The Tumblr site YourFreedumb might be devoted to picking stupid or offensive content out of the Your Freedom consultation, but that doesn’t mean they can’t write a perceptive critique of why it hasn’t taken off in the way I hoped it might.

One of the issues the blog identifies – to me the most important – is how little relevant information there is for users. The author writes:

[P]ut some thought into how you can make this a useful consultation exercise. That means leading your users through the consultation. If you want people to think about changing laws, ask them to specify which legislation they want to change. Not everyone will know this, so link to the places where they can find out. You’ll need search functionality, and might need to re-write content to make it suitable for a lay audience. This would get people to think about what the law is now, and how we can make the law better.

“Leading users through the consultation” is one of the most important missing elements. There are plenty of honest contributions, and there are contributions based on an understanding of the law.

There are also duplicates, jokes, misapprehensions, fantasies and plain old racist cretins. Unfortunately, without information that helps people understand what the consultation is and what it’s for, they are in the majority.

No-one should have to have an LLD to contribute to a consultation, but there are good online sources for statutes, plenty of civil servants who understand the policies, and simple explanations of how lawmaking works. A prompt (a nudge, even) to look at any or all of those might reduce the noise in the signal.


Written by Anthony Zacharzewski

Anthony Zacharzewski was one of the founders of Demsoc in 2006. Before starting work for Demsoc in 2010, he was a Whitehall civil servant and a local government officer.