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Change.gov: Barack Obama's transition site

Change.gov is the website for the transition of president-elect Barack Obama. One of the pages there supported mandatory community service, and that page was quickly sent down the memory hole after that was pointed out. Later, the entire "Agenda" section was removed. Then, it was announced that Obama would be uploading his weekly radio address as videos to Youtube and other services. As predicted at that link, no form of interaction was allowed when the videos were eventually posted.

Then, videos were posted there that were like something from the West Wing TV show.

The current latest entertaining scams are a Digg-like voting system that will allow visitors to vote for questions Obama will be asked. However, as illustrated by other similar attempts, popular voting systems only allow the weakest questions to be voted to the top. They've also added a highly similar "Citizen's Briefing Book" which suffers from the same flaws.

Note that the site change.dov uses the IP address 69.25.74.162, and if you put that into your browser's address bar you'll be taken to a holding page for Blue State Digital, a private company. The Government Services Administration is the registrar for .gov names, and they say at dotgov.gov:

To maintain domain name integrity, eligibility is limited to qualified government organizations and programs. Having a managed domain name such as .gov assures your customers that they are accessing an official government site.

In response to my inquiry, GSA says that change.gov is operating within the law. While persuasive, that is just their opinion.

And, it later turned out that an exception was made for Obama, something that the GSA did not tell me in their response.

Last modified Jan 15, 2009
Discussed in (click each link for the full post):

The "Citizen's Briefing Book", the latest Barack Obama scam - 01/16/09

... "Citizen's Briefing Book" at change dot gov: citizensbriefingbook.change.gov It allows the citizens to submit policy ideas in one of several categories, and then others vote up or down those ideas. The categories are mostly the same as those featured in their highly similar Open for Questions. Like Open for Questions, the current effort is designed to fail. Both efforts suffer from the same...

Change.gov Round 2: Ask Obama stupid questions, get stock responses - 01/13/09

Barack Obama's change dot gov has released their responses for the second round of their scam where they encouraged people to submit and vote for questions that Obama would answer (change.gov/newsroom/entry/open_for_questions_round_2_response). As with other popular voting systems, it was designed to fail, with weak questions being voted up while tough questions (such as the ones I submitted)...

More immigration questions for Barack Obama (change.gov Open for Questions) - 12/29/08

Barack Obama's change dot gov is starting round two of their "Open for Questions" scam (why it's a scam is explained here) where they solicit questions from the public at change.gov/openforquestions. In addition to re-submitting a question I asked in the first round, I just submitted four more. As before, I was greatly hampered by the 250 character limit, causing much editing. However, these are...

GSA misled me: exception was made for change.gov - 12/20/08

... whether Obama's transition site change dot gov was within the federal rules for .gov domain names. They indicated it was. However, the documents here - obtained through a FOIA request - indicate that "strings were pulled" and an exception was made at least regarding the domain name. It was originally considered too generic and it was also originally disallowed due to it being the same as a...

Obama releases "answers" to change.gov user-generated "questions" (420, dude) - 12/15/08

Barack Obama's change dot gov recently asked the citizens to submit questions which he would deign to answer. Now, the answers to the "top" questions have been released here. The questions were weak, the answers were weak and could have been gleaned from Obama's positions. All that was predictable; see the discussion of popular voting systems. First, my question - tougher than any of the others I...

GSA says Change.gov is a legal, "hybrid" site - 12/11/08

Barack Obama's change dot gov is, per the Government Services Administration, legal. A few have speculated that it might be operating outside the letter of the law due to the fact that it's hosted at the private Blue State Digital and has non-governmental privacy policies and the like. The GSA statement (below), while persuasive, is just their opinion and it still seems a bit odd to have a .gov...

My change.gov question for Barack Obama (in-state tuition for illegal aliens) - 12/11/08

Change dot gov is soliciting questions from the citizens and allowing others to vote on submitted questions. Presumably Obama will answer the most popular questions and, as previously discussed this system shares the same flaws as other popular voting systems and is thus little more than a scam designed to fool people into thinking that Obama will answer tough questions. As a test, I (using the...

New Obama scam: visitors vote for questions he'll be asked - 12/10/08

... effort that lets visitors to change dot gov submit questions he should be asked. Others then vote those questions up or down, and he'll presumably answer the top rated questions at some point in time: change.gov/page/content/openforquestions This is, in a word, a scam: it shares the same huge design flaw as other popular voting systems in which weak questions are pushed to the top while the...

My new favorite actress is Heather Zichal (Aaron Sorkin's 'ChangeDotGov') - 11/19/08

Move over, Janeane Garofalo! My new favorite actress is Heather Zichal, who plays herself on Aaron Sorkin's new TV series 'ChangeDotGov'. He innovated at the West Wing, although I find that watching re-runs is a bit painful due to the ever-present earth tones. Anyway, Sorkin is innovating again by also uploading segments of the show to Youtube. You can see Zichal in the clip to the right,...

Discuss president-elect Barack Obama's radio/Youtube address (November 15, 2008) - 11/15/08

Our beloved president-elect Barack Obama is offering his new weekly speech not just as a radio address but also as an online video: youtube.com/watch?v=Zd8f9Zqap6U (also available at AOL, MSN, and Yahoo). On Youtube at least, almost every form of interaction is disabled: no ratings, comments, or video replies are allowed. The only sign of the outside world are the "sites linking to this video...

Sham: Obama to hold "fireside chats" on Youtube - 11/14/08

Jose Antonio Vargas of the Washington Post breathlessly informs us of this: Today, President-elect Obama will record the weekly Democratic address not just on radio but also on video -- a first.

Cached copy of Barack Obama's change.gov agenda section - 11/10/08

Barack Obama's change.gov - the official president-elect transition site - deleted their entire Agenda section over the weekend. There's apparently a cached copy here, although I haven't verified it since I didn't bother saving off my own copy. UPDATE: There's a better-looking version from Google's cache here. As with the other one I didn't verify it.

Mandatory community service still included in Obama's preK-12 education plan - 11/08/08

Yesterday, we discussed how one page at Barack Obama's new change.gov site said he'd push for mandatory community service. The campaign later changed that page to match the more voluntary-oriented statements the campaign made elsewhere. However, there's still one thing they'll probably want to send down the memory hole. The file barackobama.com/pdf/issues/PreK-12EducationFactSheet.pdf (...

Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel want mandatory community service?; contradicts earlier statements; 100 hours/year in college - 11/07/08

Yet more fun with Barack Obama's president-elect website change.gov, as the page change.gov/americaserves has this: Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year. This "requirement" contradicts not only past statements, but another...

Change.gov? Obama launches his own president-elect website - 11/06/08

This is just great: change.gov (I actually said another word before "great", and I'll let everyone imagine what that word was.) That's the official site for the "office of the president-elect", a new government website just to help usher in Barack Obama. And, it's not from the Bush-welcome-to-DC perspective, but instead from the Obama-I'm-in-charge-now perspective. He's even got a wonderful form...