‘is [Your Freedom] the silliest new govt website or the most inspired?’

That was the question posed by Krishnan Guru-Murthy of http://yourfreedom.hmg.gov.uk/ on his Twitter account yesterday – and it nicely encapsulates the ability for an exercise and site like this to polarise opinion.

There’s been a lot of coverage and comment about the site already and I thought it might be useful (and fun) to collect together some of the pieces that have been written about it – from all sides of the debate. There’s a pile of links below that you can peruse at your leisure.

Above all, I just think it’s really exciting and promising for the future of digital democracy that so many people take such an interest. As @neillyneil observes in one of my favourite pieces so far, it’s ‘an obvious point but let’s spell it out: online participation in government policy has now moved from the fringes to the mainstream – it’s become the norm, no longer the domain of a handful of early adopters’. I think that’s a very good thing.

Will probably update this post as more stuff appears. Shout if you’ve seen something we should include :)

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7 Responses to ‘is [Your Freedom] the silliest new govt website or the most inspired?’

  1. I have an issue with the labels for the star ratings.

    2 Stars = Fair

    A fair law is a good law. But you wouldn’t buy a car if you knew it had a two star rating. But a politician can come along and say “hundreds of people thought this idea was fair”.

  2. Simon Holder says:

    I notice that you are just including ‘mainstream’ media and rather glossing over some of the commentaries over the reliability and design.

    It seems that politicians take your software and in return you take their spin doctors.

  3. Adam says:

    I don’t think we can know the answer to “silliest or most inspired” yet. It will depend on what the government do with it.

    It’s certainly generated a load of deeply silly suggestions. But if you look carefully, there are actually some really good ideas there as well.

    If the government actually act on some of the sensible ideas, then this will have been a truly great exercise. If they just do what they were going to do all along anyway (or worse, act on some of the daft ideas while ignoring the sensible ones), then it will have been a total waste of effort.

    Time will tell.

  4. citizen says:

    Ben,

    I think the concept is good and hope to see it make a practical difference to government policy.

    The likes of KGM will always be opposed as it takes some element of power away from their organisations.

    However, the reason I post relates to your software. The highest rated element is somewhat nonsensical to me.

    “Ideas” where one person votes 5 automtically get prompoted to the highest rated, surely it should be a combination of number of votes against rating. For example, an idea with 1,000 votes and a score of 4.9 is clearly more consistent and worth of being visible than a single vote of 5.

    Any thoughts?

  5. Ben – Many congratulations on your platform being used for this extremely high profile consultation. Citizen has raised the very point I wanted to raise with you. Looking through the “highest rated column” you see lots and lots of poor ideas that have had one person give them five stars and it would take a lot of patience to get through to some of the ideas that actually have had lots of people vote on them. In fact, initially I started to get the impression that most ideas had only had a handful of people vote on them, whereas some have had hundreds. Do you have thoughts on this? At a minimum I would have thought it would be worth having a “most voted on” column which would highlight the ideas that people have most engaged with. Or have a rule that says you can only appear in the highest rated column if your idea has been voted on at least X times (or have a moving threshold that increases as more and more voting takes place, e.g. at least 1 vote when only 100 votes have been cast, at least two votes when 200 votes have been cast etc)

  6. Ben says:

    Hi all – thanks for the comments; it’s great to hear from so many people (here and elsewhere) and we want to get into lots of these conversations. We’re still working on this project at the moment so it’s not easy to respond quickly or piecemeal to all the points people are raising. I think we’ll try to put together a blog post rounding up some of the common themes in the feedback we’ve seen and give a bit of a reply there. And it’s an ongoing conversation so hopefully you can come back to us on that too :)

  7. Overall I’d rather have it than not but it is embarrassingly bad at the moment.

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