search slide
search slide
pages bottom

Still don't know which Australian party to vote for? This tool can help.

If you're unsure which political party to vote for Saturday in the Australian election, never fear: There are a multitude of online tools that can help.

There are the questionnaires created by news outlets including Fairfax Media's YourVote tool and ABC's Vote Compass, but you may have also seen ISideWith results being shared by friends in your Facebook feed.

Created by former roommates Taylor Peck and Nick Boutelier in the U.S., the platform asks a series of questions on social, economic and political issues that help you decide which party aligns best with your views. The site is operational in more than eight countries, Peck told Mashable Australia, launching in Brazil and Spain in 2016.

Founded in 2012, ISideWith got started in Australia just in time for the 2013 election. During the 2016 campaigning period, around 210,000 quizzes have been completed. 

Creating the site's recommendation engine is something of a science. To decide which questions to include in the Australian quiz, Peck said they hired freelance researchers locally in the months leading up to the election. The quiz is also optimised almost daily. If no one is answering a question, for example, or if it's considered too wonky, it will be removed.

"We look at all the analytics on our site and ask, 'People from the Greens party, which issues are they answering and which aren't they answering?' 'Are we missing a position that would identify their beliefs?'" Peck explained. "If we make one slight tweak to one question, we could go from 10 percent of our users answering the question to 95 percent."

Currently, the Australian quiz has about 32 questions for users to answer and delivers results that suggest voter alignment with the Labor Party, the Australian Greens, the Liberal Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Family First party. 

Smaller independent parties have also been added to the site's poll that asks with which party voters most identify. "Once [the smaller parties] break 1 percent of people who say they would vote for the party on our quiz, then we add them in," Peck said.

All of the data collected by ISideWith is published, depersonalised on its poll page, with specific results broken down for issues like marriage equality, foreign aid or free trade.

The site has a strict privacy policy, Peck said, and data is not sold on to third parties. "We don't use cookies, so all the data is stored with us," he explained. "We just publish it through our polls so everyone can see it." The site is funded through display advertising. 

For Peck, having a bird's eye view on elections around the world has been fascinating, with the subtle differences between electorates proving most interesting. For example, even Australian conservatives skew more to the left on social issues than in the U.S. "With economic issues, it's very similar to the Republicans here in the United States, but with social issues, it's much more liberal," he said. 

Voting is hard, so this Saturday, let the Internet help.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Leave a Reply

Captcha image