Democratic Innovation on Postwaves


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).
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