Monday, September 17, 2007

My Society: Brilliant eDemocracy Projects, but Write To Them May Be the Weakest?

LOL love They Work For You and would agree with Iain Dale's Monkey that if in fact this survey is right then there are more Labourites among the stragglers in terms of answering correspondence - through the Write To Them site at least.

But of all My Society's projects Write To Them is perhaps the weakest. And the survey especially is not great and intrinsically likely to attract whingers. Particularly towards the representatives of the party of government.

Naturally Iain's Mini-Me has his own piece of statistical selectivity. He chooses to focus on those MPs who fall into the bottom 100 with almost three-quarters being Labour. If instead he'd taken the top 20 he'd have caught nine Labour, seven Tories and two each for the DUP and Libs. In the top 50 the numbers are 18, 24, 3 and 5 respectively.

My Society's other projects include Fix My Street with the Young Foundation, Pledge Bank, Not Apathetic, the world famous Number 10 Petition Site, and Hear From Your MP too.

My Society are now looking for an interface developer.


Barnacle Bill said...

I beg to disagree about Write To Them being the weakest part of the My Society project.
I have managed to go from being totally ignored by my local MP, to at least getting a reply now, in a reasonable time period.
Of course I still get a load of rubbish from her, and never a straight answer, but I have come to expect that of a ZaNuLabor minister.
So I am all for anything/way that makes our elected representatives more accountable.
As for surveys, they are like black magic, you can always find something in them to confuse the punter with!

Chris Paul said...

Agree with the last bit. Write To Them is OK but the stats and satisfaction survey is not too clever. You get what you measure and if MPs are prepared to privilege the tiny proportion of communications from this source they might get a good score. Or if they are prepared to have their supporters use it and complete beaming recommendations all round. I can arrange to see my MP down the pub or bob into his office. Still in Manchester Central. The Man Wit boy meanwhile got quite a good score. But when he replies to me it is evasion, rudeness, points scoring, bringing up unrelated 2-year-old business. Is that good?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Chris paul in that too great a store being held against WriteToThem messages - which would boost one's score - is a little unfair on the other constituent(s) who may have contacted their MP by some other means and/or be of a more pressing nature.

Added to this I have found the site to have other flaws. For one the email address it uses is not verified with MPs (or say their websites) as being the one to use, rather I think they are drawn from the Guardian website which I know to hold old and disfunctional contacts (and I have alerted them to errors and not seen them changed). So some MPs may not be 'responding' to correspondence they never even received.

Secondly, the previous figures for 'response' times have been formulate on a rather methodologically unsound basis which did not survey actual times of initial enquiry and response but rather asked some constituents who had used the WriteToThem service AND had chosen to respond to their questioning to 'recall' what the length of time was...Even when I am feeling in a good mode I can forget and exaggerate how long 'official' responses take; I also know from experience that, even faced with the copy of a reply, members of the public can magically forget that it even reached them or that it constituted a "reply" (ie. yes your are absolutely right/it wasn't done yesterday, here have your weight in gold).

Anonymous said...

Dear same-Anonymous-blogger-as-on-Iain-Dale's-blog,

I really wonder where you get your facts from, and therefore who you are. As I said in my comment over there, WriteToThem has never asked any constituents how long it has taken a representative to get back to them, and you're just as wrong when it comes to representative contact details. If you'd care to reveal who you are, I'd happily track down the times you've alerted us to errors and not seen them changed.

I agree with Chris that stats are likely to attract whingers and people who pick and choose and do bad analysis - but I blame the whingers for that, not the stats. :)

"Is that good?" <-- obviously not, but given some MPs don't bother replying to lots of correspondence at all, you have to start somewhere. :-)

Matthew, mySociety