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Rate the Debate: Facebook app gauges public response during election debates

Facebook group Democracy UK is encouraging members of the social-networking giant to take part in a live opinion poll during the upcoming UK election debates

Facebook group Democracy UK is asking users of the social-networking site to take part in a 'dial test' during the upcoming election debates. The Rate the Debate experiment -- which aims to measure public response to the various speakers and their policies -- requires Facebook users to log into the Democracy UK page, and adjust an on-screen dial to reflect how they feel about what they're seeing on TV.

Alongside the speedometer-style approval gauge, there's a graph that charts the aggregated mood of everyone taking part, so you'll be able to see how the rest of the nation is responding to the debate.

Once the broadcast is over, scores will be counted and the results published. We can see Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems being more than a little interested in the feedback. When users log into the Democracy UK page, they'll be asked which party they support, so that the data will ultimately show what fans of one party thought of rival parties' individual speakers and policies.

It's certainly an ambitious experiment, and, if it works, it could produce some very interesting data. Facebook users are hardly representative of the entire nation, but, in terms of reach, running an experiment of this type through the social-networking behemoth is a smart move.

The approval dial is live now, so check it out in advance of the upcoming debates.

We want to know what you think -- is this a horrifying cheapening of the democratic process, or the future of gauging public opinion? Or, y'know --both?