MySociety, the organisation behind some of the biggest democracy projects in the UK, has today made public two reports which it commissioned to gain greater understanding of two of its sites – TheyWorkForYou and WriteToThem.
As the site itself says: “We think transparency is a good thing for many reasons, but one of its rarely mentioned virtues is how valuable transparency can be for the people within the organisations which are transparent.”
And there have been some interesting discoveries. According to MySociety one of the reasons that both the sites were set up was to make representatives accessible to newcomers to the democratic process. So it was “heartening” to find, for example, that 60 per cent of visitors to TheyWorkForYou had never previously looked up who represents them, and two in five users of WriteToThem have never before contacted one of their political representatives, was a positive sign.
But, as you would expect with any properly neutral evaluation, it’s not all good news. Our sites aim to reach a wide range of people, but compared to the average British internet user, WriteToThem users are twice as likely to have a higher degree and a higher income. It also seems that users are disproportionately male, white, and over 35.