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The WhatDoTheyKnow homepage
Web address WhatDoTheyKnow.com
Slogan Make and explore Freedom of Information requests
Commercial? No
Type of site Engine for making Freedom of Information requests
Registration Optional
Owner MySociety
Created by User-generated/Public Authority generated
Launched 28 February 2008[1]
Alexa rank negative increase 87,256 (April 2014)[2]
Current status Active

WhatDoTheyKnow.com is a website run by the registered charity UK Citizens Online Democracy (under the MySociety brand) which provides an integrated service for making UK Freedom of Information request in public.[3][4][5][6] The site acts as a permanent public archive of FOI requests made through it.[7][8]

Around 15% to 20% of requests to UK Central Government are made through WhatDoTheyKnow.com.[9][10] Over 15,000 public bodies have been added to the site, mainly by volunteers.[11] More than 120,000 requests have been made using the site.[12]

The site has been described by the Guardian as "an idiot's guide to making a freedom of information request." [13] The Information Commissioner's Office has stated that it believes "the most up-to-date informal list of all public authorities is held on the website".[14] Information released through the site has given rise to serious and less serious news stories.[15][16][17] The site is used by a number of MPs.[18]

The site's parent project Alaveteli is "a project to create a free, standard, internationalised platform for making Freedom of Information (FOI) requests".[19][20][21]

The site was originally available only in English but a partially translated Welsh version has recently been released.[22]


The site costs around £12,000 a year to run.[1]


WhatDoTheyKnow started life as the winning idea for mySociety competition in 2006 for ideas for public interest websites to build.[23] Both Phil Rodgers and Francis Irving entered idea.[24] Francis Irving later became the main developer of the site [25] which was launched in 2008.[26]

The site was nominated for a number of awards:

WhatDoTheyKnow volunteer Alex Skene gave evidence to Justice Committee related to Post-Legislative Scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 on 21 Feb 2012.[30]

In April 2012, Brighton and Hove Councillor Jason Kitkat announced: “We [the Council] are working with MySociety to adapt their WhatDoTheyKnow system to support a better workflow for freedom of information requests and proactive publishing of everything we release." [31]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b WriteToThem research report, Tobias Escher
  2. ^ "Whatdotheyknow.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  3. ^ Information revolution, New Statesman, Becky Hogg, 2008
  4. ^ Foi tips for communications professionals, Information Commissioner
  5. ^ Victory for WhatDoTheyKnow, BBC website
  6. ^ Local by Social, Andy Gibson
  7. ^ ICO Twitter advice fuels open data drive
  8. ^ Rogers, Simon (2012-03-20). "Freedom of Information: an FoI request for every day of 2012, listed". The Guardian (London). 
  9. ^ WhatDoTheyKnow’s Share of Central Government FOI Requests – Q2 2011, MySociety
  10. ^ http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2012-01-30b.92119.h&s=whatdotheyknow#g92119.r0
  11. ^ WhatDoTheyKnow homepage
  12. ^ Categorisation Game, WhatDoTheyKnow.com, accessed 15 July 2012
  13. ^ No Minister: Keep skunks out of Whitehall, Guardian, Dick Vinegar
  14. ^ Information Commissioner's Office response: IRQ0365760
  15. ^ Child Trust Funds: families count cost of child benefit delay , Telegraph
  16. ^ http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/04/12/cycle_route_planner/
  17. ^ Morris, Steven (2011-07-07). "When zombies attack! Bristol city council ready for undead invasion". The Guardian (London). 
  18. ^ WhatDoTheyKnow Beats Parliamentary Question, MySociety, November 2009
  19. ^ Credits, WhatDoTheyKnow.com
  20. ^ http://www.alaveteli.org/about-2/
  21. ^ WhatDoTheyKnow project page, MySociety
  22. ^ WhatDoTheyKnow now 6% in Welsh, WhatDoTheyKnow blog, 16 January 2013
  23. ^ http://www.mysociety.org/2006/09/27/the-mysociety-call-for-proposals-the-winner-and-runners-up/
  24. ^ http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/about#credits
  25. ^ http://www.mysociety.org/2008/02/22/mysocietys-freedom-of-information-site-goes-live/
  26. ^ http://www.mysociety.org/category/news/page/2/
  27. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/6551325/Best-Green-websites.html archived
  28. ^ http://www.newstatesman.com/nma/nma2008/finalists08 archived
  29. ^ http://www.newstatesman.com/nma/nma2009/2008winners
  30. ^ http://whoslobbying.com/uk/whatdotheyknow
  31. ^ Brighton and Hove News