AskThem is a free and open-source platform for questions-and-answers with public figures. It's like a version of the White House's "We The People" petition platform, but for every elected official nationwide and anyone with a verified Twitter account.
AskThem is a project of the Participatory Politics Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to increase civic engagement. From 2007 through 2013, PPF created and operated OpenCongress.org, the most-visited non-profit website in the world for tracking the U.S. Congress. AskThem is a non-partisan project and offers open data for the public benefit. AskThem's development was supported by a charitable grant from the Knight Foundation's Tech For Engagement initiative.
We are actively seeking charitable funding support to maintain AskThem in 2014 - help us bring good questions to public figures nationwide. We seek to change the civic culture to ask more, and better, questions of people in power. You can help by making a tax-exempt donation to PPF, or contact us anytime for our non-profit funding prospectus.
AskThem is a new forum for online public dialogue and continual connection with the people who represent us. This launch version allows anyone to simply enter a street address and see their elected officials at the federal & state levels of government - and in most major U.S. cities, to see their municipal elected officials as well. Coming soon, our data sources will allow us to display thousands more mayors nationwide, tens of thousands of county government officials, and tens of thousands more city council members nationwide, the most coverage of any open-source website.
What's more, AskThem allows anyone to ask a question to any elected official nationwide - find your question recipients in federal or state government (for example, any U.S. senator, representative, governor, or mayor) from our national map page.
Here's how AskThem works:
AskThem code & data contributors have included, in addition to PPF: Open North, DataMade and Democracy Map. Our primary data source for elected officials info is the outstanding Google Civic Information API, as well as the community-maintained in-development Democracy Map API and AskThem's uniquely-aggregated data in more U.S. municipalities. In the past, additional data has been provided by the Sunlight Foundation's Open Civic Data projects.
AskThem's Advisory Council oversees our non-profit mission to support a community ethos of good questions. AskThem's non-profit Advisory Council includes, in alphabetical order by last name: Tiffiniy Cheng, President of PPF & Co-director, Fight For the Future; Prof. Dave Karpf, Assistant Professor in the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University; Nick Grossman, of MIT Media Lab & Union Square Ventures; Nicco Mele, of the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government; Amanda Michel, Open Editor of Guardian US news; Micah Sifry, of TechPresident; Tom Steinberg, of mySociety (UK); Prof. Zephyr Teachout, of Fordham University Law School; Susannah Vila, of Engine Room Advocacy; Anthea Watson Strong, of Google Civic Information; and more to be announced soon.
Follow-along: like AskThem on Facebook, follow @AskThemPPF on Twitter, add us on Google Plus, report an issue or ask a question on our help desk. Make a tax-exempt donation to PPF to support AskThem and help us continue our work in responsive government.
Associate Law Professor, Fordham Law School & Board member, Participatory Politics Foundation
Advocate-In-Residence, Union Square Ventures
Entrepreneur & Faculty, Harvard University - Kennedy School of Government
Google Civic Information API & Innovation programs
Ass't Prof., George Washington University; Advocacy Researcher