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BY Editors | Thursday, January 3 2008

The internet offers a better way to involve the public in evaluating our presidential debates, and because we’ve wanted to improve upon attempts to incorporate it into that process, we launched on Oct. 17, 2007. Now, two and a half months later, the public has had the chance to rate the candidates’ responses to the top ten submitted questions and we are declaring 10Questions an unmitigated success.

In Round One, the public submitted the questions they’d like to see the candidates answer, and then voted for their favorites. During this period, which ended on Nov. 17th, the site received more than 121,000 votes on 231 videos. The top ten videos ended up being substantive and thoughtful questions, with nary a talking snowman in sight.

In Round Two, Barack Obama, Mike Huckabee, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, and Dennis Kucinich all responded to the top ten videos on the site. In addition, we worked with MySpace and MTV to have Obama answer the top question, about Net neutrality, during his appearance in their joint Presidential Dialogues series. We think the participation of two of three Democratic frontrunners and one Republican frontrunner, and the lack of snowman-type joke questions to respond to, legitimized for once and for all a format in which the public decides which questions to ask the candidates.

With 1,938 net votes, the Obama response about Net neutrality garnered the most net votes in Round Two. John Edwards’ responses to that question and the number two question, about whether America is a theocracy, were the second and third most-popular responses. Mike Huckabee was actually the first candidate to post his responses, and his answer to the theocracy question was the fourth most-popular candidate answer.

You can see the rest of the results here. We should note that John Edwards captured six of the top ten favorite responses, making his responses the most popular in Round Two; according to these ratings, he answered the questions more reliably than the other candidates.

Edwards and Huckabee benefited from participating early; Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich got their videos in just before the deadline, so the public didn’t have much time to weigh in on whether they actually answered the questions. That said, four of Kucinich’s responses landed in the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th spots. Gravel didn’t far as well, only managing to land one response in the 20 highest-rated responses.

The site remained popular throughout its run, with a total of almost 150,000 unique visits.

We view 10Questions as a precedent-setting success and a legitimate, people-powered alternative to the status quo.