It has been interesting to note the debate around the government's invitation to the public to comment on its programme for government.
But most of the attention focused on the news that after reading all the comments, the government decided not to change any of its policies.
"You have to give the government some credit for trying to do this, but badly designed consultations like this are worse than no consultations at all. They diminish trust and reduce the prospect that people will engage again."
"The problem for the Coalition, and for David Cameron in particular, is that, on the one hand, it needs to address public scepticism by showing it is doing things differently from the start while, on the other, it will suffer equal if not more loss of face if it launches ideas which are not well thought through or makes exaggerated claims about public enthusiasm (as has Mr Gove about parental aspirations to run schools)."
Analyst Andrea Di Maio also noted that for effective crowd-sourcing, it might be wise to carefully choose your crowd first:
"Once again, this case proves the disconnect between engaging citizens (and voters) and engaging government employees. For open government to work, both aspects need to be addressed and possibly synchronized...
"Crowdsourcing will work when employees at all level – from directors general to case workers – will see it as a tool for them to do a better job and not as a way to delegitimize their role and start a finger-pointing exercise."
On a similar theme, Conservative MP Douglas Carswell made some telling points about Whitehall's need for control and the quality of the public submissions:
"Counter intuitively, the more open the site, the more people have a sense of ownership, so the more liberal the content.
"Crowd sourcing requires you to trust the crowd. If you treat it as a mob, it'll behave like one."
But I think the key problem here is very much as identified on the entertainingly-named Futility Monster Blog:
"After all, the government simply created a rod for its own back by opening up a consultation on its own programme for government. A programme that had been negotiated down to the placement of dots on the i’s between the two parties. A programme that both leaders believed they could sell to their own party, and then to the country.
"So why consult on it?
"Consultation should, obviously, only be used when the government is genuinely open to the prospect of new ideas. Conversely, there is no point consulting if you have no intention of listening."
But to add to the semantics, the discussion in the comments over on Simon Dickson's blog at Puffbox raised the issue of whether the site was ever about "consultation" in any event.
And another contribution questioned just how far crowd sourcing can go in a system of representative democracy.
So as I also concluded in this post on the issue of choice in public services, if you are not clear about what you are asking people to get involved with, the result can only be confusion and disappointment.