The deadline for submitting and voting for questions to PM Harper closed yesterday which means the PMO is now selecting from the most voted-for questions in preparation for the PMs video response.
This is where things will get interesting.
Response is pretty good for an online initiative that gave the public less than a week. According to the Your Interview with Prime Minister Harper webpage, the initiative attracted “170,001 votes on 1,797 questions from 5,128 people.” It’s an ambiguous stat which I’m guessing means just more than five thousand people both submitted and voted on the the questions. So, when the media give the initiative extra attention for the PMO’s use of social media, you can also expect the digital naysayers to point out this campaign attracted participation from 0.0015% of the Canadian population. It’s worth noting that the Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament Facebook group attracted more than twice that number in its first week.
Noticeably absent from the site is the ability for participants and visitors to categorize (or keyword tag) the questions (e.g. natural resources, child care, finance, general…) or sort them based on vote count. That means it’s not as easy to find RuthLBarth’s question on falling crime rates and a US-style for-profit prison industry, nor is it easy to determine if the vote count makes it more likely to get selected than George Jodin’s question about wasting money on the non-issue of global warming.
H.D. Munroe asks “How will we know that you are answering “top-voted” questions from this site, instead of picking the questions you want to answer? (The site doesn’t show vote tallies, so users can’t audit your choices independently.)“‘
Even if Francais McKellan’s and Dan Grice’s questions about legalizing cannabis don’t get answered, they are far and away two of the most voted-on questions. In fact, marijuana and medicinal marijuana appear in multiple and highly voted-on questions and Canadian cannabis advocate Marc Emery, who faces extradition to the U.S., is the subject of at least one question. Will the PMO tackle this issue on YouTube? Which issues did they expect to come up?
So, over to you Prime Minster Harper. What are you going to do with this opportunity?