New subtitle for Equality-by-Lot

This is to announce the results of the vote for a new subtitle for this blog.

Terry Bouricius has done the hard work of collecting the ranked choice lists and converting them to pairwise comparison matrices. Thanks, Terry!

Following Terry’s instructions, I have summed the matrices and produced the sum matrix. Candidate subtitle #6 has a clear advantage, beating almost all other candidates in a head-to-head comparison. The sole exception is candidate #26 which is tied with #6 at 8 votes each. However, Terry assures me that despite this tie, due to tie-breaking considerations, candidate #6 is the undisputed winner.

Reflecting this result, I will start taking steps to change the subtitle of this blog to “The democratic potential of sortition”.

I thank everybody for contributing candidates and registering their votes. Again I encourage the proposers and voters to take part in this blog in other ways as well.

Only two days left to vote!

The poll for the change to the subtitle of this blog ends on Tuesday, yet currently only .02% of the “electorate” have recorded their preferences. This might seem like a trivial matter, but it crucially affects the range and scope of the posts submitted. The blog was founded by Conall Boyle and others some ten years ago in order to discuss the work of those with an interest in lotteries for equal distribution and social justice — see for example Barbara Goodwin’s Justice by Lottery. However the blog soon became dominated by those (like Yoram and myself) exploring the political potential of sortition in reforming (or replacing) electoral democracy. This change of focus seems to meet the needs of most contributors and readers but it would be a tragedy if those working on other aspects of sortition felt excluded by an over-prescriptive sub-title. If you look at the book series Sortition and Public Policy you’ll see that around half of the titles are devoted to the non-political use of lot. And many theorists dealing with the political potential of sortition, for example Oliver Dowlen and Peter Stone are unpersuaded regarding the use of sortition for democratic representation (they focus more on the Blind Break as an arational prophylactic against factionalism). So it would be good if the new subtitle reflected the full range of interest in sortition. If you want to vote, just go to the Online Poll, look at the list of “candidates”, choose your preference(s) and post a comment, it’s that easy!

Subtitle change vote


Following the call for proposals for changing the subtitle of this blog, we have the following proposals:

  1. The blog of the Kleroterians (i.e., keep the subtitle as is.)
  2. The political potential of sortition
  3. Sortition as a democratic tool
  4. No democracy without sortition
  5. Because you can’t have democracy when you don’t have sortition
  6. The democratic potential of sortition
  7. Sorting out sortition
  8. A blog to sort out sortition
  9. Maximus in minimis
  10. Put the man in the street in the catbird seat
  11. Democratic lotteries and the potential of sortition
  12. Selection by lot
  13. Selecting political decision-makers the way we select jurors
  14. More democracy by random selection of citizens
  15. Better democracy through sortition
  16. Renewing democracy through sortition
  17. More democracy by haphazardly selected citizens
  18. Sortition: next step for democracy
  19. The political potential of democratic lotteries and sortition
  20. More democracy via sortition
  21. Democracy and the potential of sortition
  22. Sortition is the future of democracy
  23. Better politics through sortition
  24. Sortition, impartiality, equality, People’s rule
  25. Democracy through sortition
  26. Sortition for democracy, fairness and good governance

(I tried to include no more than two proposals by each person. If you feel that there are fewer than 2 of your proposals on the list, or if you otherwise feel that your proposals were unfairly excluded, please let me know as soon as possible.)

Ideally, I would go with proportional representation, so that each subtitle would be used part of the time, where the part is determined by the proportion of the votes it got. However, I am afraid this is technically difficult. (Maybe we can consider changing the subtitle every year?)

As we all know, there are no good voting schemes, so we are left with using a bad one. I suggest then that we use ranked choice. Please respond in the comments below with exactly one ordered list of subtitles from the list above representing your order of preference. Voting closes in a week.

Changing Equality-by-Lot’s subtitle

It has been suggested that the current subtitle of this blog (“The blog of the Klerotarians”) is esoteric and may be both discouraging for potential readers and detrimental to the blog’s search engine ranking (specifically, when searching for “sortition”).

Several alternative subtitles have been suggested – listed below. If you have other ideas, please add them in the comments. (Please no more than 2 per person.) In a week I will create a post asking readers to vote for their preferred proposal.

While we are discussing this, maybe we should consider changing the banner image as well? The kleroterion is a bit of a cliché at this point, in my opinion, and it may not be the most attractive piece of graphics to represent sortition. Any ideas about a new banner?

Proposals for subtitles:

  • The blog of the Klerotarians (i.e., keep the subtitle as is.)
  • The political potential of sortition
  • Sortition as a democratic tool
  • No democracy without sortition
  • Because you can’t have democracy when you don’t have sortition
  • The democratic potential of sortition

2020 review – statistics

Below are some statistics about the 11th year of Equality-by-Lot. Comparable numbers for last year can be found here.

2020 Page views Posts Comments
Jan 3,223 7 28
Feb 3,008 6 21
Mar 3,562 8 41
Apr 4,368 10 106
May 4,507 7 156
June 3,481 13 67
July 3,828 11 100
Aug 3,898 12 123
Sept 4,773 21 201
Oct 4,733 16 106
Nov 4,005 15 165
Dec (to 26th) 1,989 10 54
Total 45,375 135 1,168

Note that page views do not include visits by logged-in contributors – the wordpress system does not count those visits.

Posts were made by 15 authors during 2020. (There were, of course, many other authors quoted and linked to.)

There are currently 449 email and WordPress followers of this blog. In addition there are 483 Twitter followers (@Klerotarian) and 67 Facebook followers.

Searching for “distribution by lot” (with quotes) using Google returns Equality-by-Lot as the 2nd result (out of “about 307,000 results”). Searching for “sortition” does not show Equality-by-Lot until the 6th results page (out of “about 253,000 results”) – a dramatic demotion compared to previous years.

Happy holidays and a happy new year to Equality-by-Lot readers, commenters and posters. Keep up the good fight for democracy!

Call for 2020 review input

This is the yearly call for input for the year’s end review. As in previous years, I would like to have a post or two summarizing the ongoings here at Equality-by-Lot and notable sortition-related events over the passing year. Any input about what should be included is welcome – either through comments below or via email. You are invited to refresh your memory about the events of the passing year by browsing Equality-by-Lot’s archives.

For previous years’ summaries see: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010.

Consensus in this group

I would like to identify the ideas held by members of this group that reach the level of consensus. Can I assume that there is a general consensus that sortition is better than elections?

At the other end, there appears to not be consensus that using sortition to replace elections in a legislative body can be accomplished using one sortition-selected body that does it all vs. an agenda-setting sortition-selected body working in conjunction with one or more policy-deciding mini-publics. And there is not consensus about whether a bicameral legislature is effective if one chamber is elected and one is sortition-selected.

What are the ideas in the group that actually reach the level of consensus?

Paul Rosenfeld: Criminally Sane

Paul Rosenfeld, a sortition activist who had been jailed for actions related to his activism, has written a book which is a combination of a memoir and a political manifesto. I find that Rosenfeld writes very eloquently. The manifesto part is also available at sortitionnow.org.

In his autobiographical snippet on amazon.com, Rosenfeld writes:

I guess we all have our issues. I imagine I have the power to save the world and that my book, “Criminally Sane”, will somehow facilitate said miracle. Excluding this glaring pathology I guess I’m otherwise reasonably normal. I have a long suffering spouse, two adorable poodles and a modest home in the suburbs of NY. If you wish to diagnose me fully you need to read my book, this memoir will tell you everything you could possibly want to know and then some. When you’re finished maybe you can even talk me down from my delusion.

2019 review – statistics

Below are some statistics about the tenth year of Equality-by-Lot. Comparable numbers for last year can be found here.

2019 Page views Posts Comments
Jan 3,353 11 93
Feb 3,372 8 125
Mar 4,681 9 129
Apr 3,740 12 70
May 4,056 8 95
June 3,546 10 160
July 3,319 10 159
Aug 3,589 8 122
Sept 4,002 7 109
Oct 5,041 10 129
Nov 4,535 9 102
Dec (to 25th) 3,605 9 53
Total 46,839 111 1,346

Note that page views do not include visits by logged-in contributors – the wordpress system does not count those visits.

Posts were made by 16 authors during 2019. (There were, of course, many other authors quoted and linked to.)

There are currently 413 email and WordPress followers of this blog. In addition there are 419 Twitter followers (@Klerotarian) and 67 Facebook followers.

Searching for “distribution by lot” (with quotes) using Google returns Equality-by-Lot as the 1st result (out of “about 39,300 results”). Searching for “sortition” returns Equality-by-Lot as the 6th result (out of “about 163,000 results”) – preceded by the sortition entry at Wikipedia, links to Brett Hennig’s Sortition Foundation, and a link to Tim Dunlop’s article in the Guardian.

Happy holidays, a happy new year and a happy new decade to Equality-by-Lot readers, commenters and posters. Keep up the good fight for democracy!

Equality by Lot‘s first decade – a call for review input

The first post on Equality by Lot was published ten years ago, on December 14th, 2009. Over a thousand posts were published since, and happily enough sortition has made great strides in the public sphere worldwide.

This year, in addition to the yearly summary of the sortition-related ongoings, I would like to publish a decennial summary. You are all invited to register your input as to what are the important sortition-related things to note – over the last year as well as over the last decade. Please either post your input as a comment to this post or send it to me via email.

For previous years’ summaries see: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010.