In general, deliberative discussions provide a space for people to talk through how a particular issue or problem affects them, learn more about the issue, discover a range of views on what could be done about it, and in some cases, decide how they want to take action. When discussions are taken online, they can reach more people than face-to-face conversations, regardless of geographic distance—and they can do so faster than ever before.
This guide is intended to provide a foundation for leading and supporting your efforts to translate your knowledge of in-person discussions to the virtual world, whether you are a seasoned facilitator or getting ready to moderate your first online discussion.
Public Agenda is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in New York City, helping to build a democracy that works for everyone. By elevating a diversity of voices, forging common ground and improving dialogue and collaboration among leaders and communities, Public Agenda fuels progress on critical issues, including education, health care and community engagement.
How to Use
This primer is broken into four main sections:
- Introduction: What Do We Mean by Online Discussions? provides an overview of the fundamentals of online forums.
- Why Would You Moderate an Online Discussion? outlines the purposes and goals for moderators.
- Platforms and Tools for Online Discussions walks moderators through the different platforms available for online conversations.
- How to Moderate Online Discussions provides guidance and ideas for moderators.