David All points to a new website from the Republican National Committee (RNC), GOPPlatform2008.com, which seeks input from Republicans in developing the GOP platform.  Following is the intro paragraph announcing the site:

Welcome to the most grassroots-driven platform development effort in the history of American politics!

The Republican Party is seeking your input as we develop the policies and principles upon which we should stand for the next four years. On this website, you can share your thoughts, participate in polls, and communicate directly with the policymakers who will be shaping the party’s agenda. All comments and feedback will be reviewed and taken into full consideration as we prepare for our convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

We hope that this process will guarantee the greatest amount of public input into any platform in American history!

Based on those words, I hoped to see something truly powerful and transparent like Dell IdeaStorm or MyStarbucks Idea, which are truly open platforms where users can submit, vote on and discuss ideas on how the respective companies can better serve their customers.  Both Dell and Starbucks have given customers tools they can use to actually organize against the companies if they choose.

The GOP Platform website is much more limited than the Dell and Starbucks tools.  Users can submit and browse ideas, but there is no way to promote an idea or to really have a discussion around it.  Also, according to David, the RNC appears to be reviewing ideas before making them viewable to the public.  So basically all you can do it submit an idea and review the ideas of others that have been vetted by the RNC.  So controls have been put in place to prevent things from getting out of hand.

My issue here is really with the packaging.  Like the DNC’s McCainpedia, GOP Platform promises one thing and delivers another.  It is sort of lame to hype something with the vague promise of openness and then neuter it so that the grassroots can’t truly share their thoughts in an open way.  If you don’t want to be truly transparent, don’t launch tools that hint that you are.  It is disingenuous.

To me GOP Platform seems like an effort to replicate the magic of the truly open My.BarackObama.com, while removing the risk of something like the FISA uprising happening.  You can’t have it both ways.

Update: The RNC wrote to David All regarding moderation.  They say the moderation policy is “only to prevent liberal bloggers from taking over the site.”

Also, Nancy Scola from TechPresident likes GOP Platform site a lot more than I did, calling it “mediated crowdsourcing.”  Also, the DNC plans to launch a similar website.

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.