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Crowdsourcing Policy: The GOP's YouCut Project
In May, House Republican Eric Cantor (R-Va.) launched a website - YouCut - where people can suggest and vote on which government spending programs should be cut from the federal budget.
Here’s how it works:
Republicans suggest possible budget cuts each week, and people can vote online or via text message for the project that they think Congress should eliminate. For instance, currently featured on the site is the recommendation to terminate taxpayer funding of National Public Radio by texting YouCut1 to 68398. This cut has the potential to save “tens of millions of dollars”
The GOP will then bring the winning cut to the House floor each week for an up or down vote. A few cuts brought to the floor so far include: cut the new non-reformed Welfare Program ($25 billion savings), reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ($30 billion savings, prohibit hiring new IRS agents to enforce health care law ($15 billion savings), prohibit stimulus funding for promotional signage (tens of millions of savings), bipartisan proposal to terminate AEITC ($1.1 billion savings)
After the vote, people can see how their representatives voted. In addition, they can see the percentage of time that each representative supported the YouCut community. Unsurprisingly, the chart shows the Republican representatives support the cuts 100%, and on average the democrats support the cut less than 10 % of the time
The website also features a form to submit your idea for budget cuts and a call to unearth questionable federal grants – currently the site is asking people to look at the National Science Foundation website and submit awards that are not a good use of tax payer dollars
Additional social connections: YouCut has a Facebook page with 1,500 fans (it’s not active; no updates since July) and uses Cantor’s Twitter handle as main presence - @GOPWhip with 19,000 followers (the #youcut hashtag is active).
How it’s being received: Republicans view the program as a resounding success and point to it as a shining example of social media impacting government policy – giving every American their say. In a recent Fast Company article, they highlighted that more than two million people voted for various spending cuts. One request from Cantor that users search through online expenditure reports to flag questionable figures was said to have received 10,000 responses within a couple of days.
From our point of view, the YouCut program needs an infusion of transparency in order to truly demonstrate its impact. There are a tremendous amount of votes being cast in this initiative, but no place to see how each proposal faired. How many votes did the “Reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac” cut receive? How did it compare to the other suggestions that week or previous weeks? By not showing the support for each cut in real time the GOP is also missing an opportunity to rally further rally people and call them to action. For instance: We need more votes to terminate the presidential election fund, so we can take it to the House floor before we vote to stop funding NPR. Crowdsourcing is a powerful tool, but increasing the transparency would better show the pulse of the American people.
The partisan take on the project: Democrats call it a gimmick. Steny Hoyer's office said that it comes as no surprise that Republicans would need to ask Americans for ideas since they "clearly have none of their own when dealing with fiscal responsibility."
But that’s not to say Democrats are turning their back on crowdsourcing. The Obama administration introduced the SAVE awards to ask federal workers where they see places the government could tighten its belt. The administration has put the final four proposals (from 18,000 suggestions) out to the public for their opinion, and voting ends today. The winner gets a trip to the White House and time with President Obama.
This Week on Hypertext: Ten Practical Steps for Improving Your Facebook Presence
Now that many brands are advertising Facebook presences ahead of their actual web presences, it is more important than ever that we understand the conversations that are happening on brand Facebook pages. Are they positive or not? What type of content engages fans? Why do fans actually become fans in the first place? And how do you maintain fans?
Guest blogger, David Hargreaves CEO of Beyond, Next Fifteen’s specialist digital consultancy, answers your Facebook questions this week on Hypertext.
Tool Time: Multi-Linking Love with Bit.ly Bundles
Have you ever wanted to tweet a list of links but just couldn’t figure out how to fit them all into 140 characters? Ever received an email with a laundry list of links which you click on individually (and wait for the corresponding pages to fully load) but can’t decipher how they all fit together? If you answered yes to either of these, then Bit.ly’s new Bundle service is right up your alley.
Last week, the popular link-sharing service officially launched Bit.ly Bundles, a tool that enables multiple link-sharing in a single, shortened URL. Using the Bit.ly web site (you must sign-in to use the Bundle feature), simply copy and paste the links you’d like to include your short URL package then click “Bundle” and a new, shareable link will be created. Anyone who clicks on this link will be directed to Bit.ly where your individual links will appear. You can easily add, remove or change the order of the links within your Bundle at any time and can even add individual descriptions and comments below each link, which is great for explaining how an individual site fits into the group.
As you can imagine, the potential uses of Bit.ly Bundles – from announcement coverage reports in one easy URL to collecting all your holiday wish list items and sending as a hint to a family member or friend – the possibilities are limitless. Give it a try and let us know what you think – what are you bundling?