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London mayoral candidates are using the web to bypass the mainstream media and answer questions put to them directly by the electorate.

Crowdsourcing debate website Yoosk is running an online hustings, gathering questions to put to several of the candidates running in next month's election.

Readers submit questions for their specified candidates, other users then vote on the questions they want the candidates to answer.

A team of citizen and professional journalists working for the website then attempt to get any questions receiving 100 or more votes answered.

Liberal Democrat candidate Brian Paddick and Green candidate Sian Berry are amongst six mayoral candidates to have answered questions directly from citizens using the site.

Questions posed for leading candidates Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone have yet to be answered. However, Nick Ryan, Yoosk's consulting editor, told this was expected to change in the coming days.

In total, 47 questions have so far been asked of the participating candidates by the site's users, resulting in 26 responses.

"Politicians seem quite keen on this concept because it gives them the chance to talk directly to the public," Ryan said.

"It's not even quite the same as sitting in a room with a bunch of panellists. It's actually very quick at their end to do this."

The crowdsourcing approach particularly appealed to the smaller parties, added Ryan, as it provided a level platform for engagement which was not built on the wealth of respective backers.

Engagement with the site, he said, also showed the growing awareness among politicians of using new media to communicate directly with voters.

Leading politicians in the UK are increasingly using the internet and social media services to forge a direct relationship with the electorate without having to rely on established news and media outlets.

Downing Street and mayoral candidate Brian Paddick are both using social messaging service Twitter to send direct messages to members of the public following them.

Last week, the Prime Minister took part in the first ever live Q&A webcast following a party election broadcast on the Labour Party website and Webcameron has long been established as the opposition leader's direct mouthpiece on the web.

"Journalists are used to being heard and feeling important because of what they say. The interesting thing with the Yoosk experiment and other crowdsourcing initiatives is to what extent they'll [journalists] be needed in the future," said Ryan.

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