Useful framework for Public Engagement responses from the Victoria Department of Justice

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?

One thought on “Useful framework for Public Engagement responses from the Victoria Department of Justice”

  1. Looks like a slightly extended version of the process the U.S. Air Force follows or used to follow with their “blog assessment” (see chart at bottom):

    It’s a useful model. The key is to know where to draw the lines. I’ve seen comments that were 95% unpleasant (the troll, rager, non-factual kind) but still — applying just a little empathy — contained a valid question or concern that would have been well worth for the public engagement project to address rather than ignore, especially since it would have given them an easy opportunity to highlight the overall good work they were doing.

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