Google Moderator lets folks ask questions and vote on them. So do lots of other tools. The main thing that is interesting about this is that it comes from Google, which could give it critical mass in a hurry.
Posted in: Tools.
Indeed, it was 18 months ago that you introduced us to Yoosk, a UK outfit which has had similar aims. (So much for my coming up with the idea in the 2004 election cycle).
The idea is easy, the programming less so, and the marketing hard. A tool like this will succeed when a Google search for a microcelebrity like Matt Cutts won’t just bring up his own website/blog and a Wikipedia page, but the public questions page.
Jon, all credit and acknowledgment for you for coming up with the idea first- I do remember you saying so 18 months ago.
As you say, the programming is the easy bit-working out not only how to market it, but where its real value lies is the hardest part.
You might be interested to know where the last 18 months has taken us. We were shortlisted for the Knight News Challenge (to the final 60 or so) but missed out on the funding that could have given us the ‘critical mass in a hurry’ (Dan, you have no idea how depressing that phrase is). We’ve seen askyourlawmaker.com and zotfish come along with remarkably similar architecture but fail to gain traction.
We have concentrated on the UK and tried to evolve our business model as we learn about what the market really wants. It turns out that public figures want to engage and consult and that actually it is the press who are often the biggest obstacle to a real dialogue between the voters and politicians.
We are now piloting Yoosk as a consultation platform in co-operation with a large regional press group. See this link:
We are firmly positioned as a tool for e-democracy and consultation, rather than a citizen media tool. Or to put it another way, we are a participatory media tool for government, rather than the media.
We are starting to get a lot of interest off national and local government in the Uk. The model is that they take a dedicated domain (e.g. yoosk.com/londoncouncil) which has its own CMS. They use this as a platform to crowd source questions, going to local papers and asking them to carry a widget, or a special section on their paper.
Yoosk gathers the questions, therefore keeping the paper and the council at arms length from each other.
We’ve gone a huge amount of work on this- imagine how it feels to see everyone congratulate Google on what you rightly say, Jon, is a relatively straightforward bit of programming. Finding ways to really create value for society is the hardest part.
With all respect Dan (and I mean it, you were the first to post about us, after all) , I hope you would champion a very determined and dedicated start up over Google and give us equal space on your blog at the very least. What we are trying to do is very interesting- have a look at the video on the front page for an explanation of our model.
All the best,
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