FEMA's new Think Tank Project

A New Collaboration Community

FEMA has created a new "Collaboration Community" where stakeholders can come to a forum-type website and view, contribute and comment on conversations about emergency preparedness, disaster response and recovery, and other emergency management topics. They are calling this the "FEMA Think Tank".

The FEMA web page giving background information on the Think Tank is at www.fema.gov/thinktank.

The site has gotten off to a great start since being announced at the IAEM conference last week. As of today, the usage statistics show that 72 ideas have been posted with 199 comments and 613 votes from 389 users.  The ideas are very interesting, some are a bit off topic, some are venting, and some are a bit redundant. However, I am sure that FEMA is getting a lot of good ideas from the stream of consciousness presented on the site already.

How does it work?

The site is built to run on user ideas and votes. Users submit their ideas, then the community discusses and votes for ideas and the best ideas "bubble up to the top". I am not sure exactly how this will work but each idea can be voted on as "I agree" or "I disagree" and then each can receive comments and the comments can receive votes and comments in a nested forum structure.  How all this ends up as a way to have ideas "bubble up" is beyond me. I am not sure that a "like or dislike" option is the best way to go here.

As I have worked with this IdealScales site, which I think is wonderful and robust (although it was slowed to a crawl this morning), I have been somewhat frustrated by the binary nature of giving ideas and comments either a thumbs up or thumbs down. It is not always that simple.  And, I hate to say that I dislike someone' s ideas. I do not want to vote "I disagree" to someone's idea when I am really trying to say it is not as important as some of the other ideas.

Prioritization vs. Voting "Up or Down"

I tried to add this to the discussion on the Think Tank site but it was found to be "off topic" so I will do it here.  My idea is that we need to prioritize what will eventually be a very large list of ideas if we really want the best to bubble up to the top.

It seems to me that a better approach might be to ask for a score on a five or ten point scale to help identify priorities for further research and implementation. I'm not sure if this is possible but I don't think that a number of people that "like" something is equivalent to the value of the idea. It is more important how much people think the idea is valuable. 

So, I'm suggesting that the site change over to some form of value voting. That is my thought for the day...


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