[spacer height=”20px”] Offline indicates that the consultation is being undertaken via public meetings or a phone-based consultation, and the platform helps you to create text explaining how to participate We’ve been doing work here recently on online consultation survey architectures with regards to required questions. It’s more fun than it sounds, honest. For one, it’s thrown up some bigger questions that got me thinking about the nature of consultation as a whole.

In online surveys, required questions are generally seen as ones that the end user has to fill out in order to complete their submission. Have too many of them and you kill your response rate, too few and you can risk getting more junk data than you’d care for.

The work we’ve been doing though is about required questions in terms of questions that have to be in a survey. If you want your survey tool to link automatically into other systems, then you’ll need at least one information field that the other systems know they can look for and be sure to find in each survey response. So, such questions have to be in that survey from a technical point of view.

But that got me thinking. What if we had questions that had to be in all surveys, regardless of whether they were online, postal, face to face or telephone? What if there were questions that were required to be asked in all consultations by law? Sure, we have consultations and questions within them that have to be asked on a regular basis by law at the moment (e.g. the Place Survey), but what if we went further than that?

Here’s an example. I had an idea for something I’d like to see be done in Bristol city centre last weekend, and was going to submit it to the It’s My Bristol e-Participatory Budgeting site we’re running for the Bristol Partnership at the moment. The thing was, the more I thought about it, the more I thought of ways in which people in authority might be able to object to it, health and safety grounds, litter, etc.

So I got to wondering if anywhere else had implemented my idea before, but again I couldn’t immediately find something on google. So, if my idea was to be taken forward, more research would be needed on it. I haven’t the time and resources to do that for an idea that might go nowhere anyway.

But then I thought why should I? I’m the citizen, the person who knows how I would like my city to be, the ideas guy if you will. If other people are to object to what is a relatively simple idea, then surely the onus is on them to do the research into it.

Then it struck me. How many great ideas get submitted as part of consultations every week that never get implemented, because at some stage along the line after it’s been submitted, someone thinks “ooh, I don’t know about that, sounds like it might be tric