2013 Federal Election web collecting

2013 Federal Election web collecting
Collecting election material in a online world
11 June 2014

Looking back on the 2013 Federal election we can see the trends of collecting an online election campaign. Political parties, organisations and the community are using the online sphere increasingly to start a political conversation.

The 2013 election material is in six main collections: upper and lower house candidate sites, political parties, electoral studies sites (psephologists etc), media (social and mainstream), interest and lobby groups sites and a final collection on the WA senate re-election. I’ve linked below to all these collections.

One of the obvious trends is the total number of titles archived. The six collections for the 2013 Federal election hold over 600 titles. This compares with around 320 in 2010 and approximately 370 in 2007. That is, the number of sites decreased in 2010 but dramatically increased in 2013. Perhaps the early announcement of the 2013 election made a difference? The September election was originally called by Julia Gillard eight months in advance on January 31.

This long lead in time may have given organisations and groups time to plan and build websites. This is reflected in one particular area we collect in, lobby and interest groups, which increased dramatically from 43 titles collected in 2010 to 103 titles in 2013. Normally the election statement is a simple document stating the priorities policy areas for an organisation. This election however many organisation created their own sites such as the ifishiboat and ivote campaign which uses a good design to highlight its statement.

The Solar Scorecard uses an infographic style to makes its statement on environmental issues.

Solar scorecard website

This election also featured many new federally registered political parties. Around 25 additional parties contested the election. Permissions to include material into the Web Archive have to be sought before it can be added; this was only achieved for around half of the new parties. This gap in collecting new political parties online presence will be partially filled by the National Library’s printed ephemera collection which holds printed material produced by political parties during the election. During the election we also make a copy of the website ‘Election leaflets’ which is also capture some of the parties campaign material.

Is it likely that the historical records that remain of an event will influence how an event is perceived? In 2007 the online election was centred on Youtube, the new force in online interaction. Will the 2013 Federal election be known as the ‘social’ election as Twitter and Facebook become major platforms for news, campaigning and community interaction? However, owing to permissions no Facebook material was collected this election. Will this skew the view of this election in historical terms more towards it being a ‘twitter’ election? The collection includes candidates from the major parties but also independents such as Cathy McGowan the new Member for Indi.

For technical reasons and resource reasons even Youtube content has not yet been collected widely this election even though many parties had active Youtube pages. The dominance of twitter can be seen from our media, comment, social network and video sites collection.

This election saw the development of the online fact check website that has been around in the United States for some years. This election saw no fewer than four fact check services begin, Politifact, Facts fight back, ABC fact check and The conversation fact check. We were able to archive all four services. One of these services, Politifact Australia, ceased some months after the election.


This post will be expanded upon in my paper at the ALIA conference at Melbourne in September 2014.


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