Help Me Investigate is changing

I wanted to give you the heads-up on some big changes I’m planning at Help Me Investigate.

In a nutshell: the site is going open source. This means that the code behind the site will be released so that anyone can install their own crowdsourcing investigation platform.

However, that also means that the current Help Me Investigate site will be taken down for a while as people play with the code.

Why open source?

Going open source addresses a number of legal weaknesses and geographical limitations that the project has encountered, as well as providing an opportunity to improve the technology that we simply don’t have in our current form. We’ve had dozens of requests to join the site from people in South America, Australia, the US, Middle East and South Africa that we couldn’t comply with for legal reasons. There have also been those who wanted private investigations, or completely public ones. Now there is a way that those people can use and change the technology accordingly.

It also allows us to focus our efforts on what I believe is the most important feature of the site: its community and resources.

What next for Help Me

The plan is to refocus the HMI website on continuing to build a community of users who want to investigate questions in the public interest, across a number of platforms.

The site will also further build the bank of resources for investigators, focusing further on particular areas, e.g. education, health, social care, environment etc.

We are looking for volunteers to explore these areas, so if there is an area you wish you were more expert on, and you want to learn with others, let me know.

What about my investigation(s)?

The site will be taken down or redirected in two weeks, at which point investigations will no longer be accessible. If you want to get your investigation off the site let us know and we’ll try to make it as easy as possible.

This is a huge change for Help Me Investigate. The site long ago achieved what it set out to prove: that people could collaborate to investigate questions in the public interest. It works. But based on our experiences, I know it can work better. Open sourcing Help Me Investigate, and moving to a distributed network of communities based on a shared set of resources, is the right thing to do. If you want to be involved in making that happen (we will need open source project managers, community managers, bloggers and subject experts!), please let me know.

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