Opening Up GovLoop So More Awesomeness

What if more government rockstars could find and join GovLoop?

That’s the question I’ve been mulling over the past few months. You’ve probably seen the forum and blog posts from Community Manager Andy K:

Your response was overwhelmingly positive to this idea of “opening GovLoop.” I would definitely encourage you to read these posts and the responses if you haven’t to get the full sense of what’s up.

Based on your feedback and a lot of thinking on our end, we’re going to conduct an experiment in April and May to see what happens when we “open up GovLoop.” It’s part of the mantra of gov’t innovation – brainstorm a problem, come up with hypothesis, and test to see if it works.

But Steve, what exactly does this mean? Glad you asked:

1 – I am basically switching a toggle button so that people can see most of the content on GovLoop (i.e. blogs and forums) without becoming a member.

2 – We are making sure that Member Profiles and Groups are not accessible to non-members. In other words, non-members will still have to sign up to see Member profiles and Groups.

3 – We’ve also got a hack to make sure that Member Profiles and Groups are not indexed by search engines; basically it’s some code that says “Stop! Don’t go there.” so that you don’t get ranked in a Google search.

4 – In addition to those protections for Member profiles, we’ve also shared a blog called “How-To: Control Your GovLoop Privacy Settings.” Check it out if you want to shield your member information and activity a bit more.

5 – Non-members can look, but they can’t create or comment. Non-members will now be able to see pretty much all of the content on the site – again, with the exception of your Member profiles and Groups. Your blogs are awesome and the forums rock, and we think it will be helpful to others so we want to be sure they can find out. They’ll also be able to see the Topics pages and some of the other great resources we’ve compiled. Hopefully, they’ll see something they want to comment on or will want to post their own blogs or join a group. But they’ll have to become a member to do that.

6 – We’ll continue to moderate membership. As we do now, we will approve every single individual that signs up for GovLoop. We’ll review their profile prior to allowing them to join, so this keeps out spammers and other people who might want to cause trouble at the party. Sometimes people still sneak by, but our Community Leaders/Greeters and members like you do an awesome job of letting us know when someone’s acting a little strange. 😉

7 – This is an experiment. As we approach the end of May, we’ll ask you what you think – how you think it’s going and how you think we can improve.

You may also be asking: “why make this change?” There’s really just 1 big reason:

More awesome people collaborating to improve gov’t. Every day, people complain to me that someone sends them a cool piece of content from GovLoop via email, Twitter, FB but they have to sign-in to see it. Many people find this very annoying and it is a huge barrier to entry. Others write me nasty emails saying it is ridiculous they have to sign in to see any content (even the About Us page). Personally I often do the same, if you force me to sign-up before checking out a new site, I’ll leave. Also, many of the key GL bloggers have mentioned for months that they do not like their ideas only being able to be read or found by going directly to GL and signing-in (Many put caveats like sign-in required when linking to us).

And finally we are big proponents of the rise of Open Government and from the White House Open Government Directive to Agency Open Gov pages and Open Gov Plans….it’s time for GovLoop to step up it’s game – this is the GovLoop Open Gov Plan

I want you to know that we spent several months thinking through this decision and our #1 priority was to ensure that GovLoop continues to be a safe place to connect government to improve government and together we can increase gov’t innovation and solve more gov’t problems every day.

So stay tuned…April and May could be pretty crazy in terms of the number of new people who start checking out GovLoop. Be sure to give them the warm GovLoop welcome…and let’s see how many awesome government rockstars we can amass in one place!

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Amanda Blount

YES YES AND YES!!! I am always wanting to show people something, and I have to log in… this basically turns them off. Others want to “view” before becoming members, and when they get excited about a conversation which they want to “vent” on, then they must register to do that! I personally do that all the time. I will read all kinds of stuff on a website for months (without joining), then something will strike my fancy, and I join right away to let my voice be heard! I am super excited about this!

Caryn Wesner-Early

Thank you! I can hardly wait to start forwarding posts to my co-workers. I’ve sent most of them invitations to join, but this will show them why they should.