Political-bureaucratic netiqutte

Published: April 19th, 2007

By: Sandford BorinsWhile politicians and public servants may be rivals for space on government portals, they also appear to have developed some rules of netiquette. Here are a few that I understand operate in the federal and Ontario governments.First, politicians have the right to allocate space and determine branding on the portal. New governments and new branding leads to shifts between Liberal red and Tory blue.Second, during an election campaign (that is, once the writ is dropped) content on the portal is frozen, with the exception of public service messages. Some governments-of-the-day, however, have tried to construe “public service” as broadly as possible.Third, the government-of-the-day is not permitted to trash the opposition. This rule matters most when a new government has just taken over and is tempted to paint the government portal with the narrative of “cleaning up the mess left behind by the bums you've just thrown out.”Fourth, the government-of-the-day's content on the portal cannot be recycled on its party Web site.To the best of my knowledge, none of these rules is written down anywhere, but they are honoured. Are there other rules in these or other jurisdictions you know about? Are there other rules of political-bureaucratic netiquette you'd suggest? Best answer gets a copy of Digital State at the Leading Edge.Related content:Politics vs. service

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