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'Twas The Blog Before Christmas

Winter polling station

Welcome to the last Friday democrablog of 2016!

Because it’s the done thing, we’re wrapping up with a few stats and facts from our year. We’ve based these on a range of goals we set ourselves for 2016, from way back when we were based in the wintery wilds of Somerset House.

2016 in numbers…

‘Tis the season for sharing, so here’s how we did.

(We’ve resisted the temptation — the Prime Minister would be proud — to provide a running commentary on why goals were or were not met, nor have we commented on how they will inform our aims for 2017. A blog post to that order will follow in the first days of the new year. Try to contain yourselves.)

On polling stations:

  • 10 councils in Wales will provide data for (covering 50% population of Wales). We met this goal in terms of councils — boom! — but just missed it in terms of population coverage (47%).
  • 100k people will use Nope! We missed this one by some distance, receiving less than 10% of that target. (Happily, did receive ~130k visits at the EU Referendum).
  • Five organisations embed the finder (e.g. NUS Wales, a council, a media org). Not met! We had two embeds: NUS Wales and Coventry City Council.
  • API users? The fact we left this goal a bit vague suggests we had our doubts here to begin with; there were no API users in 2016.
  • 1,000 people will help ask for polling station data. We nearly reached this goal following the EU Referendum: 900 people gave us their names to sign letters to their local councils.

On candidates:

  • 100% coverage of Wales, Scotland, London, Mayors, PCCs. Done!
  • 1,000 local candidates. YAAAAAAS, we smashed it, and had details of every candidate standing in 2016: over 13,000 people.
  • User research and build WhoCanIVoteFor. We never managed much user testing — outside of dogfooding — but hey, the thing got built!
  • 100k people use WhoCanIVoteFor. Yes! Smashed it again, with 180k visitors.
  • WhoCanIVoteFor used to test ‘Help, Volunteer, Hear from, Ask a question’ buttons. Nope, we completely ran out of time to design, build and test these things. Whoops.
  • Five API users. No, only DemocraticDashboard ending up using the API. They reached another 100k+ users.
  • Three orgs paying for API endpoints (Crowdpac, 38 Degrees, BBC…). Well. We were ambitious on this one! Zero ‘customers’ for the API.

On participation in Democracy Club:

  • 500 new members. This was optimistic. We gained perhaps 80 new email subscribers before May, then another 40 between May-EURef. We average around 20-30 new subscribers per month.
  • 1k people adding data. We actually haven’t worked this out yet — Joe suspects we wouldn’t have quite hit 1,000, but it would have been at least a couple of hundred. We ran a crowdsourcing party on a rainy Saturday in April and there — and in the weeks after — a core group of amazing volunteers did some serious data entry!
  • Ten new donors. Nah, we’re about halfway there. There’s still time to nudge this number - Give the Gift of Democracy this Christmas. While Stocks Last.

On election results:

  • Build a results crowdsourcer. Achieved!
  • 100 volunteers in counts across country. Maybe… The partnership with LGiU meant we had access to ‘Out for the Count’ folks — and they and Democracy Club volunteers piled in to add data the following morning and afternoon.
  • X people looking up results on election night? Sometimes you forget to actually set a target. Nonetheless, 70k were reached via the Telegraph’s liveblog featuring the results map. Interestingly, a small number of WhoCanIVoteFor users told us that they expected to find the election results on the site.
  • One thing not in the plan, but that we can point to as a success, is that the UK Government now aims to produce open data on election results by 2020, something we nudged them towards.


EU voter registration project

Our proto-project voter registration at the EU Referendum tested social norming around voter registration.

  • New website(s) or copy on website, explaining the DC model. Yes! Thanks to some alright-on-the-night work from Tim and Sym.
  • [EU?] A question mark was literally all we set ourselves in terms of goals for the EU Referendum. In the end, we were delighted to be able to investigate voter registration and to make some tools to test hyperlocal social norming via facebook. More here.
  • Fundraise for the next [four] years. This has begun — and we’ve at least estimated what we need: about £250k/yr until June 2020. We’re making small steps towards that for ‘year one’ of the plan — thanks to Unbound Philanthropy for getting us started. And thanks to everyone who’s chipping in monthly.

Some other vital statistics:


Soup posed by model

  • Bowls of Fernandez & Wells squash & lentil soup consumed: 38
  • Days spent missing squash soup: 241
  • Times the soup man caught us going to Pret instead: 1
  • Trips through the Severn Tunnel: 8
  • Stickers ordered with new logo: 500
  • Slack members: 93
  • Milk stouts consumed in Huddersfield’s Vox Bar following the #NotWestminster unconference: not enough
  • Presidential cakes scoffed at the Elysee Palace: too many
  • Chargers/cables lost in big shared workspace: all of them

So that’s all for 2016, folks. Thank you to everyone — and there were so many of you — who helped out along the way this year.

Watch out for our early January post on our goals for a better democracy in 2017.

Until then, Merry Christmas!

Photo credit: Slaunger

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