TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

An open, facebook-integrated instant global democracy

As of today, the world's first truly open facebook-integrated global instant democracy is a reality. Unlike other voting systems online - reddit and ted.com comments etc. - it's not about voting on the opinions. It's about voting on their subjects.

Why are subjects important? Because for the first time we can actually say what someone's opinion is really about. And group votes for or against those subjects. It makes no sense to vote for a hashtag but voting for or against subjects that share hashtags makes a race - and a whole new kind of democracy.

This kind of democracy is a Facebook game that turns voting into a social act. When people go into some dark room and pull a lever or press a button you've got all that BS about hanging chads and who watches the watchmen and lobbyism and so on. But when everyone's opinions on every subject are open and public - when everyone's votes can be counted by everyone - that's a democracy you can trust.

Right now this is alpha software, brand spanking new, without a lot of important content. But if you care about democracy, if you can stand up for or against something - if something really matters to you from cafeteria lunches to the way your taxes are spent - this new way to argue and win or lose an argument is the way forward.

We waste opinions all over the internet - they can't count if we don't count them. But try http://www.doshmosh.com and speak your mind. Pick a side. Make a choice. Take a stand. Connect to the people who feel the same way you do - take power back from the bureaucrats and share it with the people you trust - your friends.

Share:

Closing Statement from Peter Merel

The feedback here has been very helpful. In particular Pavlin Angelov's criticism of the funding model has caused us to rethink it. We're moving it to become more in line with the Google Adsense/Adwords model. Thanks to everyone for your comments.

If you'd like to learn more there's a deeper and saltier discussion of the way DoshMosh works at http://dudespaper.com/dudeism-the-first-religion-with-a-moshpit.html/ .

  • Oct 1 2012: I'm a lawyer/computer engineer working on a similar type of web application and am looking to collaborate with others. My relevant repos are private right now, but my github handle is charlesjshort.
    • Oct 2 2012: Hi Charles, we'd love to integrate with you when you're ready. DoshMosh is open content but not open source - yet. We'll need to open it up down the line so people can have full confidence that our vote tally algorithms make sense. And we'll offer a complete web API once we hit beta

      Would love to chat about the direction you're taking and understand the connections. Please feel very encouraged to followup.

      Cheers,
      Peter.
  • Oct 10 2012: The problem with your idea is that at the moment your "site"/"game" is just for making money.
    1$ for 100 votes and if i really like or don't like something i can vote as much as i want ... witch is insane at the end only the person with more votes in his "wallet" will win, not very democratic for me, but just plane Capitalistic.

    The idea is not bad, but the realization is wrong, i hate when some people try to make money out of an such ideas.

    If you don't allow equal rights to all users there is no Democracy to speak of just plane Greed
    • Oct 10 2012: Hi Pavlin,

      First, you're quite correct.

      Obviously in a democracy there must be some limitation of franchise or else you get a situation like American Idol where people vote thousands of times an hour.

      We've considered quite a few different limitation models for DoshMosh and put up the simplest one to play with in the alpha release. The notion is that each user can use a limited number of votes per day for free - currently 10. If they run out they can come back the next day and use another 10. A 24 hour delay for a reward is a game dynamic that has served Zynga very well so this seems reasonable on its face.

      Now the text about paying for votes that you're referring to is on the "Subscribe" page in the app, and I believe you're right in saying it's a bit insane. The idea was to offer a kind of freemium service where, if someone uses up their daily allotment of free votes, and they don't want to wait 24 hours, they can get an extra bundle of votes in a monthly subscription.

      Reflecting on your remarks, however, I agree this will throttle the system as a democratic mechanism. A freemium should be based on value add, not gated service, which has obviously disproved itself in the case of online newspapers. And anyway in alpha we're really not worried about monetization at all.

      So we're going to kill subscription for now and just keep the 24-hour delay model and bonus votes. Might bump up the vote limit too - if you have a suggestion on that I'd be very interested.

      Thanks for the feedback!
  • thumb
    Oct 8 2012: Also interesting to note how many other Australians are thinking along these lines. One other question - what comparisons and differences do you see between your model and Liquid Democracy as practiced by the Pirate Party?
    • Oct 8 2012: Hi Austin,

      Liquid Democracy is a great way to enforce accountability in representative government, a very nice generalisation of the original Swiss canton system.It's great to see it used by a real party, and more power to them.

      DoshMosh as a form of direct democracy uses negative feedback as its method of governance. Where Liquid Democracy enables members to delegate decisions to others, DoshMosh provides bonus votes to users when others vote for their opinions. This encourages alliance and outreach, and enables the negative feedback to achieve a concrete effect.

      Simply, if a DoshMosh user's karma drops below zero, bonus votes are no longer awarded to them. This encourages users to put up opinions that will appeal to their audience and raise their karma, and to abandon opinions that cause their karma to drop.

      Each subject in DoshMosh can be represented by its most popular opinion, providing something akin to the Liquid Democracy refinement of decisions. But DoshMosh has a semi-lattice information architecture in its social and semantic structure where Liquid Democracy uses tree structures. Semi-lattices enable a richer space of social relationships per Chris Alexander's famous observations in "A City Is Not A Tree" - http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic1050153.files/A%20City%20is%20not%20a%20Tree.pdf .

      The Facebook open graph integration encourages the same semi-lattice style of relationship. So DoshMosh focuses on provision of a peer to peer democratic social network where Liquid Democracy better supports a hierarchy of political relationships.

      That is by intent on both parts. Combining the two systems in some manner is an interesting idea. I'll give it some thought. Meanwhile please feel very welcome to try DoshMosh out, Austin - where the Pirate Party is a going concern, DoshMosh has only been on its feet for a week, and we're actively looking for folk like yourself to help it shake down.
  • thumb
    Oct 8 2012: Hi Peter,

    How does linking to external documents help create a sophisticated compromise?

    My point is that having reps with a certain level of licence (balanced by accountability) would create an environment where negotiations and compromise could be reached.

    Linking to external documents doesn't solve this issue.

    Also, books are technology.

    Peace.
    • Oct 10 2012: Hi Austin,

      While not its primary purpose, the semi-lattice of category and subject tags in DoshMosh could be used to construct an arbitrarily complex structure of rules, with the detail for each rule depending on whatever document is linked to the highest karma opinion within it.

      The trouble is, this becomes far too sophisticated to be practical, and does so with alarming speed.

      For example, say we pick the somewhat obscure sport of Geelf (http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?RulesOfGeelf). We could make a context for each rule - (#geelf #club), (#geelf #sharing), (#geelf #hitting #ducks) and so on. And then create a subject for the effect of each rule. (#geelf #hitting #ducks $disqualification) for instance.

      Say you feel disqualification is too severe a penalty for winging a duck. You put up an opinion in DoshMosh saying "In #geelf, #hitting #ducks should just be a $100-point-penalty, not a %disqualification". And then the various Geelf afficianadoes - point - could vote for or against this and other alternatives.

      I might even reply saying I'd be willing to support your opinion so long as you agreed with "$disqualification from a #geelf game for #hitting #ducks #on-purpose". Voting theory being a very deep and subtle domain, we could rapidly achieve a set of compromise rules for Geelf that rival the sophistication of Calvinball (http://littlebobeep.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Calvinball1.gif).

      So I suggest that a governance procedure be layered on top of the DoshMosh system whenever it's to be used for a real-world decision. It's not clear to me that reps are required to create or enforce such a procedure ...
  • thumb
    Oct 8 2012: IBIS is not, so far as I know, integrated with Facebook in any significant way.

    Is there an example where you see DoshMosh working well and promoting a deeper understanding of some complex issue? The notion is indeed interesting, but I am not convinced, yet, that it has much promise in that demanding way of contributing well to creating deeper clarity and shared knowledge.
    • Oct 8 2012: Hi Richard,

      DoshMosh is new - it really hasn't been used in anger yet. I invite you to introduce a complex issue there, something of direct concern to you. I would be delighted to help you pursue an exploration both of your subject of interest and of its dynamics in DoshMosh. That way we refine it by seeing what pains arise from using it.
  • thumb
    Oct 7 2012: I don't see how it is different from reddit except in packaging/presentation. The underlying logic and functionality seems to be the same. Topics are voted on in redit in that popular topics make it to the front page.

    Also, like the other leaderless online systems I have seen, there seems to be no capacity anywhere for the production of complicated documents reflecting a compromise between various view points. A democracy that can't do that isn't much of a democracy. I have an alternative model which retains the category of representatives a distinct from voters but puts them under a nuch stricter regime of accountability- Real Time Mandate, no coding done on it, writing a book about it first. Watch this space. http://austingmackell.wordpress.com/democracy-without-elections/ - link to a more detailed exposition.
    • Oct 8 2012: Hi Austin, thanks for visiting.

      Reddit lets you vote up a submission on a topic until it hits a subreddit front page, but it doesn't tag subjects or compare subjects by category as DoshMosh does. Furthermore on Reddit only users and opinions can have karma where on DoshMosh subjects have karma per category.

      So on Reddit you may vote on one of many pages about Citizen Kane. But after a while that page will slide down the rankings. You can't vote for the subject $Citizen-Kane as, say, a #black-and-white #movie. Or as an #Orson-Welles #script - which as a different context we score separately. And we can vote for $Orson-Welles as a #director as distinct from as an #American #Actor ... without the ability to distinguish subject and categories in an opinion, Reddit votes can never contribute to preferring one subject over another.

      Which is as it should be - Reddit is a news aggregation site, not a democracy like DoshMosh.

      Another significant difference is that Reddit doesn't implement social voting. When you vote on Reddit, your vote is invisible to people who vote the same way you do. Connecting people who vote the same way, and permitting people to filter out those who vote differently on their preferred subjects and categories enables DoshMosh to maintain a plurality of views, not just one. Think cantons and sub-cantons.

      DoshMosh can link opinions to and from any external page to form an arbitrarily complex document out of subject and category tags. In Beta, DoshMosh will field an API to enable closed communities to do this, and provide an aspect-oriented view of external content too.

      Now I see nothing a representative can do that DoshMosh can't. Obviously it lacks governance conventions to finalise or enforce outcomes. That's by intent - governance assumes franchise, and DoshMosh neither prefers nor enforces same.

      Interested in your books, but to my way of thinking technology changes the world. Books are theoretical, perhaps beautiful, but lacking effect.
  • thumb
    Oct 4 2012: To really make a voting system work well, in my opinion, it needs an argumentation system based on questions, multiple answers to each question, and pros and cons for each answer. See the Issue Based Information System, IBIS, now exemplified by Compendium. See Jeff Conklin's book "Dialogue Mapping" for a serious discussion of how such a system can and should work.
    • Oct 8 2012: Hi Richard, that's an interesting notion. DoshMosh is based on a system of distinctions rather than questions. So, for example, rather than ask "Who should be US President?", DoshMosh enables you to tag a context, "#US #President" in multiple opinions with different subjects. For example, "$Obama is a great #US #President. Re-elect him in #2012" vs. "$Romney will never make #US #President in #2012 or any other year."

      By enabling people to reply to each others' arguments while promoting their preferred subjects, DoshMosh enables the pros and cons of different choices to be considered from all sides, and enables users to add new $subjects to the debate as they please. If you prefer a different system to this I hope you will proceed to implement same - I think I should really only implement one democratic mechanism in this lifetime or else people will get confused about me ;-)

      If IBIS integrates with Facebook I'd be very interested in comparing it with DoshMosh. Does it?
  • thumb
    Oct 1 2012: Since 9/11/2002 I am working on the Main World Project.

    Now the website is under construction. You can fin more info at link: http://www.francescofilippi.com/it/progress/galleria/main_world_project/dettagli-1.htm#top.

    Main World is the first worldwide democratic website that allows you to virtually influence the future of the World about given topics such as education, economics, politics, science, ethics, environment, security and many others.

    The decisions you are asked to make are based on shared values which you want the World to aim to. Those values are chosen by subscribers and continually updated and can relate to peace, harmony, wealthy, social justice, education and health care for everyone, common choices, unpolluted environment, poverty reduction.

    Everyone can make decisions according to their conscientiousness and their own concepts on ethics, culture and religion, giving their personal contribution for a better World. The data might as well be processed by a sophisticated algorithm that results in predicting whether the initial values proposed can be reached or not. In an experimental section of the website you can compare your choices with other people's choices by means of an advanced decisional method.

    The final purpose is to validate a decision when shared by all participants, no one excluded. Decisions made by this way can be very different from those ones made by the conventional method of majority implemented on the website, indicating that the future of the World has to take into consideration the general interest.

    In the 'Learn' section you can improve your knowledge on the given opics, so that you can make aware decisions. Interestingly, the decisions following the gathering of information and a deep study are more responsible, mature and exposed to be challenged by the comparison with other people's choices.

    Thanks everybody is working on awareness!

    Do you have any suggestions?

    Please write it!
    • Oct 8 2012: I don't mean to pop your bubble Francesco but I think democracy isn't so much about values as it is about how to stop the people upstream from polluting waters needed by the people downstream. Not in theory but here, today, as it's happening. Think globally, but if you can't bring it into local reality it can mean very little.

      This is why DoshMosh is a social network game rather than a website. On a website your decisions are only validated by a tiny audience, the people who happen to stop by. It's what wikizens used to call a walled garden. We need democracy on the open graph, with a billion participants, before we can influence the world.

      Happily, we can integrate. DoshMosh offers a portlet, called a MoshPit, a line of script that you can use to integrate your content with our service. You can see a simple example at http://moshpit-demo.herokuapp.com/smh . Bringi your content into contention with all the other content on the open graph, and coordinate it with all the other world democracy sites. This is a way to expose your ideas to the people where they live rather than burying them in a website linked by just a few.

      Come and join us - we need your thinking!
      • thumb
        Oct 8 2012: Hi Peter, I appreciate your message!

        I am working on Main World since 2002 after 9/11.

        I propose to Facebook four years ago my projetc but they were not interested in it. So I started to develope alone again.
        Main Wolrd is not only you can see in my video is more than a opinon vote.

        Is based on a collective mechanism of awareness.
        I work on awareness since '94 and my project is not only to vote the decion makers is to become decision makers or influence them.

        I don't know if I have well understood your opinion on my project but in Main World there is a sophisticated system to share opnions and this is only a little part of the project.

        Download my presentation at the day of: "Collective Awareness Platforms for
        Sustainability and Social Innovation". There is explained the mechanism of my project.

        Main World want to become like Linkedin or Facebook.

        We can collaborate of course...How?

        Keep in touch!
        Francesco