is getting very serious about civic engagement, that is, real dialogue between government and citizenry. It's just a start, and a really good one. I feel this is the beginning of something very big. Greg Elin on his blog at Sunlight Foundation describes new features in some detail. Of particular note:

3. Call for participation. Asking people to contribute. This post is itself a response to 3,500 comments made on an earlier blog post.

7. User comments. First, it’s user comments. Second, it’s powered by a third-party service,

9. Identified users … with reputation points. It’s optional. And while many have been wringing their hands on how to perfectly do identity and reputation systems for interaction with citizens, choice of a third-party commenting system removes any government involvement with identity–safe existing subpoena authority — and leaves it to the market to sort the issue out.

10. Wisdom of the crowds. Participants vote comments up or down in order to help popular content rise to the top and off-topic stupidity sink to the bottom.

11. Group monitoring. Trust participants to flag content for inappropriateness. Errors will happen, but the vast majority of the crowd means well and will sort out bad apples quickly.