Social Government

Should Government Blogs Allow Questions?

It’s great that many federal agencies are actively embracing blogs. These blogs, such as the EPA’s Greenversations and the State Department’s Dipnote have great content and are popular with constituents. However, one issue that is frequently discussed is that many of these blogs do not allow comments.

While both Greenversations and Dipnote do allow comments, there are some other notable blogs, like the White House blog that do not. Why is that?

Take a look at an excerpt of Dipnote’s blog commenting policy for a potential hint:

Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other nongovernmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this blog. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of U.S. Department of State, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization.

Greenversations also has important information in their commenting policy:

However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will generally occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible the next business day.

So it appears that the commenting issue can be narrowed to two issues: concerns about third party postings on a government Web server and strict comment moderation policies to ensure that these third party postings are approrpriate.

Looking at the bigger issue, many agencies cannot afford to dedicate someone to moderate comments, especially for a high-profile blog like that of the White House that would presumably receive lots of comments.

This is an unfortunate reality. A blog that does not allow for commenting is really a press release for the agency. Government is supposed to be inclusive of its constitutents, yet these “blogs” merely try to mimic press releases in an informal setting that is more easier for constituents to read.

So, on that note, I will now list a selection of government blogs which do not allow comments, in addition to the White House blog. Please use the comments section of this post to add any more I leave out.

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  • caheidelberger

    I’m all about comments. They can draw a lot of buffoonery and require a lot of moderation, but the effort is worth it.

    Nonetheless, I can sympathize with a U.S. Marines website that doesn’t take comments. A drill sergeant only needs to hear one comment: “Sir yes sir!!!” Public participation is great, but not for every agency.

  • BloggerDude

    I don’t know If I said it already but …Excellent site, keep up the good work. I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, :)

    A definite great read….

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  • Mason Bolton

    Simply put – YES they should allow questions – and they should allow comments too. When it comes to our government – technology should facilitate transparency between the people and the government – in a government of the people, for the people and BY the people. We can’t govern if kept in the dark. We should comment blogs to make our opinions known, and the government should read and RESPOND to our comments – as well as make comments of their own.
    Just my two cents…