What do you think of it so far? (and why Shrewsbury is in Wales)
False Economy has come far in a short time.
It doesn't seem long ago that a number of us came together with remarkably similar ideas because we saw the need for an online home for cuts campaigners. We wanted to:
- gather information about the cuts and find out how people were affected,
- provide a noticeboard and tools for campaigners,
- and put the argument that there is an alternative.
Just as importantly we knew what we did not want to be. False Economy has no ambition to “lead” the anti-cuts movement. We don't have a single correct way of resisting the cuts, nor a political programme that we supporters must sign up to.
If we do have a common belief it is that the cuts campaign is going to take many forms and that it must be broad. And while it's not any kind of test (that is not our style) our one expectation is that people respect this breadth so that those just beginning to think about the cuts – because of what is happening to their village library – feel as welcome as long-time campaigners.
Technically False Economy is still in beta but we hope to launch formally in a few weeks. We wanted to test the site first – both the technology and enthusiasm – before we tell the world we are here.
Some early, unexpected praise came from James Frayne, former campaign director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, who called False Economy "an excellent campaign site and exactly what [campaigners] should be doing... It's one of the best campaign sites I've seen in the UK in ages".
But this post is an invitation for you to make suggestions and send feedback. What do you think of it so far? Is there anything we can do better? Anything you would like to see? Please use the comments below or contact us.
But first a word about the one issue that has caused the most feedback: our map.
People in Yorkshire think we must all be soft southerners for putting their region in the North East. Watford residents wonder why we have moved them to London, and Salopians know that Shrewsbury is nine miles to the east of Wales – not part of that principality as False Economy seems to think.
Personally I would have to plead guilty to both softness and southerness, but these mapping problems flow from the tool we have bought on which to base the site. We spent a long time researching and thinking about the best way to use a map. Google maps were one solution, but can be difficult to navigate when there are lots of entries and are better for mapping precise locations. However we are trying to look at communities rather than dots on maps. (That's particularly important for people telling us their stories who are happy to say they are from say York, but don't want to reveal exactly where they live.)
The best alternative we came up with was one based on top-level postcodes. They are familiar to people and mostly reflect communities. But they are not perfect – postcode mapping puts Watford in London and Shrewsbury in Wales – and the tool we use (bought “off-the-shelf” to keep down costs) does not differentiate between the North-East and Yorkshire and the Humber.
So while we hope to persuade the makers of the map to make some changes, we can't deal with these ourselves. For most parts of the country the map works really well, and we didn't find any practical affordable alternatives. For now it's the best we can do.
But what other changes or developments would you like to see? Please tell us. The comments box is waiting.
(Abusive or off-topic comments will be deleted)