Dialogue Structure
Participation in French and English
Ground Rules

Welcome to the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Dialogue on a new approach for managing water levels and flows. Our goal is to facilitate a discussion of issues with experts and stakeholders and provide a meaningful opportunity to comment on the new approach that is currently being developed. Please visit the International Joint Commission’s website to learn more about the new approach.

Dialogue Structure
The agenda for this WebDialogue is divided into four topics, one topic each day. Each topic contains two or more specific discussions, which will be introduced on the day the topic begins. Throughout the day, participants post comments and respond to each other's comments and questions. Subject matter experts are available as “panelists” to answer questions and offer ideas. A bilingual facilitator will participate to encourage dialogue and keep the discussion focused. An email containing links to highlights of the previous day’s discussion will be provided each morning. All topics remain open for discussion until the end of the dialogue. However, most participants will move on to the current day’s topic.

The dialogue is publicly accessible. Anyone can read the postings. To participate, however, you must register. We encourage participants to read background information, follow the discussion, contribute their perspectives, and seek to learn from one another.

Registration allows you to introduce yourself to the others in the dialogue, much like you might do at the beginning of any face-to-face meeting. This fosters relationships and constructive dialogue. Dialogue participants’ email addresses are not published on the website. (See Contacting Participants below.) At any time during or after the dialogue has concluded you can log in and edit your profile.

The WebDialogue will open at 9am Eastern Time on Tuesday, June 12, 2012. Each day one new topic will be introduced at 9am ET. A facilitator will be present until 6pm ET. The site will be open for participants to enter messages throughout the day and night. The dialogue will close at 6pm ET on Friday, June 15, 2012.

Viewing a Discussion

  • The WebDialogues website takes advantage of a number of features that older browsers do not support. Please use the most current version of your browser. On a PC use Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Internet Explorer 8 or 9. For Mac OSX use Firefox, Chrome, or Safari.
  • To view the discussion, select the Agenda or Discussions tab.
  • The discussion questions appear in the shaded box near the top of the screen.
  • Messages appear in a threaded view so it is easy to see responses made to other messages.
  • You may view the message subjects by selecting Outline (default) or Full Text.
  • All message time stamps appear in Eastern Time.

Participation in French and English

  • This is a bilingual web dialogue. You may participate in either French or English. The same content will be available on the English and French sides of the website.
  • You may submit a message in either language. A translation of your message will be posted on the other side of the website.
  • To maintain the pace of the discussion, we ask that you keep your messages focused and brief. We are limiting each message to 250 words.

Posting Messages

  • To initiate a new idea in response to the discussion question, click “INTRODUCE A NEW IDEA.” Your submission will create a new discussion thread in an outlined message box.
  • To respond to a message, click "Reply" in the lower right of the message box.
  • Follow the tips for creating messages (below).
  • Click Submit only once.

Tips for Creating Messages

  • Stay on topic.
  • Create a subject line that describes your idea or question.
  • Be brief. State your main idea followed by any relevant explanation or context. More people will read and reply to short messages.
  • Contribute one idea or question per message. If you have three ideas or questions, post three messages with distinct subject lines. This helps focus the discussion.
  • Define acronyms.
  • Add relevant references to your messages. When composing your message, check Yes to the question “Attach a Resource?” Provide clear attribution and describe why the resource is relevant. You may include multiple website addresses or PDF documents to a message.
    • For websites (URLs), include only address text that follows “http://”.
    • For documents, save them in PDF format where the file name contains no spaces, for example, save_like_this.pdf.

Dialogue Facilitation and Management
The dialogue hosts, facilitators, and producers will make every effort to facilitate a productive experience for participants. We encourage you to think of this like a conversation in your home and treat each other with respect.

Report Off-Topic Messages
Click the Report box to alert the facilitator if a message is clearly off topic, is inconsistent with the Ground Rules (below), or needs attention for some other reason. The facilitator will review the message and communicate with the author to achieve an appropriate resolution. Off topic posts may be relocated to the "Off Topic" discussion area. Posts that appear to disregard the Ground Rules may be edited or deleted. Participants who repeatedly disregard the Ground Rules will be removed from the discussion.

Discussion Summary Highlights
Each morning registered participants will receive links to the previous day's discussion highlights. Highlights will include messages posted before 6pm ET. At the end of the dialogue, a wrap-up summary will consolidate highlights from the entire dialogue, including points made after the daily cut-off times. Summaries will be available to all participants.

Ground Rules
Participants are asked to share collective responsibility for creating an environment in which differing perspectives are welcome and treated with respect. These Ground Rules are meant to achieve those goals.

      What to do:

  • Limit your comments to the topics under discussion.
  • Express your opinions clearly and respectfully.
  • Create concise messages that contribute unique ideas or questions.

      What not to do:

  • Make personal attacks on people inside or outside the discussion or otherwise engage in uncivil debate; this is a discussion with room for many views.
  • Sell your products and services (non-commercial links that are relevant to the topics are acceptable).

The dialogue host reserves the right to move or delete comments that fall outside these bounds.

Participants include anyone interested in the water level and flow issues who registers to participate in the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Dialogue.

Panelists   (inactive on that day = Inactive Panelist,   active on that day = Active Panelist)
Panelists are subject matter experts who participate in the dialogue in the same way as other participants. They may pose questions, offer insight, raise issues, and share their expertise and perspectives with other participants. Please feel free to ask them questions.

Facilitator   Moderator
The facilitator introduces the discussions each morning. He or she encourages everyone to join the conversation, asks questions to ensure that all aspects of the topics are considered, and keeps the conversation focused. The facilitator reminds people about the Ground Rules and calls for clarification as needed. The facilitator may move, edit, or delete messages when appropriate.

Host   Host
This icon identifies a staff member of the host organizations.

Manager   Moderator
The manager represents WestEd production and dialogue host staff responsible for organizing the dialogue.