Arts & Entertainment
Equaldex creator Dan Leveille
Building An Equality Database
Equaldex Offers Global Collaborative Website For LGBT Rights
Originally printed 6/5/2014 (Issue 2223 - Between The Lines News)
LOS ANGELES -What did you do by the time you were 25? Perhaps you graduated from Graduate School or were able to pay off your first car? In a time when 20-somethings from around the country are faced with financial struggles and the adventure of growing up, Dan Leveille, a website developer from Los Angeles, has created an online database for LGBT rights and legislation from around the world called Equaldex.
Equaldex in its current form is rich in graphics, extremely easy to navigate and very user friendly. The main page shows a world map with different LGBT concerns listed at the top of the page and includes links to which countries allow LGBT couples or individuals the ability to adopt, marriage equality, military involvement, housing and employment discrimination, which places still practice conversion therapy and if one can legally change their gender. Click on a country and it will bring up their LGBT profile. Leveille also chose to include a profile breakdown of each U.S. state.
"I had so many ideas that it was really hard to settle down on the minimum viable product that I could have," Leveille said. "Kept thinking if I could have this or if I could have that... but it was really about defining what really needs to be in the site to make it launch."
Leveille thought of the project back in 2009 when he was attending the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. He's worked on it sporadically since then and after releasing an alpha "test" site, he decided it was ready to launch in February of this year.
"Back in college I found myself asking which states offered LGBT rights and which states didn't. I tried to Google it and it was hard to find. There was no resource that put the information together. So I decided to make a site that shows the laws in the country. And thought, 'There is a much bigger project and opportunity here,'" Leveille said.
The website works to fact check itself. A user enters in information about a country or region and other users will either report that post or verify that the information is correct. In other words, the more it is used, the more accurate it will become.
Users can search by country or region or view events in a time line format. Leveille wants to find more ways of comparing countries and see how the data looks across maps and diagrams. Maps, after all, are Leveille's favorite aspect of the website. He likes them because they are so visual.
"There are people who have done a lot of research over smaller countries where the laws are more undefined. You search for gay marriage in some small country and it [search results] doesn't say anything. Even the laws don't say anything," Leveille noted. "In smaller countries, there is a lack of information. I feel like in this day and age if there is a lack of information, there probably isn't much clarity anywhere."
A lot of people, especially in social media, are looking for short quick information. Having a largely info-graphic based website, making things so visual and easy to understand is extremely important to Leveille.
"People have short attention spans on the Internet," Leveille joked. "They want easily consumable information."
Equaldex is extremely adaptive and has been gaining popularity. Four months after its launch it already has a user base of 700 and over 300,000 visitors. Contributing users come from all over the world but the majority are located in the US and the UK.
"We're trying to get an international audience," Leveille said, "but it's a little tough getting into the smaller countries. We've got users who have experience in say African countries, for example, where they have done extensive research."
As a collaborative knowledge base for the LGBT rights movement, Equaldex combines Internet crowdsourcing techniques with recent and innovative surveys and studies that focus on the LGBT community on a global scale. Crowdsourcing builds a community, Leveille said, where people are all looking for the same type of information.
Leveille is constantly working on the website. He says he spends on average of two hours a night updating the site. Recently, Leveille launched a new part to the website that includes organizations from around the country and the world at large. But the collection is in its prototype stage, with less than 50 organizations hyper-linked from Equaldex.
Like the Internet, Equaldex is always changing and always evolving. Leveille wants to add in more features to the site. He's currently working on a news system where people can submit news articles on a particular place, much like Reddit or Hackernews. These websites have the community shape the content; other users will "up vote" the post to keep it in the public eye, or "down vote" the article and push it down the viewing list. He's also trying to think of a way to pull public opinion data from users.
"Ask them questions about how they feel in their country, if they are comfortable holding hands with their same-sex partner on the street, was it easy to come out, basically get more personal information," Leveille pressed.
For more information visit http://www.Equaldex.com or go to their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/equaldex.
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