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Chilean Anti-Corruption Resource: A Crowdsourced Database of Social and Political Connections

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 17 2013

Screenshot from the Esto es Poderopedia video via Vimeo

In countries where a small minority of social circles have a majority of the political and economic power, personal relationships can affect major decision-making, a serious concern of anti-corruption activists. A new web platform stores personal profiles of key players in Chilean business and politics, complete with biographies and personal and professional connections through family, education, social circles, employers and coworkers, to make tracking social relationships and conflict-of-interest easier. Called Poderopedia (from the Spanish word for power), the project sounds kind of like LinkedIn, but the creation and management of profiles is being crowdsourced out to journalists, activists and concerned citizens.

The information comes from public sources and user contributions, all of which are vetted and edited by journalists. Poderopedia was actually founded by a journalist, Miguel Paz. He explained the need for Poderopedia at SXSW last year: “We need reliable information on the elite and its connections here in Chile. We are in a country where social mobility is limited, the same last names show up again and again in many sectors, and conflicts of interest are numerous.”

Poderopedia won the Knight News Challenge in 2011. They launched last fall and in a post for the PBS MediaShift Idea Lab, Miguel Paz writes that “many Chilean news websites have used Poderopedia to do fact checking, background reporting, and [to] discover newsworthy conflicts of interest with local politicians. They've also reused our content, thanks to our Creative Commons 3.0 license.” He also talks about the updates to the platform, which includes a republish option with which any news site and recycle content, provided they attribute it to Poderopedia.

While the project has been compared to theyrule.net, Poderopedia is a first in Spanish. Moreover, Poderopedia is committed to being open source; they want to see this platform being used in other countries. On the Poderopedia blog they say that “This year will be all about Internationalization. So if you are interested, write to [them].”

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.