Online Activism

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Study on Online Fundraising

Several of the leading nonprofit email service providers sponsored a study on
Email Messaging, Online Fundraising, and Internet Advocacy Metrics

Among many useful bits of information, I notice they found a 0.3% mean conversion rate for an email donations appeal. Redirects to

Today I mistakenly typed in - to get to the United for Peace and Justice (aka UFPJ) website.

It's redirected to!!! Appalling, but unfortunately not all that uncommon on the web.

Presumably some unethical person bought up the domain and redirected it to the democrats. It's on the fringes of legality.

If you do a Whois look up on it, you find "Domains by Proxy" which is a service owned by the owner of GoDaddy which keeps your information private (making it harder for people to find out who is behind this, though the general function is to reduce spam).

The r

Crazy Idea #74 - PoliticalRank - a PageRank Clone

Loosely based on the idea of Google's PageRank (a measurement of a page's authority, based on the strength of incoming links), I think it would be interesting to have one or more measurements of PoliticalRank for web sites.

Unlike PageRank, which is more of a quantity measurement, PoliticalRank would be a quality one - evaluating the relative political position of a website on a basic left to right scale (where left wing pages would be quality, just kidding!).

You'd need to write a bot that would collect a massive database of webpages. Then you'd evaluate the relative politics of each website (and perhaps each page on each site) based on factors like keywords, the site that the page was on, incoming links, outgoing links, and ultimately on user site reviews.

Guardian - Dynamic PDF Newspapers Every 15 Minutes

The Guardian, a progressive UK newspaper, is creating PDFs of its stories every fifteen minutes.

It's like they are printing a fresh newspaper every fifteen minutes! Or at least a semi-fresh one.

Alternatives IMC

I'm involved in the Alternatives-IMC project.

“The goal of the Alternatives is to open a vibrant, inspiring, and multilingual Indymedia site through which users will both share information about current efforts toward creating fundamental change and work collaboratively on projects to make change happen in their communities.

We intend this site to become an indispensable resource for those interested in the basic fundamentals of fundamental change -- the who/what/where/when/why of what people are doing to better the world -- as well as a living laboratory for those who want to make change happen NOW.”

Distributed Databases

For a long time I've been interested in the idea of a distributed database. While it would be hard to do, one way that would make it easier is to for the local sites that were part of the decentralized database network to store the data in two parts. The first part would be data that came from that location and could be edited. The second part would be global data that would be updated based on a regular time schedule. Thus things could only be edited/deleted in one spot. Updating the local read-only database would still be messy.

Ending Activist Data Silos

As the years go by, more and more organizations are creating networking sites (either just plain directories, or schmancy social networking ones).

Unfortunately everyone is creating their own proprietary site. The data that they are collecting, whether they admit it or not, is effectively owned by them - as it has nowhere that it can easily go. Yes, these organizations are creating their very own Data Silo!

The problems of a data silo include
-Concentration of data in the hands of an elite. Users might be able to remove themselves from the site, but in general the site owners can do almost anything they want with their user base including choosing the campaigns they work on, choosing how they work on those campaigns, fundraising money, and otherwise shaping their actions by exerting the power of setting the agenda (ex. MoveOn asks its members to fund Democratic canidates, whereas it could be raising millions of dollars for United For Peace and Justice or other grassroots peace groups). Typically the owners of these sites aren't accountable or come from segmented organizations that do not represent the breadth of our social movements.

We Need: A Quality National US Activist Discussion Forum

A group of people needs to launch a quality web forum for US activists!!!!! I've been thinking this for a couple years. It's an example of movement-building online activism than I'm hoping we'll see more of.

(Canadians already have one)

I suspect most people don't appreciate the usefulness of a high quality web forum - simply because, like quality email lists, they are rare. The overwhelming majority of email lists either have too little traffic (they never took off, or due to neglect they are dying), too much traffic (spam), too high of a ratio of off-topic messages to on-topic ones, too many weirdoes, too many posts by the same people, or some other problem. Web forums have similar problems.

Facebook Development Platform

On June 1 Facebook launched a development platform. Basically they're providing an unprecedented level of access to their social network for anyone who wants to develop software that benefits from their network of 25 million users.

Main site for developing facebook applications

Link to a rather long, but good video that presents the platform. Worth watching at least part of it to get an idea:

The "causes" application already has 1 million users.

Online Ballot 1.0 Beta Release

Today I did the first official release for "Online Ballot 1.0", the software that powered

The release is at

If you are interested in holding your own referendum/ballot question, and want to only let people vote who are on the official voters list, then this software is for you!

Note: It was designed for the Philadelphia election and thus you're going to want to customize it for you own election. You might want to hire me to do this =)

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