What changes would you like to see on TheyWorkForYou?

Kenya Electricity Corporation Suggestion Box by Lindsay Bremner

mySociety is an organisation with many priorities, and they often compete for attention. Right now, we have some time and budget to lavish on TheyWorkForYou. We need your input to help us understand what development we should prioritise for the site.

Note: if you don’t know much about TheyWorkForYou, your opinion still counts! See the foot of this blog post for an overview of the site and its aims.

 Some suggested improvements

Below is a list of improvements that other users have suggested, or that we think are desirable. Which improvements would you most like to see – from this list, or based on your own needs?

  1. Easier sharing via social media If you see a debate you want to share with your Twitter or Facebook buddies, all you’d have to do is click a button. More details
  2. When your MP voted Letting you know, via email alerts, when your MP has taken part in a vote. More details
  3. Option to search just headings At the moment, search covers all content of debates, including everything anyone said. This option would allow you to only search headings, meaning that you could be sure the results were entirely focused on your topic. More details
  4. Tweeting debate headings or future business A Twitter account which would tweet, and link to, every debate in Parliament, or upcoming events. More details
  5. Signposting of big ‘events’ such as the Budget These are not always easy to find if you don’t know your way around, so we’d make sure the big events were always trumpeted on the site. More details

Great ideas, or utter bunkum? Let us know. You can give us feedback via any of the following methods:

1. Leave a comment under this blog post;

2. Tweet at us on @TheyworkForYou, comment on our Facebook page, or drop us a mail;

3. If you’d like to see the whole list of suggestions and issues, you can do so on our development list at Github (and the ‘more details’ links in the list above go to the issues on there). Note that anyone is welcome to add comments to these issues, or even to create your own (please search first to make sure you’re not duplicating an existing issue). Github may look complex, but it’s easy enough to use – you just need to set up a user account here.

We’re keen to understand whether we’re serving all kinds of users, so it’d also be helpful if you could tell us whether you consider yourself to be someone who knows a bit about Parliament (through work, interest, or experience) or a novice user.

Noteyou can see what we’re currently working on here. Some changes were obvious – for example, we’re improving MPs’ individual pages.

What is TheyWorkForYou for?

TheyWorkForYou has been running since 2004. We know why we launched it, though the way you use it may be totally different – and if so, we want to hear about that. Its aim is to give a window into Parliament, for everyone, but including people who may never have previously thought that parliamentary proceedings had anything to do with them.

TheyWorkForYou does a lot of things. It lets you find out who your MP is – if you don’t know – and then it tells you all about them.

It publishes the written record of debates in Parliament, and lets you search it, and link to it easily.

It allows you to set up alerts, so you get an email every your chosen words or phrases are mentioned in Parliament – or every time a particular person speaks.

It publishes future business (there are alerts for that, too), written answers, Public Bill Committees, and more.

So, it does a lot – but we know that it still doesn’t do everything our users request, and it doesn’t neccessarily do everything in the way that they want, either. Some changes are obvious, and we’re working on them – right now, for example, we are improving individual MPs’ pages. But we want your thoughts too.

Photo by Lindsay Bremner (CC)


    • Most of the suggestions and thoughts given in your communication are acceptable to me BUT
      I will NEVER have anything to do with either “Twitter” or “Facebook”. Please assure me that I and those with similar abhorrence to such avenues of communication will never be sidelined. If everyone followed the same principles think of how many embarrassing/misunderstood situations would be avoided! True speech and honesty would prevail and people would hopefully think before expounding their views and be able to assess the effects of these on others around them.

      • Brian – we can certainly commit to never sidelining non-users of social media.

        Equally, we feel it’s important to recognise that, for many, Facebook and Twitter are important channels of communication – perhaps even their primary channels . To ignore that would be doing those users, and ourselves, a disservice.

    • It’s fine as it is. I, like another post, want nothing to do with ‘twitter’ or ‘blogs’ sorry. It seems to lower the factual reliability of the service.

  1. It would be more helpful if emails notifying us of MPs’ activities listed more than three items in a section but with only the heading and link, rather than a truncated piece of text.

  2. TWFY encourages a positive curiosity about MPs. I follow the activities of two. From the evidence of TWFY, the first, despite being currently under threat from elements in his local party, is clearly an active Parliamentarian foot soldier, regularly asking questions related to the constituency. The other, with a far higher profile, a silent local party and, presumably, more career potential, rarely bothers with Parliament, preferring instead the Today programme.
    I have no difficulty choosing which I respect more.

  3. TWFY seems excellent to me at present and I have no big issues about the operation of the site; but an email function alerting me that the MPs I am following on the site have voted would be useful.

    • Here here. It would enable us, the electorate to know what our MP voted for and be ready to sway opinion or vote for or against him or her.

  4. Presently I find myself following up all the URLs to find out the full content of what has been said/written. I would prefer that the full content is published outright thus avoiding this sort of follow up. Another contributor has suggested having a headline subject matter to focus attention where needed/desired, I can agree with this, but would still like an expanded presentation as the default option.

  5. Thanks for all your work. Much appreciated. Up-to-date voting records would help. At present I have to go to Hansard, find the column at the end of the debate and check the lists. The heading of the debate would be sufficient for main motions although I realise amendments would be harder to identify. Also, ther than the arcane and little used procedure of voting in both lobbies, there is no way for an MP to abstained other than simple absence, so I don’t see how you could provide that information.

  6. Am just new to this and only today received my first email! :+)) Am not in a position to comment yet, but thanks for the offer.

  7. I think They Work For You is an excellent service. When I can I follow them up and read the debate, or some of it, to get a sense of what actually happened, and I would have no idea if you weren’t letting me know.

    I think what you are doing is really important, and I’ve suggested to many other people that they should also sign up. I don’t bother with Facebook or Twitter, so would prefer it if you didn’t go down that route.

    I’d rather not have the full content sent to my email inbox, but prefer the initial information to then follow up if I wish.

    Thank you!

  8. You could just very easily make the posts much easier to absorb – make the names and subjects stand out more. I’d find this v helpful. And nicer font.

    There you are, easy peasy.

    • Hi Sophie – Just to clarify, are you talking about the email alerts, or the debates on the actual website? Thanks.

  9. My suggestion is covered under number 3 of your list above. I would like to be able to see only what my followed MPs are saying on a certain subject, e.g. by keyword search.

    Thank you

  10. Hi the emails are good but what i need to no straight away is place,does it cost and qaulifacaroins thanks

  11. It would be great if people could search for topics which would then bring up a detailed list of MPs who either work in the field or have an interest in it. There is something similar for The Lords, but nothing at the moment for MPs in the House of Commons. That would be hugely helpful…..

    • I like this idea of being able to find out which MPs are interested in a particular field.
      I like TWFY and find it very interesting following my MP.
      I would like to be able to see easily what way my MP and others have voted.
      I would like clearer headings in the emails to get an idea of what the general matter is, with a little bit of further text and a link to click on for more information, like now.
      It would be good for schools/ general public to be able to see what MPs are doing with their time.
      I appreciate this service.

  12. I would think 3, and 4. As well as these two:

    1. Notification in advance of votes that are planned so I can lobby my MP in advance of the vote.

    2. Some mechanism to harness great numbers. It would be good to be able to flag an opinion on an issue – in favour or against, and to then act on a targeted, timed approach to MPs rather than a trickle of communications. For example, a bill on X that lots are against. Lets see other users that hold the same footing, are they in my area, is there a lot of people in my area against or for an issue – can we message the group for further steps, or actions.


  13. #2 & #5 sound like great additions to help us keep track of our MPs activity in Parliament and match the ethos of the site perfectly. While all the ideas are good I think these two are the most beneficial overall.

  14. Not interested in Facebook or Twitter. Would like to see more pressure put on MPs to get out of the EU now and do something IMMEDIATELY to stop the massive expected arrival of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants in January as the UK cannot afford or handle the massive problems they will bring

    • Hi Les,

      Thanks for your comments as regards Twitter and Facebook.

      mySociety is strictly non-partisan, so we can’t and wouldn’t campaign on any particular issue.

  15. Excellent service, it would be really interesting if you could somehow tie in audio/video? Not even sure if you can source that but it would certainly be interesting to try?!

    What happened to the idea of expanding into District/ County Councils?

    The format of the emails could do with some improvement. Especially the text in the body. I understand that “text only” is what some people will like but I’d like something nicely formatted so it’s easy to read!

    Generally though it’s not broke …

    • Thanks Andy,
      We do have some video on the site: eg, see http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debate/?id=2011-03-02b.304.1. However we have an ongoing issue with the audio/video syncing, which we haven’t had time to look at, as yet.

      District/County Councils – we are still working on this; watch this space. It won’t be the same as TheyWorkForYou as such, but more of a project to capture, display and archive the spoken word.