Hi GOP, how desperate can you be to attempt to crowdsource your agenda?
America Speaking Out is your attempt to hear the voices of America, but the thoughtless design violates just about every principle of a good community website, featuring pure anonymity, no structure to the "discussion", lame "badges" to reward participation, and zero moderating. The result is a vapid waste, but what did you expect when you failed to put any of your own ideas out there to kickstart a discussion? If you won't take this seriously, neither will the public.
Rep Lungren (R-CA) offers:
House Republicans are offering the country a new set of policy solutions, but rather than handing an agenda down from the Washington DC, we want to include the American people in building it... So to show that the voices of the America people can still make a difference in Washington, we are introducing America Speaking Out and giving citizens a new opportunity to lend their ideas to the creation of a new national policy agenda.
Connecting to the public online to get input is actually a good idea. But the public isn't here to do your job for you, GOP. A much more effective way to engage would be for you to actually draft a set of policy options, put together the key elements of the agenda, and then let the public comment on, vote on, and prioritize the elements.
Take a page from Less Wrong, one of the best community websites out there. Its model allows writers to compose thoughtfuls piece that are opened to the community for voting (more votes bring it closer to the top) and comments (that are threaded so there is actually a robust discussion). I would love to see Republican leaders compose an opinion piece on each of the elements of their agenda that they then open for annotation and comment. That's a real way to engage the population in a civil discourse. Soundbites destroy real policymaking; take a moment to write out your argument and post it online. See what ideas stick and which flop. You may be suprised. That would be a discussion worth having.