Engaging politicians with citizens on social networking sites: the WeGov Toolbox

Wandhöfer, Timo; Taylor, Steve; Alanis, Harith; Zoshi, Somya; Sizov, Sergej; Walland, Paul; Thamm, Mark; Bleier, Arnim and Mutschke, Peter (2012). Engaging politicians with citizens on social networking sites: the WeGov Toolbox. International Journal of Electronic Government Research (IJEGR), 8(3) pp. 22–32.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4018/jegr.2012070102


This paper suggests that governmental policy makers can use social networking sites to better engage with citizens. On the one hand social networking sites are well accepted by citizens and a familiar environment where discussions are already taking place and on the other hand social networking sites are becoming also more and more important for politicians. There is thus a need for information retrieval (the policy maker gathering information), dissemination (the policy maker broadcasting information) and two-way dialog between the policy maker and citizens over these platforms. The idea is to connect both the policy makers and the citizens. In fact social media is a mass medium and it can be difficult to sieve through multitudes of comments to get to the crux of a debate. Our approach to address this is to use automatic analysis components to summarise and categorizing huge text. To be able to place successful tools that can be used in the policy maker’s everyday life the engagement of policy makers within the design process is very important. This paper describes the phase of combining the policy makers’ requirements with the technical feasibility to develop a software prototype, where the analysis tools can be validated within the domain of policy makers and policymaking. This paper sets up the environment for evaluating this approach and to address the question of usefulness with respect to a dialogue with citizens.

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