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Credit where credit is due #

WhatDoTheyKnow is a project of mySociety, a UK organisation. mySociety builds websites that empower citizens to hold authorities to account. This is one of those sites.

The original idea #

In 2006, mySociety ran a competition, inviting concepts for their next citizen-empowering website.

Two people came up with what proved to be the winning idea, a site for submitting FOI requests: Phil Rodgers and Francis Irving.

FOI activist and journalist Heather Brooke had already been campaigning for an archive of requests and replies, which helped shape our ideas.

mySociety developer Chris Lightfoot refined the concept with the model of intercepting email responses to requests and automatically publishing them. And so WhatDoTheyKnow in its current form was born.

Going global #

WhatDoTheyKnow was the foundation for the Alaveteli software, which enables anyone, anywhere, to run their own Freedom of Information website. Because Alaveteli is open source, it contains contributions from many contributors, all of whom we appreciate and celebrate.

Funding #

Original funding for WhatDoTheyKnow was provided by the Joseph Rowntree Trust.

Volunteers #

An amazing team of volunteers run the site, answer your support emails, maintain the database of public authorities and so much more. Thanks to Michael Bimmler, Kieran Casey-McEvoy, Gavin Chait, Helen Cross, John Cross, Chris Fryer, Ben Harris, Rob McDowell, Adam McGreggor, Doug Paulley, Ganesh Sittampalam, Alex Skene, Alistair Sloan and Richard Taylor.

Thanks are also due #

Many people — too many to mention, but we love you all — helped find the email addresses for public authorities, and gave the site a test run in its early days.

Francis Davey gave us invaluable legal advice for several years.

Peter Williams, who is sadly no longer with us, answered many user support emails and contributed greatly to the public bodies database.

We also thank all the officers and servants who have answered the many requests made through the site. Their diligence, patience and professionalism is what has made the information you see in this massive archive. Thank them for helping make government more transparent.

Want to help? #

Find out about how to get involved.