In implementing these sort of peer-to-peer features, you can take a top down approach and try to give users very specific activities to perform and not much room to freelance. Or you can take an anything goes approach and give users some basic tools and then let them do whatever they want…
John McCain is taking a top down approach. McCain’s website allows you to create your own mini-site that you can use to raise money for McCain, build an address book of volunteers and send them emails. The only way you can customize your page is by editing your goals and writing a few paragraphs of intro text. You can see my mini-site I set up as a test here. McCain is very focused on trying to get me to raise money.
When I did the original post on this tool (back when it was called MyGOP), I made two claims.
It‚Äôs not as open as I would like, but I‚Äôm not going down that road again, so I‚Äôll be happy with the baby steps…
As with many tools rolled out by the national committees, I think they‚Äôll be much more effective when employed by campaigns. By underwriting the initial development of these tools, the RNC makes them available to the lower tier. It may take another cycle before you see tools like this in local campaigns since most of this year‚Äôs candidates are taking their queues from the ‚Äò04 Presidentials – but ‚Äò08 is starting to look interesting.
Unfortunately, the first candidate out of the box with this kind of tool has actually made it more restrictive and they’re clearly not watching it very closely. I created my site nine days ago and it still hasn’t been approved.
In addition, a friend pointed out that there are a slew of names reserved for the campaign. So you can’t, for instance, create IowaForMcCain.exploremccain.com. Heaven forbid you allow an actual grassroots supporter to take initiative and organize on your behalf. If you want to create state sites, and use nevada.exploremccain.com as your url, then reserve state names. To restrict the names they’re prohibiting is bizarre and misguided at best.
I would expect better things from Dean’s guy, but I hear he’s actually distanced from the campaign somewhat, and not actually doing much. I’m not sure that’s true, but it’s the rumor I’m hearing.