Switching from Advertising to Donations

Based on the feedback we’ve received, we’ve decided to drop the Google Adsense from the Public Whip website. Of the 52,142 advert views we had in just over a month, the income from the site was just £19.32 🙁 [these funds have been transferred to the new donation scheme].

However, we still need to raise funds to pay for the overhaul of Public Whip, so we’ve switch to using Pledgie and we’re asking for your help and your donations!

We’re hoping to raise £15,000 to redevelop Public Whip to include the following new features:
* Better security with coding standards code
* Faster site
* Better designed/easier to use
* “Tagging” of divisions to increase findability of related issues
* API for you to easily integrate Public Whip data into your own website
* Internationalisation (hopefully including MEP and local councillor support)
* Faster updates (taking feeds directly from Hansard with the ability to “live update” on important issues)
* Better search facilities
* Twitter updates

amongst other things. If you would like to make a donation, you can:

  • Donate via Pledgie.
    Click here to lend your support to: PublicWhip v2 and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !.
    Payments are accepted by Paypal.
    Donations via this method will cost us 6.4%+20p in total. “PAYPAL*PLEDGIE” will appear on your credit card statement.
  • Donate via Paypal directly.

    All major credit/debit cards accepted.
    Donations via this method will cost us 3.4%+20p in total. “PAYPAL*BAIRWELL” will appear on your credit card statement

  • Send us a cheque or postal order. These should be made payable to “Bairwell Ltd – Publicwhip fundraising” and sent to “Publicwhip, c/o Bairwell Ltd, 43 Haymakers Lane, Ashford, Kent, TN23 4GL”. Donations via this method will cost 75p

If you would like your donation to be anonymous, please let us know. If you would like to donate via some other method (credit/debit cards over the phone) please email team [at] publicwhip.org.uk . If you would like to pledge some time in helping re-write PublicWhip (which is MySQL/PHP based and will be using the Zend Framework), please again let us know – we’re hoping to be able to be able to do the rewrite in October/November time…

API Thoughts

Our medium to long term plans for Public Whip are to introduce an API (Application Programming Interface: if you don’t recognise the term, you can just gloss over this whole post) to help third parties integrate with Public Whip – without having to “screen scrap” the content. An example of a service currently utilising the content is “Keep track of how your MP votes” Boxee application.

Things we’d like to know:

  • What format of data would you prefer the data: CSV, TSV, XML, JSON, SQL, other?
  • How would you prefer to access it: SOAP, REST, HTTP GET, HTTP POST, data download (we do currently offer this!), other?
  • How often would you like to refresh the data: weekly, daily, hourly, “as live as possible”?
  • What sort of information would you like to be able to access?
  • Would you prefer, in the first instance, “documents” or “code” integration guides?
  • Would this be for a commercial or “open source/free access” project
  • What sort of volume of requests would you expect to push to us? (And would it be possible to introduce caching/proxying your end)
  • Would you like to “push” data to us? If so, what sort (comments, policy division revisions, etc etc)
  • Anything else you think relevant 🙂

Basically, we’d just like to hear from you how you would like to use the data. At the moment, we’re not going to make any guarantees about anything, but if we can get ideas from YOU then we may be able to start making plans…

Okay, so what are you going to do with it?

On the first of August 2011, after 8 years of hard graft and dedication, Francis Irving and Julian Todd handed us the reins of The Public Whip.

So, what are we going to do with it?

For a small question, it’s got quite a lengthy answer, so we’ll try to give you a summary:

  • PublicWhip.org.uk will remain a free to use, not-for-profit and open source website
  • After eight years, some of the code is getting a bit janky, so we’ll be stripping down and re-writing it
  • We want to engage the community in the site and the wider issues it raises, and will always be grateful for volunteers of all skill sets
  • We’ll be looking to give the front-end a bit of design love, making the site easier to use and to navigate (and a bit easier on the eye too)
  • We’ll be looking into sponsorship and/or donations to help fund development of new functionality
  • We’re looking at building a seperate API for NGOs, newspapers, lobby groups and campaigning organisations – so that they can make the most of the juicy raw data (if you’re any of these and would like to chat about how we can make the project more useful for you – get in touch!)
  • We’ll be looking to globalise the project, getting regionalised versions of PW into as many countries as possible (if you’re interested in being involved in this, give us a shout)

Along the way, we’re going to try and document as much as we can, keeping you up to date with what’s happening on the site and the wider project. We’ll also be talking a lot about the technologies we’re using to rebuild the site, why we’ve made the choices we have etc, with the hope that it’ll be helpful to other open data projects of all sizes.

If you want to contact us about the site, or the wider project, there’s loads of ways you can do that. The Public Whip is on Facebook and Twitter, you can email team@publicwhip.org.uk, or even leave a comment here on the blog.

If you’ve got a press enquiry, want to ask us about Raraunga, sponsoring The Public Whip, or are interested in the API service, you can also find us on Facebook and Twitter, or email hello@raraunga.com.

That’s all for now, we’d best go get some work done! Thanks for supporting The Public Whip thus far, there’s a very long road ahead, but we’re looking forward to the challenge and hope you’ll come along for the ride.