Online advocacy: what we learn from hate groups

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  • Josh – freelance, Citizen
  • Action Kit
  • Engaging Networks – the worst
  • Emily – student at Hack Right, before an intern at Causes.com
  • John- Multi-technology collective, Incorporated Cicero into CiviCRM
  • Also Salsa, Convio, Blue State Digital
  • John – CiviCRM
  • Josh- Action Kit and Salesforce, BSD in the past
  • Sylvan – Pete Library
  • Lilia – Causes.com, EFF (especially Action Center), Salsa,
  • Ryan – Facilitator - Soap Box Engage, CiviCRM, Salesforce
  • Bill – EFF, stopped with Salsa -> CiviCRM and own in-house infrastructure
  • Amp

Bill

  • A lot of the challenging work has been how to get in contact with representatives (don’t provide email address) – worked with Contact Congress on Get Hub – use the recipes on how to fill out each and every field
  • Key areas of discussion
  • What systems people use
  • Ouches
  • Opportunities for collaboration
  • Common data model?
  • What innovation is needed


History of how online advocacy has evolved

  • 2003-4 – a lot of promise about what we could do as a community
  • Early days of “Democracy in Action” – was a nonprofit, now Salsa – private
  • CiviCRM had just started
  • Came from very grassroots level
  • A lot of talk of collaboration
  • Saw organizations and companies become more insular and weren’t communicating, these tools and sets weren’t an ecosystem, just sold to the same people
  • Now seeing a lot of innovation happening
  • But don’t see them represented here – those businesses aren’t sharing knowledge and being a part of that, such an opportunity for collaboration
  • Need to come back to where we were in 2003 to work together
  • Existence of Civic Space – part of the Dean campaign – fork of Drupal got folded back into Drupal
  • Open source advocacy tool that you could download and install
  • Software as services
  • Subscription, access it and you don’t control the data
  • My Society- in the UK, theyworkforyou.org – send letters to their members of parliament and if enough people signed on, letter was public so it was public shame if the member hadn’t responded. Became a big deal in the UK
  • Integration Proclamation – a bunch of people signing on saying the tools should integrate – developers do this
  • Might be a place to find people passionate about


Development of EFF System

  • Salsa didn’t work for a number of reasons:
  • Tickets for a year out that hadn’t been fixed
  • Supporters of EFF – mixed content errors – would access an EFF action, wouldn’t fully load on certain browers, Salsa slow to fix
  • Lousy system, not a good experience
  • Plus couldn’t handle a major load when they had a big action
  • Are very proud of open access to data and controlling our own data vs. a third-party platform that didn’t meet our needs
  • As a nonprofit with a large techie support group, saw opportunity to build our own platform

Challenges:

  • Contacting reps – some efforts to create an API, but not much headway -> Let’s take Congress and wrap it in an API – project = Congress Forms (API part of it)
  • Sunlight Foundation – Contact Congress on GitHub is the datasource
  • Worked with Recourse Action network to pull data from Salsa
  • Aren’t any open source tools for contacting Congress…
  • Communicating with Congress working group- out of beta stage – Congress on the house side has paid Lockheed Martin to build out a black box
  • Once it’s there -> Staffers need to actually be able to interpret the data, what does this mean?
  • Form analytics and PDFs – so activists can
  • Vote pledging – has a direct impact – I’ll vote for you or not
  • Think would be illegal for a 501c3 – can’t endorse certain candidates
  • Have a privacy policy – build tools that don’t personally identify people
  • How many people looked at this action? How many people took action?
  • Signed petition, contacte this rep
  • Print this to PDF
  • Action Center works like a blog:
  • Post content -> Creates web page
  • Can attach tools to that webpage
  • Form that people can fill out like: Contact congress (look up your rep and fills out the form automatically, streamlines that process, even subject line drop-downs) – Sunlight recently added state congress
  • Petitions
  • Call tool (put in your phone #, it calls you back with the quick script and then connects you to the office)- powered by Twilio
  • Tweet Action – sunlight
  • Use CiviCRM for email services – data from the Action center cycles into their CiviCRM to get on the email blasts
  • Thunder Clap
  • Would like to have a vagrant system for the action center
  • Big problem with current congress is bad delivery rate – almost 60%
  • Timeline: A lot of the efforts are going into the next election cycle, labor intensive process to map out all the forms of Congress – could do it using huge volunteer base, satisfying task to help with – had 2K commits in the two days
  • Worked on the trust model – will make you a repo admin
  • Scale up that model –
  • Google Civic API – top 100 metros in the US
  • Sierra – interested in crowdsourcing getting local school board member data
  • League of Women Voters –worked on data munching, all the people up for election into a centralized data store

How address look-up works:

  • Smartistreets – using external – user puts in their address -> get GPS, figure out who their rep is – have deal with Smarty that won’t log
  • Free for nonprofits
  • Tried to do with Open Street Maps, but had issues getting the data there, Nominatum, did it for a while
  • Jon – said they did it too, but a lot of regular addresses just didn’t come up
  • Google look-up – secondary
  • Warning on Smarti – Salesforce Foundation – made an integration as the default way for address cleansing – some orgs being rejected on the types of issues they supported – Foundation had to walk back and not endorse Smarti
  • Credo Action contributes to Congress forms
  • NGP VAN – contributes to that too