September 6, 2006 9:38 AM PDT

British minister suspends wiki experiment

British government minister David Miliband has vowed to continue experimenting with online engagement after his department's first move into wiki-policy ended in disarray.

Miliband, secretary of state for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), had hoped that the creation of a wiki devoted to the idea of environmental contracts would generate useful debate.

However, postings to the wiki are currently suspended. Miliband has blamed this on "some problems with accidental or malicious editing or removal of material."

According to reports, some of the posts were arguing against the concept of environmental contracts--which would outline an individual's responsibilities to the environment. Other posters expressed concern that they were paying more in taxes while seeing few improvements.

Some were more lighthearted, and included changing "Who are the parties to the environmental contract?" to "Where is the party for the environmental contract? Can I come? Will there be cake? Hooray!"

In a posting on Miliband's blog, he said that his department had "demonstrated the extreme openness of the wiki by playing host to some practical jokes plus a swastika. Strange how some people get their kicks. But the experiment will continue."

All contributions appear to have now been removed from the wiki, which is also locked to prevent editing.

It appears that the DEFRA wiki attracted more interest after it was featured on the popular Order Order blog by "Guido Fawkes."

Fawkes is unimpressed that the DEFRA wiki is now locked.

"Nobody was interested in his bloody wiki for weeks. Guido generously publicised the wiki and the claim that it welcomed 'new viewpoints,' even going to the trouble of making his own polite and reasoned contribution, as did a few fellow co-conspirators," wrote Fawkes on his blog, claiming that Miliband had "thrown all his toys out of the sandpit."

Miliband, though, says that he hasn't been put off from using online collaboration techniques in the future. "I look forward to more good ideas in the coming days and weeks. Who says consultation has to be formulaic and boring?"

Graeme Wearden of ZDNet UK reported from London.

See more CNET content tagged:
Wiki, online collaboration, contract, experiment, blog

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Newsflash: governments everywhere!
People don't like you, especially the more bureaucratic you are. You expect people to do your job for you (aka provide new points of view)? What's your staff for? Stop wasting people's tax money collecting online comments just so that you can do what you were going to do anyways.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
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