What’s Consulting Now?

One of the things we want to try to achieve with WriteToReply is a sense of “real-time” commenting on public reports that are (allegedly, at least) posted with public consultation in mind.

So how can you find out what’s consulting now?

One way is to visit the the DirectGov: Public Consultations site, which identifies a set of “headline” consultation exercises:

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights/UKgovernment/PublicConsultations/index.htm

At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be an RSS feed detailing these “front page” consultations, so we’ll try to maintain one… Here’s a first attempt: current UK gov “headline” consultations (via Directgov) [RSS] (or via an embeddable widget).

A full list of current consultations is, however, available as an RSS feed from Tell Them What You Think: current UK government consultations [RSS].

WriteToReply Recommendation to DirectGov: provide an RSS feed of consultation exercises that are linked to from the DirectGov “Public Consultations” web page.

Why do we care so much about web feeds? Because they’re connecting the web and providing ways to access, analyse and distribute information between web sites and web applications. Feed syndication and aggregation is now central to both disseminating and discovering information on the web. Web feeds extract information in a form that is convenient for readers, publishers and web developers.

The DirectGov site also provides a page containing links to pages that itemise the current consultations being run by each government department: DirectGov: List of government consultation websites.

Again, there doesn’t appear to be an RSS version of this list, which makes it a painful exercise to embed such a list in your own web pages. So once again, as a stopgap, here’s just such a feed: Government department consultation web pages [RSS] (via an embeddable widget).

Ideally, each of these individual departmental pages would publish feeds of the current open consultations being run by the corresponding department (a list of the current auto-discoverable departmental consultation feeds can be found here: autodiscovered consultation feeds), but this means of publishing appears to be the exception rather than the norm.

WriteToReply Recommendation to Government Departments: provide an auto-discoverable RSS feed of current consultation exercises from the departmental consultations web page.

Fortunately, the Tell Them What You Think website provides a list of feeds generated by screenscraping the departmental consultation web pages: Tell Them What You Think: Browse Consultations.

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