You2Gov, a political communication site, announced Tuesday that it will start offering its "Direct Democracy 3.0" service to organizations and businesses that want to add social-networking features to their Web sites and allow visitors to contact their elected officials, as well as form online communities around issues, and stay up to date on relevant topics.
"We just watched the Obama campaign masterfully use the Internet to raise record amounts of money, energize supporters, educate the public about the candidate, and get out the vote," said Alan W. Silberberg, CEO of You2Gov in a statement. "In 'Direct Democracy 3.0,' organizations have the same opportunity to use technology to more effectively work with their members and customers.
"Social networking and online advocacy tools change the entire dynamic for organizations by making advocacy simple and providing an online destination that members want to return to regularly," Silberberg continued. "This is the future of communication."
According to the company, any Web site that deploys its "Direct Democracy 3.0" tools will be able to feature a bulletin board to communicate with members, a calendar that anyone can add events to, updated news and videos, a legislation research center, a place to send letters to elected officials, and a back-end management program to maintain the network.
The premise may sound fine, but You2Gov has come under fire recently for not providing users with the kind of service it promised. According to Webware's Bob Walsh in a review of the service last month, You2Gov isn't delivering the experience it claims to offer.
"The idea--the ability to send e-mail or Skype call your elected congressman with a click, catch up with the latest political feeds from various news orgs, and do the social thing--is good, but the execution so far is poor," he said. "When I tried to send one of my senators an e-mail, I got a cryptic error message. There are other flaws throughout the site as well."
Granted, You2Gov's "Direct Democracy 3.0" will be on partner sites, but if the experience is similar, the company may have trouble coaxing Web site owners and users to its service.