Open GovLoop? You Decide!

A couple months ago, we launched a forum asking: “Should OpenGov Spark OpenGovLoop?”. We presented several reasons – to make it easier to find in search engines and enable more people to benefit from it – and offered several options along a continuum of being totally closed to wide open. I give much more detail in the forum, so I’d encourage you to read that full description and also check out your colleagues’ comments.

Respondents overwhelmingly chose an option where anyone can join and view without moderation. But we’re feeling like we want to be a bit more conservative. So here’s what we would like to know now:

Would you prefer to keep some features of GovLoop protected? If so, which ones?

Right now, members have significant control through their Privacy Settings and blog publishing preferences and we will definitely do some education leading up to a rollout to ensure that everyone is comfortable with their level of disclosure.

If you were to keep some features protected, what would they be? Here’s a list of Features for your consideration:

– Blogs
– Events
– Forums
– Groups
– Jobs
– Member Profiles
– Multimedia (Videos and Photos)
– Resources (Data.GovLoop, Wiki, etc.)

As always, this is YOUR community. Have your say! We’ll collect and monitor feedback for one week, then share our rollout strategy with the community shortly thereafter.

Thank you never really captures how we feel about your honesty, transparency and collaboration.

And yet we’ll say it anyway: Thank You!

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Scott Horvath

Agreed with the member profiles only. Everything else should be open. However I would suggest that have to be a member in order to reply to anything. Thy way those who want to participate more can do so and you’ll still get new members and those that are only there to learn more or get more info can still do so, but without a voice (unless they register)

Adam Schultz

The only thing we are discussing is whether or not people can read different sections of the site without being logged in. They will still have to create an account before they can post, comment, reply, start a group or build a profile.

Once they are logged in, they can see everything that you all presently have access to and be able to do all the things you can do.

We are only questioning how much of the site people who are not yet logged in are allowed to see.

Are there areas of the site you think should be visible for members only?

Ari Herzog

Why should member profiles be protected when LinkedIn profiles are open to the world, Facebook profiles (without privacy settings) are open to the world, Twitter bios are open to the world, etc? Maybe the Facebook model is the one to emulate by enabling every profile feature to be shown or hidden and each member gets to choose.

Andrew Krzmarzick

Thanks, Scott – Adam’s right on.

When we say “open” it means people will be able to read certain content before sign up.

Sign-up will still be required to create and comment on content…and we can still moderate that process.

Kevin Lanahan

Blogs, events, forums, multimedia and resources should be available to everyone. That’s the kind of killer content that will get more people to join.

Member profiles not so much. I’d be happy if you had to join to see my member profile.

Scott Horvath

Understood. That’s all I was saying. Everything should be “open” except profiles. Although Ari makes a good point. The rest was simply a suggestion if it hadn’t already been assumed.

Steve Lunceford

Andy, I may have mentioned it before, but I like the model used by one of the forums I’ve been visiting for the past 10 years ( All forums are open to read; must register to post/respond to threads.

However, there are “members-only” forums that don’t even appear until you register. The “Happy Hour” forum is one of the site’s most-popular, but won’t even show up unless you are registered. The forum is more “community” driven/networking/sharing vs the content driven open areas (which talk about the site’s main purpose, diff. aspects of TiVo service, hardware, etc)

There’s also a third layer, a “premium” forum/club where for small annual fee, you get access to: Membership in the TC Club includes these benefits (main site is ad supported):
* Banner ads suppressed
* More space for posting and viewing threads
* Access to Members Only chat forum*
* Increased private message (PM) storage – 500 messages
* Expanded signature files (doubled)
* Ongoing discounts and specials from DVRupgrade, our sponsor
* Automatic entry into TCF contests
* Displayable membership badges for your profile

I could see how something like that could be used for particular communties of interest – say, .gov only access, etc

Andrew Krzmarzick

@Ari – Good thoughts. Members have significant control over their privacy settings on GovLoop at this time.

@Scott – It’s a great suggestion…and where we all seem to be leaning!

@Kevin – thanks for the feedback!

@Steve – You’ve made many awesome recommendations…and opening up GovLoop a bit was one of them! Good point on Forums…with the equivalent on GovLoop being Groups, it seems. Quick points on current configuration:

– At the time of creation, Group Creators have an option to make the groups “Public” (open to all) or “Private” (moderator approves membership).
– If a group is Private, you can’t see any content until your membership is approved.
– Also at the time of creating a group, moderators can decide whether to allow prospects to request membership or make the group invite only.

The rub: These decisions are final. Right now, they cannot be changed once the group is created.

That’s all in the hands of the Group Creators/Moderators and it will remain that way even after “opening up.”

What we can do when we open: we could “veil” groups from non-members such that the Groups tab that you see now at the top would not be visible unless you joined. Then none of the Group content would be visible to non-members.

Is that important to folks? To have Groups available to Members only?

OR should Group discussions and content be visible for reading by non-members and require a person to join if they want to create, join or comment on a Group?

Adam Schultz

Is there anyone who has a group that is currently open that would want it to be private if we were we to let non-members see all public group pages?

Can we get some group moderators to chime in on this part? Your feedback is vital.

Justin Grimes

I think at the very least blogs and forums should be open. You should be able to view posts and comments on blogs and forums without having an account. I’m pretty indifferent (but not necessarily opposed) to the openness other features.

CUBIC Media Analysis Center

Keep member profiles, groups, forums and events protected. The rest can be open. Logging in is obnoxious, overall. Way too many usernames and passwords to remember these days.

Cheryl Wahlheim

I know it sounds kind of selfish, but I would like to keep the Jobs forum private to govloop. I also do
not want any multimedia (except the most general) stuff posted on the general internet. Member profiles should also be kept private. Blogs, events and forums; yes, open them up.


I’m in agreement with Justin – blogs and forums might be open. HOWEVER, I don’t think it’s a good idea to allow people to post comments without an account, or you are going to get many obnoxious comments from someone called “anonymous” — which may be one knuclehead or many.

Also, I agree with Cheryl about the jobs forum being for govloop members. People who are seriously trying to network (and they ARE going to be GovLoop members) should be privvy to this information…. keep it in the GovLoop family so-to-speak!

Andrew Krzmarzick

@Tricia Strong, strong likelihood that we will stick to moderation so that all members are reviewed and approved to avoid the very situation you describe.

@Tricia and @Cheryl – Interesting perspective on the Jobs being available to Members only. Most if not all government jobs would be posted on USAJOBS…which is open. How would we differentiate?

@Cubic and @Justin – Thank you!

@Adriel – Economy. Love it.


Great feedback…thanks everyone and keep it coming…very helpful to actually get feedback than think alone and make up what people want…


Two things:

1. If GovLoop becomes open, what would be the purpose of signing up to become a member? (other than to create a group and receive email notifications if someone responds to any of my comments and postings?)

2. Andrew – I WISH that all of us here on GovLoop have our jobs posted at USAJOBS – I believe there’s a (pretty good size) handful of us memebers who are not Federal employees. (side note – as a recruiter, oftentimes there’s a preference for previous government experience if that is the case, I am definately going to be targeting my recruitment to these sources vs. a general job board).

Just my thoughts and ideas. Thanks for listening!

Andrea Schneider

I want people to sign up to be a member and think all group participants should have to have a profile page. As a group leader I often check the profile pages to learn more about one group participant or another.
It’s very useful to be able to know more about someone, it can make it easier to focus a response or encourage one when you know a persons interests and talents.
I don’t think transparency means no holds barred.
When I sign on to GovLoop there is a measure of comfort knowing everyone is a member, it’s free anyway. You have more control over inappropriate behavior if the person is a member.
When I respond or comment on someone else’s blog I feel more responsible if I know I’m accountable to the larger group. I hope it encourages respect.
Things are moving so fast right now with so many different people involved with Open Gov and related things, it’s very hard to keep track or who and what.
Having some boundaries is a good thing in my opinion as is having a point of view regarding standards for interaction.
Hope this was helpful. Have to think about it some more. Thanks for the questions.

Andrew Krzmarzick

@Tricia Good insights.
– On #1 – If we’re open, the incentive to join = contribute. Otherwise, a person remains a passive recipient of information. If they have a question themselves, they’ll need to join to jump into the fray! Of course, there’s the principle of reciprocity – the balance of giving to receive.
– On #2 – Definitely a few non-Feds and non-government employees here…and I can see how it’s a great place to recruit for people with great government experience…

@Andrea – As a community manager yourself, always appreciate your insight. Everyone that seeks to join a group will have a profile (as they do now). However, some people may choose to make it more private w/3 possibilities: a) open to all b) open to members only c) open to friends only. Even if your group is open and a person joins, you could request that people are open to “friend”ing you so that you can learn more about them. As a Group Creator/Moderator, that’s your prerogative, to some degree. You set the tone for your group, eh?!

@Savi – I have to say that’s one of the things that impresses me most about GovLoop’ers. I have never seen a conversation devolve even slightly into the stuff you describe on CNN, NPR, etc. Really, really awesome. Please see my comment to Andrea and the links in my main post to get more information about possible privacy settings. As always, we encourage people to be public..and will educate about being private when/as we open.

Henry Brown

Am in total agreement with some/most that read only access to all sections, except Individual profiles and a limited number of groups could/should be provided

Can see NO need for anyone other than a current member who has at least been vetted to some degree could see anything much more than the name of other members. And would be somewhat ideal if the individual members could choose to limit what additional profile information was available to other members.

Would hope that this type of change would NOT change the requirements for SOME groups to have the “group manager/owner” approve each new member.

Andrew Krzmarzick

@Henry – Thanks for your feedback. This change would not alter the ability of Group Managers/Owners to moderate membership. You still have that level of control up front.

Patrick Quinn

We’ve operated K-TOC for 13 months on the model that all posted content (blogs, discussion posts, media files etc.) is open to the public. Membership is required to post anything to the community, and to view member profiles.Registration/membership isn’t a silver bullet, but it does seem to amplify the signal-to-noise ratio. GovLoop has been an exceptionally clean forum since I’ve been a member, but the sophistication of today’s spammers means it’s only a matter of time before somebody unleashes a bot that can get past the first line of defense. That will probably remain true until something like OpenID becomes standard.

(Our registration protocol is very simple, requiring only a valid email address, so we expected to see a lot of spam-action. Happily, we saw none at all until last week, when we booted our first bot–it called itself “Vivian” and said it was looking for a meaningful relationship. The bot, which originated from an IP address in Senegal and is apparently well-known on dating sites, completed the registration process on its own. That suggests to me that we need a more robust screening protocol, and that’s been added to my list. [sigh…])

Pre-launch, we were advised by our chief counsel to avoid any kind of “closed” or “private” group, out of concern that such groups might permit inadvertent violations of the state’s Open Meetings statute. An open policy also appeals to me philosophically; if the ultimate result of this new technology is anything less than radical government transparency, the people lose.

Andrew Krzmarzick

Wow – very thoughtful comments, Patrick. Thank you.

Fortunately, even if a bot were to complete the registration process for GovLoop, we remain the line of defense due to our manual approval of every member. My sense is that we will continue that practice even if we were to open the community and content.

Again, really appreciate your insight from the perspective of someone who has “been there.”

Andrew Krzmarzick

Hi Don – Thanks for your feedback.

Actually, GovLoop members have posted nearly 500 videos!! Check them out here:

And you can embed video anywhere on the site, including in blogs, comment boxes, discussion forums and on your own page…we tell you how in this video: