Improving the manifesto creation experience

So, the current manifesto editing system is made up of Github pages, a custom editor hand-written by me, and a voting system involving putting icons into pull requests, then counted by a script also written by me which probably isn’t working very well at the moment. Also, the forking system used by the editor isn’t great for people who have forked a copy before, and introduces problems and requires manual merging.

How can we do better? We want to have something that:

  1. Makes it easy for anyone to edit the text
  2. Notifies voters when a change is submitted
  3. Supports comments and discussion on a change
  4. Allows the change to be updated easily in response to comments
  5. Has a simple voting system with nice easy buttons
  6. Automatically updates the text on the website when a change goes in

There are a bunch of things out there we could look at using which do some or all of this:

I’ll start adding notes here to see how well those tools could support the 6 requirements above, but if anyone else feels liks pitching in, please do so…

I don’t know of any system that would allow for that, however I don’t think anyone should be able to edit the text on the manifesto as in the unfortunate event we get an internet troll that could be a significant issue. What you would need to do is link any change updates to the manifesto through the messaging system so that they receive an automated message of this. I also don’t know how to create a voting system either for different policy creation however that is a good idea. I will have a gander at the tags you’ve put up. :slight_smile:

Editing is a controlled process, not a free-for-all in a wikipedia style. Take a look at for a blog I wrote a while back on how it works at the moment, if that’s of interest. It’s definitely the core open aspect of the party :slight_smile:

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Ah, I see so by editing you mean holding a platform to effect policy change? Then personally I agree with it. :slight_smile:

How keen are we on building something ourselves?

My feeling is that the OPM is a pioneer in collaborative Manifesto building. If we could build a foundational platform to do it with, other parties could use the same software.

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I do think that would be a good idea. Since if it is built well enough and is effective enough then we’ll have a very inclusive system that is possibly the envy of other parties as you say. Having been a member of the Greens and LibDems at one point I can safely say they have nothing as efficient but they do have voting online for candidates and other things. But ultimately I think this is a good idea.

So far everything we have is home-grown or (mis)using off-the-shelf tools. However, we’re very low on resources, and there are other people working on things, so we shouldn’t reinvent the wheel if we don’t have to.

Would there be mileage in doing an explicit call to put together a volunteer development team to work on this stuff, with a specific goal, and with a remit to either reuse, customise or reinvent if necessary? It can’t just be me coding it all myself any more, there’s too much else to hold together both within and outside Something New…

@philipjohn would you have the bandwidth to lead such a team if we managed to pull it together?

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We need more supporters before committing to something like this to be honest. :slight_smile: Which is why I suggested leafleting. :slight_smile: Not everyone will be interested but some certainly will be. ^^

Well, I do wonder about that. Given who we know, we might be able to reach out into our networks and pull together a team of people who would be willing to have a go at building something interesting, and who might be attracted by that initially rather than the “getting involved in politics” aspect.

But I certainly agree we also need a more general outreach as well to hit everyone else.

Bootstrapping is hard, I guess we need to try everything! :slight_smile:

Let me do some work first to see what is out there that’s re-usable. If there are existing things we can build on, that would be better.

Failing that, I’ll try reaching out to other democracy tech people to see what interest there is in collaborating on something.

Of course, if it turns out there isn’t anything out there, and we want to try and build something, there’s a chance there’s funding available.

This is entirely possible. Definitely check out Objective8 (link above). I’ve met with the developers and they really want to take it forward, and we’d make a good case study, so there’s potential for help there.

I’m tracking my progress on Trello:

@philipjohn I have a couple of user stories bumping around in my head. Shall I put them here, in trello, or GitHub somewhere? What would you prefer?

I’ll drop them here for now anyway before I forget them:

When I have a change accepted into the manifesto
I want to know about it
And I want to be able to share it easily
So I can show off to my social networks and friends
I want to be able to see my contributions to the manifesto
So that I can show others and feel good about my status and level of contribution
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As a manifesto contributor
I want to be able to get notifications of all new changes
So that I don't miss any
As a manifesto contributor
I want to be able to read and vote on proposed changes on my phone
So that I can participate in casual moments or while on the move
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@Edward_Caplen Do you have any bandwidth to help me look into the options (and any others) mentioned on ?

I’ve gone through the various discussions around this and my 2p, for what it is worth, is thus:

  • The backend version control of the manifesto is fairly important if you want to be able to pin down specific contributors to specific parts of the manifesto
  • The current system works well if you know how to use GitHub
  • There is already an editor that takes the complication of creating a fork, editing a page and submitting a pull request (even if this needs some improvement)
  • Votebot works for most scenarios but needs some updates to account for edge cases
  • The confusion seems to come from how to get involved in the voting/discussion of potential changes

So, in my view, we already have a fairly robust system that with a few improvements would work outstandingly well - we just have to make it easier, and I’m happy to put some time into that.


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@geeksareforlife thanks for the great “new eyes” review of the system. I agree on all points; I love the process in general and the version control backend is one of the really unique parts, I reckon. The editor is a little shonky (I wrote it in under a week and was mostly focusing on CSV editing), and votebot does only one job right now, but in general I’m amazed the system has got as far as it has.

Agree that voting and discussion is where it falls down for non-github users, and that’s probably the next important thing to fix on that front.

An update here; I’ve done a whole bunch of refactoring, conversion and improvement of the votebot over the last couple of days. The votebot is now a full Rails 5 app, and has github oauth login working. It also shows all votes, not just those open at the moment, so we can see the full history. All progress in the right direction!