2007: PledgeBank

Background

PledgeBank is a website that runs pledges on all topics, following this format: “I will do x if y number of people agree to do the same.” Such public commitments are a noncoercive way to solve problems through collective action, especially when the goal is public good.

Members of PledgeBank think that the world needs such a service: Many good things fail to happen because there aren’t enough people organized to do them. PledgeBank allows users to set up pledges, and then encourages other people to sign up to them.

PledgeBank was founded by mySociety and went live June 13, 2005. Although hosted/run by a UK-based nonprofit, PledgeBank has been translated by volunteers into 12 languages in addition to English.

Notable organizations promoted or started by pledges on PledgeBank include the seed funding for the UK Open Rights Group and publicity and legal funding for the NO2ID campaign. Furthermore, it has been used to drum up global support for online protests, most recently by Freeculture.org to boycott CDs with DRM. British Prime Minister Tony Blair started a pledge himself—to become patron of a community sports club if 100 notable figures will do the same. His pledge succeeded.

Examples of successful pledges include the current NOMEDIA campaign started by Graham Woods, who pledged to completely boycott all forms of media for two weeks as long as 10 other people do the same, and the textbook for Africa project started by Darren Grover. Another overwhelmingly successful pledge was run by “Big Ed” to stop unnecessary use of plastic grocery bags.

What Swordi Studio Contributed

Oliver Ding, the founder of Swordi Studio, led a five-person team to translate the user interface of PledgeBank.com into Chinese in February 2007. He also created the Chinese name (Qi Yuan Hang) for the Chinese version of the website. After the first version of Chinese PledgeBank was launched in May 2007, he continued to promote it by drafting promotion schedules and designing promotion banners and slogans. In July 2007 he set up a PledgeBank group at Douban.com, a popular Chinese social media website, to attract more people to join.

The Chinese version of PledgeBank has attracted the attention of people from education and charity fields, and many local PledgeBank stories have emerged. For example, Qien Kuen collected enough money to buy a laptop; Zhuang Xiuli used the website to encourage her colleagues to engage in developing social learning courses; after Gao Xiangyao walked 100 km in Hong Kong in 48 hours as he pledged on the website, each of 20 people who supported him donated 100 RMB ( $15) to Oxfam Hong Kong, a charity organization.

After the website increased new functions in its new version, Oliver continued to update the Chinese version to assure that its functions match the ones on the English website.


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