General Principles

Online deliberation requires a different set of implementation rules compared to conventional, face-to-face deliberation. The general principles, limitations, and benefits of online deliberation inspire us on a new approach toward deliberative mini-publics.


  • Design for the least tech-savvy participant; then it will be great for everyone else, too

  • Shorten all durations compared to in-person (shorter meetings & shorter activities within meetings)

  • Connect to the offline world as much as possible (e.g., using physical objects, papers, etc.)

  • Bring more FUN into meetings than we would normally in a deliberation — to prevent burnout and extend engagement

  • General pace needs to be slower; don’t expect to get through as much material

  • Use the minimum number of tools/platforms possible, but use it to its fullest — find ways to do as much as possible within a given tool

  • Even more important than usual to have absolute clarity of purpose for every bit of every session


  • The longer the group convenes or the more often they meet, the more new tools can be introduced because people will be more prepared to try and learn new things. See Facilitating Public Deliberations

Limitations and Benefits of Online Deliberation 


  • Online deliberation may inhibit participants from forming bonds, emotionally connecting with the topics, and participating. Also disrupts the feeling of fluid conversation that is present within in person deliberations. 
    Online or offline? A view from assembly members
  • Possibly harder to facilitate because it is harder to gauge who needs more help/ attention to make sure that they are adequately contributing to the conversation. EG you cannot gauge someone’s body language.
    Facilitating Public Deliberations
  • Zoom Fatigue 


  • Participants have indicated that they prefer deliberations that incorporate an online component and some small businesses owners have voiced that online deliberation allowed them to participate without being too time consuming.
    Online or offline? A view from assembly members
    A View From You: The City of New York Listens to Small Businesses

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