We recently shared news of some substantial funding from Omidyar Network, and the goals which that funding will help us to achieve.
Those goals are quite ambitious, and we’re going to have to focus hard on a number of core projects to meet them. Consequently, we’ve made the hard decision to let go of a few of our other sites; sites which need time and attention, but which won’t help us towards meeting those key aims.
A bit of background
mySociety has built loads of websites during its time: it’s the way we’ve historically worked. When we started up, we just wanted to make cool civic sites that would do useful things; if we could get the funding, and someone was willing to build them, we’d go for it.
All of the projects we launched were based on pretty sound ideas; all of them strove to empower people and open up democracy in one way or another.
Over a decade since mySociety first started, some of those early sites have proved their worth. They’ve grown and matured with us. Here in the UK, our Freedom of Information site WhatDoTheyKnow has over 400,000 visitors a month, and sites like TheyWorkForYou, FixMyStreet and WriteToThem have become UK institutions in their own right.
Alaveteli, the software which underpins WhatDoTheyKnow, has been adopted in 21 countries; the FixMyStreet Platform is being used in 11, with both set to increase as we concentrate on reaching out to international partners over the next few years.
Additionally, we’ll be continuing to strengthen our international work with the Poplus federation, developing and supporting the use of Poplus Components and the Pombola platform.
These projects are core to our Omidyar Network funding and the results we’ve promised to deliver from it.
Goodbye to these
Along the way, though, there have been some projects which, for one reason or another, have not gained quite as much traction.
You might say they were before their time: Pledgebank, for example, predates Groupon, Kickstarter and similar pledging concepts.
In some cases, the world moved on: most MPs now have their own channels for contacting constituents online, so HearFromYourMP isn’t quite as vital.
In others, we simply don’t have the necessary resources that the project needs: FixMyTransport is a good example of that.
It’s been a difficult decision, but if we are to focus on our targets for the coming years, we can no longer afford to dedicate ourselves to these sites. To that end, we’ll shortly be retiring:
In February, Pledgebank will stop accepting new pledges, although users will still be able to sign up for existing ones until the end of June. We’ll be emailing all owners of pledges to let them know that the site will close at that time.
From the 1st of March, you’ll no longer be able to create a report on FixMyTransport. If you are running an active campaign or problem report, we’ll email to let you know of the site’s closure, which is planned for the end of June.
MPs can continue to use HearFromYourMP to send newsletters to their constituents, but we’ll be letting them know that the service will be retired before the General Election.
In February, ScenicOrNot will be mothballed so that users can no longer rate photographs. We’ll be keeping the leaderboard intact and developers will still be able to use the site’s data.
It’s not without regret that we’ll be saying goodbye to these sites – each and every one of them is based on a sound idea that fell well within mySociety’s remit to provide civic and democratic digital tools.
Like most mySociety sites, the code of all of the above is Open Source and you are welcome to pick it up and adapt it to your needs. We’d be delighted if there was interest, from other individuals or groups, in running something similar, based on our code.
Image credit: William Murphy (CC)
You tagged “HassleMe” in this post, but didn’t mention it in the text .. is it going or staying?
Good spot, Jess!
There’s still a little internal discussion about the future of Hassleme, but I can certainly say that it will not be a core mySociety project run on mySociety resources.
Makes sense to me! Excited to see what’s planned for Pombola. http://www.groupsnearyou.com/ was also tagged but not mentioned?
Ah yes, GroupsNearYou is also due for discontinuation. It’s been dormant for some time, in that we haven’t maintained or developed it; it’s just been sitting there.
What will happen to our existing hassles on hassle me?
If Hassleme does get closed down (see comments above, indicating that it may yet be taken over by an external faction), all users will receive a notification to tell them that they will no longer be receiving their hassles, and pointing them towards a variety of other services they can use to set up regular reminders instead.
There are many such reminder services these days; Hassleme’s only defining difference is that it sends its reminders at ‘semi regular intervals’, so that they are slightly less predictable.
So it’s possible it may stay active and we can continue to add new hassles?
Personally, the unpredictability is what makes it effective for me.
Possible, yes – *if* the site gets taken over, the existing hassles will go with it.
I am sorry to see Hassleme go away – I loved it and told my friends about it. Good luck!
I have lots of hasslme’s out there and it will be impossible for me to figure out what reminders are out there. If they just vaporize, it will be a BIG problem. Is there a way to have you send out all the hassleme’s so we know what they are?
(Maybe just for those that donated – like I did.)
We’re glad HassleMe was useful for you, and we’re sorry for the inconvenience!
I’m really disappointed that you’re cutting HearfromyourMP which I find very useful. I’d prefer to see that continue rather than FixMyStreet.
Sorry to hear that: however, we’d stand by our belief (as in this blog post https://www.mysociety.org/2015/02/05/hearfromyourmp-a-little-piece-of-mysociety-history/) that most if not all of HFYMP’s functions are now available to MPs and constituents via mainstream newsletter software, and social media platforms which allow users to hold MPs to account in public.