NZ Police/Government:The case of the disappearing wiki

EDIT: I had a very nice voicemail from NZ Police Superintendent Hamish McCardle, the officer in charge of developing the new act – he wanted to let us know that they agree about transparency and that today the wiki is back up as a Document of Record. He also mentioned that they got a huge…

EDIT: I had a very nice voicemail from NZ Police Superintendent Hamish McCardle, the officer in charge of developing the new act – he wanted to let us know that they agree about transparency and that today the wiki is back up as a Document of Record. He also mentioned that they got a huge amount of press coverage overseas including the BBC.

The Sydney Morning Herald asked me about a New Zealand Wiki that had emerged out of the New Zealand Police Department. I (of course) pretended I was completely up to speed on it all, while madly Googling to try to find the site. It’s called PoliceAct wiki. Any way I went there yesterday, and it’s been shutdown. A few people have emailed me asking why. Simple answer? I don’t know. But I had a look at their project plan:

January-August 2007: Phase Two Consultation

  • Generate a summary of responses received on all issues papers
  • Develop a discussion document for public consultation on Policing Directions in New Zealand for the 21st Century
  • Cabinet approval for the release of the document
  • Discussion paper available for review and response over a two-month period

August-December 2007: Phase Three Consultation

  • Progressively complete analysis of submissions on consultation document
  • Policy development work on issues for new Policing Bill
  • Obtain Cabinet approvals for policy content of Policing Bill
  • Issue drafting instructions to Parliamentary Counsel
  • Disseminate exposure draft of proposed new Policing Bill
  • Opportunity to refine the proposed new Policing Bill based on initial feedback
  • Policing Bill introduced to Parliament

It would’ve been nicer of them to simply lock the wiki, yet leave it in situ, no? Remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs appropos social networks: when we talk about sustainability, it’s not just identity but also content.

I don’t want to come to my favourite social network site that I spend hours a day on, and find my threads, my friends list, my discussions, my old forum threads and my photos deleted, any more than I want to find my profile deleted. It’s just plain rude – the host provides the platform, the member provides the content, neither should take the other for granted. Plus, I’m less likely to come back and contribute next time if you delete my hard work, discussions, profound thoughts and quirky gossip. This is on the site:

Even Wikis need a break.

The response so far has been better than expected and the Police Act Review Team would like to take some time to collate the submissions and suggestions made thus far. Thanks to all contributors.

There will be trouble if members suspect the Police are removing the wiki because, once the legislation is tabled or whatever it is you do to legislation, it’s not possible to doublecheck how much of the voters’ contributions are actually in the bloomin’ thing. But maybe some scriptkiddies got in and just ran a bot to link to a shock site over and over again. Who knows? Not me.

About that Sydney Morning Herald article: please let me clarify this line:

But Ms Papworth said Australian governments had recently opened up to the public more through the use of online technology, such as forums and blogs.

But she was not aware of the use of wikis to invite public contribution to legislation.

What I actually wrote was about a handful of government wikis that I found (Socialtext ones I think): National Library of Australia’s wiki
NSW Department of Education and Training, I think this is on the educationau site
Roads and Traffic Authority (NSW, Australia)
Queensland Office of Gaming Regulation
Treasury Corporation of Victoria

and then a bunch about the new Australian Government Consultation Blog:

“My Opinion?
The approach the Australian Government is taking is different than New Zealand. Instead of having every Government Department eventually deploy their own blog, wiki, forum, chat room, this Australian Government Consultation Blog project seems to be seeking to centralise the discussion. We won’t have to go to the Police Department page to find a way of inserting ourselves in the dicussion on the wording of a New Act for Parliament. We won’t have to hunt down Frank Connolly’s excellent Victorian Public Sector Continuous Improvement Network blog (sponsored by Christine Nixon, Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police) to participate in CI. It will be co-ordinated from one community host, as part of an overall strategy of collating, disseminating and collaborating on government activity and discussion.

This is a great opportunity for the Australian Government to deal directly with the Australian people and it will mean bypassing traditional media such as newspapers. So that if the Government has had limited ability to voice their point of view in debates in the press, this strategy will challenge the typical Government submits a press release and the Press may publish what they want the Public to know. This blog brings the conversation directly between Government and Voter.

Finally, if a Government was to resist entering into online communities they also risk becoming locked out of discussions by major Influencers. If the people we listen to and who guide us on major issues are NOT politicians and if they are running communities of their own, politicians may find out they cannot enter into the discussion ( e.g. the debate where a senator’s comments on broadband were deleted by the moderators as “self-serving”, three times). When it comes time to canvass the Public, the Public will be already online articulating their concerns and issues – only not into a forum the politicians can engage with. That must surely be avoided at all costs? ”

I thought the journalist Arjun, did a good job of summarising my meanderings, but a 3 or 4 of you have emailed me now, querying the implication that the Australian Government isn’t doing anything, community wise. Which means a few more of you are scratching your heads too. 🙂 But now you can see that the government is doing stuff, just not strictly consultative legislation right now. Or am I wrong? Please let me know of any Australian Government 2.0 legislation wiki sites you find?

If you are interested in Government 2.0, why not keep an eye on Metagovernment? I’ll be interested to see how they swarm down into local/geographic subgroups while keeping the integrity of the whole. Those of you in the WebDirections “how to maintain social networks“workshop last week will remember me talking about communities “forking” around a debate and creating a copycat community that meets their local needs. The very concept of metagovernment will pull that issue to the forefront of the community discussions, methinks.

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