Maman Poulet | Clucking away crookedly through media, politics and life

Micandidate.eu cranks up pressure on candidates

March 12th, 2009 · 19 Comments · Elections, Irish Politics

Micandidate.eu is a database of candidates being rolled out across 27 countries and launching next month – according to Micandidate it  ‘will be the largest ever candidate verified database of candidates standing for election in Europe.’

Last weekend Micandidate announced that the Green Party were the first party in Ireland to sign up to the new service. Green Party candidates will get access to Micandidate’s enhanced services for a reduced rates. The enhanced service is from what I’ve been told a enhanced profile, blogging tools and twitter.  The basic register of details is free for all candidates and the site’s infrastructure is being touted around various media operations at the moment so that they can use it (for a licensing fee.)

Some of those behind the company (a for profit private company registered with the Companies Registration Office in February) were also the folk who brought us Rock the Vote.

Word from the Green’s conference last weekend is that there will be a briefing for bloggers held before the launch and I look forward to the invite!  As it is I’m hearing from people from a number of parties expressing their concern at the recruitment of candidates both to the basic database and the messages being given to them and their parties about what Micandidate will offer for a fee per candidate – the tools for which are freely available elsewhere and resulting content would remain in control of the candidate and not be sold to media organisations.

Micandidate.eu staff refer to these enhancements as Obama tools.  (I am going to leave the Obamification of Irish political campaigning/expenditure to another post or indeed another blogger but it’s an issue which many of us have opinions on!)

I spoke to candidates  from 3 different parties yesterday on the matter – and I received a copy of a slightly threatening email being sent to the buachaillí agus cailiní dana (bold boys and girls) who have not yet signed up – in fact that’s a theme of MiCandidate and their sales pitches – they spend a lot of time buzzing things up so much and trying to indicate if you are not in you can’t win.  Mihype.ie registered yet?

The email from a MiCandidate staff member reads…

We are very concerned that you are one of only a few remaining candidates who has not completed the information form that we sent you. Your profile will appear across dozens of Ireland’s busiest websites from RTE to the Irish Times. Failing to return this form to us in the next 48 hours may result in your profile being entirely empty. Given that candidates profiles were viewed nearly 4 million times in 2007 on RTE and the Irish Times you are giving your competitors in your constituency a huge advantage over you.

This is a free service, but we cannot stress the urgency that we need you to fill out your details. Seats are won and lost by a handful of votes, your competitors profiles will be viewed tens of thousands of times. Your profile will be empty. [My emphasis]

The emptier the site the less licenceable it is. So candidates if you do provide your details you’ll be helping Micandidate make a bit of cash and supposedly getting a lot of clicks. I’ve been told the site looks beautiful!

But for those of us experienced in observing and engaging with politicians online a candidate might ask if anyone will actually read what you are saying about your campaign/candidacy!  If you had your own blog or twitter account (FREE but a bit of work!) and spread the word or even paid your €250 for a few thousand leaflets (old media I know!) and put your blog address on it would you not get better quality engagement with the people who are entitled to vote for you?  In fact it sounds a bit like those business directories you hear about on Liveline where companies are promised loads for money or basic info for free.  But is it more about being in it than actually politically communicating or campaigning?

Could county councils not just publish the candidate’s lists on their websites following the close of nominations with links to social media sites held by those candidates who have them?

The first of many questions to be asked about Micandidate over the next few weeks, more no doubt after the briefing to bloggers and others experienced in engaging online.

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19 Comments so far

  • Keith

    Will be watching this with interest, alright.

    What about your own database of candidates using social media that you were putting together before?

  • Maman Poulet

    No database going on here Keith – it’s a list of politicians blogs/facebook pages/twitter accounts for my personal RSS reader and favourites I’m building. The purpose of which is to supply info for the posts I’ll be writing coming up to and during Election season for MP and Irishelection.com

  • Karl

    Great post Suzy – I would add that political parties websites are providing information on their candidates including links to individual websites etc. Micandidate is therefore simply a online publishing house charging fees to whomever will pay.

  • MarcusK

    The idea of having a website where candidates are listed is a great service in terms of voter education. This should probably be done by some official electoral commission.

    That the boys at micandidate want to charge people is fine but then how do they have backing from the Irish Times? More worrying is RTE promoting them as this is taxpayer funded (right?).

    Right now what we have is an organisation trying to fleece vulnerable politicians who don’t have any idea of how ‘Obama tools’ work or what their true cost is. The Greens fell for it.

    The real problem is one of objectivity. If such a service is being promoted by RTE and co then it must treat all candidates equally. If it is a private venture then it should not have their backing. But I don’t expect many to fall for micandidate.

    What they are providing is a twitter account, a blog and youtube, all managed by you, on their website. They are selling you their traffic but I don’t think they have that traffic broken down into proper segments or where it’s coming from. The real killer is that you can get what they are offering for free. I’ll watch this developing story with interest but would be amazed if many more politicians fall for their upgrade package.

  • Phil Doyle

    I’m not sure how it would benefit candidates to place themselves in this obvious self-promotional setting. Not sure who the audience is. Probably not the general public who tend to be driven by factors other than the quality or ubiquity of the candidates online presence.

    A clever attempt to charge for information already in the public domain by adding convenience for traditional media outlets

  • Simon McGarr

    What is this crap?

    I can’t make it out under all the ballsology. Is it the Golden Pages? It sounds a lot like a call I got from them recently.

    Scolding: “We’re closing advertising in the Golden Pages in 2 weeks and you haven’t taken a listing.”
    Bored: “That’s right, we’re not interested.”
    Suddenly furious: “You’re not! Why Not? We had 190,000 searches for Solicitors last year.”
    “Because we have our own website. Goodbye.”

  • sw

    how did they get onto rte and irishtimes last year.

    here that web site its basic functional, needed a candidate of the day or something on the front page.

    http://www.mycandidate.ie/index.php they added the results

    they seem to banking on slave labour …interns

  • MarcusK

    Yep, they have over a 100 interns apparently. Hate to have been one of those kids duped into believing I was doing something that mattered. Instead finding out that all I was doing was trying to make a couple of (very) slightly older kids rich.

    The first time mycandidate was promoted by RTE was fine because it wasn’t being treated as a business to make money of elections. This time this can’t be tolerated and RTE should realise what is going on.

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  • David

    Did you see that MiCandidate Ltd is searching, through gumtree (as of 16th March), for “a temporary sub-editor/data administrator for a four week internship. You will be responsible for the editing of data supplied by candidates standing for election in
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    Internship? Sounds great, doesn’t it? It adds such glamour to the “unpaid’ bit.

  • Paddy

    Hi guys, I’ve put up a post about micandidate on http://www.micandidate.eu/news. I will update it again this weekend. The first post provides some background and gives an idea for where we are coming from and what we are doing. Many thanks, Paddy

  • Keith Martin, Cllr

    I have decided to opt out on the grounds that I have a Facebook,Bebo,blog and website with a mobile phone number so if anyone wants me they can find me.

    I also don’t fancy receiving loads of emails etc about issues that are not relevant to my constituents in Mayo.

    If I am interested in an issue and lobbying for it I will offer my services rather than be contacted by mass mailing from interest and lobby groups from all over about a million different issues just because they bought my details from this shower.

    If anyone needs me I’ll be right here! No need to pay to find me!

  • James

    For it to be a blog Paddy you might like to permit comments? You probably know that though and will be providing the advice on what a blog actually is to candidates who shell up for enhanced profiles and the like.

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  • Michael Mc Loughlin

    …ehhh, did anybody consider the legal implications in Ireland. Certainly if these private purveyors of the greatest public good (politics) lead to RTE excluding a candidate from some profiling or publicity I’d be off to the BCCI or even the high court

  • swingyoursoul

    I am new to this and want to get information about candidates in Ireland and my own consistuency.

    I recently developped an interest in politics and dont now how to go about it.

    Looking forward to see what micandidate has to offer as seemingly there are no centralised information paltforms yet.

    I think this is a good idea especially for foreigners like myself and quite surprised that nobody thought about it before.

  • Keith Martin, Cllr

    They want to charge 249 plus 29 a month for a site that won’t be launched till 6 weeks from the election.

    I began my campaign in March 2008! I would have paid for it then but not for 6 weeks of a website.

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