mySociety launches call for proposals

Do you have a burning idea for a new mySociety site? We’ve just thrown open the doors on our new call for proposals. The prize is simple: if your idea wins through the grilling of your peers and the vetting of the mySociety team and our volunteers, we’ll build it. So, get posting!

[EDIT] Don’t leave your proposals as comment here, go to the proper application form. The deadline is June 1st 2006.


  1. A central website for support groups.
    There are lots of support groups in exisitence for various problems and it can be dificult to find them.
    My idea is to have a central database of the support groups so people have one place to search. The site would also have a forum with channels for each topic so that people can discuss their problems and share support ideas.

  2. A web site that explains popular political and social issues, provides the political parties or other interested bodies with links so they can explain their positions (in no more than 500 words) and invites the public to vote on them.

    Given enough subscribers, the site would be to make public opinion clear to policy makers to encourage politicians and influential organisations to change their policies. The site could also be a useful reference for the media.

    Ongoing results would be posted on the web site, giving the total number of votes for each position. Each voter would be securely registered to ensure that bogus voters could not be created to skew the results. The decision as to what topics should be covered by the site would be made by the users – they could nominate topics, and each month the most popular topic would be added to the site.

  3. The ability to capture peoples comments on builders etc.. this could be extended to cover garages/ restaurants etc and allow people in local communities to hear about issues and levels of service/ quality before using them.

    I started trying to run this type of site but due to children etc… couldn’t eep it running. I am happy for this to come under someone elses ownership as I believe this would be an invaluable source of real information for local communities

  4. How about community planning tools. One of the most difficult issues with community initiated and driven projects is the lack of skills in identifying areas that need development and actions to be taken. How can a community work collaborate in formulating their own strategies? I propose development of collaborative strategic tools like something i been developing myself over the years; an online collaborative SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) analysis.

  5. One thing that worries me about the current call for political parties to be centrally funded is – how will new parties ever get started? I think we need a website where people can support the establishment of a new party, which the government would then be obliged to fund if support was great enough.

  6. One thing about the people in the Uk is that they love to complain about issues but when it comes to taking to the streets in protest it rarley come to anything. This site would allow people to propose issues such as Pensions, Building Works 2012, Conflicts (Iraq) and others for an eProtest. Visitors to the site could sign up and express there views on there chosen subject. I believe in the 21st century we would see a much greater representation of the public to this type of initiative than the physical protests held mainly in the Capital requiring great planning and effort by attendees accross the country.
    Once a particular issue reaches a critical mass it could be pushed towards the political and media arena.

  7. I understand ‘mysociety’ as being global, for that is the level of problem we are facing. Getting well-motivated and skilled people to work together, co-operatively, and with a reasonable potential of direct results, is essential but may not be enough… One idea is to generate a virtual country: virtual nowhere. Participants get a passport, and whenever they encounter any difficulties in their own country or while visiting another, they can count on the personal assistance of their neighbour in Virtual Nowhere. If enough people join, it may get UN recognition. If enough people join, it manifest social power. And like the ideas expressed on this website, it is self-organised, and is no representative. It is a matter of coming together and effecting a change necessary.

  8. something like, but where anyone can post details of a forthcoming lecture, debate, or talk, and tag it with subject, date, and postcode.

    the real killer is to be able to subscribe to a tailored rss feed or email that informs you of upcoming things you will be interested in. like, say, popular science (biological) and politics (flaky liberal) within 5 miles of N1. it might need moderators, or recipients could vote to flag certain listings as dodgy etc.

    to be honest, gig listings could rather do with something like this too but that’s not very political…

  9. Endorse or object a planning application. Anyone can post a message asking for endorsements or objections to a planning application. They make a statement detailing the reasons for their endorsement/objection. To be fair they should allow their opposition to post similar. Link these statements. Then let the online community contribute. Allow official involvement from people like Heritage and Architectural groups – ie. “Officially objected to/endorsed by …”. Set the deadline for feedback on the application and the day before collate all the material and send it in.

    Provide some sort of system for keeping track of applications and possibly, a way of ensuring ongoing feedback – especially in the case of public enquiries.

    There may even be a case for keeping stats on how each planning authority does, especially with “Cause Celebres”.

    Call it (ie the number of days for feedback on a normal planning application)??

    BTW the first 5 were stunners.

  10. Kristy Lyn Levings

    How long is mysociety going to keep the proposal process open?
    Thanks, KLL

  11. My proposal is E-Voting on the issues but with a differnece

    The votes should be displayed live in the House of Commons on screens and MP’s should be able to drill down on touch screens to their constituency to see the level of support for specific measures.

    The results of both should be published (say on publicwhip or hansard)so everyone can see how their MP votes against public opinion in their region.

    The reason I propose this rather than an outright democracy is that I still believe we need MP’s to consider the wider issues and ignore lobbying when it is just effective lobbying but not reflective of common thought.

    Consider a vote of pay no tax, everyone would say yes….not ideal.

    So, with this hybrid we can get a consensus of how MP’s voted, they should have the ability to add notes why they voted against the population etc.

    When results are collated between electorate and MP voting results, we can collaborate on whether democracy or politics are prevailing.

    This could eventually end “party” politics and move us towards a true democracy.

    But of course……we need safeguards! Maybe we should ALL vote on them.

    I would propose that active voters earn “voting points” depending on the number of acts they have voted on, this could go some way towards lobying enacting acts against the public interest.

    This, I think, Is a move towards true democracy. We can all vote on the focus of the country, be it education etc etc. We can all vote on where funds are funnelled.

  12. Two ideas with one aim.

    1) Software kit-of-parts for website/portal/CMS.
    2) Community-based websites based on the above, as alternatives to inflexible/narrowly-defined products offered by globalised firms.

    Aim: different communities need different software packages to serve their interests best. While there are many kinds of services available, they are unacceptable to many groups on the basis of:

    a) cost/expertise (e.g. too expensive/complex to set up bespoke features),
    b) inflexibility (e.g. free service that only does some of what’s required),
    c) unreliability (e.g. service/provider/buggy software isn’t stable), or
    d) maintenance (e.g., requires much admin time or expertise).

    What’s needed is a simple-to-administer modular Content Management System that is as easy to set up as a bulletin board/blog/mailing-list, and with a focus on addressing the needs of charitable/voluntary groups.

    Granted, there are several commmunity-focused CMS packages out there already, but even the friendliest of these requires sophisticated knowledge of things like SQL, site security, and other aspects of admninistration. What’s needed is a package with Blogger™-like administrative simplicity, but with CMS features and flexibility.

    Granted also that there are free and reliable services like Blogger™, Yahoo™ and Delphi™ that are attractive to such groups, and which each do something simply and well, but which have a limited flexibility, and cannot be combined in some overarching way (and in some cases, have questionable ethics or are unresponsive to users). The diverse needs of community groups create a situation where the solution to those needs is quite complex, but the resources to meet such needs are not accessible.

    I am proposing a kit-of-parts solution after thinking that I would like to help develop or manage a variety of functional packages for community-based groups, but because I haven’t the programming skills, have to approach the solution from the opposite direction. How might one or two people set up and manage a web-based service for their voluntary or charitable group? Having one package with a powerful and diverse set of optional features seems like a good way to go. But does such a package exist? Not to my knowledge.

    There are lots of ways this could be implemented. For example, if someone could create a shell of sorts that incorporated existing services within a given page/site, it would allow people to combine functionalities using existing popular services. Another approach would be to add an ‘interface’ that would help the inexperienced make use of open-source CMS packages like Drupal, Mambo, Tiki and others. A third approach is to assemble various bits of open-source code and give them a unified adminstrative and display structure.

    People are willing and able to do a lot of work on a voluntary basis, but are stymied by lack of access to suitable resources. Enabling access to existing resources would improve things immensely. Giving people tools to arrange their own services would be even better.

  13. One thing that I am really missing is the good old phonebook (whitepages) of the internet jungle. So my idea is, that we would create a searchable database where every EU citizen can add his name and webpage, as well as some other details and the others could easily find him either by entering his name, or the topic of the website he/she has submited. Later on, myonlinepresence dot eu will evolve into offering free webspace to EU citizens. So, to wrap up, whitepages of personal homepages, searchable by names (and any other details) of creators, content of the webpages or random pick.


  14. somethign to help local peopel organise a meeting or a minor camapign on an issue – with a simple logic tree (have you done x,y,x then try….) for basic local issues that get people animated – not iraq etc but much more prosaic and relevant stuff like planning, street cleanliness, street lighting, noise, regeneration, asb. what politicians call the ‘dog sh*t agenda’

    sort of pledgebank plus for local activism – the sort of thing the bbc action network should have been (but without the cash pyre and the ‘neutrality’ problems). and that connects you with other peoepl who are lobbying on the same thing in other parts of the country or world

    it might be possible to build something where the logic tree is extendable by others who have learnt from the process elsewhere

  15. I want a directory and archive of successful campaign resources, uploaded by people who have run successful campaigns themselves.

    So if I want to, say, object to a planning application, or support the building of a local school, I can search the library of documents for examples of letters people have sent in the past.

    People who upload the letters could add comments (we sent this letter/presented this evidence/did this research/make sure you find this person and as a result we were successful/crushed). Others who use the resources could comment on them, too.

    Editors could draw the letters together in themes (and maybe even write proformas).

    @Ben Goldacre: is close to what you’re asking for, but very US focused.

  16. I would like to see a web service for very small communities such as the 7 households that live in my apartment block (or perhaps a street, or one floor of a large apartment block). The site would be a hub for encouraging social activities and communal caretaking, arranging times to meet, allowing everyone a say on what work should be done, and even donating to a fund for said work. The main problem we have is that finding the time for everyone to meet up is almost impossible, so we need some king of virtual bulletin board that people can access at leisure from their home. However, the service would also have to be accessible enough to include all households, and include those without internet access somehow. Here in Glasgow, I am aware that there is plenty of intent to form stronger communities at this level, but no one knows how or has the tools to do so.

    I think there may be a need for this all over the world, a simple, accessible micro-community board with very few features, that can successfully translate into some tangible form as well. Small and simple is how I imagine it in order to include everyone equally with the minimum of fuss.

  17. My idea is to link scientific articles (for instance those found with Google Scholar) to interactive maps (for instance, using Google Earth, like in your Wikipedia project). This would enable you to see what scientists write about your own local area. Think about ecology, public health, history, etc.

    This would help people to understand their own environment. It would also give more access to scientific information. I guess that often the main barrier is not scientific jargon (people can find help from a dictionary or a friend if they need to), but an awareness that the information exists. As more and more scientific articles become available on the web, I think this would be an interesting possibility.

    It would also help to democratise science, as it may give rise to interactions between locals and scientists.