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13. Challenges and recommendations

Published onJun 17, 2021
13. Challenges and recommendations

With all of the above, the reader should be able to replicate the consultation process of the Consejo Nuevo León without problems. However, anyone who uses PubPub as a tool for citizen participation should expect some challenges. We present the following considerations, based on our experience of the process, for any group that wants to use PubPub as a tool for citizen participation.


  • PubPub is currently in English only. This is important, since one or two problems arose during the process in contributions from people who expressed that they did not know English and could not understand the platform. Because only some buttons now use words, and thanks to very well-written instructions, the obstacles to use across language barriers should now be minimized.

  • Users' names may not appear in the search bar to add them to private collections. This is a common occurrence, but it has a way of being fixed. Many people at the time they give you their username, it could be that they send it incomplete or with special characters that make it impossible to search. We recommend doing the following:

    • Pass the user profile page to the administrator. Top right on the initials logo, clicking on the user's name.

    • Put the name of your institution or group to which you belong (it can also be a code generated by the administrator) in your last name, with this it is almost impossible that it does not appear on the first search.

  • Private processes have many steps. This is something that some people expressed during the process, mainly the part about passing their registered username to the administrator. And although this may seem tedious, it is counteracted by having all the other benefits of the platform. At the moment there is no way to make it easier in private processes, but we do not believe that this is an impediment to achieving an excellent result.

  • Many comments to analyze. The best thing that can happen to the creators of the process is that hundreds or perhaps thousands of comments arrive. This helps to make a fairly nourishing and complete process. The bad thing about this is that the analysis process becomes more complex. We recommend that you have enough hands to be able to analyze and create the contribution databases if you are looking to generate a very large query.

To consider

  • Dissemination is important in public settings. Unless PubPub is used for a small number of people, it will not be possible to reach the masses of citizens who want to participate, if the appropriate communication channels are not used for it. We recommend generating a dissemination strategy on social networks and traditional media.

  • Review all the Pubs that are uploaded in document upload scenarios. A very common mistake is to approve the Pubs of the users when they upload one to the platform without reviewing it. No matter who the user is, it is important to always bear in mind that there may be very important errors, omissions or even statements that break the rules of coexistence of the platform. Always read everything before approving.

  • Pilot tests are key. There is nothing more important than testing the platform and its functionalities before starting the consultation process. The CONL team, during the design and construction period of the site, carried out three pilot tests. These pilot tests had different objectives.

    • Basic test: to know what the functionalities are for. Usually between 2 or 3 people with different accounts and permissions.

    • Extended internal testing: to find errors that the management team missed or to get process feedback, instructions, etc. The CONL team did it with 12 people.

    • Test for feedback from specific populations. One of the main concerns was the usability of the platform by users with less knowledge of information technology and who had difficulties using computers. A test was done with friends and family members of the team to find out how easy it was for this population (it was a success).

    • These types of tests can be for any population or for any other objective.

  • Write everything on paper and then on the page. As we stated previously, it is advisable to first have everything that is text written in a word processor to facilitate its spell check and make it easily editable. If you take the route that everything is written directly on the platform, it is very likely that they will not notice possible errors.

  • If possible, get personalized help from the PubPub team. The PubPub team was hired by CONL to install and design the site in its first version with all the functionalities adjusted to our needs. When it was possible to have a functional site, the CONL administrator team made modifications to their liking. However, some useful questions and options were only possible by speaking directly with the PubPub team.

Being creative: using the toolbox as a basis for new ways of using PubPub

As we have seen, the PubPub platform was not born with the aim of creating citizen consultation processes, on the contrary, it was designed for academic publication exercises in an open and collaborative format. However, the characteristics and nature of the tool have allowed a consultation process to be carried out in the best possible way and without complications.

This shows its flexibility and its hundreds of possibilities. This guide should also be thought of as a starting point for new forms of interaction with specific citizens or audiences. In other words, the platform does not necessarily have to be used to seek to open up public consultations, it also works perfectly for small groups or even for different types of organizations, such as companies.

The possibilities are endless. The point is to explore the platform and try to get the most out of it.

We invite the reader to share with us their experiences and new processes with PubPub once an exercise with this incredible platform begins.

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