Yesterday on Civicist, “Rethinking Debates” (hashtag on Twttr) researcher Christine Cupaiuolo wrote:
“While it was good to include different (and younger) voices… the use of “regular people” mainly reinforced the debate narrative. We need a more direct form of public engagement to drive different questions and to elicit more informative answers.”
That’s precisely the mission of our non-profit, bottom-up Q&A platform, AskThem. It’s free for everyone, its code is open to remix and improve, and it both uses and creates open data – helping to develop new dialogue and accountability tools in the future. AskThem works for continual conversation with public figures, issue groups, experts, and the media companies (such as ABC) who question candidates in the debate process.
In October, I wrote on the PPF Blog: “The debate managers between CNN (and other networks) and the DNC are ostensibly taking public questions over social media using hashtags, but AskThem is different. Instead of a few crowdsourced ‘internet’ questions, we’re open-source infrastructure for the idea that people in power should have continual, strong public conversation. We’re building the foundation for new tools for democratic trust & accountability, the kind of which we can’t yet imagine.
More specifically, we’re part of a growing coalition advocating for real open debates – at least half of questions from the public, as opposed to media-celeb moderators, and closer-to-real-time mechanisms to ensure that the public is sufficiently satisfied with the effort behind a response (if not necessarily its substance, of course) – towards not missing the opportunity to get good answers to good questions and follow-up during the crucial debate event itself!”
AskThem has not had any charitable funding support since a $35,000 Knight Foundation prototype grant in 2014. Please support our public-benefit work for civic engagement – we can promote questions on police de-militarization, money in politics, and more for an official response.
AskThem has free & open-source widgets, to enable visitors to any website to ask questions to public figures. They need technical support time and volunteer design help – please get in touch if you can help arrange a charitable grant to our 501©3 non-profit organization, a partnership to promote your issue-based campaign to our members, or a consulting contract for open-source web development.
Below, see examples of our widgets in action, to ask questions to Democratic Presidential candidates – contact us to use these for free on your own website.
Read more about PPF’s open-source projects and contact us to support our work. We’re a tiny non-profit and we need a foundation, philanthropist, media company or issue group to pay for our open-data development time. We don’t have revenue from clients or core funding support or even project-based support at the moment. Questions welcome, email david at ppolitics.org. Ask good questions to the GOP candidates too – handy links to their AskThem pages on the PPF Blog – we can provide open-source, custom-design widgets for all the Republican candidates as well. Even major media companies such as ABC and their debate reporters!