Joe’s away this week so we handed the Friday Blog spot over to Alex, one of our volunteers, to talk about his experience of getting involved with Democracy Club over the last few months.
It’s nicely timed with the publication of our code of conduct. We want to be as welcoming to everyone as we can be, and a code of conduct is a good start.
For our code we started with a fairly standard one but added some bits about political neutrality while working on projects about the process of democracy. As ever, we’d like your feedback on it.
Over to Alex…🎙
Hi! I’m Alex, a full-stack developer by trade, and I joined Democracy Club as a volunteer earlier this year. After the snap election was called, I decided I wanted to put my skills to use and help make politics and elections work better for the public.
Fittingly for an organisation with our name, everyone is welcome at Democracy Club. We believe everyone is a member already, whether they know it or not!
Over the years, we’ve grown into a group of people motivated by a common goal of improving the electoral process for everyone in the UK, regardless of party alignment or beliefs.
How do I join in?
Democracy Club has a Google Group to broadcast information to our members and facilitate general queries and discussion. Otherwise, we tend to organise and chat on Slack for the majority of our activities and project developments.
We have published our code of conduct on our website as a statement of our commitment to providing a comfortable and safe environment for our members to work and have fun together.
How can I help?
Since Democracy Club has only three full-time employees, a significant portion of the development of our growing product set is aided by volunteers.
Each project has at least one dedicated Slack channel, plus additional channels for user and social impact research, local government matters and more. If you’re interested in our project to gather data about election leaflets, for example, we collaborate in the #election-leaflets channel on everything from front-facing aspects, such as user testing and design, to low-level concerns such as infrastructure.
I volunteered to prototype a widget for finding polling stations after joining in discussions on the Slack, with the idea that newspapers and councils would be able to easily embed our finder on their sites.
You can check out the results of the widget project here. We found out during the election that it had been embedded by the Manchester Evening News and several local councils! However small, the things we build can have a real positive effect for the public and it’s so vindicating to know your project is helping actual users.
We’re serious about open source too. Our vision is an open and transparent democracy powered by open and transparent technology. You can find all of our projects on our GitHub page — and we will try our best to work with and merge patches from contributors.
Additionally, we have Quests published on our website. It’s not just the software that is collaborative; a large amount of our data set is crowd-sourced and we rely on you (yes, you!) to assist us in making sure we’re giving the right information to our users.
So, come and help us build a better democracy for the UK and have a load of fun doing it!