They quote that "162 responses" number right after saying "petitions must receive 100k signatures", when none of those responded to had to have received 100k signatures.
Additionally, 2.1 million signatures (responded to) divided by 162 petitions (responded to) is an average of 12,963 signatures per petition. The largest petition ever - obviously an outlier - received just over 300k. In fact, only one petition ever has cracked the 100k mark: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petitions/popular/0/2/0
Not only that, but the top three were related to an exceptionally charged issue that was sparked by an absolutely awful tragedy and then catalyzed by an awful group of people whose entire purpose in life is to cause controversy, which hints that outside of another elementary school rampage, nothing will gain the momentum necessary to meet this new threshold. I'd argue that the GMO petition is the first legitimate "issue" petition on that list, and it's nearly 40k signatures short of this new threshold.
This is more or less a guarantee that almost nothing else will reach the threshold necessary to receive a response.
Difference Made: 0
The UK's version ( http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/ ) goes a step further as you have to provide your name and a full address, so regularly signing petitions will be giving the Government a nice set of data to mine to provide a political profile based on views on certain issues...
The site says "This information will not be used for any purpose other than in relation to the e-petition." but that doesn't fill me with confidence that they can't do mining...
Could you not create a petition and then heavily promote it to gain media attention? I mean, look at the Death Star petition. That made the regular news everywhere.
I think this is just another avenue to voice your opinion. Anyone serious about effecting change is going to use all possible forms of media to do it. Anyone not serious would have done nothing petition website or not.
How invested you are in an issue is displayed by how much work you're willing to put into doing something about it. Online petition is practically zero work so it's zero worth, regardless of how many people click what.
That assumes people only sign one petition. I bet you could find plenty of people who have put their names to 5 or 10 petitions right here on HN.
Also, when you looka t the other petitions, it's obvious that a lot of them are a) duplicative b) bullshit and c) ignorant - like asking the Executive branch to 'repeal Obamacare,' when repeal is a legislative function.
I'm all for the petition process, but I'm also all for some kind of filter against teh dumb [sic].
I totally agree that there needs to be a filter against teh dumb (because the average citizen has an appallingly tenuous grasp of the basics of US civics), but it seems like all that this does is increase incentive to trump up phantom(/spam/falsified) support for a petition, rather than actually improving engagement with constituents and giving them a voice.
"Top X/month" would assume that they would choose a time of the month when they would compare and respond to those which is probably not the way things work(they respond to things as they get around to them, whenever that is and as fast as possible).
History shows that this fact is rediscovered in each new generation through hard experience, on a bipartisan basis.
Such system obviously need to be fined-tuned to avoid having the population "abuse" them, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be pursued. I think they can be great additions to any democratic republic.
Give the Entitled Party credit: they've destroyed the state's finacial situation, but hey, they've got a total lock on the state. So its all been a big success on the one thing that counts.
By the way, your celebration of this policy change is especially ironic considering the United States empire is completely buckling under the enormity of its failure as we speak. Right, we're "re-discovering the efficiency of representative democracy" by decreasing accountability...
America's governance system is very complex but it's hardly worth calling democracy in any meaningful use of the term. Money buys political results. Americans overwhelming see this to be the case. The state is made up of only the upper class and exists to serve the interests of the upper class. They run it, not the people in general.
We have been furnished a more perfect example of democracy than the USA though, one that's a lot closer to a direct democracy, that works wonderfully. And they're not joking when they talk about the people being sovereign.
All hail Switzerland!
How would they like it if the citizens of the US took the same tact: "Hey Obama administration, I'd like to inform you that I am choosing a different tax bracket arbitrarily with the same level of authority as you show me respect as a citizen."
So this will have no affect on the Ortiz petition.
"Oh shit! look how easy that 25K for Ortiz was! We learned our lesson! let's up it to make it 4X as difficult to force us to issue a statement informing the populous that they have no voice!"
For example, if I click on "popular petitions" right now, there are at least 5 petitions about the Westboro Baptist Chruch with more than 25k votes, and some of these are outright duplicates. Repealing Obamacare seems to be another popular topic.
Basically it seems that, because it is relatively easy to vote, you can find 25k people on the Internet to vote for more or less anything, overwhelming the administration with petitions that wouldn't actually find much support in the population.
The only thing that would have made this change remotely reasonable if it included language that the administration would, in the presence of a 100K sigs in 30 days petition, actually respond to the petitition. But I noticed there wasn't any more commitment above "official response" for which "no comment" is sufficient apparently.
Reminds me of the Steve Martin spoof on DUI tests: http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_183855...
Also, generic vague whining about the government only pretending to care.
We nationalize too many issues on which our nation is deeply divided. If, instead of bickering for years over an issue in Congress, we pushed those decisions back to the states, then local initiatives would be put into place. With time, the right solutions would naturally develop. Competition is king.
Of course, doing so takes strength and wisdom from our Congressmen to admit they could not come to a national compromise. Many will call it failure. Thus, it will not occur.
/sound of me slapping myself on the head/
I should have thought of that.
/wishes I was joking.
10,000,000 / 25,000 = 400 responses/yr. I'd like to believe our government could deliver slightly more than one well-considered response per day.
Based on the last few months of growth the response rate won't remain static. It's reasonable to assume there will be continued growth, so they need to set the barrier to entry at a practical height.
Note that 400 is a strict overestimate if votes were evenly divided between petitions. But some petitions get 2x the vote total, and some don't reach the threshold. So the real number is significantly less. But the trend is clear.
I think the first new petition should be to require petitions to return to 25K threshold.
Given the increase in the number of unique users since late 2012 it makes sense to move the threshold, otherwise the signal to noise ratio will be too high. If the trend continues it would take only a few days to get the required signatures for Knee-high Socks With Shorts to be a compulsory uniform for the nation.
Now if a petition doesn't cross the 100,000 threshold in 30 days they ignore it. Assuming the the number of petition signings falls back closer to what it was before the election, it will take an average of about 60 days to reach the 100,000 threshold, meaning most petitions will be ignored.
Obama administration backs down on Marijuana Legalization: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/response/addressing-legaliz...
Army Stops using monkeys (this actually happened in response to this petition as far as I can tell): https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/response/army-no-longer-usi...
National Guard Joint Chief of Staff created: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/response/chief-national-gua...
This petition (and opinion polls probably) helped prompt the administration to appeal SOPA and PIPA: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/response/combating-online-p...
This petition (and some campaign promises) have slowly resulted in increased digitization, recently the house put much of their data up in XML: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/response/digitizing-federal...
This petition is well written if nothing else: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/response/doubling-and-tripl...
These petitions happened at the same time as (though it's debatable if it resulted in) the president declaring he would not defend DOMA: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/response/greater-protection...
This petition coincided with a policy change on student loan burden reduction: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/response/taking-action-redu...
So what this is really saying is, "We're going to raise the threshold so we won't have to waste effort replying to your death star petitions, and btw we don't give a fuck about the little man and never did. Fuck you. Case closed. Now if we can get the media to sponsor some petition we really care about like banning all assault weapons or raising the debt ceiling, then you can vote on that, and we'll be glad to tell you why you have a great idea."
Please leave the hyperbole and fatalistic rhetoric on other sites.
Do you not understand that raising the threshold 4x is going to reduce the chance of the little man getting his concern addressed by a factor of 4?
My point was that the petitions I've seen on that site getting to the top are too often just joke petitions, and yet there are many legitimate petitions that don't get enough votes to meet the thresholds but should be addressed. Joke petitions have given them a reason to not address serious issues, and the more the threshold gets raised, the less of a chance that serious issues will get addressed.
If you seriously think that you can get 0.52% of the voting age population to sign an online petition, think about how much money and time both political parties had to spend just trying to get people to vote for president and how they were pouring millions into swaying 1% of the population. 0.013% vs. 0.52% is a HUGE difference even though it might not seem like it.
The growth over the last two months were clearly due to the election and I doubt that that type of growth will continue. We will likely see a drop back down to previous levels, resulting in it being more difficult to achieve the requisite number of signatures overall.
That's because it was the big topic in the HN echo chamber recently.
I was quite surprised to hear a quick story on NRP about how his possible punishment may have been out of proportion. Has it even been covered during the major newscasts like NBC Nightly News, CBS News, Fox News, CNN, etc; at least for over 60 seconds?
I'd be willing to guess that even among those who watch a large amount of news, the average American didn't hear the story at all.
They could even be done in a sort of Google Moderator/Reddit way, although perhaps more fine-tuned and with certain thresholds (but not too high, especially initially).
Although I do think that the votes should be tied to location, even if other locations are allowed in. I think a ZIP code is enough here; it's a letter, not a vote.
I simply picked the board of elections because they already are entrusted with the capacity to verify that a certain person lives in a certain ward or district. I suspect zip codes would not be fine-grained enough for local government fora, where this would be most useful.
One idea that I have some sympathy toward is making the representatives responsible for moderating the fora as they see fit. They would then be judged at the ballot box if they pissed everyone off...or they would really skillful at creating false consensus.
The top 5 have sharp spikes in Nov / Dec 2012. Here is some analysis of the Texas Secession Petition: http://www.unc.edu/~ncaren/secessionists/daybyday.html and
I've been thinking how to celebrate accomplishments of Aaron Swartz and I think being active on Demand Progress is a good way, for start. There are some other ideas, but ideas are easy to come by, I think joining and propping already working ideas is more important.
Just my 2c.
As mad as everyone online is about Aaron, I don't think it's actually that big an issue in Washington. The brouhahas after Sandy Hook sounds much more plausible as an issue big enough to cause a change.
"This new threshold applies only to petitions created from this point forward and is not retroactively applied to ones that already exist."
So the Ortiz petition will be unaffected.
"The massive participation on We the People means that in the first week over 30 petitions reached 5,000 signatures, the initial threshold to generate an official response from the White House. At our first internal review meeting Friday, two things were clear:
(a) everyone is thrilled about this new challenge and excited to process the first batch, but
(b) this many petitions challenges our ability to offer timely and meaningful responses to petitions in the long term.
[...] This may not be the last time we change the thresholds, both in terms of signatures and amount of time."
So they're admitting that simply throwing more people at the problem won't work in the long run, since petitioners expect meaningful responses from people who are knowledgeable. See Mythical Man-Month  and PG's decision to limit the size of the YC W13 class .
A government service needs transparency. 'You get a response after X signatures' is simple, understandable, and transparent. 'You get a response if you're in the top Y' is opaque; my petition was #Y yesterday, how did it become #Y+1 today when it's time for the official count? It was #Y at 7am, why did it suddenly jump to #Y+1 for 5 minutes at 11am when they were selecting the winners?
I know that gun enthusiasts have been creating dozens of them as of late and as silly as some of them aree, they are meeting the 25,000 signature goal.
The "fire Carmen Ortiz" took less than three-days to reach fruition and now that the White house has devalued the 25,000 number, I hope the petition can reach 250,000 by it's end date to really send a message.
It's right now (early Wednesday morning pacific time) crawling up toward 35,000 at the current rate there's a good chance that it will cross the 100,000 mark before 11 February.
EDIT: One possible answer here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5064211
Aside from beer recipes & death stars, what success stories are there behind these petitions?
Dear America, shut the fuck up.
The site could, instead, be turned into a more community-oriented place, with discussions on the proposed petitions and a sense of being part of the in-crowd when one you've talked about gets answered.
In fact, this is starting to sound an awful lot like Wikipedia, with the same kinds of drives and motivations. Create a set of guidelines for community interaction and petition content, then let "contributors" monitor proposed petitions, cull the obvious crap, improve the writing and cases cited, then publish them to the "new" page. You could have a couple of White House interns be mods and settle any disputes between members.
I'm just brainstorming, here. In reality, it seems like an idea that's nice in principle but unworthy and unworkable in practice.