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Multiple Responses in Citizen Space

Chris Neil -

As Citizen Space deals with statutory government work, we don't use processes to prevent people from submitting single or multiple responses to consultations, as any restriction which runs the risk of preventing valid responses could get consulting organisations into trouble. For this reason, there is no way to completely prevent a user from submitting multiple responses to a single consultation on Citizen Space. However, unlike some other online consultations, Citizen Space does require an actual human to submit a response and is less at risk of technology, eg. bots, to submit multiple responses.

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Why Citizen Space does not restrict submissions 

If sites did have a restriction on people responding, for example those from the same IP address, it would mean that only one response would be accepted from a library, or in an office block, or a home, when multiple, different individuals may need to respond from that address.

 

How to prevent/identify duplicate responses

Although it is not possible to completely prevent multiple responses to consultations, there are numerous ways to discover possible duplicates, as well as ways to prevent/discourage users from submitting multiple responses.

Required identifying question

Our general advice on consultations at risk for receiving multiple responses is to ask for required identifying information. This allows you to easily identify if the same person responds more than once, or you can force the respondent to create new personal information making it more difficult to submit duplicate responses.

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Crosschecking data 

You can also use the IP address (if your site collects these), time and date stamps, and can see if someone is saying the same thing in their answers to provide you with more evidence, and remove those you believe they are duplicates.

These can be found easily in the excel export of your response data:

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Explicit disclaimer questions 

If you have a contentious consultation that you believe is at risk on receiving duplicate entries, you can also build in a consent-type question outlining your one-submission-per-user policy.

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NB: No system is free of the risk of multiple responses. People can submit multiple email responses, paper responses, even on sites with log-ins you can generate multiple user profiles in a very short amount of time to submit multiple entries, but in Citizen Space you can at least more easily identify if you get any duplicates using the tools described above and can remove them.

Removing responses

If you can confidently confirm that your consultation has received duplicate responses and would like to exclude these from your dataset and analysis as to not skew your results, you can remove said responses whilst still keeping a record in Citizen Space. Here is our article on how to remove responses from a consultation.