Host your own crowdsourced investigation with the Help Me Investigate plugin

Help Me Investigate as it looked 2 years ago

When we open-sourced the code for Help Me Investigate the plan was to move from a single site to a decentralised, networked structure. Now, thanks to Andy Dickinson, it has become even easier for anyone to host their own journalism crowdsourcing platform.

Since a conversation a couple of months ago, Andy has been tweaking a WordPress plugin that replicates the functionality of the previous Help Me Investigate site. It’s now ready for use.

The plugin adds an ‘Investigations’ page to your self-hosted WordPress blog which holds ‘sticky’ pages for any investigations you want to pursue, and allows you to break those down into distinct challenges that anyone can contribute to.

You can also add tags and grade progress, and limit access to make an investigation more private. Full functionality and limitations are listed on the plugin page.

(For more background on how the original Help Me Investigate site worked, see this About page.)

Original Help Me Investigate code also upgraded

Meanwhile, for organisations or groups with more technical resources Dave Goodchild has been upgrading the code for the original Help Me Investigate. This was originally written in Rails 2.3.2 but Dave has been upgrading it to more recent versions.

This code is more powerful than the plugin, but also more demanding technically. You can see – and help with – his latest upgrades at

Help improve the plugin

Likewise, if you’re in the crowdsourcing spirit, Andy Dickinson is inviting people to help further develop the plugin.

Stay connected

Whether you use the plugin on your own blog or run the original Rails code on a news website – or want to help with either – please let me know: I’m happy to pass on my own experiences of running a crowdsourcing project, and as part of this move to a decentralised approach I’m compiling a list of investigations around the web so that people can more easily help – y’know – investigate…

6 thoughts on “Host your own crowdsourced investigation with the Help Me Investigate plugin

  1. Gail Elbek

    Yes interested in “crowdsourced investigation!” For several years I have been investigating the adverse risks caused to people who had been developmentally contaminated with soy. Yes Soy! The FDA confirms soy as a Poisonous Plant on their Database, while refusing to allow soy contamination as public information. Billions in industry profits are at stake!

    FDA knows soy contains multiple toxic chemicals; estrogenic endocrine disruptors, phytic acid, heavy metals, and soy inhibits several essential enzymes, each and all are FDA known to cause a host of physiological, reproductive and neurological severe and irreversible adverse effects.

    To date I have spoken with several people poisoned by soy as children who suffer from mental disorders, autism, ADHD, or from gastrointestinal disorders, hypothyroidism, immune deficiency disease, pancreatic, liver, kidney disease, cancers, diabetes, infertility, reproductive damage and more. Adverse effects caused by soy poisoning are massive.

    On NIH wedsites; Toxnet and Pubmed there are several hundred studies concluding a host of disorders and diseases especially caused by fetal (due to maternal consumption), infant, and child exposure to soy phyto-toxicity.

    It is true that the FDA has no evidence confirming that those exposed to soy’s many toxic components will NOT suffer from multiple severe and irreversible adverse effects. The FDA has no intention of allowing their acknowledgment of soy as an ongoing, undocumented experiment. A game of health roulette of which most people will lose, while not even aware they are participating in a toxic game of adverse health.

    It is past due to “Crowdsource” this soy investigation! Please tell me how!

    Thank you,
    Gail Elbek

    1. Paul Bradshaw Post author

      Hi Gail,
      I’ll be publishing (on this blog – it was written for a forthcoming book) a piece of research into crowdsourcing with Help Me Investigate soon, which I hope will be useful. Also take a look at the blog posts on where that experience has played out in real time.

      A specific piece of advice I’d give is that you need to prove that the soy is responsible – collecting case studies of people who suffer from various problems will not count as proof, because any number of other factors could be attributed as causes. You seem to be doing this with with studies on Toxnet and that seems the best way to go.

  2. Gail Elbek

    Yes, it was easy to find more than 700 published studies concluding fetal, infant, and child soy contamination causes severe and irreversible physiological, reproductive, and neurological adverse effects. A large number of these studies are repeatedly published from NIEHS, FDA, and a variety of NIH scientists. I have witnessed a NTP meeting of which they reviewed multiple studies concluding developmental damaging effects caused by soy infant formula to the point that this “expert panel” concluded “Clear evidence of adverse (soy formula) effects”. This same panel then chose to NOT allow this study evidence or their conclusions confirming soy formula poisoning of infants as public information because 12 out of 14 panelists are industry funded. This meeting room was also loaded with soy industry lobbyists. FDA Commissioner Hamburg, FDA Schneeman (labeling) and FDA Silverman (infant formula) have NO intentions of allowing massive published study evidence confirming soy foods and formula as developmental poisons for public information. Monsanto profits from soy seed, while prior Monsanto attorney Mike Taylor sits right hand to FDA Hamburg! We think the terrorists are overseas….this unthinkable betrayal proves they are closer than we could ever imagine! And children’s diseases and cancers continue to increase as does the soy phyto-toxic infiltration of marketed foods that increasingly target infant and child consumption.

  3. Pingback: Docs en Stock (S06E04) | Damien Van Achter

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