My civil servant Twitter rules

These 5 rules apply to tweeting about my employer’s organisational structure, procedures, communications and decisions.

X = news organisations, bad hackers, disgruntled followers, etc.

Y = the United Kingdom, the government digital service or myself

Z = colleagues, other departments or suppliers

  1. Don’t tweet when your judgment is impaired
  2. What could X do against Y with my tweet?
  3. Could my tweet impact relations with Z?
  4. If not sure, don’t tweet, ask boss
  5. Boss not available?  Don’t tweet.

I hope this post helps fellow civil and public servants.  For further reading, check out social media guidance for civil servants and the civil service code.

I also strongly recommend this bundle of links from @pubstrat, whose advice started me thinking about this checklist. 


The helpdesk


So, I’ve been a User Support Lead at the government digital service since 18th September.  Initially I did my own thing for the first week, introducing myself to people and bothering them with questions.  Week 2, I built use cases for the contracts finder product we’ll be supporting.  Week 3, I’m leading work around preparing the helpdesk for our first major product release on 17th October.  The product is which replaces both and  This is a major milestone for the government digital service and will set the tone for future product releases, such as Inside Government due to be released in mid-November.

Helpdesk to do list

The helpdesk system in use at the government digital service is called Zendesk, which is used by other governments


Personally, my top priority is to increase my knowledge to the point where I consider myself an expert.  By expert, I mean the person my colleagues turn to for advice.  My colleagues priorities are to: –

  1. Create multiple organisations in our helpdesk, i.e. an extranet for suppliers and other government departments
    1. This allows us to “route” helpdesk tickets, chase them up and serve our customers better
    2. Otherwise, we’d have to fire emails into the ether and hope for the best
  2. Complete the knowledge base containing user support contacts and macro descriptions
  3. Sort out integration with other tools we use
  4. Get everyone up to speed, i.e. training videos.

How will I achieve this?

Through sheer bloody minded hard work, obviously 🙂  Also, who we are helps: –

Zendesk are willing to help.  The delivery manager, operations manager & I met with our Zendesk “account executive” at the end of last week.  We left them with a series of questions which you can see here.  I chased them a few days later but didn’t get all the answers I need.  So, I’ve booked a call with Zendesk’s resident techie for 201210101500.

Acquiring knowledge + testing it

Zendesk have detailed support pages and a YouTube channel that I’ve been learning from.  I’m still a little unclear on the nuances of triggers, tags and macros and need to increase my knowledge, especially with tags.  Fortunately, Zendesk has a sandbox feature that allows us to test stuff before making it live.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t been used by the government digital service yet, but I’ll see that changes.  Annoying, Zendesk doesn’t yet have a built-in way to deploy from sandbox to production, even though it was requested as a feature back in 2010.  Fortunately, a 3rd party appears to have built an add-on that will do it for us.  Unfortunately, government procurement can be challenging.  Hey ho.


We had a retrospective meeting last week, which helped the Operations Team learn what went well, what didn’t and compile questions and actions.  Here is a picture of Megan, our excellent Delivery Manager, facilitating the session: –
One of the things I suggested was a video of what we do, inspired by the recent Infrastructure Team’s effort (see our YouTube channel for more).  Essentially, a video helps promote ourselves both internally to colleagues and externally to our customers.  You may ask, “why promote yourself internally?” to which the simple answer is that the government digital service has around 180 staff.  We’re busy and don’t get enough time to interact (something I’m working on – more on that another time).

Is this all doable by launch date?

In a word, yes (well, maybe not the video).  Zendesk is mostly ready, staff are in place and everyone knows what to expect.  We just need to test, test and re-test, then settle in for the switchover on 17th October.  To take my mind off work, I’m going to the Made in Lambeth 2 event the weekend before launch.  Plus, release any pent up aggression at LYC Badminton.  Simples! 🙂