The People’s Pamphlet

Update: Ok, yes, we admit it. It was an April Fool’s joke. Well most of it was. I’m not really going to be taking a month off to live in a camper van with Tim and Sim-O (though I’m sure it would have been fun!)

But the wiki really exists. And we really want your help to create a pamphlet that we can distribute to the voters of Mid-Bedfordshire.

I expect that Tim and Sim-O will also be coming clean about now. Here are the full details from Tim.

Hopefully you’ll have seen this morning’s posts by Tim and Sim-O about our new project aiming to bring the politics of accountability to the good burghers of Mid-Narnia. Their MP, Nadine Dorries, is famous for avoiding questions that she doesn’t want to answer so we’re going to to our best to ensure that the Mid-Narnians get the answers they deserve during the election campaign. Tim is in charge of high level strategy, Sim-O has sorted the wheels and I’m the project geek.

A project like this has a few interesting challenges for a geek. Firstly I had to hack a GPS system so that it would guide us through the back of the wardrobe. But secondly, and more importantly, I had to come up with a wiki.

“A wiki?”, I hear you cry, “What would a political campaign want with a wiki?” And I’m glad you asked. Because I’m going to tell you. You see, this isn’t just any old political campaign. No, this is Politics 2.0. We’ll be using the power of Social Media. We’ll be crowd-sourcing some of the campaign’s contents [Is that enough buzzwords, Tim?]

We all have our own ideas for what questions Mad Nad should be answering. Personally, I’d like to ask how many foetuses she saw ripping holes in their mothers’ stomachs whilst she was a nurse. But we need to realise that what’s important to us might not be import to the people of Mid-Narnia. Hence the need for the wiki. This afternoon we’ll be throwing it open for people to suggest questions for Ms Dorries. Once we have broad agreement on the contents of the “people’s pamphlet” we’ll lock the page and print copies of the pamphlet to be distributed in Narnia.

But a wiki is a dangerous thing. Particularly on a contentious subject like this. We need to be sure that everyone who contributes is doing so constructively. So we’ve put some measures in place to try and minimise the amount of vandalism. We’re using a standard installation of MediaWiki to which we added the Confirm Accounts extension. This means that only registered account holders will be able to edit the wiki. And we’ll only being handing out accounts to people with confirmed email addresses. So if anyone starts being stupid, we’ll know exactly where to send our strongly-worded emails of rebuke.

However, it seemed to me that this might not be enough. And late last night I had another idea which I was up until 3am implementing. I’ve written another extension which increases security even more. Now you’ll only be able to edit the wiki if you have a webcam attached to your computer. And the webcam will take photos of you whilst you are editing. The photos will be uploaded to a secure server in Switzerland where they will only be accessed in case of a dispute over the authorship of particular changes. I’m sure I don’t need to emphasise the importance of remaining fully clothed whenever editing the wiki.

Still a few wrinkles to iron out – but once I’m happy with it I’ll be releasing the source code under an open source licence.

Looking forward to seeing some of you in Mid-Narnia over the next few weeks.


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