Adam Cronkright writes:
This is Adam Cronkright, cofounder of Democracy In Practice, an organization that has been experimenting with random selection of representatives in student governments in Bolivia for the past two years. Independently from Democracy In Practice, I’m putting out a call for contributors and readers of Equality by Lot to participate in and help beta test a new online platform that randomly distributes decision-making/moderating power and responsibility among its users.
I’ve been doing some beta testing for a website called Postwaves. The site is inspired by the Wisdom of Crowds (popularized by James Surowiechi) and uses sortition to share moderator responsibilities evenly among all the members of a forum. That is, each post gets randomly and anonymously sent out to a small portion of forum users who vote independently and anonymously on whether the post is relevant to the large group (NOT on whether or not they agree with the post). If it receives a certain threshold (say 50% of those randomly asked to assess it find that it is relevant) it get’s made public on the forum. So in essence, they are testing a sortition-based, scalable way for online groups to moderate themselves horizontally. The idea is to more effectively filter out noise (i.e. irrelevant content) and allow the best content to be most visible regardless of who posted it (celebrity vs. normal person) or whether the first person(s) that read it gave it a thumbs up or a thumbs down (which can have a disproportionate effect on the opinions of those that follow).
Moti, the founder of Postwaves, was at the By the People Democracy Conference at ASU in early December and he has explained that their plan is to charge for-profit businesses to use the site, but always keep Postwaves free for public groups and private non-profits and grassroots community groups. Postwaves is still early in its development and lacking some of the features that it will have in the future, but their team needs more users to allow them to effectively test the beta version. It seems like the contributors and readers of Equality by Lot would be a great crowd to help them beta test and provide feedback. It also seems like something our community – which so adamantly promotes the expanded use and development of random selection/sortition – would be interested in and should support.
More information about Postwaves can be found on their website.
I’ve created a group called “Democratic Innovation” that we all can contribute links and posts to forum-style (unlike Equality by Lot which fills the blog niche). I was thinking that in this group we could post original content and links to articles/media relevant to democratic innovation around the world as well as suggestions on how to improve the democratic/moderator side of Postwaves. In another group that already exists, called “Postwaves Suggestions,” we could post feedback about the usability and visual appeal of the website (i.e. more tech related stuff). But once people join the group we can decide together if we want it to have a different name/focus and approach it in a different way.
People can sign up via Twitter, Email, or LinkedIn on this page.
They have a video to help people sign up and join a group on this page.
I’m going to start posting there and hope to see others posting and moderating there as well. Also welcome any comments.