|Motto||We make websites that empower citizens worldwide|
|Focus||Government transparency, civic technologies, Freedom of Information, citizen empowerment, open source|
|Products||TheyWorkForYou, WriteToThem, WhatDoTheyKnow, FixMyStreet, Pombola, Alaveteli, EveryPolitician, SayIt, Mapumental|
mySociety is an e-democracy project of the UK-based registered charity named UK Citizens Online Democracy. It began as a UK-focused organisation with the aim of making online democracy tools for UK citizens. However, as those tools were open source, the code could be and soon was redeployed in other countries.
mySociety’s more recent mission has been to simplify and internationalise its code to make it easier for people all over the world to run citizen-empowering websites. Additionally, through the Poplus project, it hopes to encourage others to share open source code that will minimise the amount of duplication in civic tech coding.
mySociety was founded by Tom Steinberg in September 2003, and started activity after receiving a £250,000 grant in September 2004. Steinberg says that it was inspired by a collaboration with his then-flatmate James Crabtree which spawned Crabtree's article "Civic hacking: a new agenda for e-democracy".
- 1 Projects
- 1.1 Freedom of Information
- 1.2 Parliamentary monitoring
- 1.3 Street fault reporting
- 1.4 Mapumental
- 1.5 Poplus
- 1.6 Other projects
- 2 See also
- 3 References
- 4 External links
|Slogan||Make and explore Freedom of Information requests|
Type of site
|Freedom of Information website|
|Created by||User-generated/Public Authority generated|
|Launched||28 February 2008|
|59,220 (October 2015[update])|
WhatDoTheyKnow is a site designed to help people make Freedom of Information requests. It publishes both the requests and the authorities’ responses online, with the aim of making information available to all, and of removing the need for multiple people to make the same requests. The site acts as a permanent public archive of FOI requests made through it.
Around 15% to 20% of requests to UK Central Government are made through WhatDoTheyKnow.com. Over 16,800 public bodies have been added to the site, mainly by volunteers. More than 294,000 requests have been made using the site and more than 4.5 million people visited it in 2014
WhatDoTheyKnow has been described by the Guardian as "an idiot's guide to making a freedom of information request."  The Information Commissioner's Office has stated that it believes "the most up-to-date informal list of all public authorities is held on the website". Information released through the site has given rise to serious and less serious news stories. The site is used by a number of MPs.
The site was originally available only in English but a partially translated Welsh version was added in 2013.
WhatDoTheyKnow started life as the winning idea for mySociety competition in 2006 for ideas for public interest websites to build. Both Phil Rodgers and Francis Irving entered the idea of a site to make it easy to make Freedom of Information requests. Francis Irving later became the main developer of the site  which was launched in 2008.
The site was nominated for a number of awards:
- Daily Telegraph best green websites - ranked number 2 
- New Media Awards - Democracy in Action Finalists 2008 
- New Media Awards - Innovation Winner 2008 
WhatDoTheyKnow volunteer Alex Skene gave evidence to Justice Committee related to Post-Legislative Scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 on 21 Feb 2012.
As with other mySociety citizen-to-government software, mySociety sells WhatDoTheyKnow as a service for councils. In April 2012, Brighton and Hove councillor Jason Kitkat announced: “We [the council] are working with mySociety to adapt their WhatDoTheyKnow system to support a better workflow for freedom of information requests and proactive publishing of everything we release." 
WhatDoTheyKnow was developed as open-source software. It now runs on the Alaveteli platform, which is itself an adaptation of the original code written to power WhatDoTheyKnow. Alaveteli was developed to make easier the process of setting up a site like WhatDoTheyKnow in other countries.
|Written in||Ruby on Rails|
Alaveteli is described as "a project to create a free, standard, internationalised platform for making Freedom of Information (FOI) requests". Alaveteli is funded by the Open Society Institute and the Hivos Foundation.
It started life as the software running WhatDoTheyKnow, a UK site that publishes responses to FOI requests. The original WhatDoTheyKnow code was written primarily by Francis Irving while working for mySociety. Alaveteli is named after Alaveteli in Finland where Anders Chydenius who was an early campaigner for Freedom of Information worked as a curate. Alaveteli is the name for the software rather than a public facing website or brand.
|Slogan||Keeping tabs on the UK's parliaments and assemblies|
Type of site
|Created by||generated by Parliamentary proceedings|
|Launched||2006 or earlier|
|206,339 (October 2015[update])|
TheyWorkForYou is a parliamentary monitoring website which aims to make it easier for UK citizens to understand what is going on in Westminster as well as Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly. It also helps create accountability for UK politicians by publishing a complete archive of every word spoken in Parliament, along with a voting record and other details for each MP, past and present.
The site aggregates content from the Hansard records of the House of Commons, House of Lords, Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly, along with other publicly available data such as the MPs Register of Members' Interests, election results, Wikipedia entries, and voting records, providing a "digital dossier on your local MP". It also has a facility to alert users by email to speeches by an MP or specific words appearing in Hansard. In 2008, The Daily Telegraph rated it 41st in a list of the 101 most useful websites.
TheyWorkForYou was not originally built by mySociety, but was adopted by them in 2006. Its original version was created almost entirely by volunteers using the parsing software of Public Whip, and launched at NTK's NotCon '04 conference At the time, Cory Doctorow called it "the most amazing, subversive piece of political webware I've ever seen".
As time passed, more features were added and more areas of Parliament were covered, such as debates and information on members of the House of Lords back to 1999. Around the 2005 general election, Channel 4 used a branded version of TheyWorkForYou to supply their MP data. The site won the Community and Innovation award in the 2005 New Statesman New Media Awards, with the judges saying that they "were unanimous in feeling that TheyWorkForYou was the nomination that has done most to contribute to civic society in the UK.". In the House of Lords, in a debate on the Power Inquiry, Lord Gould of Brookwood referred to TheyWorkForYou and the other mySociety sites as "probably the biggest single catalyst for political change in this country".
In summer 2006, the Department for Constitutional Affairs funded the creation of an API for the site so other sites could use the data from the site themselves. This has enabled a variety of uses, from MPs publishing out their most recent speeches onto their own websites, to researchers combing the data for insights into the way that politicians debate.
As with most of mySociety’s other projects, TheyWorkForYou’s underlying code is open source. A New Zealand developer adapted it to create TheyWorkForYou New Zealand, while in June 2008 Open Australia was launched by the OpenAustralia Foundation with the assistance of mySociety, putting the Register of Senators' and Members' Interests online for the first time ever in Australia. In April 2009, an Irish version of TheyWorkForYou was launched in beta form. Called KildareStreet, it contains Irish parliamentary data from January 2004 to the present day.
Contrary to what these reuses might suggest, the code for TheyWorkForYou is complex and UK-specific: while encouraging others to set up Parliamentary Monitoring websites for their own countries, these days mySociety suggests their more generic platform, Pombola.
TheyWorkForYou has become so established in the workings of Parliament itself that one MP has used the fact that her husband subscribes to email alerts on her speeches to remind him of their 30th wedding anniversary.
When the site launched, it did not have the right to reproduce Hansard, and no licence for it existed. A licence was later given, and click-use licences for Parliamentary copyright information were created as a result.
In early 2006, The Times published an article stating that MPs were "making forgettable contributions to debate" or tabling numerous written questions simply to boost their participation statistics on TheyWorkForYou. This led to a debate in the House of Commons on the increase in questions, led by Peter Luff. The site removed absolute rankings and added some more explanatory text in response, and held a meeting at Parliament later in the year to discuss better metrics. In summer 2006, Jack Straw, Leader of the House of Commons also mentioned TheyWorkForYou as a site which "seems to measure Members' work in quantitative rather than qualitative terms".
In a Business debate on 26 April 2007, Theresa May stated that TheyWorkForYou had been "threatened with legal action for repeating what was printed in Hansard" but Jack Straw confirmed that "publication... of a fair and accurate account of a debate in either House is protected".
|Slogan||Write to your politicians, national or local, for free.|
Type of site
|Site for contacting elected representatives|
|Launched||2005 (FaxYourMP, a previous iteration, 2004)|
|399,718 (September 2012[update])|
WriteToThem is a website which allows UK citizens to contact their elected representatives. Users do not need to know their representatives’ names: instead, using the mySociety software MapIt, the site matches their postcode to its various constituency boundaries, before displaying elected representatives at all levels of UK government from local councillors to MEPs. Users can send messages to them from the site; responses are then sent directly to the user’s email address. Unlike many mySociety sites, there is no public element to the correspondence.
A year later, it rebranded as WriteToThem, sending messages by email or as faxes to those representatives who did not yet operate an email account.
mySociety publish an annual table to show which MPs are the most and least responsive; this is based on the results of a rolling survey which is sent to users two weeks after they use the site.
Mzalendo, the Kenyan website, running on Pombola
Among other features, Pombola allows for websites that publish parliamentary transcripts, hold a database of information about politicians, and, using the mySociety software MapIt, can match a user’s home location to their constituency.
Sites running on Pombola
- Odekro, Ghana 
- Mzalendo, Kenya 
- Shine Your Eye, Nigeria 
- People's Assembly, South Africa 
- Kuvakazim, Zimbabwe 
Street fault reporting
FixMyStreet in the UK
Homepage of FixMyStreet
|Slogan||Report, view, or discuss local problems|
Type of site
|Street-fault reporting website|
|Created by||User-generated/Public Authority generated|
|303,291 (April 2014[update])|
While most local councils have their own reporting systems, FixMyStreet solves the fact that the reporter may not know which authority is responsible for a specific type of problem in a specific location. By use of the MapIt software, FixMyStreet matches users’ postcodes and the category of their problem to the correct local authority.
The site was initially funded by the Department for Constitutional Affairs Innovations Fund and built by mySociety, in conjunction with the Young Foundation; the code for the site was written by Francis Irving, Matthew Somerville, and Chris Lightfoot. The site was originally launched as "Neighbourhood Fix-It", but it was decided to change to a shorter and easier name in June 2007 when one became available. A FixMyStreet app was developed in 2008 to enable iPhone users to report problems using their phones, and since then volunteers have written apps for Nokia and Android, as well as another app for the iPhone.
FixMyStreet won an award at SustainIT eWell-Being Awards in 2008, and has been listed in various newspaper best or top websites. The site was an inspiration for the government's "Show Us A Better Way" contest.
A version of the site for reporting abandoned empty homes, in conjunction with the Empty Homes Agency, Shelter Cymru and the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, was launched in late 2008, and was called "a model of easy use" by the Guardian This site was repurposed for the Channel 4 TV series The Great British Property Scandal in December 2011, which was nominated for a BAFTA and an Emmy. An adapted version of the FixMyStreet software also underlies cycle accident-reporting site Collideoscope
In 2010, FixMyStreet was closely integrated with The Guardian newspaper's Guardian Local project. Emily Bell wrote in her launch message: "A hugely important part of this project has been the involvement of MySociety, who we've collaborated with to provide customised versions of their civic tools, allowing and encouraging local residents to report issues, contact their representatives and generally become engaged in the governance and care of their locality.", and Alistair Tibbitt, Development Manager for Greener Leith wrote "the Guardian certainly deserve plaudits for integrating the local FixMyStreet service so tightly into their new Edinburgh Beat Blog."
|Stable release||1.6.1 / 2015-07-31|
FixMyStreet platform is software which enables anyone to run a FixMyStreet-type site in their own city or country.
The UK FixMyStreet inspired similar sites in other countries: in order to prevent the need for people to write code from scratch, mySociety refined the FixMyStreet open source codebase, making it more generic, easier to install, and able to handle different maps, including OpenStreetMap. This process was kickstarted when the NUUG funded the development of a Norwegian version FiksGataMi,.
Sites running on the FixMyStreet platform
- Ireland: FixMyStreet.ie 
- Malaysia: MakeMyisland 
- Norway: FiksGataMi 
- Sweden: FixaMinGata 
- Zurich, Switzerland: ZueriWieNeu 
- Uganda: FixMyCommunity 
- Uruguay: PorMiBarrio 
Sites inspired by FixMyStreet but running on their own software
- Australia: FixMyStreet 
- Belgium (Brussels-Capital Region only): Fix My Street 
- Canada: FixMyStreet 
- Cyprus: FixCyprus 
- Georgia: Chemigucha 
- Germany: Mark-a-Spot 
- Korea: FixMyStreet 
- Netherlands: Verbeterdebuurt 
- New Zealand: FixMyStreet 
- Greece: FixMyGreece 
- Japan: FixMyStreet 
- Tunisia: FixKairouan 
Interactive isochrone map on Mapumental.com
|Developer(s)||Chris Lightfoot, Francis Irving, Matthew Somerville, Duncan Parkes, Steve Day, Dave Arter|
Users input one or more postcodes and Mapumental displays a map overlaid with coloured bands, each of which represent a set increment of time. Initial work on the project was done by Chris Lightfoot, using open data from Railplanner, Transport Direct and the TfL Journey Planner
It was built with support from Channel4ip
Mapumental can be combined with other data sets, for example, property prices and ‘scenicness’ data (see ScenicorNot, below). It is now provided as a commercial service by mySociety to clients such as the Fire Protection Association
Poplus  is an international federation of organisations who benefit through the sharing of civic code and online technologies. It was set up in April 2014 by mySociety in collaboration with Chilean e-democracy organisation Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente.
Poplus encourages the development of free, open source civic ‘blocks’ of software, which it terms ‘Components’. These are intended to save time for anyone making one of the classic civic tech tools for parliamentary monitoring, accountability, transparency, et cetera.
The following Components were developed by mySociety. Those developed by other organisations may be seen on the Poplus website.
- SayIt  Software for publishing transcripts of debates (e.g. from parliaments, court proceedings and meetings
- WriteIt  Software for running a site that enables users to write to politicians, in public or private.
- MapIt  Software for matching a geographical point with its legislative boundaries. MapIt underlies several mySociety websites such as FixMyStreet and WriteToThem, where it allows for a user to input a postcode and be matched to the correct authority or representative.
- EveryPolitician: Storing and sharing data on every politician in the world, in structured open data
- Gaze: a gazetteer web service
Discontinued or passed to new owners
- Downing Street e-Petitions: mySociety developed the original solution for publishing petitions on the website of the Prime Minister's Office
- Pledgebank: Allowed users to make pledges of the format: "I will do x if y number of people agree to do the same." 
- HassleMe: Because your mother can't remind you of everything, a website that sends reminders sporadically, now run independently of mySociety
- HearFromYourMP: a site encouraging MPs to email their constituents, closed May 2015 
- FixMyTransport: a site, in the model of FixMyStreet for contacting any transport operator in Britain about problems with public transport. Correspondence was published online. The site ran from 2011 to 2015
- PopIt  Storage of open data on politicians
- ScenicOrNot  Gamification-powered site which invites users to rate photographs according to their ‘scenicness’. The results fed into Mapumental. In 2015 ScenicOrNot was passed over to the Warwick Business School where it is being used to track the correlation between health and the beauty of one’s surroundings
- GroupsNearYou: a map-based application that enabled users to find local community groups in their local area.
- NotApathetic: a site where people who planned not to vote in the United Kingdom general election, 2005 could explain why.
- Placeopedia: an online gazetteer consisting of a mashup of Google Maps and the English Wikipedia.
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- Local by Social, Andy Gibson
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- WhatDoTheyKnow homepage
- WhatDoTheyKnow homepage|date=2015-10-14
- Are You One in 6,983,028? (mySociety blog)|date=”2015-05-11”
- No Minister: Keep skunks out of Whitehall, Guardian, Dick Vinegar
- Information Commissioner's Office response: IRQ0365760
- Child Trust Funds: families count cost of child benefit delay , Telegraph
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- WhatDoTheyKnow Beats Parliamentary Question, mySociety, November 2009
- WhatDoTheyKnow now 6% in Welsh, WhatDoTheyKnow blog, 16 January 2013
- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/6551325/Best-Green-websites.html archived
- http://www.newstatesman.com/nma/nma2008/finalists08 archived
- Brighton and Hove News
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- mySociety Funding
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- Alaveteli Google Group
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- The 101 most useful websites
- New Statesman - Make Them Work For You
- TheyWorkForYou: finest advocacy web-app in the world - Boing Boing
- We've added the Lords, and more: TheyWorkForYou news (TheyWorkForYou.com)
- Enter a postcode on http://www.channel4.com/news/microsites/E/election2005/yourmp.html
- New Media Awards 2005 - The winners
- Democracy: Power Inquiry: 15 Jun 2006: House of Lords debates (TheyWorkForYou.com)
- Finances UK Citizens Online Democracy - Finances
- The Northern Ireland Assembly: TheyWorkForYou news (TheyWorkForYou.com)
- Open Australia
- Kildare Street
- Pombola on the Poplus website
- Social Policy and the Relief of Poverty: 11 Jul 2007: House of Commons debates (TheyWorkForYou.com)
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- Help (TheyWorkForYou.com)
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- ePolitix.com - Straw attacks MPs' researchers
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- Teacamp - where British civil servants go to brew change from within (Tech President)|date=”2013-09-03”
- WriteToThem launches (mySociety blog)|date=”2005-02-13”
- WriteToThem responsiveness league|year=”2014”
- John Glen named as one of most responsive MPs in the country (Salisbury Journal)
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- Mzalendo (Technology for Transparency Network)
- Grant Awarded to mySociety (Indigo Trust)|date=2013-01-21
- Shine Your Eye
- People's Assembly website, South Africa
- FAQ, FixMyStreet
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- Social sites develop a social conscience, Victor Keegan, Guardian, January 2008
- Politicians are using the internet to harness your bright ideas, September 2008
- Residents turn to web in lane fight, Western Mail, February 2008
- FixMyStreet now covers Northern Ireland, July 2012
- Media Architecture|Date=2014-08-28
- FixMyStreet Platform
- Redefining Citizenship and Civic Engagement: political values embodied in FixMyStreet.com (Association of Internet Researchers)|year=2011
- eWell-Being Award, mySociety blog, May 2008
- Top 100 sites for the year ahead, Guardian, December 2008
- Best Green websites, Telegraph, November 2009
- Websites set government data free, BBC News, November 2008
- How web tools could help the economy, Guardian, 20 November 2008
- BAFTA and Emmy nominations, May 2013
- Data Driven Cities| date=2015-01-22
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- Alistair Tibbitt "Let's fix our streets!", The Guardian, 24 March 2010
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- FixMyStreet in Norway, mySociety blog, March 2011
- FixMyStreet Ireland
- MakeMyIsland, Malaysia
- FiksGataMi, Norway
- FixaMinGata, Sweden
- ZueriWieNeu, Zurich
- FixMyCommunity, Uganda
- PorMiBarrio, Uruguay
- FixMyStreet Australia
- Fix My Street Brussels
- FixMyStreet Canada
- Fix Cyprus
- Chemigucha, Georgia
- MarkASpot, Germany
- FixMyStreet Korea
- FixMyStreet NZ
- FixMyStreet Japan
- FixKairouan, Tunisia
- Travel Time Maps: methods|date=2006-03-04
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- Fire, fire! Mapumental and fire engine journey times (mySociety blog)|date:2013-04-22
- PoplusCon: lowering the tech barriers for civic start-ups (Tech President)|date=2014-05-02
- Nominet Trust 100: Poplus
- Current Components (poplus.org)
- MySociety launches SayIt, civic software for publishing 'smart' transcripts (Wired)|date=2014-01-17
- Public petitions and early day motions: first report of session 2006-07 report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence (House of Commons papers)
- The petition, the 'prat' and a political ideal (BBC)|date:2007-02-13
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- The Story of Pledgebank (mySociety blog)|date=2015-02-21
- A Future for Hassleme (mySociety blog)|date:2015-03-16
- hearFromYourMP, a little piece of mySociety history (mySociety blog)|date:2015-02-05
- FixMyTransport Uses Crowdsourcing To Solve Travel Problems (Guardian)|date:2011-08-30
- FixMyTransport Needs A New Owner (mySociety blog)|date:2015-01-29
- A New Home And A New Purpose For ScenicOrNot (mySociety blog)|date:2015-08-12
- Official website
- UK Citizens' Online Democracy, the charity that owns mySociety
- UK Citizens Online Democracy, Registered Charity no. 1076346 at the Charity Commission
- Alaveteli code, issues, and wiki on GitHub
- FixMyStreet on Google Play
- FixMyStreet Android package at the F-Droid repository
- http://www.journalism.co.uk/news-features/freedom-of-information-act-journalists-open-data/s5/a549201/ Freedom of Information: Going beyond the scoop], Journalism.co.uk