SmartParticipation is a platform designed to provide an effective and adaptable environment for online discussion that is informed, inclusive and insightful.

Created and operated by CeRI, a cross-disciplinary group of Cornell University researchers, the platform has been tested and improved over six years of hosting online public commenting in live federal agency policymaking on the RegulationRoom site. That real world testing primarily involved participants with no prior experience in such policy processes (65%-95% self-reported newcomers). Even on complex and controversial questions, online discussion was thoughtful, informative, candid and civil.

SmartParticipation is designed to offer "targeted commenting", a side-by-side format in which participants attach their comments to specific sections of text. This encourages informed and focused commenting, and automatically organizes the discussion by substantive topic. A unique moderator interface allows facilitative moderation of the discussion. Moderators (students trained in group facilitation techniques) support participants and prompt discussion as needed.

For more information about the research and about using the platform for online discussion, contact us at