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Some days ago we went to the Town’s website to access the Fiscal Sustainability Task Force Terms of Reference. We were frustrated in our attempt to read it because the link didn’t work.  So, we thought naively, this is what comments are for. We  attempted to leave one. What a rigmarole!  The text security image we are very used to – a valuable insurance against spammers and common on many blogs –  but have you read the terms of usage?

By submitting your comments we reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to change, modify, add, or delete your comments and portions of these Terms of Use at any time

We thought the paucity of feedback on the ToW website was just Wolfvillians’ natural reticence wimpiness (and it may be partly that) but how many in their right mind would submit criticism that could be totally reversed by the moderator – added to, deleted, etc! This is not just moderation. However, given what we thought was only a helpful and constructive alert to a broken link, we submitted the comment which was a simple “Hey, your link doesn’t work!”.

What has happened, you ask? Well the link is fixed. But our comment never appeared. We guess that they A) don’t want anything from ww linked to on the ToW website. Residents might find us and read us since the comments submission box offered us a place to put in our website link. And B) the new IT guy didn’t want anyone to know that he goofed up? Just guessing. [BTW we think this is the same guy who helped Bob Stead with his campaign website – in his off time?)

Now we meant to comment on all this at the time, but we do have a life or two or three, and we were only reminded of it now when we heard other people comment on heavy handed comment moderation on the website. Apparently a number of residents have attempted to put in comments which were rejected for various reasons – length being one – and yet there are no guidelines for comments. Now on twitter we are told up front- keep it under 140 characters!  But imagine when you write a lengthy comment and then push submit only THEN to be told it was too long. Good way to tick off people and discourage them from commenting . Which we can only guess is the attitude.

We had such high hopes for this new website format which should allow councillors and other staff (those given authority to input) to manage and add to it themselves. But no – it is departmentalised and divorced from Council control – in the hands of staff IT.

Just compare our website with Berwick’s! Which looks more friendly?  [To be fair Berwick’s site has the same terrible terms of usage message (is this tied into the joomla template?)  and also few comments (perhaps they have fewer complaints?)] However, they seem to get good response to their polls.

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