The thing I hate most about this referendum is, well, everything. The personalities, the complex and contradictory arguments, all wrapped up into the most complicated political decision we have yet to make. How are we mere mortals meant to cope with it all? We built www.leaveorstay.co.uk to help answer that exact question.
Every morning I wake up and hear yet another argument about who said what and why they're wrong. The endless bickering, conflicting and confusing statements and headlines just switch me off completely. Above all else, it just makes it boring.
How come I can I find out the price fluctuation of the Ugandan shilling and compare that to worldwide oil exports faster then I can get clear answers from either side on what this referendum is actually about. How did we get here? How did the business of voting become so dysfunctional?
Politics has always been a bit dysfunctional. Can't do it. Not possible. Just wait. You're only as good as the information you have and if your information has bias and by that I mean one sided often sourceless information that cherry picks and ignores the broader context, then you've got a real problem. So I started doing my research, looking at how I would usually make this kind of decision in addition to what my friends and family were doing at the time to reach their own conclusion. The answer? Lots of Google searching, reading headlines from different papers about 'the FACTS' (always in capitals for extra punch) followed by heated debates around divisive issues like immigration and law making.
The thing that I found was missing though was a baseline. A common universal standard that laid out the ground as it was today. I wanted and needed to know the good, the bad and the ugly about the UK being in the EU, like the fact that we pay £250 million a WEEK in membership fees. What on earth do they spend that on? I didn't want anyone to tell me if they thought that was a good or bad idea, I just wanted the information for myself so that I could make up my own mind.
Having searched the web to see if anyone else had done this and realising they hadn't, I rallied a group of fellow computer scientists and we built a website that would create this common ground to stand on. It would use algorithms and processes to bring simplicity to the referendum. Not dumbing it down or framing it to support a campaign but rather bring order and structure to something inherently complex and multi dimensional. Our sole objective? Help voters to 'Be more sure' about the decision that they are about to make.
Leaveorstay is over 1000 hours of link clicking- article reading and fact checking condensed into five , five minute topics that lets you compare and contrast what both sides are saying against the evidence we currently have. We used text-analysis tools to read literally hundreds of thousands of pages of content and to summarise them (not too dissimilar to the app Summly) and then made sure every point we made was evidenced so that any user could review our findings if they so wished.
We then went one step further and decided to split the site into the two ways people 'react' to the referendum- by what they 'think' and by what they 'feel' or as we nerds call it the 'Head Heart Matrix'. We then added a bunch of statements, along with facts with evidence links and ta da, you have leaveorstay. At the end of each topic you get a result to show you where you stand and then you get a result of where you stand overall. How popular has this approach been ? Within 90 minutes and a few posts on Facebook, over 1000 people had already used it.
An example of what an individuals results look like from a topic on leaveorstay.co.uk
In summary we don't care which way you vote, as long as you go into the polling station armed with the information you need which does involve facing some inconvenient truths regardless of which way you vote. This was our way of getting the information we needed to vote. We hope it helps the thousands of fellow 'not quite surers' out there as well.
HuffPost UK Young Voices is running a fortnight-long focus on the EU Referendum, examining what is at stake for Britain's young people on 23 June and why it's imperative you register to vote and have your say. If you want to have your say and blog on our platform around this topic, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Register to vote here.
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