Urban planning community

Poll results: Fan of town of X Planning Department

Voters
23. You may not vote on this poll
  • I have a page for my Department and it's fine

    2 8.70%
  • I have a page for my Department and it's a pain in the @$$

    0 0%
  • I don't have one but it's a good idea

    4 17.39%
  • I don't have one and I am winicng with ya, LP

    14 60.87%
  • Put down the LeRoy Lettering Set and get with the beat, ya dinosaur

    1 4.35%
  • Heck, I even have a Departmental Tweeter account!

    1 4.35%
  • What is this Facebook of which you speak of today?

    0 0%
  • Whatever happened to legal ads?

    1 4.35%
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Thread: A Facebook page for your planning department?

  1. #1
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    A Facebook page for your planning department?

    My entry level planner came in to ask if we should create a Facebook page for our department, that someone he knows in the Bay area of CA has one -

    of course, I am off Facebook at the moment and one of the irritants I had with FB was the work-related quesitons that would come in from residents to me in my vain attempt to have a personal life in a small town

    so what say ye - good idea or bad?

    what about controversial projects you are working on (all of them are hot potatoes here on my sunny island) - do folks post rants, what about formal objections that go into the record?

    I will post a poll too but if you think it's a good idea, explain how you work around the crazies!

    NOTE TO MODS - move this if you think it belongs someplace else?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Bad idea. What is to gain?

    You give foes an open forum to bash you, and if you moderate the posts you'll be called a censor and a facist.

  3. #3
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    What Chet said.

    You give foes an open forum to bash you, and if you moderate the posts you'll be called a censor and a facist.
    It's the same reason why blogs by city officials and departments usually don't allow comments.

    Maybe a Twitter feed? Thing is, you have to keep up on it.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  4. #4
    Bad idea, for the same reasons that Chet just described. I don't see any benefit from this at all. You might get the occasional "Keep up the good work," but big deal! It's not worth it.

    A Twitter account or blog that provides public information and doesn't allow for user comments would be more appropriate.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Governing did are article on this topic:

    http://www.governing.com/article/soc...oe-government/
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  6. #6
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Because everything we do is public record...I think Facebook would be a problem. I definitely see something like a twitter account being more benefital for something like posting updates. On occasion I'll post something I'm working on on Linked In (sort of twitter-ish), but its my personal account. If a citizen has something to say they should call, write or email or contact their elected representative. We have town websites that are run by outside people and those message boards are nasty...IMHO its not productive and more distracting.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  7. #7
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Have you ever read the 'comments' section at the bottom of any local or even national news source? I rest my case.

    I agree with Chet that nothing good can come from it, at least not if you are allowing comments. If you are using it exclusively as an effort to notify rather than truly interact, then it might be OK. I could also see creating them for specific planning projects, like a Comprehensive Plan or Downtown Plan. Definitely dangerous though--know your population before you throw this tool out there.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    On both twitter and Facebook you would have to keep up.

    I think it is a great idea. People need to remember, Facebook has different types of "pages". There is your "personal" page, and then there is what is called a "fan" page or other similar page. A department wishing to be on Facebook should set up a "fan" page. This give ultimate control. It gives you the ability to allow to post items such as links to staff reports, updates to projects,, calendar of events page to sync people to pc meeting/cc/bos, workshops, and other public events. In addition, this page allows you to just provide this info, and no users posts.

    We tried the facebook approach for one of our transportation enhancement projects and we found 2 problems:

    1) the fan page allowed access to my personal page (oh so bad). FB has since corrected this problem through security settings.

    2) Know your audience. The town to which we did this in. Not so techno savy (we had only 1 person join our page)

    My 2 cents.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    We set up a Facebook page a while back but we've found its not that helpful for the work program of a typical municipal planning/community development office. We've found Twitter to be a little more useful, but we often forget to use it because we're so bogged down in our other public notification games.

    I don't have a problem with it, but I'd recommend just not allowing comments ("business" style pages are different from individuals' and you can customize settings.) That way you're not getting bashed and you're not censoring.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    Our boss has strictly forbidden us to be on Facebook so I am guessing that would mean that we can not have a page.
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

  11. #11
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    I like the idea of a having a space where you can post about projects, maybe include maps, discussion and interviews; however, I'm not convinced that Facebook is the right choice. Even as a "fan" page it doesn't seem like the right venue. Here is a link to a Hawaii Land Use Law and Policy blogspot that I read regularly.

    http://hilanduse.blogspot.com/

    It is simple and effective. It provides information, links to sites talking about important issues, allows users to subscribe, and allows comments, yet the setting is a bit more professional than facebook. I would assume you would get more constructive comments from a site set up like a blogspot than you would from facebook.

  12. #12
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Queen B View post
    Our boss has strictly forbidden us to be on Facebook so I am guessing that would mean that we can not have a page.
    Really? WOW - so is that in the personnel policy or just a "hey, don't do that okay" kind of thing...

  13. #13
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Queen B View post
    Our boss has strictly forbidden us to be on Facebook so I am guessing that would mean that we can not have a page.
    Do you mean you can't log on at work (there are few of us who can - luckily Cyburbia is considered a professional website and I've been encouraged in the past by superiors [even before Dan] to be active on it), or your boss doesn't let you have a personal account, period?

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    ON a whimsey, I did a search on an old employer (the one I worked at with Cardinal). They had 3 fans - The owners exec. assistant, the IT guy, and and IT assistant. And NO posts. LOL.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    I can see a young planner coming up with such an idea, but as mentioned above a blog is a much better choice in my view.

    Have the young planner spin up a page and keep up to date with the 5-10 intense citizens with lots of time on their hands and see how long that lasts.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Plus Scout's avatar
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    I think some form of communication beyond the typical department website is beneficial. Our IT department is strict to say the least...they remind me of the backside of a cat when it comes to internet usage

    I don't know if Facebook is the answer, but our department needs an outlet for dissemenation beyond our current website. IT can't keep up with our projects; we have a cemetary preservation project with over 5,000 GPS coordinates for individual gravesites. IT won't create a public access layer and we've asked about using Google Maps. In regards to the layer, our guess is they don't want to do the work. In terms of Google Maps, they won't allow a direct link from the department website because of "security concerns".

    A blog is a good idea, but the current program that IT uses to filter doesn't allow access to a blog. In most instances it states "Restricted social networking site". Cyburbia is an exception.
    In silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and watch how the pattern improves - Rumi

  17. #17
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    I don't think a Facebook page is inherently bad for a planning or economic development department. (Is it interesting enough to attract fans is another topic entirely!)

    It is a good way to disseminate information quickly to a large number of people, and, in my opinion, it is a lot less annoying to receive information on a Facebook page than it is through a constant stream of email updates.

    I know that our municipality is working on developing a municipality wide social media usage SOP (which they seem to have been developing for about a year now and) and some of the rules that they have indicated will be in place are that the accounts be tied to an official email address (possibly one like socialadmin@X?X?X?X.gov) and not a personal address but they would have one or two employees in charge of maintaining the site (although having multiple people with access to one Facebook page could be a violation of the TOS ... if people actually care about that).

    One concern that administrators, managers, and directors have expressed is what do you do about activity that occurs during non-working hours on the site? If you are going to allow commenting on the site and somebody gets on there just typing nonsensical rants against the municipality or something totally off topic but they are doing this on a Friday night, are you going to leave it up all weekend or will there be somebody designated to police the site on a regular basis in the evenings and over weekends? Will that person be compensated with comp time? Should they be add that into their time sheets?

    At first I thought this was a pretty stupid concern, but I thought about it and realized or jurisdiction has 1.2 million residents. If 10% of them have Facebook and 10% of those users become a fan of whatever government office, it seems very likely that there could easily be one or two disgruntled fans among them whom are constantly causing problems. As an example, our Parks Department has had a Facebook site up and running for just a few months and already has just over 1,800 fans. If you scroll through the page and the postings, it all seems very tame and congenial but I have heard scuttlebutt that they do indeed have to keep an eye on it and remove problem postings.

    Also, if you are going to allow postings and you do police the site, you have to deal with questions of censorship. If you do not allow postings and have a totally restricted site, you are not as likely to gain as many fans and you will not get the activity that makes Facebook as interesting/useful as it is.




    Regarding Twitter, I personally think it's a waste of time, especially for a use such as this. There have been some studies showing that more than half of the people who sign up quit using their account within about a week. I think that Twitter will survive but I think it's going to prove more useful for journalists and politicians and the folks who like to keep up on breaking news. It's not so easy to share photos and large articles with Twitter as it is with Facebook which I think would be a big drawback for a planning department.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    I think that Twitter will survive but I think it's going to prove more useful for journalists and politicians and the folks who like to keep up on breaking news. It's not so easy to share photos and large articles with Twitter as it is with Facebook which I think would be a big drawback for a planning department.
    For me, the power of twitter lies in the fact that I can follow certain keywords and have that feed show up in my RSS reader. I've learned some new things over the past year, and I've been making those ideas pay off in the work that I do.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian gicarto's avatar
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    Interesting thread. As a consultant, I see twitter, BlogSpot, Google Documents and LinkedIn being very useful for villages. I think it would be valuable for a municipality to use FB only to disseminate information and not take any comments.
    Trying to get my grubby hands on as much stimulus money as I can.:D

  20. #20
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I think it is greatly useful for getting information out. I think it is a horrible idea for it to be used to get ideas. You will be moderating the content constantly, and probably get nothing more than how much they hate paying for garbage pick up.

    Twitter and Facebook are good ways to keep the populace active. I think that anyway to get information out is good.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  21. #21
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Here's an example

    The Bloomington IN Planning Department has a Facebook page. It's not very popular -- 39 fans. I haven't spent much time on it.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bloomi...nt/79601934246

  22. #22
    Cyburbian
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    I'm in a little different boat as an elected official. We had an issue come up where I wanted to get some public input in a hurry. I started a FB group and it has about 100 members right now. It's better then the newspaper blogs because the member use their own names. People really tone it down when they are not anonymous and know they are communicating directly with someone. It has been fairly successful.

    If someone starts bothering me on my personal page, I direct them to the group or my city e-mail and explain I try to keep my personal page fun and lighthearted. So far, everyone has been understanding.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Grand Rapids DDA


  24. #24
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Am I the last 40-something that isn't on twitter?

  25. #25
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I'm 45 and I don't have one - I deactivated Facebook for Lent because it was such an overload

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