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This page is intended as a meeting place for people interested in adding voting systems to wiki. What kind of collaboration is possible? Please state your interest. Please add you thoughts and suggestions. There are many problems. Become part of a think tank to solve them.

Interested in collaboration:

With related, signed contributions by: SunirShah, MattisManzel, BayleShanks, ...

A Table Of Contents [1] exists to help focus the current efforts and to help navigate the accumulating content.

0. Abstract

Fundamentally, an Election is one of many possible solutions to the need to make a decision that affects a group. Since this particular approach to decision-making generally tries to balance or blend the the concepts of Leadership versus Representation, to various different degrees, it becomes necessary to define the procedures that will be used to conduct an election, as well as to define who has the RightToVote. This is generally the responsibility of a 'non-partisan' ElectoralAuthority? (in the case of governments) or (in the case of a corporation) is predefined in its By-Laws, before 'ownership' is extended to a large enough group to become problematic.

In both cases of a government and of a corporation, the rules that become part of a Voting System are still subject to the other "laws of the land" that may apply in their operating jusidictions, or to any Contractual Obligations that the parties have agreed to and that can be effectively enforced. In essence, for a Vote to be a binding decision-making process that grants a legitimate right to act on behalf of the Group, it needs to be viewed as an enforceable Contract, defining Authorized actions by specified individuals, on behalf of the Group as a whole, and its participants.

Not only does this sound daunting as I write it, it also seems contray to the OpenCommunity spirit that exists in prominent Wikis. It may, however, be an inescapable conclusion. At the very least, it should be noted that this discussion of Voting Systems is taking place "WITHOUT PREJUDICE" ''(as lawyers say), and that it is in no way related to the operation of this meatball community.

... equivocated elections and voting ... removed to VotingSystemDiscussion



1. [1]

1.1. Contents

1. [1]
1.1. Contents
2. Foreword
2.1. Voting "may" be a form of decision making.
2.2. Preamble
3. An Initial Approach
3.1. Existing meatball pages related to Voting.
3.2. Significant considerations & Issues.
3.3. Features and their relative importance.
3.4. A Wiki Voting Farm implementation strategy.
3.5. Proposed testing of Trust mechanisms
4. Objectives of the proposed system(s)
4.1. The initial focus is Voting within Wiki Communities.
4.2. A solid foundation should support additional uses.
5. Appendices
5.1. Glossary.
5.1.1. Democracy
5.1.2. plebicite
5.2. Related deliberations
5.2.1. Online Deliberation Conference
6. Current focus
6.1. List(s) of system elements
6.2. System elements details
6.2.1. Confirmation of Voting Member status.
6.2.2. Considerations regarding the use of "split keys":



2. Foreword

2.1. Voting "may" be a form of decision making.

It is important to have a clear understanding of the purpose of Voting, in order to collaborate on building Voting Systems.

Here at meatball, there are many pages containing 'bread crumbs' of insights and ideas that both support various perspectives related to Voting and that suggest various alternatives. It would be quite helpful to have a comprehensive summary of the reasons for Voting.


2.2. Preamble

This Preamble provides some of the background leading up to the creating of this page.

...

Are you actually building a voting system?

It hasn't top priority, but - yes - I'm working to extend wiki to handle (e.g. democratic decision) processes. Voting is only a part of that. -- HelmutLeitner

No, I'd really like to cooperate. How would you like to cooperate? Theoretical discussion and design? Implementation issues? A real application where this is put to use? -- HelmutLeitner

I'm not sure just yet how to proceed and may need about a week to ponder this. Since I have been somewhat involved with any number of groups that are interested in various facets of voting, I think I should take the next few days to poll various interested parties that I know (and that I respect) to see what their interests are and what their level of activity is. This should help in deciding what could and should be done. Then I should be able to decide how I can best contribute to a co-operative effort, and start to define the appropriate boundary conditions for the scope of the undertaking. I suspect one of the reasons that I am being a bit 'methodical' at this early stage, is that I believe this may be a very important Enterprise and I want to ensure I avoid acting like a Wiki:WikiPuppy. After a bit of thought I suggest TrustedVirtualVoting? as a page that can be used, if only to avoid diverting this one's purpose. Since I am open to other suggestions, I did not simply create it. Feel free to agreee by doing so or disagree by simply moving this text elsewhere. -- HansWobbe


This is interesting. Voting sliders in text, whereever they might work. -- MattisManzel

Ok, take any time you need. Maybe consider my position as a developer: I do not want to attach a voting system to wiki, but extend wiki in a general way, so that a democratic process can be configured within wiki pages by normal wiki users (admins, members, depending on the configuration). The configuration part is - because of WikiFractality and WikiVirtualData within ProWiki - a solved problem, just work, although language elements must be invented to configure the processes. One will need a time-aware state engine, maybe a CronWiki? script, that changes the state and the place of pages representing the democratic process - that's something I haven't yet in my mind. The points are an orthogonal design, an efficient implementation and seamless wiki integration of this general state engine. Once this exists, users should be able to configure this in a hundred different ways to develop the democratic, social or technical processes (e. g. automatic news publishing) they need. The more complex but real and pressing needs can be put into the pot, the easier will it be to find the right solution to the problem. Pure voting wouldn't do. This is my overall picture of the situation. -- HelmutLeitner

Helmut: I have a couple of initial questions:

I have also been quite bedeviled by the issues of the Canadian CharterOfRights? and those inherent in a corporate Shareholders Agreement and the related By-Laws under which at least publically traded organizations must operate. If you have any initial thoughts on these, I'd be pleased to try to factor tose considerations into my thinking as well.

-- HansWobbe

I would like to separate the technical issues from the social issues. In this context my use of "democratic process" was not a good choice, let's better use "decision process". Part of the decision process is voting (there can be more than one votings at different stages of a single decision process, e. g. "do we delegate the decision or do we want to vote?" and "do we agree that we have completed the discussion and heard all arguments?" and "do we agree on the wording of the voting alternatives?" and "final voting"). With any voting go the questions: "who may vote" and "how is the result of the voting calculated". Votes may have equal weight, but they might also have arbitrary weights according to shares or trust metrics. For the software this is just a factor in an equation, so why should a developer bother? A certain decision may need 50%+1vote or 66% or 100% consensus. One could have different classes of voters: in an online community one could count authenticated member votes and anonymous votes separatedly and make a decision valid only if both partitions of the community agree. There are thousands of different ways to construct a decision process. Only time will tell what will work. So I think if we design a specific decision process (instead of making it configurable) we are bound to fail.

Sorry for being so long, the short answer is: I don't know Canadian law and specific needs, but a wiki voting system is IMHO only finished if you are able to freely design and configure any process on demand.

Transparency is an issues (how does this process develop). Voting during discussion? May I change my vote? Open or secret voting? Handling of vetos? How much time for voting? What if a majority is already given before end time (faster voting)? Voting in stages (dropping alternatives with least votes)? Logging of all events. Voting only together with reasoning? Quality control if we have a chance to prove decisions right or wrong (voting on predictions)? Repeat a voting after some time? ... There are dozens of issues and millions of combinations. We are just at the beginning of designing new forms of democracy and participation (e. g. solve the problem of minorities in societies). We need a toolset and a language for that. -- HelmutLeitner

Helmut:

It may be better to start with a Corporate model rather than a Government model since there are more instances we can use and they are more modern. Furthemore, corporate examples may be more applicable since ultimately, abiding by a communities charter may be subject to a legal challenge, and Courts have shown themselves to be capable of interpreting and enforcing 'commercial' contracts, much more easily than they can address Soverign ones.

Examples that may be most applicaple to what we are familar with at meatball and hence may be easier to start with include:

I will also give some thought to how we might be able to structure some of the options that you have listed in a way that we can extend into the many possible combinations I see emerging from your comments so far. Again, in this case, corporate Charters and By-Laws should provide a considerable set of insights that are worth considering, and that may even provide some templates we can use.

By the way, since you mentioned...

... have you considered that Democracy and Minority Rights may well be at odds with each other. After all, a binding majority vote and its resulting decision may well be at the expense of a minority. (I've actually just finished re-reading the UN's Universal Declartion of Human Rights as a result of pondering this.)

-- HansWobbe

Yes, that was the point I wanted to make about minorities. In a state their could be an additional minority "chamber" where the majority is put into a 30% minority position, or an USA-like state could give minorities state-status in the senate (adding 2 extra representatives for "blacks", "jews", "females", "poor", "large families", "handicapped", "old", ... whatever ), so they become better represented. In eastern European or African states democracy often stops working because of strong ethnic groups, tribes or religious groups dominating over normal policial interests. A realname voting community (a future Gr├╝nderWiki or MeatballWiki) could, for example, give representatives of anonymous contributors the right to vote, which would normally be impossible. -- HelmutLeitner

Helmut:

I am certainly enjoying this page, even while I am amazed each day at how many more aspects of this emerge and at the effort it takes to avoid desparing of the possible scope of this whole thing. I'm going to try a very little experiment by just listing quick bullets that occur to me as I deal with this. Hopefully, seeing them accumulate, it will then be possible to compare and rank them somehow. If you prefer I do this off-line, just say so and I'll remove this.

-- HansWobbe

Sorry that I added seemingly endless complexities to the simple idea of voting. It's not to make systems more complex, but to make a sufficient implementation much simpler and faster.

Have you made your mind up about our cooperation? We havn't really talked about who might do what, what our interests are, what to put in and get out of such a project. Whether to do it in the open, here or elsewhere, or develop at some backstage and come back when a resulting system can be shown? Whether to do it as a community project or sell development, access or results to interested organizations. -- HelmutLeitner

Hans, none of us has taken obligations, we are cooperating in the WikiNow. Of course we could change that, for example when someone needs results in time. But we can also just continue the way it is. If you accept ProWiki as a test system, I could set up a wiki for development and testing, during the next 3-4 weeks, maybe called DecisionWiki?. Then we can look how things develop. Usually when a system comes into existance, it starts moving and gets a momentum of its own. Want to try? No obligations? -- HelmutLeitner

Helmut: I would be most pleased to. And I would be delighted to use ProWiki, especially since I have been wanting to try to use it for quite a while but, until now, I have always had to focus on a few other priorities that have kept me away from just learning about software. -- HansWobbe

Hans, ok, then let's do it that way. I'll prepare the wiki, but don't expect any real development to have happened when I open it in February. I'll just prepare some tools, so that I'll be able to develop according to the demand. In the meantime it would be good to continue the discussion. Maybe you take the lead with your immediate needs. What should a system do, to be useful to you? -- HelmutLeitner



3. An Initial Approach

I think the approach that that I should take to defining 'immediate needs' is to start by:

I am quite certain that this approach will change as we get going, and I won't mind that in the least, since I prefer to learn more about all of this as we work away at it. In the mean time, it should be a valid initial approach. -- HansWobbe


3.1. Existing meatball pages related to Voting.

Contributions to this list are more than welcome.


3.2. Significant considerations & Issues.


3.3. Features and their relative importance.

These aspects may be of secondary importance:


3.4. A Wiki Voting Farm implementation strategy.

Introducing a new Voting System will, inevitably, be a traumatic undertaking, judging from the amount of associated rhetoric that exists. One way of facilitating the introduction may be to create a Voting System that is modular to the extent that it can be used for a 'single purpose' vote. Ideally, this would allow a Community to 'hold' a vote on a specific Topic, without having to first deal with all of the many fundamental related issues.

A Wiki Voting Farm implementation strategy might be within our capabilities.

On the basis of what little I know of the fractal wiki concepts at this time, it might well be possible for us to develop a Wiki Voting Farm, that eventually provides a superset of all possible required functions.

3.5. Proposed testing of Trust mechanisms

Initial outline, in point form.

One of the recognized, major problems of the online world is confirming the identity of an individual.

People are quite capable of 'recognizing' other people.

People even actively decide on an appropriate level of Trust.

As a test, it may make sense to create a Public / Private key for an individual that wishes to identify themselves.

...



4. Objectives of the proposed system(s)

4.1. The initial focus is Voting within Wiki Communities.

4.2. A solid foundation should support additional uses.



5. Appendices

In this special case of a wiki, this Appendix section is the 'penultimate' (second last), rather than 'final, section.

This is consistent with the common practice of many wiki users to append their most recent chanages to the end of the page.

5.1. Glossary.

The use of headings will generate enteries in the Contents as the terms are defined.

...

5.1.1. Democracy

noun (pl. democracies) 1 a form of government in which the people have a voice in the exercise of power, typically through elected representatives. 2 a state governed in such a way. 3 control of a group by the majority of its members.

- ORIGIN Greek demokratia, from demos ‘the people’ + -kratia ‘power, rule’.

This definintion (one of a great many that are available) is from the Oxford dictionary. It was picked on the assumption that a definition from a non-American source might provided a broader perspective.

5.1.2. plebicite

A referendum (plural: referendums or referenda) or plebiscite is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may be the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. (continued [Referendum] at Wikipedia)


5.2. Related deliberations

5.2.1. Online Deliberation Conference

This would be a great thing to discuss at the upcoming [OnlineDeliberationConference], if anyone here is going. I'm thinking about proposing a workshop topic of some sort -- lemme know if you're going and you'd like to talk about this there.

-- BayleShanks

There is little about the programme. One day for "local networking" seems to make it a kind of insider event. Do you think they would appreciate what wikzens do here at MeatballWiki and elsewhere, be interested in general wiki issues? -- HelmutLeitner

The stuff wikizens do here is definitely on topic for the conference. Also, it is certainly not trying to be an insider event. The day for local networking is simply because many of the people at Stanford University who research this sort of thing haven't really met each other and interacted much. So they figured that this would be a good excuse to present their stuff to one another, and that if they make it temporally contiguous with the conference (i.e. the afternoon before the conference really starts), then maybe some people from elsewhere would like to drop in too. The rest of the conference is not supposed to be about that, though.

This conference is a followup to the 2003 conference "Developing and Using Online Tools for Deliberative Democracy". I went to that one, and a lot of the stuff we discussed were exactly the type of thing that gets discussed on MeatballWiki (particularly in the "sociology of group deliberation" discussion group that I attended). There was a lot of talk about the dynamics of group discussions, and about how discussions can be facilitated by humans (there were some professional group facilitators there at the conference, with interesting stories), and about how to design software so as to promote good group dynamics.

I kept wanting to jump out of my chair and tell people to go read this or that page on meatball. Happily, I think I managed to restrain myself and just quietly suggest once or twice that MeatballWiki may be of interest to others. Anyway, I think that there is a very large correlation between what is on-topic for MeatballWiki and what is on-topic for the upcoming conference.

In addition, I told the organizer that I'm thinking of proposing a workshop (small discussion group) with a topic related to wikis, and he said he thought that would be a great idea. Wikis are also an item in the list of "topics of interest" at the conference website.

For more details on what is on-topic at this conference, there is a very long and detailed discussion on the [overview] page at the conference website; there is another short summary that I wrote at the [CommunityWiki blog]; and you could take a look at some [notes by me and some other people] from the 2003 conference.

-- BayleShanks

Then maybe some of us should go there, talking about MeatballWiki views. The stuff on this page probably won't create results until May, but a "Wiki and Democracy" paper, talk or workshop might be interesting. -- HelmutLeitner

I am sufficiently interested in this subject that I would attend, but unfortunately, I have a conflict, needing to be in Washington DC at that time. Is this likely to be an annual event, occuring at the same time? -- HansWobbe

Helmut: Yes, that's along the lines I was thinking. What do you think of the "extreme decentralization" workshop idea at http://communitywiki.org/cw?OnlineDeliberationConference? Since I dunno how many wiki people will actually attend, that includes wiki stuff and non-wiki stuff. I'd be down for a purely wiki workshop if there is enough interest, though. Workshop proposals are due March 15.

Hans: The plan is definitely to make it a recurring conference, I don't know if people are thinking annual or bi or triannual. But this is only the second iteration, so we'll see if it "takes". Personally, I give it about 80% odds of continuing at least binannually. I don't know if it'll stay at the same time every year though.

-- BayleShanks



6. Current focus

This 'Current Focus segment of this file may be relocated as the structure of this page changes. For the moment, its location at the end of this file supports convenient editing.

6.1. List(s) of system elements

Planned elements of the systems (implementation detail):


6.2. System elements details

Each of the entries in the preceding list of system elements needs to be expanded.

6.2.1. Confirmation of Voting Member status.

A theoretically rigorous identification system can be based on the use of Certifictes, IFF (if and only if):

6.2.2. Considerations regarding the use of "split keys":

The fundamental concept of a split key is that two (or more) individuals must collaborate in order to complete a specific Task. Ideally, these Individuals will be "at Arms Length" (i.e. not have a vested interest in 'colluding').

In its simplest possible form (for the purpose of Voting) several Roles must interact appropriately.

Considering the use of PKI in these three roles:

The Voter could cast a ballot, supported by the combination of the Individual's and the Authorities' public Key.


Discussion

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