I am sure all of us have received enough petitions in mail, asking us to put our name and e-mail address at the end of the mail and send it to as many people as possible. At times to save a child, at times to save a tree and at times to generally generate a public opinion on a subject of common interest.
Recently came across this site: http://www.petitiononline.com/
Here you can host free public petitions for public advocacy. Site claims they have done this to promote grass root democracy. And they have a process in place to maintain the petitions and have laid down the rules for what kind of petitions can be hosted. Primarily they allow you to host any non-controversial petitions.
The site does not promote your petition, it only hosts it. So the number of signatures that you manage still depends on your personal networking. There is a mechanism to verify the signature and also acknowledge the signatures. Once the petition is submitted, you can not change the text of the petition.
I believe this is quite an innovative use of technology to connect people and generate public opinions. This is a privately funded venture, though, they do encourage users of the site to contribute as they are yet to break even.