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Emailing 1,800 people

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Yesterday was a big day at Democracy Club.

YourNextMP.com is – we think – the biggest sourced list of Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) for the 2015 General Election. We have over 2,200 candidates listed, with at least one in each constituency.

We also have an open API that allows us, for example, to build a list of candidates with Twitter accounts (about half of them have a Twitter account listed) or to extract news articles and analyse them.

Despite all this, we are only about half way there. In 2010, over 4,000 people stood for election. We know this because we ran YourNextMP back then, and collected an open data set that we can use now.

So, we wrote a script using the YourNextMP PopIt API to pull out all candidates with an email address who stood in 2010. We then removed the ones we had information on for this election (we keep a record of whether they are standing or not).

There were about 1,800 email addresses in there.

So we emailed them all, asking them to tell us either way whether they were standing or not.

Here’s what we’ve found so far:

  • About 15% of the email addresses bounced. This is actually fairly low if you think about it – we’ve not contacted them for 5 years, and they may have been using campaign specific email addresses.

  • At the time of writing we have a 32% open rate. People who know more than me tell me this is high for a mass mail out.

  • In the first 24 hours we’re received 265 replies, and have updated the site accordingly.

Massive thanks should go to Andy Lulham, Mark Longair and Tim Green who did the bulk of the work going through emails.

We need your help!

The whole dataset has been made, in the open, by people contributing their time. Some, like those listed above, have given a huge amount of time, but most have edited a couple of candidates, adding small bits of information like twitter accounts or Wikipedia URLs.

Adding Twitter account can be a lot of fun, and is very quick to do. Please help us out by adding just a little bit of information!

Also, please talk to us if you would like to use the data. We have an open API, but we’re always keen to talk to anyone who wants to do things with candidate data – there maybe other ways we can help out.

Talk to us on Twitter at @democlub or join our email group