Active Citizens Take Action

Welcome to on-line discussion board of the Active Citizens Take Action project aiming to bring together citizens active in youth and Internet non–governmental organizations across Europe to discuss topics of Internet privacy and On-line forums as democratic tool. Results from facilitated on-line discussions will be summarized in facilitators report presenting key messages and main proposals from participants. Reports will be delivered to decision-makers at the European and national level by partner organizations asking them to provide official feedback. Feedbacks received from decision-makers will published in this discussion board.

* Internet privacy
* On-line forums as democratic tool?

Bojana Skrt, ACTA project manager
Simon Delakorda, ACTA on-line discussion facilitator

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Discussion: On-line forums as democratic tool?

Posted by on in ACTA online discussions
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On-line-forumsource: socialmediawatch.netOn-line forums are defined as e-democracy technique for promoting new spaces of deliberation by enabling citizens to exchange and share respective political opinions among themselves. Main goal of this on-line tool is to enhance the process of citizen’s opinion formation through their deliberative engagement. On-line forums can also support e-consultations during decision-making by providing the general public, experts and interest groups with developments in a policy field and invite them to respond (Trechsel et al 2003).

Today, on-line forums acting as democratic space are facing many challenges such as:
1. not much conversation among participants (dialogue issue)
2. absence of rational-critical discourse in cyberspace (deliberation issue)
3. abundance of alternative internet communication tools (information overload issue)
4. difficulties with assessing democratic impact (slacktivism issue)

On the other hand on-line forum are still regarded as a powerful e-democracy tool to support participation in public life, strengthen communities and democracy by enabling:
5. inclusive engagement and active citizenship
6. open and transparent government
7. promoting and advancing political democratization
8. technical simplicity and accessibility

This discussion is aiming to build upon existing practice by identifying both positive and negative experiences of using internet forums for democratic participation by young people as well to propose decision-makers (politicians & government) how they should include internet forum into democratic decision-making.

Thus, the discussion starting questions are:
1. Which aspects of internet forum are motivating you to use them as democratic tool and which aspects are discouraging you?
2. How would you like to see internet forums as a democratic tool in the future?
3. If you were a decision-maker, in which way would you use internet forum as democratic tool?

Time frame: Discussion will end on 17th of February 2013. The summary results of discussion will be submitted to decision makers as well presented at the ACTA conference in Maribor (Slovenia) in March 2013.

Privacy statement: No e-mail registration is need to participate (unless you would like to receive updates about new contributions). Contributions can be posted by either a real name or anonymously. No personal data will be included into discussion report provided by facilitator.

Discussion rules: please follow generally accepted rules for on-line discussions provided by For more information please contact facilitator  Ta e-poštni naslov je zaščiten proti smetenju. Če ga želite videti, omogočite Javascript. .

Looking forward to an active and fruitful discussion.

Simon Delakorda, M. Sc., forum manager
founding director of the Institute for Electronic Participation, member f the Slovenian Political Science Association and CEE CN eParticipation experts group

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  • Tvrtko
    Tvrtko Nedelja, 27 Januar 2013

    While I do believe the internet holds great potential for such discussion due to its wide reach I must say I consider the forum to be the wrong way to go about it.

    An ACTA organized lecture by Filip Muki Dobranic crystallized for me the concept that communicating over the internet is like constantly struggling to be heard in a room full of people suffering from ADD.
    What I mean by this is that unlike a traditional discussion, every participant is just one click away from thousands of potentially more interesting pages. In such an environment the medium of communication has to be a lot more appealing than a traditional forum.

    Furthermore, any complex discussion by its very nature usually separates into a number of sub-topics which is something that a traditional forum does not handle in a natural fashion. Heavy moderation is required to prevent the buildup of threads that simultaneously discuss different issues. Such threads, due to their size and confusing structure, are rather unappealing to new members who want to join in the discussion.

    For these reasons I believe an environment like Reddit is ideal for bolstering communication and keeping people interested.
    The reason for this is twofold, just like Facebook Reddit has more content than just the discussion you are trying to promote, the user will be returning to the site due to a large number of topics that interest him and at that point is much more likely to tune into your discussion again, since he is already in the neighborhood so to speak. Also the "vote up/down" option quickly creates a "best of" hierarchy in every thread making the most appealing information also the most accessible. Secondly, the way that Reddit replies work (each reply creates a mini thread making the whole discussion resemble the branches of a tree) allows for an organic division of sub topics without any need for the moderator to step in constantly.

    Simply put, while I do believe in the "why?" of online communication I also think that the "how?" plays a very important role in the success of such a project. Due to the way the internet is developing I do not believe most people would find forums appealing.

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