These methods can be used for gathering insight and information. They typically create a one way flow of information (i.e. from participant to organisation or organisation to participant) and do not involve interaction between participants. They can be used by organisations to explore the preferences, thoughts, ideas and interests of participants or to provide citizens and consumers with access to information and advice. They might be used for new product development or market research.
These methods encourage interaction and communication between participants and facilitate the exchange of opinions and ideas. Some of these methods create closed discussions (i.e. individuals must be invited to take part), while others invite open conversations (i.e. anyone can contribute). In some cases the discussion is for a very specific purpose, while in others this is left open for participants to decide. These methods can be used to share thoughts and information, invite feedback on products and services, establish and maintain relationships and encourage the growth of communities around an idea, brand, product, issue, or place. They might be used in customer relationship management or customer services.
These methods allow participants to make or contribute to decisions. They range from giving participants complete control over a decision, to getting participants to signal preferences. Some require participants to reach consensus, while others aggregate the choices of individual participants (through a voting system) to reach an overall decision. Some have a deliberative element built in, requiring participants to spend time sharing and challenging their views with others before reaching a decision. Many have been adapted from offline participatory decision-making processes. They might be used for corporate governance or policy making.
These methods allow participants to create, share and take action together. Some help participants to pledge and swap their skills, resources and time between themselves. Others enable participants to collaborate to achieve a shared goal – perhaps collecting information or knowledge on a subject, co-designing or -creating a product, or campaigning for change. As with the debate methods, some create closed groups of invited individuals, while others allow open participation from anybody who wishes to contribute. They might be used for corporate social responsibility.