How to manage your TheyWorkForYou alerts

Whisper Bells by Patsy Wooters

In our two previous blog posts, we’ve looked at how to set up alerts on so that you receive an email whenever your chosen politician speaks in Parliament, or whenever your chosen topic is mentioned.

Now we’re going to look at how to manage your alerts, and how to make sure you have the right type of alerts set up for your needs.

How to see which alerts you are subscribed to

Perhaps surprisingly, you don’t need to register for an account to receive alerts from TheyWorkForYou (although if you do create one, it’s quicker and easier to manage your alerts).

At the bottom of every alert email, there is a link:

TheyWorkForYou alert management linkThis link is unique to you, and by following it, you will be able to see the alerts to which you are subscribed.

Once you’ve followed this link, you’ll see a list of your alerts on the right of the page:

Checking alerts on TheyWorkForYou

How to switch off or pause alerts

Beside each of your alerts, you will see buttons marked “Suspend”, “Delete”, or “Resume”.

Suspend allows you to stop the alert emails temporarily – they will remain switched off until you click ‘Resume’. This function is helpful if you only want to follow topics during a set time, for example the run-up to elections – or perhaps you want to cut down the number of emails you get while you are away on holiday.

Delete stops your email alerts for good, and removes them from your list.

Resume restarts suspended alerts.

How to check your alerts are correct for your needs

Checking alerts on TheyWorkForYou

In the example above, the user has subscribed to the following alerts:

Spoken by Simon Kirby – the user will receive alert emails when Simon Kirby MP speaks in Parliament.

Spoken by Caroline Lucas – the user will not receive emails for this alert, because it has been suspended.

mysociety – the user will receive emails whenever the word “mysociety” is mentioned.

“badger culling” – because of the quotation marks, the user will receive emails whenever the phrase badger culling is mentioned. The user will not receive alerts if the two words ‘badger’ and ‘culling’ are mentioned separately, or if, for example, a phrase like “cull badgers” is used – so this alert may not be the best for their needs.

“Caroline Lucas” – the user will receive an alert every time Caroline Lucas’ name is mentioned by someone in Parliament. This is probably not the intention; it’s a common error to subscribe to mentions of someone’s name rather than their speeches.

small businesses – this is a poor alert. The user will receive emails every time the word ‘small’ is used in the same speech as the word ‘businesses’ (or business), even if the two words are not together. So, if someone happened to say ‘It’s a terrible business’, and then, a bit later, ‘small wonder’, an alert would go out.

This alert would be better if the words were enclosed in quotation marks: “small businesses”; in that case, it’s probably also best to add one for “small business”.

How to correct your alerts

If you have spotted mistakes in your alerts, simply delete the erroneous ones and follow the instructions below to create improved ones.

How to add new alerts

On the left of that same page (or if you have not come via a link in your alert email), you can set up new alerts for people or for keywords.

Adding email alerts on TheyWorkForYouIf you have come to the page via a link in your alert email, you will not need to input your email address again – the system knows who you are.

Otherwise, provide your email address, and click on the link in our confirmation email.

If you type in an MP or Lord’s name:

David Cameron alerts options

– you’ll be asked to decide whether you want to receive alerts when they speak (“Things by…”) or when they are mentioned (“Mentions of…”).

Advanced alert set-up

If required, you can use Boolean searches in your alert set-ups.

For example, if you would like to receive alerts when badgers are mentioned, but not owls, input badger -owl.

If you would like to receive alerts when either owls or badgers are mentioned, you can either set up an alert for each term, or you can enter owl OR badger. “Or” must be in capital letters so that the system knows it’s not part of the search term.

If you would like to receive an alert only when badgers and owls are mentioned in the same speech, input both words: badger,owl.

How to register for an account

If you anticipate setting up many alerts, or wanting to manage them closely in the future, you may wish to set up a TheyWorkForYou account.

This also allows you to add annotations to the site, contribute to the glossary, and change your email address if you need to.

Simply visit this sign-up page.

Registering will not change any of the alerts you already have set up – you’ll be able to view and manage them as before.

How to change your email address

You can change the email address that alerts get sent to, if you are registered on the site.

Just visit your profile page, and edit the email address field.

If you are not registered, you can either:

  • Register under your old email address (you will still need access to it, because you’ll have to find our confirmation email), then visit your profile page, and edit the email address field; or
  • Email us at and we will change it for you.


Image: Whisper Bells by Patsy Wooters (CC)