Like other Whitehall blogging initiatives such as those at DFID and FCO (both of whom already have their own group blogs on climate change – here and here respectively), the DECC site sets out to give readers an insight on staff’s day-to-day activity. Four bloggers kick things off: one Minister, Conservative Gregory Barker; and three (relatively senior) staff members.
On a technical level, it’s not dissimilar to the work I did for DFID, in that although the four contributors’ entries are presented as independent, stand-alone blogs, they’re actually just multiple users writing into a single group blog.
The work has been done by DECC’s existing digital agency, the Swansea-based S8080. Like their main corporate site, it’s running on a Microsoft IIS server, which may explain the lack of ‘pretty permalinks’ (although it doesn’t have to be like that). There are a few rough edges, and I hope they won’t mind me saying, they’ve done a few things in not very WordPress-y ways: entirely understandable, since they’re primarily a Microsoft-based company. But hey, it’s early days, and I’m sure it’ll all be ironed out soon enough.
It’s quite a brave initiative on one level: you only have to look at the number of comments typically received by climate-sceptic Telegraph writer James Delingpole – always in the hundreds per post, and often well into the thousands! – to see what they could be letting themselves in for. There’s no explicit comment policy showing on the blog: I only hope they’ve given some thought to how they’ll handle the more confrontational comments they’re likely to receive. DFID’s is a great example to follow, if they need one.
I know both FCO and DFID feel they’ve got a lot out of their blogging platforms: and I sincerely hope DECC have a similarly positive experience. But it may be a bumpy ride.