There have been a few misconceptions around what our Green Machine is and does. Some people have gotten it mixed up with an alert system that we run for Green Party members who are interested in keeping abreast of current events involving the party, and attributed some form of bad sportsmanship on our behalf.
So, to clarify, there are two separate systems:
1. There is ‘The Green Machine‘ which lists ‘missions’ people can choose to do. People earn stars for doing those missions. There are no missions saying “comment on this particular topic on Reddit, Frogblog, stuff.co.nz etc”. There is a mission “become an online activist” which is basically asking people to sign up to system #2 (below).
Typical missions are “Green sticker your letterbox”, “Donate a tweet per day”, “Deliver leaflets”, etc. All the available missions can be viewed at the Green Machine site which is open to the public.
2. The second system is the ‘online activist’ alerts. It reads a few dozen RSS feeds, looking for key words. The list of key words is here.
The email alert contains the subject of the blog post/news article/whatever and the body of the blog post/article/etc and a link to the item. What they do with that information is entirely up to the recipient. There is no ‘this post is about such and such so here is a pre-written thing to paste in” in the email notification.
There isn’t anything different between the alerts and sending an email or posting a link on your Facebook with a note saying “Hey you might be interested in this.”
There are no stars earned by responding by posting comments on blogs. The link in the notification email goes straight to the blog post. The Green Party has no way of tracking who or how people respond to the notification.
The stars that people earn by doing missions are essentially meaningless. They do not confer any special status in the real world and are just for fun.
We have made serious efforts to promote the Green Machine to our members and the public – there is a big button in the top right of every page on greens.org.nz which says ‘GREEN MACHINE’. This is not some big secret that has suddenly come to light. We are totally out in the open about this.
Comments posted by ‘online activists’ are their own and there is not an expectation that they will use multiple accounts to appear to be more than one person.
The intention was to encourage debate and give people access to a tool that helped them keep on top of what people were saying about things they were interesting. We think that it is crucial to democracy that people are informed and that debates — such as this one —happen in public.