Quality resources on participation? Let the people decide…

70 kites on a single line3 - (Creative Commons)

There have been murmurs about a 'Youth Participation Resources Kite mark for a while now.

Whilst concerns about the quality of resources on Children and Young People's participation might be founded (I've seen quite a few participation resources recently which have made me somewhat concerned due to their lack of clarity or any clear understanding of participation…) – the idea of one group certifying those resources which are 'quality' or not simply doesn't work*.

Instead – we need a space where potential users of a resource can discuss it. In part that might be the People&Participation Library with comments switched on – but what I really have in mind is a version of Social Source Commons for participation.

TimDavies Tookit - Social Source CommonsThe Social Source Commons model allows anyone to create a 'personal toolbox' (see mine here) of open source tools that they use – and to see what others have in their toolbox. I can assess the value of a tool by seeing who else is using it. Do they use other resources like me? What comments have people left on a particular tool? How have they rated it? It's a context rich way of finding out if a resource can cut it or not.

An online Participation Toolbox would allow Participation Workers to create their own filtered lists of the resources, toolkits, books, and guides that they can comment on, rate and share information about. And they would be able to see who else used particular resources, how others rated them, and what others had said about using them in practice. Instead of a central 'authoritative' KiteMark – I can choose to trust particular peers, or the wisdom of the crowd. Altogether a more participative solution…

(P.S I'd be up for developing the system if anyone wanted to sponsor development…)

*In any case – if, as I suspect, the issue that drives the idea of a Kite Mark is bad resources, not good ones. The logical response then could be to publish a 'black list' rather than a Kite Marked list…

3 thoughts on “Quality resources on participation? Let the people decide…”

  1. I’ve had a few discussions about this. My main problem with the idea as it stands now is that I can’t see why I would want our resources to actually have the Kitemark.

    So far my experience with Participation Works is that they’re far from being a credible organisation – so why would I allow for our time to be spent having our resources being assessed by an organisation that would be first best getting its own act in order?!

    I think discussions are more credible – I always look for reviews before I buy things and its much more reassuring to read about people who have used it/already own it.

    Its not so long ago that every other website had apparently been awarded the ‘best website for XXXXX’ – when actually these were meaningless graphics with no substance at all. Right now that would be my opinion of a Kitemark scheme – I wouldn’t feel in any way more likely to buy or use a resource because it had a kitemark from an organisation that to me isn’t in touch with what we do and therefore can’t truly understand our needs. But if I could read about how others have used something that would be useful.

  2. Hi Tim,

    Great blog on a very important subject. I think that peer led review is a far more constructive way forward compared to centrally controlled and enforced kite marks.

    You mentioned the http://www.peopleandparticipation.net library as a possible solution. It would be easy to add ratings to the existing and any future resources.

    Interestingly enough our site user group didn’t like the idea of user ratings, which they felt would discourage people from posting to the site and create a judgemental atmosphere. I thought I’d throw that into the mix.

    Is there a risk that peer reviews could lead to self-censorship and disengagement amongst those who are less confident in their web 2.0 abilities than others?

    Keep up the good work!


  3. Hey Edward

    Thanks for the reflections from your users group.

    What I like about the ‘personal toolbox’ approach is that you can avoid ratings, and instead just show who uses particular resources.

    It can be a sort of ‘implied rating’ – but it’s got a lot more context and depth to it. I can not only see how many people use a particular resource – I can see who they are and what other tools they use. (E.g. from that context I can work out – are they working in the same sector as me? Or did they use this particular resources in a different context to that I was thinking of it for – so it might not be relevant to me right now…)

    We definitely need to be attuned to not making it a tool for the Web 2.0 savvy only. I would envisage that happening by:

    • Really careful design to create a very simple to use site/system
    • Seeding the resource by interviewing well known individuals and teams in the participation sector to find out the resources they use regularly, and creating their ‘toolboxes’ for them
    • Potentially offering a paper-based catalogue or the resources and inviting people at events to indicate which resources they use, and which they want to know more about – and then building in a way of uploading that to the system (with the added bonus it could then send them links to details of all the resources they said they want to know more about…)

    Will keep developing the idea – and hopefully might get a chance to build some it this year…

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