On the Fence

What is it?

On the Fence is a fun educational tool that helps young undecided and first-time voters engage directly with issues by matching their personal values with political candidates and parties. It is an award-winning tool that builds political confidence, participation and transforms disengaged users into informed, active voters.

The Issue

Research tells us that across Western Society, and particularly in New Zealand, there are an increasing number of young people who are making ill-informed and often no decision when it comes to voting. Many become peer pressured to vote, while others choose to abstain. The sheep metaphor represents the group mentality and lack of individual responsibility that is especially prevalent in the 18–25 year old target audience—the farm narrative and quirky characters provide a light-hearted look at a serious topic. To inexperienced voters, politics is perceived as boring, inaccessible and difficult to understand. On the Fence counteracts this by creatively guiding and educating young people into making informed voting choices.

How does it work?

The game is simple and easy to pick up; answer each of 17 key policy areas by indicating how much you agree with each of the statements provided. Users need to feed their sheep a total of 5 policy areas in order to progress.

The tool works an abstract slider. Rather than using a binary ‘yes’ or ‘no’ system, the ability to indicate how much they agree (or disagree) with each statement enables the user to position themselves relative to each policy statement. This recognizes that potentially users, and in fact, you, could be shades of either.

When the user is done answering, the tool will calculate the user data compared to the panel to produce the top 3 compatible political parties. These parties that are revealed are only recommendations! Alongside this, the tool also generates a projected avatar of a user’s political stance. This avatar is intended as a fun way of allowing young people to share and compare their political views.

The tool will also generate top matches for each policy area answered in addition to the overall matches. This provides users opportunity to delve deeper into the political parties and how much the user aligns with them for each of those policy issues.

Impact

In the six weeks before Election Day, the site surpassed all goals by attracting over 170,000 unique visitors from 120 countries. Visitors spent an average of 8:13 minutes on the site, and achieved a 92% completion rate. This was accomplished solely through peer-to peer shareability, without any traditional marketing investment. A Horizon Research survey showed that the site encouraged 30,000 non-voting 18–34 year olds to vote, representing 7% of the total eligible youth population.

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