MySociety’s ePetitioner architecture

Prime Minister's crestAn outline of the front-end processes of the Number 10 petitioning system developed by MySociety can be found on their developers blog here (it’s pretty techie).

The main issue as they see it seems to the have been the technical problems associated with verifying and recording high volumes of signatures – meaning that the database updates had to be batched.

There’s still no consideration of the processes that (could/should) take place after a petition has been submitted, though it looks like someone is having a go at that too, here http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/respect/ – perhaps I should sign… now done


Anyway, whatever one might think of the system, it is significant and deserves constructive feedback. I have already suggested that they provide links to discussion forums (if No 10 is unwilling to take on the hosting/moderation role), which has made it as number 18 on their list of suggestions here.

I have just also suggested that a ‘comment on this petition’ option be added to allow users to note duplications (eg http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/imarekab/ and http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/faithschools/ ) or to highlight petitions that seem to go beyond the powers of the PM or government, such as those requiring the PM to change the Radio 4 schedules (here, here and here). At least, I hope No 10 doesn’t think it has the power to tell the BBC what to do.

A simple drop down list with reason (duplication, outwith powers etc) and textbox for details would be enough, I would think – supplemented by some sort of identification and email verification to keep things under control. Apart from anything else, it would help the administrators separate comments on individual petitions from general feedback to team_at_petitions.pm.gov.uk

Let’s see if that makes it too! (Well, it’s there now, because I edited the wiki directly)

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About Peter Cruickshank

Lecturer in the School of Computing and a member of the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland. Interested in information systems, learning, politics, society, security and where they intersect. My attempts at rounding out my character include food, cinema, running, history and, together with my lovely wife, bringing up a cat and a couple of kids.
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2 Responses to MySociety’s ePetitioner architecture

  1. Others in the academic blogosphere have been thinking about the impact of the amazing success of the ePetitioning system. As Rachel Gibson asks in Online petition gathering steam in relation to a petition on road tax:

    Watching how the government deal with the feedback will be interesting. Will it be lost in the ether?

    Let’s see…

  2. Pingback: Integrating e-participation into the deliberative process « Spartakan

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