated expectations. But ragers, factual errors, agree-ers and others can show up in any open comment field, and it’s best to react based on a logical scenario like this, rather than letting your emotions take the lead.
What do you think? Do you think this covers all of the possibilities? Would you choose a different response? Is there anything in here that is culture-specific — perhaps a different response would be more appropriate if you aren’t in Australia?