back to article Tories swallow Web 2.0, spit out £1m crowdsource prize

The Tories are waving a £1m taxpayer-funded crowdsourcing prize under the noses of developers to produce a website that can "harness the wisdom" of voters to "resolve difficult policy challenges". According to shadow culture secretary and ex-tech PR man Jeremy Hunt, the prize money would be paid for out of Cabinet Office …


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  1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Oh A Delphi pool

    That's what they used to call this stuff.

    Mine's the one witha copy of the "Shockwave Rider" in it.

  2. this


    but thank God it's a politician proposing it, so it's fully innoculated against actually happening.

  3. Dennis_J

    "the wisdom of the crowd"

    Can we not make decisions based on evidence and research and perhaps some common sense? The the wisdom of the crowd is what gets foot doctors beaten up for being mistaken for paedeophiles!

    1. Steven Walker

      Evidence and research?

      Wow, how can someone get the facts so wrong while demanding evidence and research.

      First a paediatricain is not a foot doctor but a child specailist. At least the doctor bit was right.

      Secondly the story is almost an urban myth. The story Dennis_J is alluding to is (I presume) the one referred to here and no doctors of any sort were beaten up. El Reg even gets a mention as one of the spreaders of the myth so maybe it is not all Dennis's fault :)

      Never let the facts get in the way of a good story! Unless further evidence and research can produce a story about a paedo podiatrist being beaten up.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jeremy Hunt?

    Bit of a Gareth Hunt, methinks...

    1. Jerome 0

      Jeremy Hunt?

      More of a Mike, I'd say.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        James Blunt. His own rhyming slang.

  5. Graham Marsden

    "harness the wisdom" of voters

    Oh great, so even more Daily Mail based policies...

  6. Steve Crook

    I can't wait.

    With any luck we'll be able to suggest something utterly reprehensible, vote for it en masse, and then watch the buggers squirm while they try and explain why the wisdom of the crowds just doesn't happen to work in that particular case.

    I seem to be losing the will to vote. Again.

  7. Marvin the Martian

    Tories --- a bit of a strange name.

    If you are campaigning under the flag of "change" you cannot claim to be conservative, methinks. And although running after things that sounded spiffy in 2007 doesn't betray down-with-it-ness, it's still not

    The outcome of the project is quickly gauged: read through the last 50years of letters to the Daily Mail --- it is distilled from the same slice of the population of complainos (or slightly more literate, seeing as they managed to write an address and stick a stamp in the correct place), and show us one good idea proposed there.

    It's like crowdsourcing a brewing process and being surprised you get something as undrinkable as stella or irn bru.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Silly! Dashed silly?

    Yeah like everyone who votes is on the internet duh?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh Christ!

    The only reason democracy works is that stupid people are less likely to vote and even less likely to take something up with their elected representative.

    “collective wisdom" doesn't exist. It makes no sense logically and often leads to really stupid situations. See stock markets. Or "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds",

    "so-called experts" - Oh yes, because studying really hard to get into the Uni course that lets you study really hard for even longer is totally meaningless. Quick someone tell HR! And the NHS.

    Typically bloody stupid thing for a politician to say. Only in Britain do we get politicians who studied politics, then got a job in politics, then became an MP and finally became a cabinet minister with no experience with anything outside of politics!

  10. Evil_Trev

    I for one applaude this

    As a wily I.T. savvy type could pocket a million from an expanded version of e-petitions bleeting and a forum with voting... freed from the lacky-controled hands of those pathetic yougov sycophants.

  11. Gary F

    Let me get this straight...

    They want talented web application developers to build them a site worth £1m, but everyone who hasn't built the winning site will walk away with nothing after spending weeks or months working on it at their on expense?

    Can someone design me a new website please? I will award the developer of the best site £10,000. Those whose efforts I didn't like can shove off without so much as a penny, but thanks for your ideas anyway. Yup, this system is a great way to do business and drive the economy.

    1. Stuart Jones

      RE: Let me get this straight...

      That's crowd sourcing

  12. Christoph

    So no change there then

    Just like the petitions to the prime minister site they will carry on doing exactly what they were going to anyway and ignore what is said - but claim that they listened to the public.

    And would you really want decisions to be made by daily mail readers and sun readers?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oi, you pompous twat.

      I read the Sun...Doesn't mean I'm incapable of making proper decisions for the benefit of the populace.

      1. Gilbert Wham

        Re: Sun

        Yes. Yes it does. Sorry.

    2. tgm

      never head of 99designs?

      It's actually not a bad system - see

  13. david 63

    I have an idea so cunning...

    ...perhaps you could have a site where people can submit suggestions, call them petitions if you will, then other people can add their names...

    ...and then we can ignore them.

    At least it makes it look like we are at all interested in what the little people think. And we are building a nice list of email addresses of dissenters.

    You can send my share of the 1,000,000 to the charity of your choice.

  14. Jonathan Richards 1

    Flaw in the reasoning...

    Such a system might be able to harness the opinions of many, but it wouldn't be representative. The general population is *not* well represented by the sort of folk who participate in online comment forums. That shouldn't come as a surprise to fellow Loyal Readers.

    Furthermore, elementary statistics tells you that the more data points you take, the more you tend to the mean, or in this case the mediocre. I don't want difficult policy decisions made by the wisdom of a crowd such as the ones that hang around on "Have Your Say", or even El Reg. I prefer to have leaders, with vision.

    I wonder if I can email that thought to Conservative Central Office? Don't expect they'd listen...

  15. Scott Broukell

    Policy Changes .....

    a far more effective system would be compulsory voting. Don't bother to vote and you can shut up about how you dislike the current government elected into office. Don't bother to vote three times and you never vote again.

    Recently the lack of voter turnout has given great encouragement to those in office, they rather like the disinterested masses not caring about what they have planned as it makes it easier for them to carry on regardless of popular opinion.

    Ban the use of the term "in power", as, in a true democracy, politicians are elected into OFFICE not power - that would reside with the electorate.

    Encourage proportional representation and coalition governments, so that we get a true and effective picture of peoples political sympathies.

    The effect of the above on policy making would be far greater in my opinion, we should also remind politicos who has the power on a daily basis.

    >IF rant over goto END<

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sign me up!

      I will support compulsory voting all the way. As soon as it is brought in I will form the Stop Compulsory Voting Party. It's a single issue party but I think it will get a lot of votes.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A modified version of what you propose.

      You can only vote if you pay income tax or are in receipt of a state old age pension.

      This would take out both the losers at the bottom brain dead non-contributing leaches and the inherited wealth leaches.

      And make it compulsory.

      And dismantle the party system so that the MP you elect is there to represent the interests of his constituency.

    3. Adam Foxton

      If you did the "don't vote 3 times and you're out"

      thing you'd need to have a "NONE" option as well, otherwise voters would be putting votes down for random parties just to have voted.

      Also, the lack of voter turnout could also have something to do with a lack of things to vote on... I mean I'd love to have a say in how the country is run, but we just get the same load of crap from the various parties. And similar though their policies are, they'll still ignore them and do whatever the hell they want when they get into office.

      And parties should have a well defined, well thought out, vision. Something that can be described in nice, neat case studies and can be subjected to scrutiny by opposing politicians and the public

      We could also do with some sort of QoS criteria for manifesto pledges. Some suggestions:

      * "It's got to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely (The SMART rule)"

      * "It's got to be costed out. Not to the nearest penny- that'd be impractical and ridiculous for a pre-election manifesto- but the numbers should add up to within a couple of tens of millions or two of what they eventually turn out to be. (The Price is Right rule)"

      * "The Party, once elected, will have a duty to at least try to do what it said (The RONSEAL rule- the party does what it says on the tin)"

      * The Manifesto Pledges must always be phrased so that they're pushing the UK forwards towards a goal rather than pulling us back to "How it used to be" (The ROSE TINT rule)

      * Any promises made by the party in the manifesto must have some sort of evidence to back it up- either scientific evidence or (where appropriate) references to a faith. (The Put Up or Shut Up rule)

      * No manifesto pledge can benefit other countries when no- or a lesser- benefit is derived for the UK, i.e. we always have to break even or profit somehow. The benefit to the UK can be in "feel-good factor" but this must be quantified somehow.

      All of which, if breached, are punishable by a handicap in the next election/a fine for the Party once they're out of office/the repealing of honours and other such benefits gained by Party members while in office based on the severity of the breach

  16. kissingthecarpet

    Beat me to it

    @AC 31/12 1447 - I was going to say - Jeremy Hunt? Is that rhyming slang?

    @Dennis -Too right. Wisdom of crowd = Mob rule (unless perhaps you have to pass some sort of test to be part of the crowd)

    And you thought New Labour were bad? You ain't seen nothin' yet.

    Here's another example - Cameron gave a speech recently railing against "Health & Safety" where every instance of supposed HSE lunacy he mentioned was listed in the "Myths" section of the HSE website - WTF is this all about,eh??

  17. Anonymous Coward


    We've run out of ideas, we'll ask the great unwashed. Then when Labour win again we can blame them!

  18. Gythwyn
    Thumb Up

    Already done and dusted

    I think Tom'll want the Million :D

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like vote buying

    but if that is ok, then vote for my party, and I will run some odd competition of national importance, such as name the next integer number after 2, is it:

    a. 1

    b. 2

    or drum roll

    c. ---> 3 <---

    Now, I will be paying the winners from public money, the princely sum of 10million pounds a piece, and there will be more than one winner. But, I can only do this if my party is elected to govern the country, so a nod's as good as a wink to a blind man.

    Pfft, just don't vote Labour in disgust, vote for whatever would create a hung parliament, the least damage they can do and the more hamstrung these jokers are the better for everyone else. So, probably best to vote for some of the more obscure parties.

  20. Anonymous Coward


    For a mere 500 times the price I will do nothing at all.

  21. davenewman
    Thumb Up

    This can work

    .. if you put enough effort into it. Have a look at the 21st Century Town Meetings on .

    You don't need to be representative when collecting creative ideas - the point is to get lots of different ideas, rather than just implementing the first idea you think of (e.g. large databases to solve each social problem).

    You only need a representative sample to rank the alternatives when people have come up with the suggestions.

    Getting thousands of people to tell their stories and come up with ideas is at the centre of a lot of e-democracy projects (see, e.g.,

  22. Graham Lockley

    Burn 'em

    <produce a website that can "harness the wisdom" of voters to "resolve difficult policy challenges".>

    The wisdom of voters ? Are they the same ones with the torches and pitchforks that hang around castles in the old Hammer horror films ? Or the ones that claim an old woman turned them into a newt (I got better though).

    Looks like under the Tories we can expect illegal immigrants to hung,drawn and quartered (lets return to traditional methods) and dole scroungers being forced to build roads etc.

    The Monster Raving Loony Party start to look more attractive every day.

  23. Robin Szemeti
    Big Brother

    "Wisdom of the crowd"?

    Shurely you jest ...

    we already know how to effectively calculate the IQ of a crowd, you just take the IQ of the dumbest member, and divide it by the number of people in the crowd ...

    Still, hats off to the tories for trying to suggest that the people might actually have some input on policies ... someting thats not happened in any governement for many years ...

    The truly savvy IT type bidding for this contract would do well to remember to mention "and this is the page where you can control the outcome of the poll .."

    I'll get my caot .. its the one with the big list of IP addresses and voting tendencies in the pocket.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    This is easy money

    Simply set up a site at a free host like Wordpress or LiveJournal and type the words:

    "Dear politicians, just fuck off and leave us alone."

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    no suggestions? I'll start ...

    "difficult policy challenge" (DPC): wholesale spying on your internet connection

    solution: encryption, vpn

    DPC: border security

    solution: strip down to your undies when asked to remove your shoes

    (nothing to hide, nothing to fear, eh?)

    DPC: voter disaffection

    solution: scrap the monarchy, declare Lisbon treaty and UK-USA extradition treaty invalid until they pass a referendum vote

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Good, Bring back Hanging

    Well, if they follow public opinion they will bring back hanging and leave the EU.

  27. This post has been deleted by its author

  28. Joey

    Ford Edsel

    Ford tried to produce a car based on popular opinion buildng in all the features that most people wanted. Pioneering market research based design. It was ugly as hell and a total flop. Much as they like to think they are, the public are not experts at anything other than what they individually like and any mass polling of anything gives only the lowest common denominator - which is no way to run a country! The country needs good leadership, not popular leadership and Joe Public is an idiot!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      But wasn't it also Henry Ford I who said: "If I'd asked my customers what they wanted, they'd have said 'a faster horse' " ?

  29. Anonymous Coward

    No no no no

    'wisdom of the British people is much greater than that of a bunch of politicians or so-called experts'

    If we take the advice of the British public we'll have Jeremy Clarkson in power, reintroduction of the death penalty, be invading Russia because Putin forgot to send an Christmas card, minorities in camps and learning by rote (off a pink atlas).

    I'm sick of the public thinking their opinion is as credible as that of an expert. I don't completely trust experts, but I'll take them over some bitter retiree's uninformed view any day.

  30. Christopher.

    Uhh.. just listen to mySociety?

    Why don't they just implement the recommendations mySociety put out months and months ago in the form of the Free Our Bills campaign?

    The Tories even have the director of mySociety advising them now. Do they not bother listening?

  31. J.Wild

    Pimp my duckhouse

    And the prize for the best website goes to...... Mrs .Hunt

  32. Ken Hagan Gold badge
    Thumb Down


    Democracy is a great way of making decisions if the final choice doesn't matter. However, if the policy needs to be compatible with some aspect of reality, like "affordable" or "physically possible" then only a complete idiot would let the decision be made by people who didn't know about that constraint.

    It is true that there are lots of people (and not just the retired) who could do a better job than career politicians. It is also true that opening up the decision-making process would improve the quality of government. However, a web-site to be hi-jacked by every lobbyist in the country (and possibly beyond) and producing decisions that will inevitably be "considered" by cooler heads behind closed doors, delivers on neither.

    On the other hand, it has given Dave more column inches on a slow news day.

  33. Anonymous Coward


    I guess the UK is outsourcing "democracy" with this tech. The nanny state will not tolerate dissenters so what easier way than to track by IP address and cookies. Gotta love it.

  34. Francis Irving

    Missing the point (I hope!)

    I hope that the Tories here want innovative solutions. We're not just talking another forum or petition site, that would be pointless. The best way I can explain is by analogy.

    Looking at the poor programming Q&A sites a year ago, would you have expected StackOverflow to appear from nowhere and trounce them all, with better questions, better answers, easier to use and search? It doesn't do anything specifically new, but it gets the reward mechanism right with points and badges. It uses a nice mixture of voting and quality improving editing.

    In the policy arena there'll be similar surprising improvements. Maybe it'll give you a simple basic questionnaire, before you can edit the policy on any subject. Perhaps its voting will use YouGov like demographic weighting. Who knows, but there's sure lots of things to try that are betting than just shoving a bill on a wiki, or making another petition site.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    X Factor for dot gov?

    Pathetic crowd pleasing in my eyes which will do little to drive public policy in the right direction.

    If they really want to do it, why not get the global maestro Simon Cowell to run it? We could call it X Gov!

  36. raving angry loony

    total washout

    Yet it is evident that voters HAVE no wisdom, which is why (a) they vote for representatives that they hope have it and (b) they voted Labour in the last election. Crowdsourcing this kind of thing is the same as making policy by opinion poll - guaranteed failure, especially if said crowd (or poll) can be manipulated. Which they can. Easily.

  37. Stephen Channell

    They’ll be bringing back hanging then!

    Most people when asked are in favour of hanging, but change their minds when they look at all the issues, consequences and problems.. that’s what we pay politicians to do.. go through the excruciating detail of any question.. then take the rap if it turns out to be wrong.

    We already have a mechanism for politicians to duck responsibility for big contentious issues : referendums. Whilst most people would happily lynch a paedophile found in a children’s school.. it’s no basis for government..

    ..but then £1 million is not a serious sum.. it’s just X-factor politics for politicians that can’t write their own lyrics..

    1. M Gale

      You're not thinking of the possibilities...

      See, all the people who would vote to bring back the judicial killing of prisoners can do so. Their vote is recorded, tied in against their details and if such a new law is introduced, their name goes on a list.

      Now, when it's time to give someone a go on the old neck-stretching machine, the person to do the dirty work gets their name pulled from that list. Compliance is compulsory - consider it like jury service if you will. Hey, if you voted for it, you'll have no problem with watching someone die by your own hands, right?

      And if the victim is proven post-mortem to be innocent, the executioner gets to be told about that too.

      I'm almost beginning to like this idea. Almost.

  38. Elmer Phud

    It's Common Sense(tm) innit?

    It won't be the Daily Fail readers but the Sun worshippers (you really can't use 'read') with another version of the Twat-O-Tron that produces all Slimey Davey wants to hear.

    A few nudges in the right direction and it'll be more foreign workers bulding more jails to lock up foreign people in while those that run the companies that run the jails relax abroad in foreign countries with thier off-shore banking securing huge profits.

    Oh shit -- that's already going on.

    There is no such thng as 'common sense' as everyone has thier own idea about what is 'common' and don't realise the irony. "We're all individuals, here"

  39. Winkypop Silver badge

    Why bother...

    Just legislate whatever the Sun editorial says!


    When do I get my £1 million?

  40. Adrian Jackson

    If there's anyone who thinks this might be a good idea...

    All we need to do to fix them is get them to read the BBC 'Have Your Say' page for a couple of days. Pretty soon they'll be as violently against the 'wisdom of the masses' as the rest of us.

    I mean, I thought I was *joking* when I said I was looking at it to see how many posts it took for someone to try and blame Gordon Brown for the snow (it was two, as it happens...)

  41. Robert Grant

    Democracy... not everyone getting a say in everything. It's electing leaders who you think are bright enough to spend their days considering big issues which you don't have time to do because you have your own job. It's completely expert-oriented.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Sad but true.

    The Tory Party exists purely for self-centric satisfaction.

    It exists for the few by the few and that is why it jumps up and down for small life premiers such as Major or Thatcher.

    It cares not a jot about the common people apart from they are eminently expendable and equally eminently taxable for the benefit of a few, an elite few.

    That is why the Tories will never, ever grasp the concept of funded by the public for the public. It runs contrary to Tory mindset of funded by the public for the few, the very few.

    It is also the mindset that manifested a tea party and lost the Americas (they had far too much decisive insight).

    It also aspires, is attracted to and shares its elitism with the present working of the House of Lords.

    Should Cameron ever wish to make manifest his words and meanings it would be better for him to join either Labour or Lib-Dems mattering not a jot what he chooses other than Tory elitism.

    Elitism in the UK has been publicly funded, was a strong factor in the old Liberal Party and commonality with notions of public ownership of what was exacted from the public is a truism of Labour Party as was the colonials under no taxation without representation.

    Make no doubt about it: Toryism is taxation without representation, publicly funded without public access to it whatever it may be, is elitist in sense and baseness.

    This new fandango about Tory NHS is merely a sham coverup of Tory total non-commital to NHS since it was formed.

    I pity your memory.

    Government by the people for the people OR government by the few, very elite few for the benefit of the few, very few?

    It is your choice UK - don't muff it and take the Americas as your aspirant dream?

  43. Anonymous Coward

    The Tories will never change

    Have a look at:

    While the Tories introduce competitive (that is global supply laws on local governments) laws for provisioning supplies, fuel and such like they are quite happy to protect their own elite few in the land owning bit that includes farmers and farming.

    They will say owt and predictably do what they always have done and always will: to look after the interests of the few paid from the pockets of the many.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Interim conclusion?

    There can't be many Tory party supporters reading el reg else they are keeping pretty schtum about it (can't blame them really).

    Nah then, spin.

    The absolute past masters of spin are (wait for it ... ) guess who?

    Not masters of spin for a year or two, not even a decade or three.

    Hint: try thinking in terms of centuries.

    Hint again: bif Tory press owned by ... well I am sure you get the picture and probably need an example.


    The Party of low taxation.

    What this means in effect is that it is less costly to charge the public for something that goes to an elite few than it does if it goes to the whole public.

    Seemplz Tseech innit?

    If one wishes to charge the public that goes as a service to the whole public well it is likely to cost dosh - lots of dosh.

    Now if one wishes to charge the public for a service that goes to an elite few well, why of course it will cost less and the few will have even greater service. I mean, it's only natural innit!

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