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- 1 Consensus
- 2 Basic principles
- 3 Transition
- 4 Direct democracy
- 5 Jefferson letter to Samuel Kerchival
- 6 Development status
- 7 Discussion of 2008/08 changes
- 8 Simple but no simpler?
- 9 Metagovernment Logo
- 10 MediaWiki
- 11 edit policy
- 12 NOTOC
- 13 Objection to revert: Revision as of 16:33, 3 November 2009 by User:Targetrace
This was written before the mailing list discussion started.
Many things written here seem to have garnered agreement on the ml, whereas others seem to have spawned controversy.
Would it be ok to edit-out sections of hte main page that do not yet have consensus on the mailing list?
Today I showed the (static version of the) page to an activist who replied with disagreement about a few topics that I knew don't have consensus, and it made me think that maybe we should show a more updated vision to newcomers...
--AurSaraf 00:40, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
- Yes, I think that would be a good idea. Hopefully others will contribute to your edits. — Ed Pastore 02:32, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
For a discussion of the Basic Principles section of this page, please see: Talk:Basic principles.
The easiest and most practical way to transition from representative democracy to an open source government might be to have dummy candidates run for office. By that I mean have a candidate run for office under the "open source party", and if elected have them legislate as they're instructed to by the metagovernment. As the metagovernment would have to function within the existing framework of representative democracy, its abilities would be somewhat limited, and may not allow for the more sophisticated scoring system. For example, within a parliament or congress, metagovernment legislators would often be limited to voting "yes" or "no". Despite these limitations, this may be the most pragmatic and quickest way to achieve a kind of open source government.
Once the metagovernment has a large enough majority more fundamental institutional changes could be made, such as the implementation of the scoring system.ErikPressman 14:44, 11 July 2008 (UTC)
- this is not really acceptable in many countries. For what I know politicians, ones they get in the job the swear that they will vote according to their consciens and not following external influences. I know many (most? all?) politician do not follow this code of conduct and are instead up for grab t the biggest lobby, but to have a strategy that openly requires it is just asking for trouble. It's a bit like the story of the man pissing in the swimming pool. He was harshly criticised: "don't you know it is illegal to piss in the swimming poll?". "But everybody does it!". "Yes, but not from the diving board" :)
- --Pietro 12:21, 14 July 2008 (UTC)
I think the transition will follow two paths. One will be the introduction of shadow governments, dedicated to watching existing governments. Existing legislation will be put in a repository and the discussions in the parliament will be transferred into metascore. The communities using metascore will then generate feedback which the government won't be able to ignore. The shadow governments, will become ''the place to go, in order to talk about politics and it will be much easier and effective, than writing to your senator.
The other path will be organizations who adopt metascore to cope with their organizational complexity. I think many large organizations could use our system, to eventually direct the company, according to the will of its employees, rather than its CXOs.
Of course at first, we will need to sell the system to them as a way to filter and distil all the information in the organization, get feedback from shareholders, so that they can make better decisions. Of course the transparency in the organization, that comes with the system, will force them to stay in line, with the those participating in the discussions. Eventually people will realize that they don't need the people in power, and that they can govern by themselves. By then, the system will already have been put in place and the transition will be complete. Manuel Barkhau 20:20, 26 July 2008 (UTC)
- This is very similar to how I see it working as well. The beauty of this approach is that it does not require any sort of active attempt on our part to displace any government; we simply invite societies to change their form of government to ours when they see fit.
- It is significant to note here that several national projects seem to be getting underway. In addition to our Israeli friends at myvote.org.il, there is also Free Government recently launched in the United States and Demoex in Sweeden. And probably more I am not aware of. While these efforts are all fantastic... I am starting to wonder how they can be brought together. Making insular national governments seems necessary for the shadow government stage, but at some point, the world is going to realize that we are one internet. Restricting participation based on geographic happenstance doesn't seem useful anymore. — Ed Pastore 23:22, 26 July 2008 (UTC)
I was wondering, what if instead of getting power from the current government, we went straight to the people and asked them to ratify a constitution? We could copy the US and require 75% of nations to approve the constitution with a majority vote. We could conduct the vote online. — Ben Ochoa 13:50, 2 August 2008 (UTC)
- That is pretty much the approach we are following, but we're trying to be patient about it. First, we need some software. Then we need some participants in the software. Then once we have something that people find to be superior to the status quo... people should have the motivation to figure out the best way to make it become the real government. — Ed Pastore 15:21, 3 August 2008 (UTC)
- A system of governance is usually put in place because it has a strong track record (hence the adoption and metamorphosis of democracy. Instead why not petition the current governing body to "try it out". For example it could be applied temporarily to a small municipality. Or perhaps you could work with a Native American tribe (in possession of tribal lands)to institute it on their land. If it worked, it would begin to gain the reliability all new systems lack. Symetrist 15:58, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
- This is currently being discussed on the Startup list server. See the thread starting here: http://metagovernment.org/pipermail/start_metagovernment.org/2008-August/000497.html Basically, we hope to use ourselves as the first test case, then to offer it to any other community wishing to try it. We have had an offer (in the message above) for an institution to use it, and we also have a couple of political projects which have expressed an interest, as noted here: Related projects#Affiliated_projects — Ed Pastore 03:38, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
I reverted a change in the Main Page (by G Fencer ) that was not being discussed here. The change was saying that the metagovernment would be a form of direct democracy. Since we asked in the first line to
Use this page to discuss the Main Page before you make changes to it.
DO we all agree that "metagovernment would be a form of direct democracy"? Should we put it back?--Pietro 15:13, 25 July 2008 (UTC)
- I would say that yes, the word is a good description of this project. But as we note on the direct democracy page, this implementation should avoid the pitfalls of conventional direct democracy. "Open source governance" is probably a more accurate description (if for no other reason than that we are in the process of defining open source governance). But it may be useful to use the words "direct democracy" somewhere on the home page, so that people more readily get it. — Ed Pastore 14:47, 26 July 2008 (UTC)
- Also, I should mention here that I had recently made some undiscussed edits to the Main Page, though they were mostly removal of old sections which may not be relevant anymore. However, I'll restore the timeline at Startup/Timeline and see if anyone wants to help bring it up to date. — Ed Pastore 14:47, 26 July 2008 (UTC)
- I personally would vote against. I agree that it does represent quite well the project. But as we said elswhere direct democracy on the net is different than outside where it runs the risk of becoming populist. I think we more risk of losing people who do not want to support a populist project, more than gaining people. Who is really for direct democracy on the net, is generally well aquainted with the fact that what they want can also be described as open source governance.--Pietro 21:28, 28 July 2008 (UTC)
- That makes sense. In that case, I think we should probably remove the reference to wiki government as well. I just got done replying to a blogger who got the impression that we were advocating simple government by wiki. — Ed Pastore 22:55, 31 July 2008 (UTC)
- I just removed that ref. to wikigovernment, since the Wikipedia page has been deleted. — Ed Pastore 17:42, 4 August 2008 (UTC)
Jefferson letter to Samuel Kerchival
I noticed the nice quote on the right, and went away to attribute it and add it to Wikiquote, only to find conflicting dates.
According to bottom of this, which gives a more complete quote, it was July 12, 1810. Project Gutenberg etext 16784 has the complete letter identified as CXXXV, and a date of July 12, 1816. To confirm the PG etext was accurate, I have put a digital edition of the four volumes onto Wikisource. The quote begins on leaf 302, and the date can be seen on leaf 297. The entire letter can be read at Letter to Samuel Kerchival - July 12, 1816.
The revision that introduced the "1810" makes me wonder where it came from. I'm not feeling bold enough to change the main page on my
first second edit, especially as I've only checked one set of historical pagescans. John Vandenberg 13:47, 12 August 2008 (UTC)
- Welcome aboard, John! I think that even though it is a single source, a scan of the original document trumps something that I dug up probably out of Wikipedia. I'll change it now, and if anyone seems to find a better date, they can always change it again. :) — Ed Pastore 16:05, 12 August 2008 (UTC)
Since the timeline is no longer on the home page, I added in a sentence about the development status. This was in response to a conversation I had with Dan Rosenthal, after he posted in this thread (fourth post). — Ed Pastore 16:43, 13 August 2008 (UTC)
Discussion of 2008/08 changes
for brevity, i would just name the basic principles with a link to a more detailed description thereof. i think there is no need to repeat the interpretation of the principles on the main page. such an approach will lead to double work in terms of editing. rustahm 04:17, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
- I think the basic principles are (somewhat) static though? I see your point, but I also remember being intrigued by the scope of the 'transition' section at the bottom of the page -- which, with an editors eye, would seem to be out of place. Richard Franks 06:18, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
- static? nothing's ever static in this world. especially when we are talking about people's perceptions about abstract things, such as principles. fundamental movements are everywhere. remember Large Hadron Collider? ;-) so, description of the basic principles is subject to changes. like there might be one Bible but many interpretations thereof.
- as for the section "Transition", i think a dedicated page would be more appropriate, again with a link thereto from a short passage on the main page.
- rustahm 16:56, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
- As of this revision, I changed the basic principles to a transclusion from the basic principles page. So changes on that page are automatically reflected on this page. That said... the basic principles should remain mostly unchanged, and at some point I think we should protect the page from modification. — Ed Pastore 21:47, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Simple but no simpler?
From the current lede:
Anybody with enough time and dedication should be able to participate
The terms "enough time" and "dedication" are highly subjective - perhaps giving rise to the idea that it is a walled garden?
Disputes are resolved through synthesis, rather than voting or compromise,
This would mean nothing to a newcomer.
I suggest that the lede is kept as simple as possible - providing information without raising any questions or nuance e.g.:
The goal of the Metagovernment project is to make the governance of any community as accessible as a free software project; not everyone must participate, but everyone must be allowed to participate.
People may help govern any community as much or as little as they wish by creating, discussing, and supporting resolutions. User input is weighed by other users through a scoring system and brought to the attention of other participants interested in that input.
The Metagovernment project governs and develops Metascore, the software to aid and manage community-based, open source governance systems. It is a global project in the startup phase, and you are encouraged to participate.
- I believe this is a good enhancement for the main-page opening paragraphs--let the links give greater detail if need be. I'd say this opening lede(?) is concise, inviting, without excessive technical jargon, and easier to follow than the original.
- On a side note, if we all help watch the main page, do we really need to treat it specially (for example, how long did this suggesting sit here?). It would be much worse for a good contributor to leave thinking that their input didn't get attention (or that the project is dead), than the occasional poor edit/vandal that can be corrected easily enough by nearly any of us. (If more watchdogging because necesssary, I'm sure the community will find a way distribute the responsibility.)
- Consider also, that (unless the reader had a [non-English, for example?] misunderstanding) every edit is attempting to communicate some inadequacy in the existing document, however failingly. If an edit seems to make less sense, it's probably because while the general [valid] feeling is there, the grammar is not. It's up to the editors (i.e. you and me) to look at the suggestion with enough detachment to tease out the original inadequacy and to re-fit the new contribution in some way. In this way it becomes something like Pietro's project, nothing ever really gets discarded, but the suggestions that have value will continue on to the next generation.... Marcos 18:27, 28 June 2009 (UTC)
The following principles have been proposed but disputed. See basic principles and Talk:Basic principles for the dispute.
I wouldn't list the disputed principles on the main page, but I'd try to turn it into a selling point, e.g.
Following the principle of radical transparency, please see basic principles and Talk:Basic principles for details of principles which have been proposed but disputed.
Transition - I'd be tempted to put a hook at the end - I think there is more power in humility here, especially as not to come across as radical looneys - so perhaps something like:
The Metascore software in current development may not be the tool which gains widespread adoption among the populace, but that's not a reason not to write it. The path transition takes will undoubtedly take us on many unexpected turns, but that's not a reason not to lay the foundations. We are confident that the philosophies, principles and practices we are developing together will form the cornerstone of the next major revision of democratic participation in governance.
This is my first visit and post to the Metagovernment website. Although I am still learning about the project, I guess first impressions do count and tend to be underrated later on. My intent with this post is to express that I am very impressed by the work done here and I will try to help, even if from a distance since I am no more than a web user.
Abiding by the tenet of “first things first”, I have a suggestion about the Metagovernment logo design. The design is ok, but really does not convey to the observer any of the goals of the project, except where written “Government of, by, and for the people”. My opinion is that the graphic part of the logo should be more representative of such a new way of governance. Also, as the first thing you look at, the logo should capture the observer’s interest and curiosity, particularly in a project like this.
I like the metaphors conveyed by the saying “turning the world upside down”. The metaphor has many possible interpretations in the political context, but I think the most straightforward of them would read as this: a new way of thinking which changes fundamental aspects of preordained and accepted beliefs.
As you may very well have forethought, my suggestion is that the logo of the open half-world should be turned upside down. This is not a new idea and even some countries of the south hemisphere sell maps of the world turned upside down (south hemisphere at the top while the north hemisphere at the bottom). My suggestion, however, is not to be misinterpreted as a clash between national powers (such as south vs. north). The correct interpretation is that an observer would be interested in knowing the reason why a predetermined and uncritically accepted map design has a new appearance. Just as important, it stimulates critical thinking of preordained beliefs and openness to new ideas. -Menezesgc 19:15, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
- That's a very interesting idea, Menezesgc. I'm going propose it to the group on the prototype and the list. FYI, while we have some discussions here, the majority of discussions currently take place on the Startup list server. You are welcome and encouraged to join. — Ed Pastore 01:22, 25 March 2009 (UTC)
I'd also suggest a reconsideration of [Abe] Lincoln's ideal ("government of, by, and for the people"). In a global system, it's not just "the people" who a system of governance should be "for". The government must also be for the natural world which, need it be said, cannot easy participate in "open governance". Marcos 20:59, 28 June 2009 (UTC)
A note for consideration, UCSC has developed a wiki-trust extension to the MediaWiki software--would be interesting to have it start building a reputation ranking for all the edits which get done. (Basically, it tracks revision histories to see which user's edits tend to be preserved--no extra voting required! --the edits themselves inform the metric automatically!)
how about adding "__NOTOC__" to the main page? Wikademia
I've been thinking about that too. I'd give it thumbs-up to give it a try. Marcos 04:48, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Objection to revert: Revision as of 16:33, 3 November 2009 by User:Targetrace
Rationale includes: "only has one editor and does not necessarily express consensus of the project. Also, question format of the link does not flow in the text of page"
The number of wiki pages created with more than one editor is nearly zero, so the first objection seems inapt. It is understood that the Main Page requires special handling, and I considered that before making what is a fairly small change targeted for a specific set of users--so I took those issues to heart and the small addition is and was not a wanton act of individualism. I strongly encourage a look at Jackie Buro's writeup on edit policy addressing this exact issue.
Secondly, the spirit of a wiki (and the metagovernment project in general) is to build consensus, not veto trial runs by fiat--it, in fact, generally prefers editing first and building consensus as you go (cf. WikiPedia:WP:Be_Bold). You also, instead of simply undoing the change, could have created a discussion where the modification could be debated or enhanced as you suggested for me along those lines, but the simple revert, sadly, denies any further collaboration. So, I've done it for us :)
Additionally, each sincere user edit should be seen as a reflection of some deficiency in the existing text. As such, editors should try to tease out the deficiency and find a way to merge what the user trying to get at (however failingly) and what he/she wants as maintainer, finding a way to incorporate both in a synthesis-style reduction--much like I did, by the way, to your recent edit on Trust. There you will see I incorporated some of your (valid) objections to the original content without compromising on its original, and still valid (until shown otherwise), intent. Namely, I toned down the focus on trust as an "ultimate" requirement, kept your spelling corrections (thanks), and added some text to address what I think is a slight misunderstanding on your part (though I'd still invite further questions on that) so as to avoid similar misunderstandings by other users.
Regarding the last point that the edit "does not flow in the text of the page"--that is somewhat deliberate. Since its purpose is to draw a certain segment of users away from the main page, it must have enough of a hint to give said users a clue that following that link will give something explicitly made for them.
So, to summarize and address the criticisms, the page in question is:
- freely editable by you and others to correct whatever (note: unmentioned) failings of that page are, is
- off the main page, so as not to mix the style,
- is aligned with the spirit and vision of the project
- fills a gap that the rather dry and academic main page makes towards its audience--new users won't necessarily know why this project is important, nothing on the main page tells you or engages the spirit--it only tells you its vision, principles, and hopes (or assumes) that you "get it", hence the slight break in tone--made more glaring by the perhaps overly-academic/political voice used in the original.
I would argue that objection that it "does not necessarily express consensus of the project" is
- too vague,
- presents a severe impracticality -- if we waited for consensus before approving updates, movement forward would come to a standstill (note that, in several ways, it already has...),
- in the absence of any concrete objection to the article's content, one can only conclude that the real issue is one of control.
Wiki policy evolved over many years and much experience--there's a reason it encourages jumping in and making changes--because the projects that didn't, faded away from lack of interest.
While I give Ed and other project starters a lot of credit for putting up this site and making the progress you have, an active community requires a feeling of mutual ownership, otherwise people move elsewhere due to the feeling that they're making effort and putting energy into what will ultimately still be on someone's personal "property" with little protection for their investment (consider how much the N.I.M.B.Y. phenomenon and slows down politics).
Any further objections? Marcos 04:48, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
- Part of my objection was because I mistakenly read the Talk page and thought it was the page being linked to. That Talk page expresses a lot of significant political bias and wouldn't be an appropriate link to follow from the main page. That was why I reverted so hastily. But again, I was mistaken about the nature of the linked page, as you can see from my self-revert shortly after that.
- Fair enough -- that motivation I could indeed support. Though to be clearer, I would call it more a personal or spirited diatribe than political bias.
- Concerning your direct points, I would note that consensus before changing the Main Page has been successful in the past. Look at the first Main Page. It is absolutely nothing like the current one. It has undergone many significant changes since it was first written. And all of those changes, except for minor copy-edits and such, were with consensus before proceeding with the actual change. This has not stalled the project at all. This is a deliberative group, and waiting a couple weeks before proceeding with changing the most public face of the project is not necessarily a bad idea.
- To say they have been "successful" measures only those who are already participating in the project and neglects to consider the amount of people who have been turned away through lack of interest, unpersuaded. How will you gauge that? Don't underestimate the value and importance of immediate feedback.
- Then make a new, alternately named Main Page and ask the group if they think it is better.
- But note, that is an order of magnitude more bureaucratic. And it's simply a chore to go back and forth between two different arenas for collaboration. Alternately, I would suggest to you to leave the change in rather than reverting and see what the group does with it and how many page views the linked text receives.
- If the spirit of the editing is innocent, users should be free to edit without feeling guilty--including, of course, my own contributions. The thing which absolutely blocks progress and turns people away is when things are enforced blindly, even and especially when they are respecting the spirit of the place. It's the spirit which should be nurtured--not the laws.
- As the START list has recently discussed, participation is very disappointing.
- That is rather subjective, and participation is rather strong for a very small list.
- Okay, but why is the list small? And I don't buy that participation is "rather strong". This is a cool and important project. The lack of participation is concerning.
- Yes, I understand that consensus is something that is built, but the Main Page is a special case because many times it is the project's only chance to win someone over. If it has a flaw, then that person is lost and will not return. On other pages, consensus can be built through the rough-and-tumble of edits over time, but for the Main Page (as with many, many other wikis), change should be more deliberate.
- Like it or not, rough-and-tumble edits are really the only way things get done; particularly when there is no clear, leading superior. As wiki has shown, postponed perfectionism is one of the main sources of failure in a collaborative project--it's simply impossible to synchronize everyone's interest sufficiently. Waiting a couple of weeks, for example, as you suggest, would kill the individual's motivation unless they are already deeply committed to the project. As for comparing to other wikis I think you will find a strong correlation between the amount of participation and the looseness of control. Are there any popular sites that disallow free editing on the main page, for example? Many a site has hoped to use wiki to duplicate the popularity of wikipedia, but few have had the courage to be as open. I would be curious if there are actually any popular sites with such controls.
- Wikipedia allows people to make edits to almost any page -- but NOT the home page. Same for every other MediaWiki project. Why? Because if they did, it would be a catastrophe, plain and simple.
- That is vastly neglecting its history. In its early days (like metagovernment note), the front page was freely editable to encourage maximum participation and rapid approach to maturity. Now that it has gotten more mature, there is more desire and more reason for it to limit itself--(note I say "itself"--no one outside is imposing the limitation--any more than someone is limiting you when you no longer accelerate off a stop light--you're simply not a teenager anymore--rough analogy, but I hope you get the point). Besides, it would not be (and note: WAS NOT) a catastrophe. Check the history. Those concerns, quite simply, are fears of the Old Paradigm--fear of the masses, of losing control. Remember--the masses are also helping to keep it clean and usable--that's the magic which keeps it all checked and balanced.
- Also, I disagree that the change is minor: specifically because, as you later note, the link breaks the flow of the page deliberately to draw attention to itself. Everything on the Main Page is relevant, and that linked page is not a special case. Especially because it has had no input from anyone else, nor has the rest of the project even been specifically invited to look at it.
- By the nature of wiki, everyone is ipso facto invited to look at it.
- In this particular group, more focus is on the list, and when people make a significant change to the wiki, they mention it on the list to ensure people look at it.
- I think that would be a big letdown if there is more focus on the list than the wiki.
- And my greatest objection: it just does not make sense to have a random question thrown in the first paragraph, demanding attention. If you want to speak to new users, then put it in the Participate section. Or make it a subtler link. The specific objection to the edit on the Main page was that it was so disruptive to the most important page of the project. Yes, I could have just transformed it into a less obnoxious link, but I do not really see a need for it on the Main Page at all. The Main Page itself explains why the project is needed. If the Main Page can't speak to that fundamental point by itself, then it is a complete failure.
- It is not a random question, and it is in the first paragraph because it is most relevant to a new user, not immediately interested in what, to them, is perhaps somewhat a random site that they might have gotten referred to, and so needs to connect with that user immediately to answer the question in that users mind Why am I f*ing here!? Why am I bothering with this site? Not everyone is sitting in front of their computer with the luxury of "creating a new site for new forms of governance". Many will arrive with an interest in immediately finding out: Is this site worth my friggin' time? And those visitors are valuable: they are often those who know their time is important and aren't going to waste their time for long. Putting an entry in the Participate section, as you suggest, already assumes that the user has accepted participation(!) and has gotten interested enough to wade through more material. This is explicitly for those who don't yet know whether or why they should participate.
- It is a random question in the nature of its flow. It does not make any sense to the outside reader to be reading statements, then have a question in there that is not then answered. Maybe in a side box, or with some sort of lead-in, but not just an unrelated question shoe-horned into the flow of the prose.
- A side-box, interesting idea! And that is precisely the design and merit of the wiki--you enhance and synthesize, building incrementally and collaborately rather than revert and throw out. Why didn't you do it? I think contemplating that would be illuminating and inform you or your relation to power in general (which, of course, metagovernment either fails or success based on its relationship to that issue). Reverting is really for vandalization or complete errors on the contributors part. Can you think of any other reason to limit contribution? (Do you not trust your fellow collaborators?)(!!)
- And, indeed, The Main Page does not explain why the project is needed, it only really explains what it is. But, hey, thanks for the dialog...
- Then make a new one and ask the group to edit it until it is ready to replace the existing one. That is the model that has worked so far. targetrace 14:18, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
- I'm sorry, you can't really say it has "worked so far" when it has already been [effectively] stated on the list that participation is low, so I'm not sure you're really defending anything except the status quo.
- Marcos 06:52, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
- targetrace 05:48, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
- Marcos 03:28, 7 November 2009 (UTC)
- Note on main page edit comment: Oops! I meant to put a question mark after the word "synthesis" in my edit comment--don't want to presume that the edit is a complete synthesis....