Commenting on public documents

I was impressed by the Writetoreply.org idea to post the Digital Britain interim report on a Comment-Press installation to allow people to comment on it. You can read some of the background to the project from Tony Hirst, who flagged this up on the BBC Backstage list. It really ticks a lot of public service boxes for me, and I think this is something that journalism oganisations could and should do. Hats off to Joss Winn for putting this together.

This is just the latest example of posting public documents for public comment. Gavin Bell did this with the European Constitution, and the Free Software Foundation hosted an amazing project that allowed people to comment on the GNU General Public Licence version 3. A heatmap showed down to the word level the parts of the document that were generating the most comment, and it had a very intuitive interface.

Out of the GPL project grew a service called Co-ment. I was able to grab a copy of the report, convert it to RTF and upload it. The basic level of service only allows 20 people to comment on it, and this is just my cut-and-paste coding proof of concept. If you’d like to comment, drop me an e-mail, and I’ll add you to the list, bearing in mind that I only have 20 slots available. But the public service journo-geek in me loves stuff like this.

Have a play. I’d like to see how this works. It’s already got a lot of ideas flowing.

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