IT for change questions
Questions by e-mail in preparation for an interview on 30 September 2016
Topic: History and organization of Petities.nl
• What was the motivation behind the website Petities.nl?
Connect citizen with politics using the (online) petition as an interface. This allows for a dialogue between many-few-many otherwise not possible.
• How did it come into being?
In 2004 DigitalePioniers.nl gave a subsidy to make the website. The first few years it remained dormant. It was selected by ministry of the Interior as promising project in the field of eparticipation. They subsidised a new website in 2010 and again in 2015.
• How big is the team behind Petities.nl?
Reinder Rustema, one technical volunteer, free lance programmers when there is money and the volunteers of vereniging Open Domein take care of the hosting.
• How sustainable is Petities.nl?
Currently we are approaching local governments as clients. Once enough of them take a subscription it is viable.
• What is the business model/ or/ how is the website funded?
So far all volunteer work. Website created with subsidies. Sponsoring takes care of costs. The volunteer work is not sustainable because of the recent growth. See also http://jaarverslag.petities.nl/statistieken/ and http://handboek.petities.nl/wiki/Cijfers for numbers.
Topic: The services provided by Petities.nl • What services are offered through this website?
For free for all citizens: signing or running a petition. Some premium services for the lead petitioners. Services for (local) governemnts: a petition desk, mailings to citizens and workshops and other expertise.
• Who designed the website and what type of resources (e.g. software) were used in its design?
The initiator in close collaboration with the web designer and programmers. Versions 1 and 2 were designed by Alias Publishing, last version designed by Freshbits.
• Were there different versions of the current website? If so, then why were they changed?
See http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://petities.nl for old versions. 5 May 2005 version 1, late 2009 version 2, 28 december 2015 version 3.
• What are the principles that inform the current design of Petities.nl?
Easy to sign up, but with proof that a human signed using a working e-mail address. The answer to the petition by the authorities should go to all signatories, to emulate a dialogue.
• Is Petities.nl successful in fulfilling its mission?
What is success? We are popular, many signatures for many petitions. But few petitions get answered properly.
• What are some of the things that could be improved?
Petitions should be handed physically to authorities and receive a proper answer.
• What relationship do you have with the public sector?
Subsidies make the website possible.
• Do you have any formal partnerships with the public sector?
Mostly the Ministry of the Interior.
• Are there any indications that your website could become an ‘official partner’ of the public sector?
It partners with some 20 local governments so far.
• In addition to the website, do you rely on social media? If so, then how?
New petitions are announced on Facebook and Twitter. We try to draw traffic away from the social networks, not bring visitors to those platforms. We do not share data with those platforms.
Topic: Citizen engagement in the Netherlands • How does Petities.nl contribute to fostering civic engagement in the Netherlands?
Citizens are invited to draw up a petition concerning some public issue, not a personal one. Supporters for a petition are invited to subscribe, contribute to the initiative.
• What does the team behind Petities.nl see as the role of citizens in Dutch politics?
Feed representative politics with issues and solutions.
• How do you encourage citizen participation in Dutch politics?
Propose solutions or protest against new policy.
• What could be done to improve citizen participation in the Netherlands?
Stop coalition governments and divide executive and representative. See my personal blog at http://letgovernorsrule.rustema.eu
• What do you see as the main advantage of the Internet in helping citizen engagement?
Dialogue with a mass is possible
• What do you see as the main weakness or limitation of the Internet in helping citizen engagement?
Difficult to bridge with off-line world