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Issues editing an open consultation

Jess Henderson -

This article answers why there are certain parts of your consultation that are no longer editable after the start date has passed.

On the Edit Consultation Details form, there are three fields that cannot be edited if the start date of the consultation has passed and the end date has not yet been reached.  These are:

  • The consultation URL
  • The Public/Private status of the consultation
  • The owner of the consultation

Why are these not editable?

Making a change to any of these fields can result in the URL of the consultation changing.  If the URL changes, there are implications for any respondents who are viewing or responding to the consultation:

  • If a consultation becomes private, anyone who tries to access the consultation on its old (public) URL (eg from a bookmark, a link in an email, or because they're currently looking at it when it changes) will see a 'Not Found' error message instead.
  • If a consultation's URL changes for any other reason, respondents will be redirected to the new location rather than seeing a 'Not Found' error.  However, if they are in the middle of filling in an online survey, they will lose all the answers they have already filled out.  This is the main reason that URL changes need to be done with great caution.  (NB. This doesn't apply to save-and-return links, which will still work and redirect to the consultation's new location).

Why can't I change the owner?  What has that got to do with the URL?

If a consultation is assigned to a new owner, it may also be moved into that owner's department (team).  Since the department (team) forms part of the consultation URL, this has the same effect as changing the consultation's URL directly.

But my consultation has not yet been published. Why does the consultation's start date matter?

Currently Citizen Space has no way of distinguishing between a consultation that has been published and retracted again, and one that has never been published.

Since it's critical not to lose the responses of anyone who is part-way through filling in a survey, the safest option is for the system to assume that respondents could have seen (and started to fill in) a consultation at any time after its start date.

A note on best practice: if you are editing a draft consultation that has never been published and the start date has already passed, it's likely that the start date has been set incorrectly.  The consultation should be published on or before its start date, otherwise respondents may wonder why the consultation was not publicly visible on the date it was supposed to start.

If you are aware of the issues listed above, but still want or need to make changes, (to edit the url, change the public/private status, change the owner or move the consultation to a new owner in a new department), it is possible to do so. You will just need to do the following:

  1. Retract the consultation.
  2. Change the start date to a day in the future, and save.
  3. Make the required change.
  4. Change the start date back to what it was previously, save, and republish.

Read more about moving consultations to another Department

Read more about changing the consultation owner