Can you Get Satisfaction from your local Council?

I’ve been quietly impressed with Get Satisfaction, which is sort of best described as a “social customer service” site. Twitter and some other big-name players on the internet use it for their official support channels – the idea of the site being that employees of the companies join in with discussion of “problems” that people are having. Some employees just join to help, others are granted “official” status and can speak on behalf of the organisation.

Of course lots of problems that we have with products or services aren’t really problems (or are well know and documented) – in these instances other users are happy to help (very much like unofficial forums for software). ‘Users’ are also welcome to point out possible solutions to anything – and of course they do.

So, I thought, could this work for a local council? Imagine time saved by council officials if knowledgeable citizens helped answer questions, imagine the resources available (once someone had explained how to apply for a licence, the information would be there for everyone), imagine a monolithic body “joining the conversation”.

Rather than deciding to attempt to persuade my local council (Birmingham City Council – one of the largest in the UK) that this would be a good idea, I discovered that – as the site is “a space for an open conversation between you and other people with interests and passions in this organization.” – anyone can set a company page up. So I have.

I don’t have anything to ask at the moment, but I’m hoping that it might get used.

“Sometimes representatives from the company or organization may take part in the conversation too.” says the blurb — wouldn’t that be great?

You can’t have it

Where as I say “gowan then” to people who ask to use my Flickr pics, there’s a certain type of people that seemingly don’t want you to even see theirs. D_morton (who probably doesn’t want the link ; ) ) always puts “You may not use, copy or print my photographic image files without my permission.” in the description of the hundreds of photos he uploads – usually candid shots of people in Brum and Walsall.

While anyone is entitled to do that – and there are licensing settings and other tools to prevent that on Flickr (although the only safe way would be not to put them on the ‘net) – it seems overkill and for some reason it annoys me when I see the photos in one of my RSS photo feeds. Rant over, I wonder if it’s possible to do exclusions by username for Flickr RSS – yahoo pipes perhaps?

EDIT: Yes it is, annnnd relax.