Crowdsourcing platform Help Me Investigate will become an open-source platform as part of plans to create a network of communities sharing investigative resources.

In a blog post, founder Paul Bradshaw said that taking the project open-source, which will enable others to see its code and install their own platforms, will help to improve the technology behind the site and also address legal and geographical weaknesses.

"We've had dozens of requests to join the site from people in South America, Australia, the US, Middle East and South Africa that we couldn't comply with for legal reasons.

"There have also been those who wanted private investigations, or completely public ones. Now there is a way that those people can use and change the technology accordingly.

"It also allows us to focus our efforts on what I believe is the most important feature of the site: its community and resources."

Looking forward, Bradshaw says the plan is to refocus the site on building a community of users who want to investigate questions in the public interest, build up the bank of investigative resources and also seek out volunteers to explore certain areas.

A new Help Me Investigate site will act as a 'hub' linking to and aggregating from: other installalations of the technology; a series of specialist blogs covering different areas, such as social care or education; as well as other resources such as mailing lists, forums and Facebook groups.

While changes are made to the current site it will be taken down or redirected and current investigations will no longer be accessible, Bradshaw added.

"This is a huge change for Help Me Investigate. The site long ago achieved what it set out to prove: that people could collaborate to investigate questions in the public interest. It works. But based on our experiences, I know it can work better. Open sourcing Help Me Investigate, and moving to a distributed network of communities based on a shared set of resources, is the right thing to do."

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