LivePetitions, an Italian startup, just launched with Italian, British and U.S. localized websites. It’s meant to be a much cleaner and functional online petition service than PetitionOnline, the big player in online petitions.
Users can quickly create an online petition, set an optional end date and enter categories and tags. Various required and optional fields can be added (email, name and zip code are default settings, along with a comment field), but those can be removed and anything else added. The creator and any signers can also choose to import their Gmail or Yahoo address books and notify their contacts of the existence of the petition.
The company makes money by placing ads on the petition pages, although those can be removed by paying a fee, which also allows customization of the petition page with a logo and other stylistic changes. A domain name for the petition can also be purchased so that the petition does not point to a livepetitions.com sub domain. One of the better features – a couple of options to embed a widget promoting the petition on third party blogs and other websites
It’s a good service with lots of flexibility and an easy to use interface. It does suffer from a few translation snafus (a lot of the English content is improperly translated, or not translated), but it is certainly better than existing options. Like other services, signatures must be from unique email addresses, which allows for a lot of fraud. It probably won’t become a big business, but it will be useful for the proactive types who like to stir the pot and get people behind whatever causes they are currently promoting. I expect the inevitable Facebook application to be released shortly.