An online consultation or e-consultation is the use of electronic computing and communication technologies in consultation processes. Online consultations can be effective tools in encouraging participation and gathering responses to consultation documents and social policy issues as part of a broader range of methodologies. This form of participation has no minimum or maximum amount of individuals who can participate. It also usually allows participants the freedom of selecting what time to engage in participation and how often.
As of 2010, Portsmouth, New Hampshire (population 20,000) has sustained the practice of organized, public dialogue and deliberation for over ten years. Since 1999, diverse community groups in Portsmouth have organized at least six rounds of large-scale dialogue-to-action circles (study circles) initiatives. This case study provides brief descriptions of four of these initiatives from 1999 through 2004. Descriptions of Portsmouth’s later public engagement initiatives will be added to this entry at a later date, or posted as separate entries.