July 7, 2006

Website president.yandex.ru Collected a Million Votes

Internet, July 7, 2006. An Internet conference of Vladimir Putin was held yesterday, June 6. The President of Russia answered some of the questions collected through the BBC Online and Yandex sites. Yandex users asked a total of more than 160,000 questions and gave more than a million votes. A complete transcript of the conference is published at the website president.yandex.ru.

Using this form of communication with the head of the state, where Internet users could have a say in the choice of questions for the conference, was the first time for Russia. In the course of a week people asked their own questions and voted for queries of others. Thousands of websites and blogs featured “Vote for this question” form, calling for support of owners’ friends. Top-rated questions got several tens of thousands of votes. Yandex undertook thorough steps to prevent automated vote fraud and completely ruled out manipulations.

“In fact, this project has turned into a social experiment that involved the whole country,” comments Yandex CEO Arkady Volozh. “Various audiences asked totally different questions. Tens of thousands of Internet users regarded this project as an exciting group activity and strove to get the President’s answers about the boy, the awakening of Cthulhu, and his first sexual experience. The regions saw this as an opportunity to raise their questions to the federal level: numerous city portals urged users to vote on regional questions. Some social groups managed to organize themselves quickly, others failed due to a lack of time, experience, or understanding of the web. There is quite enough material for analysis. Now the conclusions on what people really care about are up to social scientists, psychologists, and journalists.”

Under an agreement with the press service of the President, all queries submitted to the website were manually checked. The rules were simple: the questions could be as acute as they come, but their form should not be offensive. In order to quickly post questions on the site, Yandex had to employ 50 moderators, and they worked 24 hours a day in three shifts. The President’s press service had permanent access to all published questions and voting statistics.

During and after the conference, the President gave answers to a number of most popular questions as well as to questions selected by the conference hosts in the studio. In the two hours that the conference was on, 150,000 users visited the website president.yandex.ru; over the whole time of vote collection, the number of visitors exceeded one million.

The questions to the President were asked by people from more than nine thousand cities and towns in Russia and other countries. Beside Moscow and Saint Petersburg, the most active users were in Ekaterinburg, Krasnodar, Rostov-on-Don, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Ufa, and Samara. Half of the people that submitted their queries were of the most active age — 21-35 years old. Some 5% of the questions were asked by children (under 16 years old), and more than 40% – by people above 30.

The archive of questions and votes is stored at president.yandex.ru as an indication of interests of the most active segment of society as of summer 2006. This project was unique in its scale, and in this way its results will always be available for analysis and just good reading.

Elena Kolmanovskaya, Chief Editor
Michael Ushakov, Head of Yandex PR
Phone: +7 495 739-70-00
Fax: +7 495 739-70-70
E-mail: pr@yandex-team.ru

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