Since November, YourNextMP.com has been providing otherwise hard-to-find data on who will be on your ballot paper. We’ve had over 1.3 million page views, with about 100 people looking at the site at any given moment. On the night of the debates we had almost 20,000 people on the site.
In addition to this we’ve made it trivial to reuse by the likes of The Telegraph, 38 Degrees, Friends of the Earth, Google and many many more we’ve not heard from (the data is open on a share-alike licence).
Just over 24 hours ago the official data was published. Good news, right? Well… unfortunately, the ‘official data’ is published by over 400 councils, normally as a PDF hidden somewhere in the elections section of their website.
And it gets worse. All that’s listed in the official data is the name of the candidate and the ‘description’ they are standing under. That’s ‘description’, not party. A party can register different ‘descriptions’ and a candidate can stand under something that doesn’t actually include the party name at all.
This is not the fault of any councils – it’s how the system is designed.
So, to sum up, you have over 400 PDFs on 400 council web sites, listing nothing more than a name and a description of their party.
And nowhere linking to them all.
I believed myself to have been utterly hardened to govt IT waste many years ago. Collecting data from 400 council sites rekindles the fire— Tom Steinberg (@steiny) April 10, 2015
@mrcsnth Whether the websites are good or bad isn't the point. The point is that 400 PDFs on 400 sites is not The Future— Tom Steinberg (@steiny) April 10, 2015
What this all means is that even though the data is official and final, nobody is able to actually use it. No one searching online for “Who are my candidates” will actually find their candidates! NGOs wanting to put their supporters in touch with candidates can’t get list of email addresses. Journalists wanting to write stories about the candidates won’t be able to download the data.
Happily, the team of volunteers building YourNextMP.com are on the case. We’ve compiled a spreadsheet of links to the ‘statements of nomination’ papers from each council and have imported this into a document viewer on YourNextMP.com.
We’re currently in the process of verifying all our data against the official list, and ‘locking’ a constituency so that new candidates can’t be added.
By the time we’ve finished - hopefully over the weekend - we’ll have all the official data - and continue to be as easy to use as we can be!
If you are interested in using our data, do get in touch and talk to us!
- Launched in November 2014
- 1,379,353 page views to the site*
- 355,511 unique sessions*
- Powering Democracy Club CVs, Election Mentions, ElectionLeaflets.org and MeetYourNextMP
- Reused by Google, The Telegraph, 38 Degrees, Friends of the Earth, BBC, Ampp3d and many more.
*at time of writing