MPs’ Frequently Asked Questions
This page explains to MPs what HearFromYourMP is, and why you might want to use it. For the general point of view, see about this site instead.
- So, what is this ‘HearFromYourMP’ thing?
- HearFromYourMP is a website that allows constituents to sign up to get emails from their local MP. MPs submit messages, which are then sent out by email to the people who have signed up in their constituency. The messages are also displayed on the website. The constituents who've signed up are then able to post comments on the message via the website.
- Is it free to use?
- Yes. It's completely free for both MPs and constituents to use.
- Can't my constituents just write to me with their concerns?
- We've got a separate website, called WriteToThem, for that. HearFromYourMP is different. It is a chance for you to set the agenda, tell your constituents what you are working on and are concerned about, and get feedback about what they think.
- So who runs all this, and what's in it for them?
- This site was built by mySociety. mySociety is the project of a registered charity which has grown out of the community of volunteers who built sites like TheyWorkForYou.com. mySociety's primary mission is to build internet projects which give people simple, tangible benefits in the civic and community aspects of their lives.
Benefits of Using HearFromYourMP
- Why should I use HearFromYourMP?
- As an elected representative, it's important that those constituents who want to follow your actions and efforts on their behalf are able to. It's also useful for you to be able to be able to receive direct feedback from them. HearFromYourMP provides an easy-to-use solution to both of these issues.
- What makes HearFromYourMP better than a simple email mailing list, an online forum, or a blog?
- Lots of reasons!
- There's no set-up or on-going administration for you — the system is already set up and ready to use. Registrations and removal requests are all handled automatically.
- The opportunity for constituents to post their own comments makes this system more attractive to constituents, allowing your messages to reach a wider audience.
- Unlike a blog or a forum, we take steps to make sure only your constituents can post comments. Rather than becoming a national (or international!) debating forum, it is a space for you to talk with your constituents.
- The posting format and restrictions mean that there's less risk of the junk or abusive posts that often plague traditional forum setups (see also the Won't there be problems … question below).
- This is a neutral space run by an independent group with a proven track record. Both you and your constituents can feel comfortable signing up, confident that unsubscription requests will be honoured, and that your email addresses will not be given out to third parties.
How it all Works
- So how does it work in detail?
- People sign up by registering their email address and postcode, using the online form at www.hearfromyourmp.com
- MPs are sent occasional emails encouraging them to take part. The first of these is when 25 constituents have signed up.
- MP decides to take part.
- MP sends message by following the link in the email and typing in their message.
- The message is sent by email to the people who've signed up, and is also displayed online.
- The email contains a special link which allows those receiving it to post comments next to the online version.
- What sort of messages can / should I send through the system?
- It's basically up to you. Remember, however, that your messages will be viewed by the constituents that have signed up, and also available online for anyone else who's interested to read. People will probably be more interested to read personal details, commentary and plans directly from the MP, rather than something that reads like a press release or a party political broadcast.
- Won't there be problems with abusive or irrelevant replies to my messages?
- Hopefully not. With any system that allows comments from the general public, there is a risk that it will be abused. However, the registration system, the fact that you need to register in advance of a message to post a comment on it, and the fact that comments are limited to two per person per day all help to prevent abuse. In practice, abusive or irrelevant posts have not been a problem. If any appear they are simply reported and easily removed.
- Can I see an example of HearFromYourMP in action?
- Yes. The online view of messages and comments can be seen for the constituencies with MPs who are already using the system.
- I'm not really into computers and the internet. Will this be a problem?
- It shouldn't be. The system is simple to use, and requires no specialist or technical knowledge. All you need is a web browser and something to say.
- Does it matter how many of my constituents have signed up?
- Not at all. You can start sending messages with only a couple of people signed up, or refuse to take part when there are thousands. Obviously, if not many people have signed up, your messages won't be reaching many. On the other hand, ignoring the wishes of hundreds of your constituents to hear from you may have an adverse effect at the next general election.
- Can I see how many people have signed up for my constituency?
- Yes. Just look for your constituency in the league table.
- I already run a mailing list. Can I add those people who've signed up to HearFromYourMP to my own list?
- I already run a mailing list. If I switch to using HearFromYourMP, could I automatically sign up all the people on my list?
- Unfortunately not, because we need to check their postcodes. If you wish to switch completely, you'll need to encourage your existing list members to sign-up at www.hearfromyourmp.com. To encourage them to do so there's a page of information at www.hearfromyourmp.com/about. Since people may not respond immediately, you can always continue to use your existing mailing list to send out a copy of any messages sent through HearFromYourMP.
Problems and Switching
- Ok, I'm convinced, and I'd like to take part. What do I need to do?
- If you've reached a threshold and received an email from us, simply follow its instructions. If you haven't had an email, or can't find it, simply email us at email@example.com and we'll be happy to help.
- I'm not sure, and would like more information. Whom should I contact?
- Please feel free to email any questions you have to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- I'm really not interested at all. Can you remove my name to stop people signing up?
- We can advise people that you don't wish to use the site, and point them elsewhere. However, as the list is per constituency, not per MP, we will continue to accept subscribers. A future MP in your constituency may want to use this service.