Presented at IGF 2015 WS No. 27 Viable application & debate: online participation principles, the development of E-participation Principles started at the 2011 IGF in Nairobi, Kenya, continued at the 2012 IGF in Baku, Azerbaijan, and resulted in a near-final draft at the 2013 IGF in Bali, Indonesia. Using a system of collaborative editing, many people have contributed to the development of these principles.
- E-participation is a set of resources that allows for increased openness and inclusiveness, particularly in global policy processes.
- E-participation platforms should support customisation for local language and context.
- E-participation should be multilingual, moving beyond the current focus on English (e.g. transcripts of main sessions).
- Platforms must be accessible by persons with disabilities.
- Registration for conferences and planning must include information about special needs of remote participants (as is done for in situ participants, for example, those with wheelchairs).
- Adequate testing of tools and installations must take place live before the event.
- Remote participation tools should be integrated with the tools available for all participants; for example, anyone should be able to see who is a session on their laptop/computer screen and to participate in a shared chat around the sessions.
- E-participation channels and online communities should be promoted through IGF publicity.
Equality of participation
- E-participation is not about technology; it is about people. Relational participation that provides a social context is an important part of meetings. Further study should be done to improve the intangible social layers of online participation (i.e. corridor networking, social events, visual participation) and to link the two groups of participants on a social/human level.
- Remote interventions should be presented as unique input, not a joint summary of remote comment.
- E-participants should be able to register for the IGF or other global meetings like anyone else, and should not be made to feel like second-class participants.
- E-participation should facilitate different social media tools and platforms.
- Special efforts should be made to facilitate e-participation of countries, communities, and individuals who have limited access to the Internet.
- E-participation should include networking and interconnecting hub-to-hub as well as hub-to-meetings.
- E-participation should actively seek the inclusion of online presenters and panellists, offering alternatives in technologies and connection possibilities, or asynchronous participation, to foster the inclusion of voices that do not have the resources to attend in situ.
- Time zones of meeting venues and compensating strategies should be considered to make sure they foster effective remote participation.
- Remote presenters should be given equal footing with in situ presenters and panellists.
- Exclusive remote participation coordinator/moderators should be assigned, i.e. those who do not have other jobs at the same time, and are responsible for interactions between the meeting’s physical participants/current speaker, the Chair and the remote participants.
- Equal participation between online and offline participants should be ensured through planning, meeting strategies, appropriate panel organization, and e-participant aware/trained panel moderators.
- Understand that not all in situ participants get a chance to speak. Not all remote participants will be able to speak either.
- Opportunities for remote participation should be clearly advertised in advance of all meetings, with clear guidance for participants on the opportunities that will be available.
- A clear procedure should be established to encourage remote participants to intervene. Such a system is desirable both for those physically present and those observing the meeting remotely.
- The addition of remote participation should not degrade the quality of in situ participation. Systems must protect the integrity of the in situ meeting.
Scale and stability
- Funding mechanisms must be sought for follow-up on remote participation.
- E-participation should be prepared for scale-up in order to facilitate increased e-participation.
- The e-participation process should remain open to new ideas and improvements from participants: e-participation is collaboratively created and should remain flexible and adaptable.
- There should be a clear commitment to problem-solving and troubleshooting.
- There should be the possibility of e-participation in the development of the e-participation process itself.
- A clear and comprehensive guideline for remote participation and its moderation and post-session or meeting reporting for meeting hosts, facilitators, and chairs should be prepared.
- Training is essential for e-participants, onsite panel moderators, and onsite remote moderators.
- E-participation must recognise and address the need for basic digital skills.
- Moderators should be trained to deal with issues of persons with disabilities.
- Capacity building is not just technology-oriented – it must also address moderation and facilitation skills and technical support training for hubs, remote participants, and those provide background support.
- E-participation should foster the creation of inclusive platforms among organisations.
- E-participation should be built using open source software to support innovation, creativity, and inclusiveness.
- Platforms must be accessible by persons with disabilities.
- Interoperability of platforms for special needs must be addressed.
- Multiple platforms and media should be used for remote participation (web conferencing, webcast, chat, Twitter, social media).
- High and low bandwidth options should be available to improve access to e-participation.
- E-participation should include formal and informal channels of participation.
- Technologies for remote participation need to use open standards so that they can be better integrated in one place, or used in different flexible ways (bringing transcript; video; audio; chat; and twitter together) and making remote participation visible on a screen in the room.
- Investigate the possibility of free bridge/access numbers to solve low-bandwidth problems, to include areas that only have mobile coverage.
- Remote participation needs to be integrated into the methods and processes of workshops. Moderators, panellists, and audiences must be prepared to recognise and integrate remote participants into the design and implementation of the workshops.
- Remote participants must use all means at their disposal to make their voices heard, especially when main channels of communication are insufficient. Flexibility of approach and technology must be implemented to overcome challenges. There is an acknowledged risk that this can lead to fragmentation of conversation/confusion about where to go to input - so this needs to be handled carefully.
- There must be a description about the steps of policy-making process and at which step e-participation can be be applied, and how it should be implemented.
- There must be the clear indicators that are used to measure the success of e-participation in policy- making processes.
- There must be clear definition towards what e-participation is, and the types of action that can be categorised as ‘participations’ in policy-making processes.
- Remote participation should be more visible in the workshop rooms with a list of remote participants on screen.
- Ensure that the remote/in situ chat is projected on screen in the workshop, as part of a remote participation screen.
- Information about the event/workshop, such as speakers names and affiliations, should be prepared in advance and made available to remote moderators, so that they can offer important complementary information in the chat box, and reply to basic queries from remote participants.
Guidelines and principles should be disseminated.
- Moderators should consider remote participants as equal participants.
- Each speaker should identify themselves each time they start speaking. Remote/in situ participants cannot always identify the speaker, even if they have already spoken.
- Moderators and participants, as well as speakers, panel members, both in situ and remote should be clearly identified before intervening, and should acknowledge each others’ presence with greetings and references such as ‘everyone in this room’, to include ‘or online’. Statements that address the audience should include all participants (in situ and online).
- Remote participants should be clearly addressed as part of the audience and panel.
- Incident reports from any event should be logged and taken into consideration for next planning purposes. We should not repeat errors from one meeting to the next.
- Include RP points that are addressed in the planning and open consultation process during event strategy sessions.
- Both remote and in situ participants must exercise flexibility and adaptation to physical environments and resources available.
- Remote participants should prepare for their participation, in much the same way that onsite participants do. Onsite participants prepare for journeys, remote participants learn platforms, and prepare recordings and technology to assist them.