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Crowdsourced Flier Monitoring, Stock Photos, and the U.K. Elections

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, May 14 2009

Here's an interesting project out of the U.K., and a noteworthy result. The Straight Choice bills itself as a "Live Election Leaflet Monitoring Project," and serves as a hub for fliers being distributed around elections there. "Election leaflets are one of the main weapons in the fight for votes in the UK," explains the site. "They are targeted, effective and sometimes very bitter. We need your help to photograph and map them so we can keep an eye on what the parties are up to, and try to keep them honest." Mailers are uploaded to the site, and organized by subject matter or as the product of one of more than 300 (!) political parties. The public is then invited to give them a thorough vetting.

And the site has now been used to uncover some awkward stock photo usage by the far-right British National Party. "I’m voting BNP because I see what immigration has done to the NHS," says one doctor in one flier. But rather than being a real live BNP voter, the doctor pictured turns out to be a stock photograph sold on iStockPhoto under the name "Caring Health Care Professional."