‘Activate Wichita’ illustrates city approach to citizen involvement

A City of Wichita outreach system is lightly used, and risks gathering only positive feedback.

Activate Wichita is touted by Wichita city officials as an “online conversation about the future of the Greater Wichita metropolitan area.”

Described on its companion Facebook page as “Activate Wichita is an innovative new way to be heard on the issues your passionate about. Whether your passion is local arts, the environment, or employment creation, you can log on and voice your opinion and local leaders will respond. Together communities come up with solutions and vote on the best course.”

For a system designed to be an interactive conversation, there aren’t many people talking. And maybe I didn’t look diligently enough, but I didn’t see local leaders responding. (Sometimes ideas were marked as “referred to appropriate party.”)

Here’s a real problem: When citizens are asked to rate ideas, to express their approval or — well, that’s the problem. Your choices for voting on an idea are:

  • I Love It!
  • I Like It.
  • It’s OK.
  • Neutral.
Activate Wichita feedback possibilities.
Activate Wichita feedback possibilities.

That’s it. There’s no voting option for expressing disagreement or disapproval with an idea. “Neutral” is as much dissent as Wichitans are allowed to express in this system.

On this system that city leaders say they rely on for gathering citizen input, there needs to be a voting selection that expresses disagreement or disapproval with an idea. Otherwise when votes are tallied, the worst that any idea can be is “neutral.”

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