Questions and answers (FAQ)

Here you will find the most frequently asked questions and answers about how openPetition works and how to edit and sign petitions.

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FAQ personal data & data protection

How can I reassign my password?

You can change your password here . A field will open where you can enter your email address. Then click on “Send link”.

You will receive an email at the address provided. Click the link in the email. The link must be clicked within 30 minutes, otherwise it will expire. A new window will open asking you to enter a new password. Then click on “Change password” and you will then receive a confirmation message. You can then log in with your new password.


I have a new address or address. How can I change these?

Each email address is associated with a unique address. Therefore, if you specify a new address for a signature, an error message appears. However, you can easily update your address:

Log in to openPetition with your email and password. If you don't have a password or have forgotten it, you can request a new one here.

Click "Hello [Ihr Name] " at the top, click "My Account" and click "Edit personal information."

Here you can enter and save your new address. Then you can easily sign petitions again.


Can I change my email address?

Yes. To do this, log in to openPetition with your old email address and password. If you don't have a password or have forgotten it, you can request a new one here.

Click on "Hello Name..." at the top, on "My Account" and on "Edit personal information". Here you can change your email address.


Where can I set which notifications I would like to receive? How can I unsubscribe from emails or newsletters?

You can access the general notification settings as follows: Log in with your email address and password. Go to “Hello [Ihr Name] ” at the top and then click “My Account.” In the "Notification Settings" you can then choose whether you want to receive the openPetition newsletter, petition recommendations from the neighborhood or news from supported petitions.

You can also subscribe or unsubscribe from the news of individual petitions as follows: Go to the petition page. There you will find a small star directly above the petition picture. You will also see the same star further down the page next to the news. By clicking on the star you can subscribe to news or unsubscribe.

At the bottom of every email you receive you will also find the link to unsubscribe from the respective newsletter.


Do I have access to the supporters' email addresses or postal addresses?

No. For data protection reasons, email addresses will not be passed on. The postal addresses are also not fully visible to petition starters. Using a contact form, the initiator of the petition has the opportunity to send messages to all supporters on the condition that the content of the message relates to the petition and the concerns of the petition.


How do I delete my account or profile?

Sign in with your email address and password.

Go to “Hello [Ihr Name] ” at the top and then click “My Account.” Under the “Edit personal data” tab you will then find the “Delete profile” option.

Note: If you are running a petition as an initiator at this point, you must first end the petition.


Do I have to register to sign (online)?

In principle, a petition can be signed without registration. This also applies to signatures on collection sheets.

Providing a valid email address is a requirement in order to sign a petition online.

Only your name and address need to be stated on the signature forms. The zip code is particularly important because otherwise signatures cannot be counted towards the quorum.


Which email addresses are valid?

Almost all email addresses are valid.

So-called “throwaway addresses” are excluded because they do not guarantee any conclusions about the identity and traceability of the signatories.


Why do I have to provide my name and address?

Signatures are only permitted if the signatory signs in their own name with their full first and last name and their officially registered address (only their name and location are publicly visible).

The street and house number of the signatures are also shown abbreviated in the final signature list and are not completely visible to either the initiator or the recipient of the petition.

In order to make petitions more binding, we follow the procedure and requirements of the Bundestag: Every signatory must be clearly identifiable as a real person.

Providing your name and address reduces fake signatures. If we want to strengthen petitions as a tool for citizen participation and make them binding, then we have to be able to rely on them.


What does it mean to sign “not publicly”?

“Do not sign publicly” means that the name will not be displayed on the openPetition pages. However, the name is still saved and appears in the signature list that goes to the location or person addressed.

In addition to the full name, the city and postal code appear on the signature list, but not the full address. In the case of an anonymous signature, it remains clear that the signatures belong to real people.

You can subsequently anonymize your signature. If your browser is still open, the signature can be edited directly on the petition page. If nothing, please log in and look for the relevant petition under “My Signatures”. You can edit your signature later on the petition page.


How can I revoke my signature?

There are two options here:

a) You can revoke your signature directly on the respective petition page.

b) You can also view and edit your signatures at any time in your user account.

To do this, log in to openPetition . (If you have forgotten your password or have not yet created one, click here .)

If you are logged in, you can click on "My Signatures" at the top of "Hello [Ihr Name] ". There is a small pencil next to each petition you have participated in. If you click on this, you can edit your signature. You can delete them by clicking on the trash can.


How can I leave a comment on a petition?

The comments are intended to document the personal motivation of the signatories. Only those who sign a petition can make a comment on the petition.

Alternatively, visitors can exchange pros and cons on the “Debate” page.

The terms of use for comments and debates are available in our Netiquette (DE) .

Comments can contain a maximum of 2,500 characters.


How can I edit a comment or the urgency and concern information?

There are two options here:

a) You can revoke, edit or re-sign your signature directly on the respective petition page.

You can change the following settings: public/non-public, your comment or the information on urgency and concern.

b) You can also view and edit your signatures at any time in your user account.

To do this, log in to openPetition . (If you have forgotten your password or have not yet created one, click here .)

If you are logged in, you can click on "My Signatures" at the top of "Hello [Name] ". There is a small pencil next to each petition you have participated in. If you click on this, you can edit your signature. You can delete them by clicking on the trash can.


I accidentally signed publicly. How can I change the visibility of my signature?

There are two options here:

a) You can revoke, edit or re-sign your signature directly on the respective petition page.

You can change the following settings: public/non-public, your comment or the information on urgency and concern.

b) You can also view and edit your signatures at any time in your user account.

To do this, log in to openPetition . (If you have forgotten your password or have not yet created one, click here .)

If you're logged in, you can click on "My Signatures" at the top of "Hello [Name] ." You can delete them by clicking on the trash can.


What about data protection at openPetition ?

Information on data protection can be found in the data protection declaration . If you have any questions, please feel free to contact datenschutz@openpetition.net .


How can I transfer my data encrypted?

openPetition supports the https protocol. If you want to encrypt the connection between your browser and openPetition , please activate https. To do this, go to the address bar of your browser and change the string “http” to “https”.


FAQ on manual signature lists or collection sheets

How do I download and re-upload signature sheets?

You can download the empty signature sheets on the petition page: To the right of the petition text there is the box “Sign on paper” with the “Download” button.

You can also upload completed signature forms here by clicking on the Upload button.

Here you can upload signature sheets that you have previously photographed or scanned - please note, only one-page PDFs will be accepted!

To upload, simply select the photos and upload them using the file uploader. Then enter the zip codes of the supporters. The latter is not absolutely necessary, but otherwise the signatures will not be counted towards the quorum.


Can I reproduce blank signature sheets as I wish?

Yes. A signature form is always valid for a specific petition. It can be copied at will to collect signatures for this petition. The barcode encodes a unique petition ID.


Why were manual signatures not counted towards the quorum?

If neither the zip code nor the city were specified when uploading the collection sheets with manual signatures, our system cannot know which region the signatures belong to.

Petitioners can adjust this later in the administration area. You can simply write a message to the petitioner. On every petition page you will find the “Ask the initiator” function.


Can collection sheets continue to be publicly displayed despite the GDPR?

Signature lists can still be publicly displayed in order to sign for concerns. The GDPR has not changed anything about this.

Signature forms are uploaded to openPetition as an image. The postal code and city are saved from the handwritten data.

It is in the nature of things that signatures on paper can be viewed by subsequent signatories. Anyone who signs is aware of this fact. A signature on a signature form constitutes consent to the collection of personal data in accordance with Article 6 (1) (a) GDPR.


FAQ about starting and managing a petition

How do I create a new petition?

A new petition can be created easily and without prior registration in 3 steps:

Assign titles and exclude similar, ongoing petitions: Describe your concern or request in a few words. Make sure that a petition does not already exist for your issue. openPetition lists similar petitions if their title contains the same words. If there is a petition that overlaps in content with yours, it is better to support the existing petition with your voice and supplement substantive points with a PRO post on the debate page. Your cause will not be helped if you have to compete with a similar petition for supporters.

Information about the petition and the author of the petition: Required fields are marked as such. Enter your valid email address. You can later log in to manage your petition using your email and a cookie stored on your system.

Activate petition_ Check the spelling and grammar of the texts. Changes to the text of an ongoing petition are always possible, but are visible to everyone. To activate the petition, click on the “Publish Petition” button.

Here you will find tips for creating successful petitions .


Can I create a “practice petition”?

A practice petition is not recommended; you should read our guide carefully or contact us by email with your question - we will give you the help you need.

Draft petitions cannot yet be created, but we are working on making this possible in the future.


Can I create a petition anonymously?

Since German petition law requires someone to submit the petition in the form of a legal and natural person, there must be a person who can speak. The idea of a public petition is that everything is public and transparent. Therefore, the petitioner's name must always be a real name of a real person. Only in a few exceptional cases do we make the name unrecognizable. One year after a petition has been closed, personal data will automatically be displayed anonymously.


How can I start a petition as an organization or initiative?

To do this, you must make the appropriate settings in your user profile. Please log in and click on "Hello [Name] " in the top line. Then go to “My Account” and “Edit Personal Information”.

Here you must enter the name of a person primarily responsible for “Name”. This is important so that we can assign each petition to a natural person and have a contact person.

Then please check the box next to “I belong to an organization”. Here you can enter the name of your organization or initiative.

Now when you start a petition, this organization will appear as the petition starter. The name of the person primarily responsible is not publicly visible.


Can minors also start a petition?

The right to petition in the Basic Law (Article 17) includes everyone living in Germany, including minors.


Is there a cost to submitting a petition?

No, the openPetition service is free. No matter how many petitions you write or how many signatures you collect, there are no costs to you. The only exception to this is if your petition is aimed at a non-governmental organization as a campaign. See this blog post (DE) .

Your petition will not be used to make money from advertising. However, as a platform financed by donations, we welcome any support. All donations from Germany are tax deductible and help us to support even more people with their concerns. Find out more about donations here.


How long is the subscription period and who decides?

On openPetition the person starting the petition decides on the duration of the petition period. The deadline can range from one week to 12 months. In exceptional cases, a subscription period of over 12 months is possible after consultation with us.


How is the collection target or quorum determined?

For all administrative units in Germany, openPetition calculates a quorum, which shows how many signatures from the respective region are needed so that openPetition requests a statement from the responsible decision-makers. We publish the statements on our platform. For petitions that are not assigned to a region or that are not addressed to a political authority (petition committees/MPs/etc.), the person starting the petition determines the collection goal themselves. Here you can find further information about quorum (DE) .


Can I send the petition to different places?

Yes, that is possible. The most important thing, however, is to address your concerns to the body that can actually decide on your petition.

At the federal and state level, the petition should generally be addressed to the Petitions Committee, as this will forward your petition to the relevant ministry or specialist committee.

At the district and city level, the petition should be addressed to the council.


How can I manage my petition?

Under the menu item Login you can log in with the email address that you provided when creating your petition. You will also need the password you previously assigned. You can change your password at any time.

After logging in, click on "Hello [Ihr Name] " at the top and then click on "My Petitions". Now click on the pencil next to the title of your petition to manage your petition.

You are now in the administration area of your petition and can perform various functions: inform your supporters about news about the petition, take a look at the handwritten collection sheets or download all the signatures for handover.


Can I change the text of a petition during the petition period?

The title, text, collection period, image and justification of a petition can still be changed. However, changes to text and reasoning are visible to everyone.

After logging in, click on "Hello [Ihr Name] " at the top and then click on "My Petitions". Now click on the pencil next to the title of your petition to manage your petition. You can edit your petition under the “Edit” tab.

Supporters who have already signed will be informed of the changes and the reason for the change and can then decide whether they want to continue to support the petition or revoke their signature. Supporters only have to take action in the event of revocation.


How can I change the status of my petition?

To do this, please click on “Email to supporters” in the administration area of your petition. There you can set the status of your petition to "submitted", "success", "withdrawn" or "terminated" under "Subject".

Please also enter a heading and a message and send the email to the supporters at the end. This will notify all supporters of the status change and the message will also be displayed under "News" on the petition page.

Attention: The change in status will automatically end the collection period for your petition if it was still "under subscription" until then.


Can I extend, shorten or end the deadline for a petition?

Within the subscription period, the petition can be extended by those starting the petition, but for a maximum of 12 months in total. In exceptional cases, after consultation with the openPetition editorial team, a petition can be extended beyond one year.

To extend/shorten: Go to your petition's management area. Now click on the “Edit” tab. There you can enter the date on which the petition should end and save it.

To end early: Go to your petition's management area. Now click on the “Email to Supporters” tab. There you can change the status of your petition (e.g. to "Petition submitted") and at the same time send a message to your supporters. The status change automatically ends the subscription period. The message will also appear under "What's New" on your petition page.


Can I delete a petition?

For reasons of transparency, deleting a petition is generally not possible.

A petition can be withdrawn in the administrative area. To do this, change the status of the petition to "Withdrawn: Petition will not be pursued further".

We can set the name of petition starters to “not public”.


Can I share news with my supporters?

Communication with supporters is possible in two ways:

You can leave information directly in the petition via a blog post; no email will be sent to the supporters.

You can notify your supporters via email using an “email to supporters”. The email is sent from our server.

Please note that in this case, less is more: most people find too many emails unpleasant.


Can I edit messages sent to my supporters later?

News can currently only be edited by openPetition administrators. Please let us know if you would like a correction so that we can correct an error for you. Email to: info@openpetition.net

We are currently working on a function so that petition starters can also edit their own news.


Can I send news to my supporters even after the collection period has ended?

Yes, petition starters can send emails to supporters up to 5 years after the end of the collection.


What is a language version? / How can I translate my petition?

A language version is a translation of an existing petition created by supporters or petition starters. The function for creating a new language version can be found on the respective petition page under the petition text.

If you translate the petition, create a separate petition page for that language version of the petition. The new language version has its own link to sign and distribute the petition in that language. All signatures, regardless of language version, are added together and displayed online.

As a translator, you have the opportunity to contact the signatories of this language version of the petition and inform them about updates. This is possible as long as the subscription period is running. Translators help petition starters of the original petition with requests for the petition in their language and with moderating the signatures, comments and debate contributions.

The signatures of all language versions are added up. Double entries of signatures across language versions will be sorted out.


Can I send as many images and/or PDF files as I want to my supporters or offer them for download?

By sending messages to your supporters, you can mobilize them and network. You can send an image or a PDF file with each message. Alternatively, you can create a blog entry in your news, then your supporters will not be contacted.


Can I store and play videos in MP4 format?

We can include videos that are on the YouTube platform in the petition image, e.g.: https://www. openpetition.de /!deafchildren.

If you don't have your own YouTube channel, you can also send us the video. We will then integrate everything for you.


Where and in what form can I receive the lists with all signatures?

You can access the administration area by logging in, clicking on "Hello [Ihr Name] " at the top and then selecting the relevant petition under "My Petitions". All signature lists can be downloaded in the administration area under “Print/Download”.

Signature lists can be downloaded in HTML, PDF and CSV formats. Simply select the format you prefer and then click on “Go to signature list”.

For lists with many signatures, it may take a few seconds to download the list. The list is generated once a day with all signatures. Therefore, signatures from the same day may be missing while the collection is still ongoing.


How many pages make 50,000 signatures?

A PDF document with 50,000 signatures is around 5 MB in size and contains around 1,000 pages. A stack of paper with 1,000 pages has a height of 20 to 50 cm, depending on the type of paper.


Can I download the comments on a petition?

Yes. After the petition deadline has expired, petition starters can download signature data and comments as a CSV file. To do this, select the “Print/Download” tab in the administration area. Generated in CSV format, the comments can be viewed and downloaded. Comments may be published anonymously. Naming the author of the comment is only permitted if the signature is not anonymous. Whether a signature was made anonymously is stated in the "Anonymous" column.


How do I sort signatures by target region?

If you download your signatures as a CSV file, you can use the "Quorum" column to see whether a signature was signed in the target region of the petition (supporter from XYZ).

The value "Yes" means "is part of the target region" and the value "No" means "is not part of the target region".

If you sort the table in Excel by the Quorum column, you will first get all the signatures from the target region.


How do I submit my petition?

If the person or body addressed is a political authority, you should always submit the petition to the Petitions Committee. The most common variant is submitting via post. All federal and state committees offer submissions using an online form.

You can hand the petition over to other decision-makers in a media-effective campaign before, during or after it is officially submitted.

Invite as many people as possible and especially the press to the handover. Handovers that are effective in the media increase the public impact enormously.

In parallel to the formal submission, offer to submit the signature lists for the petition either a) digitally as a PDF or CSV file on a data medium or b) printed out on paper.

You can find more tips on submission and delivery here .


Other FAQs

Are signatures of support submitted online to be considered “personal signatures”?

Online signatures on openPetition are both a declaration of intent and a signature that cannot easily be imitated by third parties and are therefore equivalent to a single-handed signature.

By confirming a signature via a unique, unreproducible email address, the signature of the declaration of intent can be assigned to a single person.

By providing the full name and address, each signature can be checked for correctness by the population register.

The openPetition software detects the legitimacy of a signature based on the address and checks whether that address is part of the affected region. This is important for calculating quorum.

An online petition can only be signed on the page that also contains the title of the petition and the full text of the petition.

The correctness of the declaration of intent is guaranteed by the random contact of the signatories.


Do signatures from abroad count?

All signatures are counted towards the total number.

For Quorum (DE) only the signatures from the relevant region are counted.


How can I support a citizens' initiative or a popular initiative with openPetition ?

Petitions are a different instrument of participation than direct democratic ones such as citizens' initiatives, popular initiatives or referendums. openPetition is primarily a petition platform, but in some cases we have also supported the announcement of a popular initiative. Since it is currently not permitted in Germany to use digital signatures for referendums etc., openPetition made a form available online that anyone could download. Example: http://www. openpetition.de /!kckgc

We are continuing to work on how we can promote direct democratic participation of citizens and, above all, make it easier and more transparent.

By the way: In most cases it makes more sense to first start a petition and then, if the petition is not successful, to initiate an initiative or decision. Because: Petitions have fewer hurdles, but are therefore also less binding. By petitioning, you can create a large circle of supporters to whom you can later address your initiative.


Are non-adults or minors allowed to sign a petition?

In Germany yes. The right to petition in the Basic Law (Article 17) includes everyone living in Germany, including minors.

It should be assumed that non-adults can understand the content of a petition and express their wishes on their own initiative.


How can I report comments, posts or petitions?

Comments and debate posts that violate the Terms of Use or are otherwise inappropriate can be viewed by clicking on the [ ! ] icon. [ ! ] should be reported at the relevant location. If the same comment or post is reported by multiple people, openPetition will block it.

Petitions violating the Terms of Use should be reported by email to info@openpetition.net with the subject line: "Terms of Use, Violation".


Can I get a refund for a donation that was completed in error?

In general, we only want to receive donations that were actually made intentionally. We check each chargeback request individually and are prepared to charge back donations retroactively for up to three months if donations have been completed in error as a gesture of goodwill. We chose this timeframe because we expect everyone to have the opportunity to verify their accounts within three months. We also set the limit of three months because each individual chargeback incurs additional costs due to transaction fees. We also calculate financially based on the donations received.

If you have any questions about refunds, we ask that you contact us directly at spenden@openpetition.org to avoid unnecessary costs such as dispute fees.


FAQ general about openPetition :

Does openPetition advertise individual petitions?

We regularly present exemplary petitions on the homepage and via social media, but only to present examples of well-made petitions and to make the range of topics on openPetition visible. The content and goals of these petitions are not decisive.

After signing, supporters are presented with some petitions that may be of interest to them, for example because they relate to their city, county, etc. or to similar topics.

These petitions are not selected for display by openPetition . The selection is made automatically based on the place of residence stated when signing or the topic of the signed petition.


How does openPetition measure the success of a petition?

It is the petition starters themselves who mark their petitions as successful or failed on our platform. Petitions with the status "the petition was (partially) granted" or "petition contributed to the success" appear in the list of successful petitions .

Regardless, we at openPetition consider it a success when committed citizens manage to put a common concern on the political agenda and initiate a broad public discussion on the topic.


Why are you a GmbH – I thought you were a non-profit?

openPetition is recognized as serving charitable purposes by the Berlin Tax Office for Corporations I because it promotes education, promotes democratic government and promotes civic engagement. As a gGmbh, i.e. non-profit GmbH, we are in a comparable tax position to non-profit associations.

Although non-profit associations are better known, non-profit GmbHs are also common. Many DRK rescue services and parts of the Evangelical Relief Organization and Diakoniewerks are gGmbHs. Just like these organizations, openPetition is organized as a gGmbH because the structures set out in GmbH law, e.g. on responsibilities, liability or business activities, best suit our activities. (By the way, not every association is non-profit.) More about this in our transparency report (DE) .

openPetition belongs to itself. Income cannot be distributed, but always flows into the operation of the platform and our goals. More about this in our blog article on the topic of responsible ownership (DE) .


Is a question missing? No problem! Please send an email to info@openpetition.net with the subject: "FAQ" and we will help you.

Help us to strengthen citizen participation. We want to support your petition to get the attention it deserves while remaining an independent platform.

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