Curating More Productive Dialogue At Scale

What if technology could help facilitate better public dialog?

The allure of online forums as a home for public dialog has loomed large in local government circles for nearly two decades.

Bringing public hearings online held the promise of increased access, more diverse viewpoints, and a central place for transparent, open discussion.  Yet most organizations have struggle to fully embrace these tools because they bring with them a challenge:

A handful of bad actors can quickly turn a productive conversation toxic.

Time-starved staff face the difficult choice of moderating every comment, or step back and hope that things don’t go awry.

Introducing Perspective

Google’s Perspective project recognized the opportunities to apply machine learning to this challenge in the online news space. Now, after successful implementations for Wikipedia, the New York Times, and others, Google has opened up Perspective’s powerful machine learning capabilities to other organizations via the Perspective API.

Over the past weeks, we’ve worked to integrate Perspective with’s online forum tools. Our hopes for this integration are two-fold:

  1. Reduce the moderation burden for administrators by narrowing the comments that need manual review before posting
  2. Provide real-time feedback to commenters to encourage more civil, productive dialog

Below is a beta implementation of the real-time feedback tool for commenters. It’s a test interface where you can type and get suggestions (and warnings) as you type.

Try it out with a few variations on a statement you might make in a public forum (and statements you might expect to see from ‘toxic’ commenters).

Try out the beta integration for real-time feedback:

Enjoy experimenting – and we’d love to hear your initial thoughts and insights! Submit your feedback and ideas here, or drop a note to Brad Johnson, our Director of Engagement, at  We look forward to hearing from you!

Engage using standard survey question formats that you’re used to with consumer survey tools. From the single and multi-select, to Likert, slider, and text input formats, you’ve got the basics covered.