As part of their admirable commitment to transparency, mySociety recently commissioned independent reports into two of their websites, TheyWorkForYou.com and WriteToThem.com. Through usage statistics and other data, the reports offer an honest and impartial appraisal of the websites’ reach and efficacy.
Overall, these sites are achieving their stated aims. WriteToThem, for example, receives 40-50,000 unique hits each month, with 100,000 people a year using the site to contact their representatives – from ministers and MEPs to local councillors and MPs. Most impressive, however, is the fact that WriteToThem engages with people who tend to shy away from more collective forms of campaigning and lobbying. For 40% of users, WriteToThem will be the first time they have ever contacted their political representative.
TheyWorkForYou, meanwhile, receives between 200,000 and 300,000 visits each month and is mySociety’s most popular site by some margin. Again, the site reaches out beyond the core group of politically active citizens, with some 60% of site users never previously having looked up information on their political representatives. Clearly, both sites are opening up the political process to all, not just a few.
While some problems remain, WriteToThem and TheyWorkForYou are, by any standard, well on the way to achieving their goals of making political representatives more accountable, making parliamentary procedures more transparent and linking constituents to their representatives. The unedited reports are available to read free of charge and in their entirety here.