Terms of Participation for This Site


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We encourage you to participate in the discussion and look forward to hearing your ideas. The purpose of these Terms is to explain how we handle the content you submit to this site and our standards of conduct.

On this site, you can:

  • View the ideas of others and comment on them
  • Submit your own ideas
  • Vote for or against ideas you think are most important
  • Flag posts as "off topic"

Anyone can view the ideas on the site. But you must create an account—become a registered user—before you can submit, comment on, vote on or flag ideas. Your participation in this dialog is voluntary and no payments or gifts will be made to respondents. Any content you submit is in the public domain and may be reused.

Your user name

You can log in to this site using an existing account and user name (e.g., Google, AOL, Yahoo, or WordPress), or you can register with your email address. When you register with the site, the first part of your email address before the @ symbol will be your user name. Any comments, ideas or votes you post will be associated with your user name. For example, if john.doe @ domain.com is your email address, any posts or votes you submit will be linked to john.doe.

You can edit your profile at any time and choose a different 'first name', which will then be associated with content you post on this site, instead of the first part of your email address.

Standards of conduct

Our Terms of Participation is intended to support open discussion while ensuring a respectful exchange of ideas. We reserve the option to review your ideas against these Terms before posting publicly, which could result in a delay. Ideas or comments will be removed from the site by staff if they include any of the following:

  • Threatening, slanderous or obscene language
  • Personal attacks
  • Discriminatory language (including hate speech) based on race, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion or disability
  • Sexually explicit material and other material that would violate the law if published here
  • Ideas or comments that promote services or products (non-commercial links that are relevant to this web site are OK)
  • Repetitive posts (for example, if you submit the same idea multiple times)
  • Embedded media, such as videos or photos (but hyperlinks to such media are OK)
  • Spam or undecipherable language (gratuitous links will be viewed as spam)
  • Copyright infringement
  • Personally Identifiable Information (e.g., social security numbers, postal and email addresses, phone numbers)

In general, agencies may: approve ideas; reject ideas if they violate the terms laid out in this document; or move ideas to an off–topic community if they do not violate these terms but are considered to be off–topic (see below). However, in some rare cases, agencies may also choose to directly edit the text of your idea in order to redact any Personally Identifiable Information (PII) (e.g., your social security number) that you may have included in your idea. Agencies will not use this editing capability to alter the substance of ideas submitted.

Comments posted under ideas that contain PII, as opposed to the ideas themselves, cannot be edited and will be removed.

To read more about how we handle the content you submit, please see our privacy policy.

Off–topic and duplicate posts

To ensure a focused and constructive discussion, our moderators reserve the right to move ideas, which are "off topic" or do not address some aspect of the dialog, to the Off–Topic community. Topics that are considered off topic include but are not limited to discussions of policy issues not directly addressed by this initiative.

If you're a registered user (have an account) you can flag an idea or comment as "off topic" or inappropriate. This will alert moderators to review it.

If two or more virtually identical ideas are posted, the moderator may merge the separate submissions into a single statement of the idea—that way, comments on the idea will be kept together.


By participating in this online community, you agree that any idea or comment you submit may be rated by someone else through the use of agree or disagree voting. The rating score is displayed next to the idea. A positive rating increases the score and a negative rating decreases the score. We expect everyone to follow honest voting practices. You should respect the principle of one person, one vote (you can vote for any idea, including your own, but you cannot vote for any idea more than once.) You should not enter a vote that is coerced or paid for.

People will be able to see how many votes (the net number of votes) each idea gets.

Information collection under the Paperwork Reduction Act

The Paperwork Reduction Act (PDF, 96 KB, 23 pages, November 2004) requires that agency information collections minimize duplication and burden on the public, have practical utility, and support the proper performance of the agency's mission. The collection of information for this dialog and its rating (voting) functionality were approved on February 1, 2010, by the Office of Management and Budget and assigned OMB control number 3090–0288.

Questions about these terms

These Terms of Participation may be amended or modified in the future. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.


Content Lead: Justin Herman
Page Reviewed/Updated: May 5, 2010

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