Things to do to make your investigation successful

Once you’ve started an investigation you may ask: ‘So now what happens?’ The answer is: it’s largely up to you. Help Me Investigate provides journalistic support, and a community of users who want to help find things out, but you’ll need to put a little something into it yourself if it’s going to work.

Here are a few simple things you can do to help make your investigation progress:

1. Invite lots of useful people

The more people you have in your investigation, the more likely it is that challenges will be completed; and the more likely that someone has the piece of knowledge or contact you’re after. There’s more advice on that front here. In short, you’re looking for friends, others who are passionate about the same issue, and experts.

The more users an investigation has, the more prominent it will be on the Investigations page, which means others who could help will be more likely to see it.

2. Add as much useful information as you can

The first challenge on any investigation is ‘Add background information’. This might be news, council or government reports, official webpages of relevant organisations, contact pages for useful people, or links to material you’ve gathered yourself, such as photos, video, emails or forum posts. This helps give others some context – and might highlight the oddities you’re investigating.

3. Write about it on blogs and forums

You want other people who are annoyed by the same issue to be able to find your investigation easily. The more you write about it – in as many places as possible – the more likely they are to find out. You might try one or more of these:

  • A forum where the issue is being discussed, or where affected people might gather (e.g. if your investigation is about health then a forum for health professionals or patients). You can search forums at Boardreader.
  • A Facebook group related to the issue (if one doesn’t exist, start one!)
  • A blog or blog post where the issue is being discussed (search IceRocket).
  • Start a blog of your own, even if there are other blogs talking about this. You can link to the other blogs and join that community. How to start a blog is explained here – but also ask other bloggers who are writing about the same issue for advice.
  • You could also record a simple video about your investigation and post it on a site like YouTube or Vimeo. (Advice here)
  • Finally, look for similar investigations on Help Me Investigate and mention it there (use the search facility or browse by tag).

4. Contribute to other investigations

Others are more likely to help if you can contribute something to their investigation too – even if you only invite more people, or do a quick search to find background information. It’s the thought that counts.

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