Does online advocacy really work?

Some programs do draw large numbers of participants—and all the problems that come with it. When it began, the White House’s We the People site required 25,000 signatures within 30 days to get a response from the administration. That threshold was increased to 100,000, on the heels of a bombardment of petitions, including ones for the Death Star effort.

Topics of petitions have run from the serious to the ridiculous. For example, earlier this month the White House rejected a petition idea that called for establishing a “Gun Free Zone” around the president, vice president, and their families, which would mean no armed security. The petition was seen as the product of an organized effort by gun-rights advocates, angered by the president’s gun-control efforts following the Newtown, Conn., shootings.

Independent of the White House, another website, whpetitions.info, is now providing numbers and details about the total petitions submitted to We the People; the number of those that have received enough signatures for a response; and which of those still have not received responses.

The site—which claims to be “Helping the White House Keep its Promise”—shows that 232 petitions have met the signature threshold, but that the White House has not responded to 30 of those. The average waiting time so far for those 30 unanswered petitions: 244 days, according to the site.