United States Department of Agriculture
Open Government Initiative
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We encourage you to participate in the discussion and look forward to hearing your ideas.  The purpose of these Terms is to explain how we handle the content you submit to this site and our standards of conduct.

On this site, you can:

  • View the ideas of others and comment on them
  • Submit your own ideas
  • Vote for or against ideas you think are most important

Anyone can view the ideas on the site.  But you must create an account – become a registered user – before you can submit, comment or vote on ideas. Your participation in this dialog is voluntary and no payments or gifts will be made to respondents. Any content you submit is in the public domain and may be reused.

Your User Name

You can register with your email address. When you register with the site, you can edit your profile with and create a unique user ‘first’ and ‘last’ name.  Any comments, ideas or votes you post will be associated with the name submitted to your personal profile.  Your email address will never be displayed to users of the site. Any posts or votes you submit will be linked to your profile information. You can edit your profile at any time.

Standards of Conduct

Our Terms of Participation is intended to support open discussion while ensuring a respectful exchange of ideas.  We reserve the option to review your ideas against these Terms before posting publicly, which could result in a delay.  We will not edit your ideas or comments, but they will be removed from the site by staff if they include any of the following:

  • Threatening, slanderous or obscene language
  • Personal attacks
  • Discriminatory language (including hate speech) based on race, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion or disability
  • Sexually explicit material and other material that would violate the law if published here
  • Ideas or comments that promote services or products (non-commercial links that are relevant to this web site are OK)
  • Repetitive posts (for example, if you submit the same idea multiple times)
  • Embedded media, such as videos or photos (but hyperlinks to such media are OK)
  • Spam or undecipherable language (gratuitous links will be viewed as spam)
  • Copyright infringement
  • Personally Identifiable Information (e.g., social security numbers, postal and email addresses, phone numbers).

To read more about how we handle the content you submit, please see our privacy policy.

Off-Topic and Duplicate Posts

To ensure a focused and constructive discussion, our moderators reserve the right to remove ideas, which are “off topic” or do not address some aspect of the dialog. Topics that are considered off topic include but are not limited to discussions of policy or program issues not directly addressed by this initiative.

If two or more virtually identical ideas are posted, the moderator may merge the separate submissions into a single statement of the idea – that way, comments on the idea will be kept together.


By participating in this online community, you agree that any idea or comment you submit may be rated by someone else through the use of agree or disagree voting. The rating score is displayed next to the idea. A positive rating increases the score and a negative rating decreases the score.  We expect everyone to follow honest voting practices.  You should respect the principle of one person, one vote (you can vote for any idea, including your own, but you cannot vote for any idea more than once.)  You should not enter a vote that is coerced or paid for.

People will be able to see how many votes (the net number of votes) each idea gets.

Questions about these Terms

These Terms of Participation may be amended or modified in the future.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at open@usda.gov.

Date: 01/21/2010

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