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About Us

About Us

Herdict collects and disseminates real-­time, crowdsourced information about Internet filtering, denial of service attacks, and other blockages. Based at the Berkman Center at Harvard University, it is the first and only large-­scale project of its kind. When individuals can’t access a site, they can report that experience to Herdict through browser toolbars, e-­mail, Twitter, or Herdict aggregates this data to create a real-­time map of global Internet health. This data can be sorted and visualized by country, URL, and date, creating a picture of changes as they are happening. As more of peoples’ lives move online, tools like Herdict will become increasingly important.

The brainchild of Harvard Professor Jonathan Zittrain, Herdict is a natural progression from the OpenNet Initiative. Whereas OpenNet views Internet filtering through an academic lens, Herdict uses crowdsourcing to present a rougher, but more timely analysis.

Herdict’s name is a portmanteau of 'herd' and 'verdict.’ We seek to gain insight into what users around the world are experiencing in terms of web accessibility; or in other words, determine the herdict.

Why Use Herdict?

Let's say you can’t reach your favorite site. Normally, you might IM or e-mail your friends and ask them if they're experiencing the same thing. With Herdict, you can see--in real time--if others are reporting the same phenomenon, giving you a better sense of the potential reasons of why the site is inaccessible. In order to make reporting easier, Herdict can collect data through this site, Twitter, e-mail, or our browser add-ons.

Herdict places you in control. While we have sets of lists that we would like you to test, you can can choose what sites to report and when. That means we are only as useful as the data you give us. If you test our list and the lists of our partner organizations, we will have a better sense of the Internet’s health. The more sites you test (and that others test), the more we learn about censorship, filtering, denial-of-service attacks, and other outages across the Internet.

When you ship something with FedEx or a courier, they can tell you where your package is at any given moment because their system of package delivery is centralized. The Internet’s system of packet delivery, however, is decentralized. That means that there is no inherent system for identifying blockages across the web. Only with your help can bring transparency to a system that is very important to many people.

Herdict Web in Motion