InstaGov

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About

InstaGov is software to enable groups of people, of any size, to handle relatively large numbers of collaboratively-entered decisions in a rational and accurate way.

InstaGov will probably first be written as a plug-in for MediaWiki; it may later be available in other formats. It is entirely open source, so others are free to adapt it to their own uses or add their own features.

Purpose

The philosophy behind its primary purpose (collaborative governance) is discussed in great detail on Issuepedia, but there will probably be other uses for it as well.

InstaGov has two primary functions:

  • vote tallying: collecting votes from each member and presenting aggregated data showing overall sentiment towards each issue
  • issue management:
    • aggregating individual rankings to determine which issues should be propagated to more people and which should be allowed to die out
    • organizing issues into a hierarchical topic system to allow users to filter in or out areas in which they have no interest
    • enabling rational discussion of complex issues within a large group of people

Modules

  • /Liquid Agenda manages issues, solutions, and votes; records individual votes and aggregates them into final decisions
  • /Liquid Proxying allows users to select other trusted voters to help make decisions without surrendering any significant control
  • /Debate Mapper organizes and documents debate on complex issues

Documentation

Development Phases

Phases in which functionality can be added:

Phase I

  • create question
  • create answer(s)
    • support for redirect to rephrased question
      • somehow prevent redirection loops?
  • rate answer(s)
  • view results for specific question

Phase II

  • list all questions (may arise naturally in Phase I)
  • show your status for each (created, voted)
  • show general stats for each (current favored answer, summed rating)
  • show issues needing your vote

Phase III: Proxies

  • create proxy
  • assign proxy to specific question
  • view your own proxy status (who is using you, and by what weights?)
  • ongoing question - should there be options for:
    • private (anonymous) proxy - nobody can see who they are using
    • secret proxy - existence of your proxy weighting is totally concealed

Phase IV: Categories

  • create category (general or personal)
  • vote question into general category
  • rate question within personal category
  • assign proxy results to category

Frills

These can be added whenever needed:

  • don't allow posting of question identical to existing one
    • detect similarity, though, and confirm that new question is desired
      • ask if redirect answer should be created, perhaps?
  • don't allow posting of answer identical to existing one for a given question
    • detect similarity, though, and confirm that new answer is desired

Notes

This page needs an index to sites that provide similar tools, and how well each one meets the design goals set by InstaGov. (Issuepedia has a partial list.)

In general, petition sites have the following shortcomings:

  • no way to browse petitions by category (though some are beginning to add this)
  • no way to discuss petitions on-site prior to signing them (e.g. to investigate possible objections)
  • no way to discuss petitions on-site prior to making them public (e.g. to refine the language, get a sense of what people would be likely to agree with)
  • no reliable way to check if you've already signed a given petition
  • no record of which petitions you've signed
  • no follow-up regarding whether petitions were successful, much less any analysis of why they failed (or succeeded)

Links

  • Why I hate LiquidThreads describes a number of problems with threaded dialogue which InstaGov should probably try to address