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D.C. monitoring local blogs for city service ratings

Tuesday - 7/24/2012, 5:52pm  ET

Mark Segraves, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - A few local bloggers and reporters are having more of an impact on government accountability than they may be aware. District officials announced they're monitoring the comment section of five local blogs as part of a pilot program designed to give residents an opportunity to rate city services.

Grade DC has been operating for about 7 weeks, using an online survey, social media and the comment sections of local blogs to rate how well various agencies are providing services.

According to Pedro Ribeiro, spokesperson for Mayor Gray, the District uses two Washington Post blogs, one official government blog and two alternative news outlets as part of the grading system.

Comments from the Washington Post's Daily Gripe and District of DeBonis, Washington City Paper's Loose Lips, DCist.com and the government-run DDOT Dish are used to score various agencies.

As for how reporters feel about their work being used to grade the government, Mike DeBonis says its a matter of public record.

"Doesn't bother me. It's out there for anyone to read, even D.C. government robots," he says.

Martin Austermuhle, editor-in-chief of DCist.com says "D.C. neighborhood blogs and listservs are a great place to get the pulse of the city."

"For all the times I've written about a bad experience at the DMV or complained that DPW tickets too liberally sometimes, plenty of residents have done the same on comment boards, discussion forums and listservs," he says.

Alan Suderman, who pens the Loose Lips blog notes with his deft wit how the annonimity of online comment sections often are home to less than honest and constructive conversations.

"I've certainly found that people who comment anonymously on news sites are the most civilized, intelligent folks around. I'm sure District government will be well served listening to their advice," he says.

DDOT Dish, which is written by employees at the District's Department of Transportation, has not been updated since early April. DDOT is one of the five agencies rated by Grade DC.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)