In one way, WriteToThem has very little impact on your work. Of course, many of your constituents will continue to contact your office in the same ways that they always have; via phone, through your own website or directly via email.
But you may also receive emails from WriteToThem users. These are easy to identify: they’re titled: “Letter from your constituent”, followed by your constituent’s name, and at the foot of the mail you will see some information about the website.
Those are the only identifiers that these messages are different to any other email you might receive. To reply to your constituent, simply respond as you would to any other email: your response goes straight into the constituent’s email inbox and your correspondence remains private.
There’s a little more going on under the bonnet, though. WriteToThem provides some useful safeguards, for you and your correspondents. For example:
- The site guides users so that they write to the correct type of representative: it lists and explains the duties of everyone from local government to MEPs.
- It is set up so that people can only write to their own MP, providing an effective barrier against spam, mass mailings and messages from those in a different constituency.
- It detects and blocks mass mailings with identical or near-identical wording, so you can be certain that messages are direct concerns or points from genuine constituents, not pre-worded campaign mails.
- It blocks very short messages until they can be checked by a moderator; prevents multiple messages being sent from the same person in a short period of time; and runs several other automated checks on mail for signifiers of abusive correspondence.
- Yours and your constituents’ privacy is retained: the vast majority of mail is sent automatically, unseen by anyone else. In the very small number of cases where the mail is checked by a member of mySociety staff (for example because it has been caught in an abuse filter), this moderator has been trained to adhere to strict privacy protocols.
- Only email addresses which are actively receiving mail are used: If messages bounce back (eg because your mailbox is full, or the email address we have on record has been closed down), the system stops that address being used in future. Please note, however, that discarded or unmonitored email addresses which are still accepting mail will not necessarily trigger this effect, so please keep us informed of the best address for your mail.
- Responsive MPs are recognised Two weeks after a constituent sends an email through WriteToThem, we send a follow-up survey to ask if they’ve received a response. Historically, we have run this data to make up our annual responsiveness table. If you are interested to know more about how we compile this data and the caveats we offer to anyone using it, please see our methodology.