Debate 3: A social media timeline
It's debate time again, and I'm poised with my laptop in front of the television to follow social-media reaction to the debate. We know that online, as elsewhere, this has been a difficult 24 hours for Gordon Brown. Yesterday, he plunged to a record low on one "sentiment tracker", measuring online comments about the leaders. But there has been a wave of sympathy for the Labour leader among some online commentators.
Already tweeters are limbering up - I enjoyed this:
Hopefully one of the anecdotes will start with "i met a bigot in Rochdale"
Let's see how it goes.
As we get under way, people around the world seem to be watching. One organisation, which is encouraging UK voters to donate their votes to people in developing countries, tells me it is streaming the debate to Ghana. Another tweeter tells me she is watching in : "xi'an, China (if the broadband holds up to streaming, otherwise it's just via twitter comments...)"
Right from the start, Twitter is in overdrive, with more than 3,000 tweets during David Cameron's opening statement.
After the opening statements Tweetminster's sentiment tracker - which tries to measure positive and negative tweets - puts Nick Clegg in the lead.
The Lexalytics tracker puts Clegg and Cameron neck and neck with Gordon Brown lagging behind.
Not everyone is taking this quite seriously - here's one tweet: "Leader's debate drinking game. "Let's be clear". "What I want to say is this". "Let me respond". 1 shot each."
Over on Facebook's live debate page the comments are coming thick and fast. But the language on the social network is a lot less restrained than on Twitter - the first comment I spot is unprintable, the second an attack on immigrant questioners.
In the last 10 minutes Nick Clegg has surged ahead on the Lexalytics tracker. He is also doing well on the BBC "worm", which gives the instant reactions of a panel of viewers.
Party spindoctors hard at work. Here's Douglas Alexander for Labour: "Tories started by suggesting they could cut their way to recovery. Now they're trying to spend their way to victory. It just doesn't add up"
Eric Pickles for the Conservatives: "Brown claims he brought down the basic rate of income tax. But he doubled income tax for the poorest workers."
And Paul Burstow, a Liberal Democrat: "Nick Clegg right to say no bonuses for Bank directors and no cash bonus and no bonuses for loss making banks."
A cluster of Conservative tweeters think they've spotted a Clegg U-turn on the euro - here's press officer Henry Macrory:
"Clegg: 'I'm not advocating entry into euro.' LD manifesto: 'It is in Britain's long-term interest to be part of euro.' "
Angry Lib Dems post a link to their manifesto to show there has been no U-turn.
In the last 10 minutes Gordon Brown took the lead on the Twitter sentiment tracker.
The volume of tweets has now exceeded 100,000. But who's winning? One man is bemused: "Starting to lose faith in #leadersdebate live polls - Times has Dave on 53%, C4 has Dave on 16%"
But enthusiasm for the question on housing - the first in any of the debates. But are these the people with the answers, asks one person: "three men with multiple homes expressing sympathy for hard working woman unable to afford family house".
Tweetminster tells us: "51.7 tweets per second is the highest peak of all three #leadersdebate - it was 41.05 in the first, 33.18 during the second".
Facebook's Rate the debate app is working fine - but it's still very hard to work out what it means, unless you can remember who was speaking at 2137.
Meanwhile celebrity tweeter Stephen Fry has popped up: "Something on TV is there? Curses for being abroad. Who's winning? Dott or Selby? I love snooker. Or is something else on of interest?"
The occasional comment is popping up about Fulham and Liverpool - are some people watching another channel?
Are the professional political animals losing focus? Conservative Tim Montgomerie posts an amusing picture grabbed from the TV, while Labour blogger Sunny Hundal gives us a shot of the scrum in the spinroom.
Tory spin doctor Henry Macrory says the betting market tells us that David Cameron is the winner of the debate. Tweetminster has Clegg ahead on sentiment.
As the closing statements begin Chris Addison, who played a hapless civil servant in political satire the Thick of It, tells us: "I'd give my vote to whomever started their closing statement, "I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower blooms."
Sadly, nobody obliges.
The Lexalytics tracker of Twitter sentiment shows Nick Clegg and David Cameron ending up close together, with Gordon Brown in third.
Tweetminster has some final stats: 154,342 tweets from 33,095 tweeters. That's up on last week, but lower than during the first debate.
It looks like the Twitterverse got a little weary as the debate entered its last half hour.