Microsoft releases tools for politicians

Software giant Microsoft has unveiled a new crowdsourcing tools for politicians, designed to help candidates running for office take questions and discuss issues with voters.

The TownHall software attempts to simulate a town hall-type question and answer session. Using the Windows Azure cloud-based platform, users can ask questions, vote on polls, read responses to questions and engage in different types of discussions.

The software is actually part of a larger package called Campaign Ready. Both platforms were unveiled at the Politics Online conference in Washington yesterday.

The move comes after a number of different politicians, especially in the US, have begun using more social media tools to communicate with voters. During the US 2008 presidential election, both president Barack Obama and then-candidate John McCain used Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to campaign.

In Australia, politicians including Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and former Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull both use Twitter frequently.

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