Sunday, 8 May 2011

Election thoughts 2: The Online Election?

Dawn Purvis & Conall McDevit both had one thing in common coming into this election; they were incredibly popular online. If facebook friends and twitter followers translated into votes, they both would have romped home comfortably. As it happened, Dawn lost her seat and Conall got in under the quota (yes, I know it's still a  valid seat but lets not pretend he wouldn't have rather topped the poll) and so it's clear that being popular with an online audience is not enough.

Over on arguably Northern Ireland's premier political site, Slugger O'Toole, the activity was steady at best. Similar sites in Scotland however, were flooded with traffic. It's hard to compare like for like of course but I don't think it's overly harsh to say that people weren't exactly desperately refreshing the Slugger home page for more info and opinion.

Where they most certainly were refreshing the home page constantly was the BBC website. Well, they were at first until it became clear that whoever the BBC had left in charge of updating their site had clearly decided to, well, not. They did run a live text feed though which was good of them, however it was mostly devoid of information (at least none that hadn't been posted on twitter 5 mins before) and then when the TV coverage ended at 6pm on Saturday, so did the live feed. Messing about with TV schedules is clearly a big problem. Some chap sitting there keeping a text feed going is not.

An online election? Save for the quite brilliant #ae11 Twitter feed, no. There was no real online engagement from politicians, or at least none that made a difference. The top political site was almost stagnant. The traditional media paid online interaction lip service (UTV, in fairness are getting there). That's not an online election in my book. In the end I found the best election coverage came last week in the Newsletter's election special. Maybe print media still has something to offer.


  1. Couldn't agree more about the half arsed efforts of the beeb.

    Twitter was helpful but still has the 'whispers' element holding it back; inaccurate or misinformed news spreads like wildfire before anyone can confirm it. News of Dawn Purvis' exit was doing the rounds hours before it actually happened.

  2. Yeah, you really do have to be careful with twitter when it comes to taking things as fact. As it was, this made the Beeb's hopelessness all the worse because quite naturally it is the first point of call to substantiate any rumours from twitter!