Ten tips for getting the most out of Commonplace
By Sam Campion | Mon, Dec 8, 2014
3 min read
Maybe a Commonplace has recently gone live in your area, or perhaps you’ve just purchased a Commonplace license for your Neighbourhood Forum. If you find yourself unsure of how to get the best out of Commonplace, don’t worry, we’re here to help - we’ve compiled this list of useful tips for making every comment count. Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive - if you come up with any more, let us know on Twitter.
Part I: Users
1. Comment more than once
There are bound to be a number of issues in your area that you feel strongly about, whether it’s that you wish there were more trees being planted in public spaces, or that you’d really like a local park where you can take your children to play. There’s no need to restrict yourself to a single comment - the more comments you make, the more feedback there will be to base planning decisions on.
The comment screen for Commonplace for London Bridge
2. Make the most of your comment
Each comment has a number of ways to express your views - these can vary from project to project, but there’ll usually be a feelings slider, a list of tags and some text fields - remember that the more of these you fill in, and the more detail you provide, the more data is available - and you might inspire others to have their say, too.
3. Come back for more
Most Commonplaces run for at least a year, and many for longer - we suggest coming back every now and then to provide follow-up feedback for things that have been changed, and to see what other users have been saying. You may get ideas for further comments, discover a viewpoint you hadn’t thought of before, or find updates or responses to feedback from the organisation running the project.
“Commonplace is all about generating discussion”
4. Spread the word
We encourage every user to share their Commonplace with their friends, family and neighbours - a Commonplace is most successful when it has a large amount of feedback from a diverse and varied set of people. You can now sign in to Commonplace using a Facebook or Twitter account, and every comment features share links - if you see an interesting comment, share it! Even if you don’t agree with everything it says, Commonplace is all about generating discussion.
5. Recommend Commonplace
If there are other local projects that affect your area, suggest that they use Commonplace - we’ve had a number of previous successes with Neighbourhood Plans, and you can find our guide to getting started here.
Part II: Project leaders
1. Use Commonplace on your site
Did you know that you can embed Commonplace on your website? You can find the embed code in the ‘help’ section of the dashboard - simply insert it into the page’s HTML code and you’re good to go! You can also embed a word cloud of the most popular tags, if you wish.
Commonplace embedded on a property developer website
2. Share, share, share!
Commonplace is all about reaching people, so be sure to spread the word - we’ve included share links on all our comments, but don’t forget to try contacting local news, blogs, and making sure Commonplace is visible on your site (see embedding section above). Planning is a hot topic at the moment and many people are eager to have their say, so it’s all just a matter of finding the right channels to make sure they’re aware that a Commonplace is running.
3. Make the most of the dashboard
The Commonplace dashboard provides invaluable data to your project - as well as the graphics on the summary screen, you can also download spreadsheets of the data - including comments, date, geographic location and certain anonymised data about the users. Just head to the users and comments tabs and click the download button.
“We value feedback just as much as you do”
4. Engage with your users
The purpose of Commonplace is to build a channel of communication between you and local people - if you get negative feedback, don’t ignore it - use it as an opportunity to explain why the situation is the way it is, and how you’re working to improve it.
5. Give us feedback too
We value feedback just as much as you do - we’re constantly striving to improve Commonplace, and the best way to do this is find out what our users need. If something doesn’t work the way you think it should, or there’s a feature that you think needs adding,let us know! We might just be able to look at improving or adding it. Furthermore, we’ll be happy to help if there’s anything else you’re struggling with.