From Metagovernment - Government of, by, and for all the people
Jump to: navigation, search


I take exception to the Voting section, as it is currently constructed. See: Basic_principles#Without_consensus.2C_there_is_no_law. If the community cannot come up with a consensus, then there is no justification for making a law. If there is to be a vote, would it be a simple majority? That takes us right back to tyranny of the majority. (I like the rest of the prototype very much, though.) — Ed Pastore 17:04, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

I think we've discussed this at length on the mailing list, for the protocol, I agree with you completely. I believe however, that the outcome of the discussion, was that we needed a voting function as a last resort. Should there be topics, where a decision is absolutely necessary and no consensus is possible. Before somebody creates a vote, there should be a big fat disclaimer, explaining why voting should be avoided if possible. --Mbarkhau 08:24, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
What sort of voting then, a simple majority? How about instead: if there is a truly urgent situation where people know that some sort of action must be taken, but a consensus cannot be achieved... couldn't we just decrease the quantification of what defines a consensus? Though this begs the question: how are you defining a consensus? I had imagined we would have to have a variable and allow the community to tweak it. — Ed Pastore 23:40, 1 August 2008 (UTC)
The best definition of consensus I can think of right now would be, the lack of opposition. I would hope that people using the system would realize, that nothing is going to happen, if they are in opposition and are then willing to change there position. The frame of mind of the participants has to be in thinking what is best for the entire group, and if there are minorities which are discriminated against, there has to at least be a compensation, as part of the resolution. Any opposition, should have a well cited argument and always offer an alternative solution.--Mbarkhau 09:31, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
But some times no change could be benefitial for some group. I would suggest build the system not on hoping that people are good and generous, because they/we are not :-) Liinkas 17:13 2009.02.13
That's really a question of political bent (or so I was told in Sociology class). Conservatives tend to think people are naturally bad and need to be controlled from harming society, while liberals tend to think people are naturally good and need to be freed and enabled to benefit society. This project, in an attempt to rise above taking sides, does not want to make any such assumption. We'd rather release the software onto people and see what they do with it in the real world. That is why we start with a blank slate, through the principle of "Without consensus, there is no law." — Ed Pastore 17:59, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
I think that it is nice that this system tries to be neutral, but I also think that system should be solid, bullet-idiot-and-evil-proof, because I realy know that last to exists :) (I already read somewhere on this site, that ~5% of population are sociopaths). Mbarkhau wrote "definition of consensus <...> the lack of opposition". As I understood the statement, this would be like giving everybody veto votes (which is bad I guess). For eaxmple: if majority would want to outlaw slavary, then oposition of slaveholders, would stop this action. Slaveholders (lets say 7% of pop) do not deserve (at least I think so) anything in return just because they are not happy with the outlawing slavary, and thus there is no reason why they should have impact on changing/adding something to this law (like being free of tax if they agree with outlawing slavary). Of course in this example slaveholders are bad (at least in my opinion), but I could come up with similar example where situation staying the same is good for somebody and they would veto the law, not because they are evil criminal masterminds, but just because it is good for them. In my opinion You probobly will find flavor of capitalistism, but You already made choice - democracy instead of dictatorship. — Liinkas
I would modify Manuel's definition to say "the lack of significant dissent." In the communities in which we intend to start, that could very well mean 100%. For example, if a 10-person chess club is deciding what date to have their next meetup, they might very well want 100% consent on a date. But as we start to move into larger communities, it would be unrealistic to expect 100% agreement on any large scale. We intend to leave the numerical definition of consensus to the future, but I expect it will end up somewhere between 75% and 90%... hopefully closer to 90. And if we use a user-weighted system such as is described in some versions of the scoring system, then it could be a numerical value equalling something like 90% of the total number of weighted points available to be applied to the proposal. — Ed Pastore 21:53, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

Duplicate tags

Manuel, is this where you would like feedback on the prototype you have running currently on your computer? I noticed that I get an error if I try to apply a tag that already exists. Not sure if that was intentional on your part, or if I should point it out... — Ed Pastore 23:43, 1 August 2008 (UTC)

Any feedback is welcome, I'll look into it. This also brings up the topic of a bug tracker. I'm also wondering if a rudimentary bug tracker could be implemented in metascore.--Mbarkhau 09:00, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

Power law formula

I read the page, and I found it very good. I also added the formula for calculating the actual values of the power law. The formula should be correct, but I have calculated it on the back of an envelop during a boring lesson, so we should test it a bit.--Pietro 09:38, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Is there any particular reason for the value -1.1 in the exponent? I would have initially just used -1. Mbarkhau
we discussed this on the chat. I suggested -1.1 because I remembered that all delicious tag clouds had that exponent. The exponent is important as it carries info of the underlying process. I then went to look at the papers and could not recover the quote. But I found that in general an exponent of -1.25 was used. And in general something between -1 and -2. Still I would discourage against using -1. It has different math properties, and I am not sure how this would affect. What we can do is to leave the exponent as a constant set at the beginning, and we just test different exponents in the interval [-2,-1).--Pietro 23:35, 29 August 2008 (UTC)


I believe we should distinguish between Users, who have the ability to use the website in a limited capacity, and Members, who are verified by the system and able to comment/vote. --Christopher 19:51, 29 November 2008 (UTC)


I am a bit concerned with the presence of groups. I find that in modern democracy many flaws are coming from people giving up their right to vote to an external leader or group. From parties to corporations (which are considered individuals in some respect). SO I wonder, is it really necessary? I am concerned that people will give up their right to vote, and then when they should take it back they will not because the 'group' will make social pressure for them not to step back.--Pietro 09:38, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

We can leave them out for now, it's not something that I think is very important for now. It was something that people wanted to have, but I think it was primarily for display purposes. You won't be able to delegate your votes as you suggested. What it might be useful for, is to write a statement from some organization, which is represented in metascore by a group. --Mbarkhau 17:45, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
People naturally group together. Parties and Corporations are two out of millions of examples, including Families, Movements, Committees, etc. There are number of capabilities that could be given to groups as well, such as associating with/linking to specific Issues, and working on Resolutions before they are released to the Public. --Christopher 19:54, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

Comments structure

Also the phrase:

Messages can be written by any user and require no registration. They use the prefix "msg". A reply is implemented, by automatically referencing the parent message. A message, so that a threaded view may of a conversation may not be appropriate.1 There should be writing guidelines, that encourage an organized and civilized debate. Messages may be saved (drafted) before they are published, since users may take their time while composing.

is not clear. I would have clarified it, but I just could not understand it. Personally I am all in favor of having a threaded tree structure of comments where each new comment is emailed to all the people involved. Like livejournal has. Experience showed me that this structure favours cross linking, cross collaboration between the parties and discourages mass mindless action. The exact opposite is a list view with no email sent. In this way no one is responsible for what they say. And if the number of comments grows too much it becomes impossible to handle it. A good example of this bad behaviour is in the comments in the italian section of the blog . thousands of comments every day that no one reads, no one answers, no one is responsible. And such that even the scoring mechanism they made has a hard time in filtering.--Pietro 09:38, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

My main gripe with the threaded view, is that you can only go a certain depth with the nesting. I'm not sure it's a better solution, but I was hoping we could display a single message and in a graph structure, display a graph structure or a tag cloud, with messages that relate to it. --Mbarkhau 17:51, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
It may be overly ambitious, but I had been toying with the idea of something much more like a cloud than the traditional tag cloud. That is, to have a central idea (ie, the original post or resolution), then to have replies be grouped around it in a full 360° circle. So instead of the flat, linear view, there would be an expanding cloud growing out from a central idea. Ideas which have more discussion would be longer tendrils stretching out in all directions, while less-discussed ideas would have short arms. But one could, in a sense, view the whole conversation at a glance. — Ed Pastore 03:55, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure that will be such a good interface. You have to take into account, that screen realestate is limited and also that we're working with html. The only way I could see this working, is if we made a google maps like interface, where you could zoom in and out, but that is certainly a bit ambitious for now. --Mbarkhau 08:43, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
I am very sympathetic to the possible over-ambitiousness of the suggestion, so I'll leave it to you to decide what is realistic. But I don't see the interface as much of a problem... I think there would be ways to make it auto-scale with the view level. For example, when a Slashdot conversation gets long enough, posts with a lower score get de-emphasized. I can see this taken to a further extreme, where any discussion with more than a few posts doesn't show any posts... just a semi-graphical image of the primary post, then tendrils streaming out from it, indicating threads of sub-conversations. Longer tendrils indicate longer threads to the discussion, thicker tendrils indicate more replies to the replies in the conversation... in other words, the longer and thicker a tendril is, the more content is there. Each tendril might be identified by the tags most associated with it. So instead of seeing the contents, one would just see that this tendril is about, e.g., feasibility, while that tendril is about ramifications to a different community. Once a person zooms in on a tendril, then the higher-scored posts become visible, and have their own tendrils radiating out from them. — Ed Pastore 17:17, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
What you are describing is a mindmap. We can have the original discussion and the ones that are near connected. In fact we should have this visual thing when we look at a resolution and all the resolutions that are near. Wasn't there an algorithm that would take an n dimensional space and squeeze it in an m dimensional space with m<n. RThen we could go from n to 1. Where the central idea is the resolution and the other branches are the other resolutions. The branch thickness could give a hint of the importance.
There is a nice flash program to visualise them. You can see it being used on . The flash program reads an xml file. So we could have the xml file being calculated and visualised onthe fly. Of course it can have tree view easily.
It would both work with the resolution and the near resolutions, or with the resolution, and the corrections. Two different maps. But I would suggest to leave this for later. A list/tree of the near elements is good enough for Amazon, I think it can be good enough for us as well.--Pietro 23:24, 29 August 2008 (UTC)


I am not a programmer so excuse me if I say something asinine. I see this is to be written in python which is a fairly common programming language, and I'm assuming it would either run on linux, mac, windows, BSD or some other pre-existing operating system. I understand Open Source software is fundamental to the metascore project, however does it not open itself up to crippling attacks? This may be completely absurd but what about writing a custom OS from the ground up...and maybe write a custom programming language. The lack of availability would reduce the likelihood of viruses etc. Also in terms of access (as custom everything makes it impossible for ordinary citizens to use it) what about having kiosks at "community centers". The kiosks would just pull up a session on a remote server running the primary OS with limited access for the user. I understand the argument that w/ open source many people are looking for flaws so that they may be patched quickly...but I also know that, as long as those with a malicious intent have access to the software, no standard OS will ever be secure....thoughts? Symetrist 04:39, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

Disclaimer: I'm normally the last person to write in this tone, but this is just too absurd.
"This may be completely absurd". Spot on. While we're at it, why not write our own programming language, you know what, forget that we should really start with an instruction set and cpu archetecture. Fuck it, we'll just build everything from scratch, starting right at the transistor level. Surely then no virus will ever run on it (probably not anything else either, but that's just a detail). I suppose Security by obscurity really can be a solution, that is if you're willing to make it really obscure.
"as long as those with a malicious intent have access to the software, no standard OS will ever be secure". Right, because we all know how well that has worked out for Microsoft. --Mbarkhau 08:01, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
That last bit was the point I was about to make. It is pretty-much a given in the computing community that Windows is the least secure OS, Mac OS (with large open source components) is more secure, and some flavors of Linux are the most secure. The openness of the code allows hackers to see what they can exploit, but it also means, as Symetrist indicated, that there is a huge community contributing to the security of the code, and that patches to the code can be applied quickly. I think that the security of Metascore (and this is an issue we are going to have to revisit frequently as we continue to develop) will be best achieved through using a distributed implementation model: where an attack on one node is cancelled out by the failure to attack other nodes which all checksum each other. — Ed Pastore 17:24, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
"Right, because we all know how well that has worked out for Microsoft." you obviously misunderstood what I was saying. Unlike windows (where you can reverse engineer the software) would be impossible to do so with something like I am proposing. Incidentally you're making software that will handle (arguably) the most important task in the world. It may be "difficult" to do what I'm suggesting, but I'd say it's necessary. You're all proposing a "new" form of government and offering your software up as a way to facilitate this system. What you're proposing is a HUGE deal, because of that, you can't dismiss an idea because it's "too hard". Symetrist 19:37, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
I think Manuel's point is that we have very limited programming resources and to do something like that would take a few of years. What he is working on now is to get something running so that we have a prototype to work with and explore our options. Since he is working in very open standards-based environments, there is nothing to say that someday we couldn't port the whole thing to a different/new OS. But until we have a lot more programmers working on the project, it wouldn't be realistic to expand the scope much further than it has already been pushed. In order to attract more programmers, the best thing we could do would be to have some running code for them to see what we are really up to. (But FWIW, I recently wrote to Richard Stallman, founder of GNU, inviting him to have a look at the project. If we were to someday build a new OS, he certainly would be a good person to do it.:) — Ed Pastore 20:58, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
AAMOF he did just that back in the '80s but that didn't go so well. I think somebody is still working on it, but any good os developer is probably going to work on linux rather than Hurd, so I wouldn't get my hopes up.
"something like I am proposing" I suppose you mean the kiosk thing? If so, I'd point you to this Honestly I feel like I'm feeding a troll.--Mbarkhau 22:29, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
Totally agree with both Ed and Manuel. If we even had the programming abilities, the time and the resources to make what you are saying. And the will, it would still be a bad idea. We need everybody to be able to read the code to make shure there are no flaws. You do not get security by secrecy. You get security by transparency and everybody checking. Look at what has happened at the last US electronic elections, where they don't even know if the program counted the votes well because it is under copyright. Having a machine that you don't understand coming up with the answer to what you should do seems a good idea?--Pietro 23:31, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
Mbarkhau, did you not say this in the synthesis page:"No party should be vested in a particular solution, so that it disregards all others."? Maybe I'm reading the history page incorrectly. Either way, an idea needs constructive criticism if it's going to do well. I believe my points are valid and I'm simply playing devils advocate. Obviously, as a prototype you can't do this all from scratch. But does that mean you should disregard the idea? No. I think it's at least something to consider as a goal...something to build towards. Symetrist 08:35, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

Ah, you were playing the devil's advocate! Honestly, let's get something out. This project is based on transparency. Personally I won't accept buiding something based on secrecy not even as a long term goal. --Pietro 09:18, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

Wiki where so?

Maybe I am missing something. What I liked in Ed first proposal was the dream of a wiki with karma. Where the laws would be corrected wiki way. And it seems that this wiki is working quite well. I was wondering, here I see resolutions and messages, and tags and votes. All this is well and dandy (I had to use it, sorry!), but what about the wiki part. Shouldn't a person be allowed to make a change in a resolution, and have the new version go through voting faster. Maybe the new resolution might just go directly to the inbox of all that has already voted the old one. ANd if enough said yes it would continue, but if enough said no than it would slow down, and the previous one would still be the first. Somehow we need to have the possibility to each user to present a different version of the same resolution, where the karma, and votes would determine what is accepted. And if there is resolution A, and then A gives rise to AA, and AB, and then Ab gives rise to ABA, and someone votes yes to ABA, then maybe he has already given some vote also to AB, but not to AA. Sorry, can't express mayself any better. But I feel we are missing the wiki side of this.--Pietro 23:48, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

A wiki simply didn't seem sophisticated enough for the things we are trying to accomplish. If people score a resolution highly, and then someone makes a seemingly-minor change which has substantial effects to the overall intent of the resolution... what happens to all the scores that had been previously applied? Also, I don't see how an open wiki would work with a scoring system: do people only get to make changes if they have a high enough score or something?
So what I proposed to get the benefits of a wiki without the above problems was synthesis scoring. If people like a resolution but someone wants to make it a little bit better, they make a new resolution and invite people to give it synthesis scores. If it can get enough synthesis scores, it would replace the existing resolution, effectively stealing its high score. — Ed Pastore 00:37, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
Thank you Ed, I missed the synthesis scoring. My idea of the wiki was that everybody get to make the changes, but the changes only get accepted once a certain number of people/vote have been placed on them. So anyone can make any change, but then to become effective you need more people behind you. What is important than is that no one has the wight/karma big enough to write and accept everything by itself. But maybe your synthesis scoring might work well. I am only a bit concerned with the 'stealing' part of the business. But I'll think I will keep my doubts until I have something more solid to bite too.--Pietro 09:14, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
I am open to whatever works... I just think the way I proposed it will be easier to code than a fluctuating wiki. As for the stealing of points, that in particular is up to you (ie, mathematicians). A proposal which is "better" than the one it synthesizes should be able to overtake it if enough people support it... but it shouldn't necessarily make the old one go away. Somehow all the scoring mechanisms should work to push people toward the resolution that is best able to gather a consensus. — Ed Pastore 14:29, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
thinking aloud. Right now we had separate resolutions. But if we look at the code of the law, it tend to come as a single entity. You take one part of the code of the law and you substitute that. Your new resolution has a value which is based on your karma, and then it gets voted. Probably with no time limit (possible complications people who vote has the possibility to put a time limit of validity of their vote. If the resolution does not pass in x days, their vote is null.). SO when we are looking at new resolutione being written, on a topich were there was no law before, there is not like a wiki. But where the resolution is there, then you write a resolution that is to be used instead of another resolution. So more like a wiki. People can vote it for, against, ignore it, write a different wording, vote for a different one (for, against, ignore), or take two resolutions and synthesis them. That is, anyone can do this. From an outlaw alien, to Dr.Prof Popular. The difference is just where the various resolutions start. And by writing new resolutions that get accepted you gain karma. Yes, it seems that we are gving this por fellow quite a lot of power :) , much better than one vote every 4 years we are used to. Still there might be quite a lot of ways in which it is possible to cheat the system to get a lot of karma.--Pietro 18:57, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

Wording: Resolution

We should change the wording from resolution to the more general "proposal" and "policy". Per Ed Pastore on the Start List:

"the words "resolution" and "law" are generally being replaced with the more generic terms "proposal" and "policy." These generic words work in governments but also work outside of governments. Chess clubs don't make laws, but they can have policies."

Jualvarez 19:38, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

I agree with Jualvarez on Wording - Cargilcm 20:34, 30 November 2008 (UTC)
  1. ^ This may be confusing, needs discussion