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Miliband does not really care what the "citizens" think. The Wiki was a PR exercise in sham consultation.

"He sees policy as something that has to be worked out and pushed through the policy forums, the conference, the Cabinet and the Commons. There's no real participatory element in it."

-Benn Diaries (Free at Last!) p643

The Wiki idea is a good one for collaborative projects. Politics is not collaborative. The reality is that politics is a clash of ideas and ideology as well as parties. Only a deluded wonk would overlook that non-trivial detail.

Wiki's can only effectively work as policy development tools when used by a community with common values. The policy making political class do not have common values.

So if you invite those who oppose your ideas to contribute to refining them you should not be surprised when they seek to frustrate your objectives.

Miliband is the wonk equivalent of the nutty professor. He seems surprised that his experiment has blown up in his face.

From the outset, the Defra Wiki was an experiment. One of many that try to find ways of bringing governance closer to the people. The limitations of the Jotspot wiki service were understood (it was shown that leaving the XML edit option available allowed homepage redirects!) and therefore the current outcome was not unexpected. However there must have been some naivety to believe that the wiki would survive without some form of vandalism and the administration effort required was possibly underestimated.

Open wikis rely on the dedicated few to act as administrators, which is where this wiki fell down. Unlike its political puppet masters, 'Defra' seems to have few environmental virtual warriors drawn to its flag.

To many, Wikis are still new. Defra has learnt that a level of editorial control is essential. This wiki fell short, like others have before it. But the experiment will go on.

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