A good problem to have: Raising the signature threshold for White House petitions

Update: The signatures threshold for petitions on the We the People platform to receive an official response from the White House has changed since this blog post was published. See the latest signature thresholds.


Planning for the new We the People platform, we were confident the system would ultimately get a lot of use, but we expected it would take a little longer to get out into the ether and pick up speed.

Let's just say our estimates were ... ahem ... a wee bit on the low side!  In one week, more than 7,800 petitions have been created, more than 600,000 signatures have been logged and more than 375,000 people have created an account to participate in this platform.  It's by far the biggest online engagement event ever for the White House - and we're just getting started.

That's what you call a good problem to have.  Here's one thing we're doing to address it:

The massive participation on We the People means that in the first week over 30 petitions reached 5,000 signatures, the initial threshold to generate an official response from the White House. At our first internal review meeting Friday, two things were clear: (a) everyone is thrilled about this new challenge and excited to process the first batch, but (b) this many petitions challenges our ability to offer timely and meaningful responses to petitions in the long term.  

So starting now, the threshold a petition has to reach in order to generate an official response is 25,000 signatures in 30 days. This change only affects petitions created from this point forward, and will not be applied to petitions of any signature count already in the system.

This may not be the last time we change the thresholds, both in terms of signatures and amount of time. And we're also evaluating a number of other ways to improve the system, many based on ideas we've received from you. Since we launched We the People we’ve been reading your feedback submitted via the feedback form on the We the People platform and through the Twitter hashtag #WHWeb.

Here are a few answers to questions and issues we’ve seen over the last few days:

I created a petition, but I can’t find it in the open petitions view on the We the People platform.

Once you’ve created a new petition, it isn't searchable on the site until it reaches 150 signatures.   After you create a petition, you’ll be given the unique URL that you can use to share with others. It is then up to you and other early signers to build initial support. Once a petition has 150 signatures, it will be viewable via the Open Petitions section of We the People.

I’m having trouble viewing the site on my mobile phone and iPad, is there a mobile app for We the People?

Right now, we don’t have a mobile app for the We the People platform, but it’s something we’ll consider for future development.

I’ve already created an account, but now I’m having trouble signing in using my user name and password.

We’ve heard from a number of people who’ve had difficulty signing into the site after they’ve created they have created their accounts and we've taken some steps to address this.  If you still run into problems, please let us know using the feedback form.  Remember, including the name of the operating system and web browser that you’re using helps us out a lot.

I received the email to verify my email address, but I can’t click on the link in the email.

If you can’t click on the link to verify your email address, try cutting and pasting the full URL (including the “http://” part) into your browser.  If that still doesn’t work, let us know.

The blue bar at the bottom of the screens says I’m logged in, but I’m having trouble signing a petition.

This is another common issue we’ve heard from folks using We the People and we’ve been working to resolve this issue over the last few days.  If you’re still seeing this problem, try signing out of the system and then signing back in.  If that doesn’t work, let us know using the feedback form.

Related Topics: We the People, Technology