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The Challenge


How might we improve the way citizens and governments interact? Read the challenge brief


The Information Party

The Information Party is a new political party whose stances are crowdsourced through the web. Our purpose is to improve the representation of the American people and the efficacy of their government.

How It Works

The Information Party is a political party whose platform is developed through crowdsourced discussion and whose ultimate goal is to work within the structure of the United States government and increase the representation of democracy. Constituents will submit their Views, an opinion still needing to be discussed, and vote on the Views of others. All current votes are public; however, users can change their votes on Views at any time. If they are compelled to change to a different opinion, past Views will not be publicly displayed so that there are never any repercussions for having an open mind.
Each View has a comment thread for each side of the debate, and users can vote comments up or down so that the the strongest arguments rise to the top. These comments will consist of their position and, ideally, contain links to informative sources such as videos, news articles, or research studies. By submitting Views that become Stances or comments that the community appreciates, users will earn Reputation (our point system) so that the most valuable members of the community can easily be identified.
When a View receives enough support from the community, it is promoted to become an official party Stance. We will display the most recently promoted Stances as well as the most controversial Views on the homepage so that your voice is always heard. Together, we can create a truly democratic political party with the potential to have a profound impact on American politics.
Preregister at and we’ll let you know when the beta launches!


How is a community that currently has no Members going to have any real impact on the American political system?

The Information Party is not just a website. We are organizing as an official political party, and we aspire to nominate and elect candidates for all levels of government. To do this we’ll crowdsource our political Stances - which will include Beliefs, Legislation, and Candidates - through the web. Initially, The Information Party will not have a large enough constituency to nominate its own candidates, but Members will submit candidates from other parties (who align with the Stances of our party) as Candidate Stances on our site. That way, The Information Party can have an impact on day one. Our pre-registration list continues to grow, and we’ll draw from that list to form our initial user base. As more Americans join us, our influence will grow, and with enough support we will nominate and even elect our own candidates.

What does “Reputation” mean? How is it earned, and what does it affect?
Reputation is The Information Party’s metric that represents respect in our community. It is earned when Members contribute to the site by submitting views and leaving comments, but more is earned by contributing to the site in a meaningful way: posting insightful content, receiving upVotes, and submitting Views that become Stances.
Voting privileges are reserved for Members who’ve gained some small amount of Reputation. This will incentivise new Members to post new and insightful content by rewarding them when they are well received by the community, in addition to limiting the influence of trolls. We’re aware that this may be detrimental to initial Member acquisition, but we believe this sort of requirement selects for those individuals that share our core values of respect and humility. The fastest way to become a reputable member of The Information Party is to earn the collective respect of your peers. In time, Reputation will also be used to determine who will be able to become a Moderator.

How does Voting work?
Every Member on the site is allowed only one position on any given View, Comment, or Moderator activity. Those positions are called Votes and are limited to either Endorsements or Protests. If a view receives enough Endorsements then it is promoted to an official party Stance. In addition, all of a Member’s Votes are publicly displayed on their profile for transparency. To encourage users to keep open minds towards new information, Members can change their Votes at any time. Only current Votes are displayed on the Member profile; in other words, historical votes are hidden so there’s never a repercussion for changing your mind.

How will you keep the discussions on the site constructive? How will you keep Members from abusing others, flamebaiting, trolling, or contributing irrelevant content?
Every View will have a thread of Comments, and each Comment is either endorsing or protesting the View. Members can reply directly to Comments and affect the order the Comments are displayed in by upVoting them. Members can also Report a Comment, and when a comment is reported enough, the Comment is collapsed (but still accessible) and Moderators are informed.
The Moderator Dashboard will provide the most reputable members of the community with the information they need to maintain a positive culture on the site. With access to reports on the most reported Comments and Members, Moderators will enforce the culture of The Information Party by suspending troublesome Members. Moderator activity will be kept in check since we’ll allow Members to Protest Moderator actions. Moderators lose Reputation when they are inactive and when their actions are Protested, and Moderators will be demoted if enough of the party Protests their activity.
We want to hear every voice. However, some people will actively push against our mission and will troll The Information Party. Since this initiative is Reputation-driven and community-moderated, it will have a mix of technology and community that ensures the discussions are respectful and constructive.

What are the qualifications for Membership?
Registration is also a consideration we’re still actively discussing. The final version will have a Membership of American adults. Facebook integration and public voter registration lists are both being investigated as means to validate Membership, and we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Not every American has internet access, and The Information Party will not appeal to all of those who do. Is that an issue?
The father of the internet, Tim Berners-Lee, once said, "The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect." Through the medium of the internet, we have the ability to capture the widest audience in an interactive manner.
While it’s true that not every American citizen has access to the internet, according to Pew Internet, about 80% of American adults use the internet. Inclusiveness is very important to The Information Party; exclusion on any basis whether it be race, gender, age, political affiliation, or physical disability is just not acceptable. The unfortunate reality is that internet access is skewed by race, age, income and educational attainment; however, the internet continues to spread as more and more American citizens get online. Although it is not the perfect tool for a true democracy (since it cannot facilitate discussion between every American), it is a damn good one, and the best one available to us today.
We also understand that the very idea of The Information Party will not appeal to everyone, but neither does any other political party. By creating a platform that crowdsources democracy through the web, we aim to destroy the taboo that says political debate and public discourse are mutually exclusive. We know that in order to resolve the bigger political issues it’s going to require a respectful, humble community full of individuals with open minds who understand the value of transparency and can apply logic and reason to data and information. We hope you’ll join us.

Our Values
  • To maintain a community which promotes transparency and open minds
  • To have constituents treat each other with respect.
  • To have constituents be humble if they overstep their sphere of knowledge.
  • To encourage the sharing of relevant data and information to create a more robust platform which which to make decisions.
  • to hold logic and reasoning in the highest regard when making decisions.

Our Purpose
  • To improve the representation of the American people and the efficacy of their government

Now it’s up to you

This challenge is the perfect incubator to see whether or not people will rise to this call-to-action. There are many details that still need to be worked out. For instance, how do we define “enough support” to promote a View or Stance?

Leave us your thoughts, applause or concerns. We appreciate your help!

What is your project? [1 sentence max]

The Information Party is a new political party whose stances are crowdsourced through the web, and our purpose is to improve the representation of the American people and the efficacy of their government.

Where are you located?

New Orleans / LA / USA
Detroit / MI / USA
Austin / TX / USA
Las Vegas / NV / USA

How did you hear about the contest?

  1. Word of mouth
Sam's profile photo
entry submitted by: Sam Stites
March 18, 2013, 04:47PM
235 views 24 comments 19 applause Applaud


Join the conversation and post a comment.

March 29, 2013, 05:02PM
Hi folks, all the best for the challenge. As you're looking at collaboration methods based on Github, you might be interested in my project, Reasonwell. We've built a platform for debate around argument mapping, using some of the core ideas in Git's object model:
Scott Lowe's reply to Ben Williamson's comment
April 02, 2013, 07:07PM
Hey Ben,

This looks awesome, and shares a lot of commonalities with our current design of The Information Party. I'd love to connect for a phone call or g+ hangout soon to discuss more. My email is
March 24, 2013, 10:40AM
This is a really interesting entry that I like more the more I think about it. I have a few questions for y'all though:

- In my experience, the more sophisticated the topics, the more facilitation has to be done to frame the conversation taking place (so it's not errant, abrasive, pointless, etc.). How would y'all facilitate and setup how the conversation is framed / structured, and do that in a way that doesn't constrain open dialogue? Would users need to be educated on how to have open dialogue or what the values of the community are?

- Once a stance is determined, how does it get converted into action/impact? I'm not sure if your idea compels action (because the information analysis is a huge value-add), but if it were to compel action, how would you do it?

- I'd like to echo Ethan's comment - how do you manage membership? On the one hand, crowdsourcing requires openness. On the other hand, trolls could squash this idea. Also, having total openness (and not having to make a trade-off to participate) probably gets people who aren't so thoughtful...because it's cheap to post things up. Anyway, that's a bit of a digression...what are the parameters, as you see them, about being a "member" of the Information Party?
Cory Suter's reply to Ben Williamson's comment
March 24, 2013, 01:59PM
Neil, I can't speak for Sam's vision of the information party, but I can introduce you to how our similar political initiative,, is tackling your important concerns.

Direct Congress builds off the successful model, of giving users more privileges as they contribute submissions that are "mic'd" or up-voted by other citizens. Direct Congress encourages users to rank others ideas and build up their own online reputation within the Direct Congress community. See:

To convert online action into impact, Direct Congress regularly updates members of congress about their constituent's decisions online, and encourages representatives from any political party to vote the way the people they represent ask them to vote online.

Finally, we use public lists of voter registrations to verify the identity of participants. If you and/or Sam would like to converse more about this idea, visit us at:
Scott Lowe's reply to Ben Williamson's comment
March 24, 2013, 05:55PM
Member of the team here. Neil, thanks for your feedback! As a disclaimer, know that while we’re all really happy with our current consensus on major components of the site such as Users, Views, Comments, and Stances, we’re still pretty early in the design process when it comes to details. Fortunately, that means that you can help us work through some of the issues we haven’t addressed yet. :)

How would y'all facilitate and setup how the conversation is framed / structured, and do that in a way that doesn't constrain open dialogue?

We’ve had a few discussions about this. Currently, we’ve built a Reddit style comment system into the design to ensure that the best comments rise to the top. This is accomplished by asking users to vote comments up when they are informative or useful and to vote comments down when they’re not. This system should curate and structure discussions on the site as the user base grows and the most informative and useful comments rise to the top, but every comment is accessible so there’s no constraint on open dialogue. Finally, preserving the reply structure of comment threads will provide some additional structure so that conversations are easy to follow.

Once a stance is determined, how does it get converted into action/impact?

Great question! The long term vision for The Information Party is to elect candidates from within the community to public office like any other political party. We chose this approach over Mr Suter’s model because we believe that it is highly unlikely that the politicians who are already indoctrinated into the current political climate will be persuaded by web platforms like we’re talking about now. In my opinion, the problem is not that the politicians do not know what their constituents think, it’s that they don’t care. For that reason we’ve chosen to take the more aggressive path of organizing as a political party and aiming to elect candidates to public office.

what are the parameters, as you see them, about being a "member" of the Information Party?

The team agrees that only US citizens (note that the Information Party platform could be expanded to other democratic governments if proven successful in America) should be allowed to vote on Views, but anyone should be able to join the site and engage in the discussions through the comments. Verifying membership is something we’re still struggling with, and Cory’s solution of verifying through public voter registration lists is genius! We’re set on having users' current Votes public to encourage voter accountability, and requiring a login through a public account such as facebook is still on the table. Cory, I think there is a lot of similarity between our ideas and a lot of room for synergy! If you’d put our heads together and learn from each other, you can reach me at
James Fayal's reply to Ben Williamson's comment
March 26, 2013, 12:06AM
I think the GitHub model could be an amazing overarching structure for the platform, if implemented well. The structure allows for constant revision, formation of derivative ideas/platforms, and minimal, but effective monitoring. From a crowd-sourcing complexity standpoint, coding is as close of a comparable as I can think of at the moment.

The GitHub (or any) model could also mesh well with the Quirky model of ideation. The phased approach used by Quirky allows for the community to comment on and revise the idea in a structured manner. The timetabled approach poses some problems, given the nature of a political party, but with systematic revisiting of party stances it may be doable. The Knight Foundation has used a similar approach for this challenge.

Devising a system to amend stances using the communities suggestions, comments, and derivative views will be a challenge, but I have little doubt in the power of open communities and transparency. Keep it up and good luck.
Scott Lowe's reply to Ben Williamson's comment
March 27, 2013, 09:14PM
Giving the community the ability to edit Views or Stances in a Quirky model of ideation is a very powerful idea, and we'll have to investigate more! I suspect this feature won't make the MVP, but it's defintiely something to keep in mind for further development. :)

Thanks James!
March 25, 2013, 12:20PM
This platform presents a unique and exciting opportunity for Americans to become more politically engaged through the use of technology and the internet.

However, the technology to use your platform is not affordable for all of the people in our nation. How do you plan to counteract the platform getting overloaded with the views of the wealthy, in order to ensure that the less fortunate still have a voice?
Ben Plum's reply to Ben Williamson's comment
March 26, 2013, 07:06PM
Hi Ben. Member of the team here. Thanks for bringing this up, as it's definitely a key issue.

In his book "American Politics: The Enduring Constitution", William Lasser writes, “The modern notion of democracy also includes respect for individual rights and minority rights.. A political system in which 51% of the people are allowed to terrorize and abuse the 49% is simply not a democracy in form or substance." This is critical to keep in mind, as, to your point, our system is built on a technology that is not available to all Americans. That doesn't mean, however, that the views of the minority will be excluded in our system. Theoretically, all it takes is one well-articulated View or comment from a reputable member of the community to influence others. It will be up to the members of the Information Party to keep all stakeholders in all decisions in mind, especially when the well-being of others is at stake.
Zac 's reply to Ben Williamson's comment
March 26, 2013, 11:10PM
Hey Ben --

The only barrier to entry to participate in The Information Party is an internet connection. Reading through the idea, it doesn't sound like there is a financial cost to post a view or start a discussion. Because of this low barrier to entry, I don't think that the platform will ever get overloaded with the views of the wealthy. The site is open and accessible to everyone with an internet connection.

I think, though, that your comment is referring more towards those individuals and communities that lack an internet connection. I don't think The Information Party needs to solve this problem in order for this idea to be successful and have a balanced viewpoint present on the site. There are other groups and non-profits working to solve the digital divide. Take, for example, the connect your community program that is making the internet more accessible in cities such as Detroit and Cleveland (

We need to start asking the question of how all our communication technologies will help constituents connect with our elected officials. Right now, the way to communicate with elected officials is outdated. We need to find innovative approaches, and I think this idea could be an ideal first step towards creating both a better informed public and also allow elected officials an easier, more efficient way to hear the opinions of their constituents.
Katherine Kahl's reply to Ben Williamson's comment
March 27, 2013, 12:11AM
Are you familiar with web accessibility issues - Section 508, WCAG etc?
Cortney Robinson's reply to Ben Williamson's comment
March 27, 2013, 02:00AM
Hi Katherine! Member of the team here. To put it simply I will say absolutely.

To expand upon that initial response, I'd use a quote from the father of the internet Tim Berners-Lee, "The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect."

It's safe to say that one of the core beliefs at the center of this project is inclusion. Exclusion on any basis whether it be race, gender, age, political affiliation, or physical disability is just not acceptable.

Especially in those areas where we can prevent exclusion and lower the barriers to participation simply by creating a great platform that meets technical standards and best practices, it is our obligation to do so. We will always have accessibility and overall user experience as a priority for our users.

Thank you for your comment Katherine and if there are any sites that you think do a great job creating accessible content via solid markup structure, appropriate meta tags, and minimal hacks that affect screen reader performance please feel free to share a link.
March 27, 2013, 01:08AM
I absolutely love the concept. I feel as though this has the potential to become a great forum for reasonable and informative discourse/debate. Of course, the relevance of this movement hinges on the perceived importance of the site. Do these discussions result in action? Will there be tangible results?
If the concept can be structured in such a way to actual achieve real measurable results, then this could easily become a huge political movement. Scratch that, this idea will become a huge political movement, it's just a matter of who's doing it and when. It seems like you folks have it well understood and could potentially pull this off.
One idea I had is that of taking your stances and endorsing candidates that closely align with your values. You could look at each election/primary, and identify the candidate that shares your values both from a political standpoint and from an ethical standpoint (honesty/transparency). By highlighting these individuals, you increase the Information Party's relevance and you reward the kinds of behavior that we all desire from politicians.
Extremely interesting stuff.
March 25, 2013, 02:46AM
This idea excites me.

The biggest challenge will be the roll out. The pitch to users is that you're giving them a new medium for getting their opinions heard. However this will be hard to sell at first since your site won't have any clout. I can see you getting past this in two ways:

1. Have awesome content. First bring people to the site because they want to read opinions, not share. It'll be hard to get people interested in sharing their views on a site that initially has no users. Though say for example you were able to get notable professors, businessmen, or any other respected/recognizable figures to share their political opinions on your site. People would come to check that out. Then if you gave space for discussion, users' views would come out organically.

2. Have concrete evidence that the discussions on your site matter. Register as an official political party and tell users they can influence party platforms and even get their names on ballets by building popularity on your site. It'll be clear that the Information Party won't stand a chance in any initial elections, but there could be enough excitement around this novelty to get people engaged.

Overall I think this is a fresh idea and a site that I would use. Though as with any social media site, the value is only as good as the content and users. Solving a problem is only gets you halfway there and user acquisition and retention becomes the name of the game. That said, I think you guys can crush this.
Ben Plum's reply to Ben Williamson's comment
March 26, 2013, 07:17PM
Sean, thanks so much for your input. I'm a member of the team, and I wanted to take a moment to comment on the points you made.

You're absolutely right about content, and getting people to the site. We plan on grand-fathering in people who've already pre-registered with the site through our email submission portal. These pre-registered users will have the first say in posting views and ideas, and we're counting on these folks to be the biggest drivers of traffic to the site. We also really hope to gain the respect and approval of the Reddit community at-large, as I personally can't think of a more valuable group of constituents to have on our side.

Concrete evidence that the site actually matters is crucial. We're currently exploring what it takes to gain status as a full-fledged political party, and that is absolutely one of our top-most goals. We want members of our community to feel validated, and the best way to do that is to empower them. We believe this can be done by assuring all users that they have a voice, and that if they speak passionately and articulately enough, their words can have a substantial impact on our government.
March 26, 2013, 02:53PM
I like the idea quite a bit. Someone (Scott) should send this to David Boren at the University of Oklahoma for some kind of endorsement or feedback.

A few thoughts:
1) Don't know that I'd call it a Party unless you're going to run candidates and fundraise, etc. It seems more like an open-sourced think tank to try and capture the true policy desires of the American people.

2) The ideas will probably not be representative of the median American. Rather, they will almost certainly over-represent the views of upper-middle class college-educated (mostly) males in the same way Reddit does. Not that this is a bad thing, but I would gather demographics on users to show WHOSE opinion you are capturing.
Ben Plum's reply to Ben Williamson's comment
March 26, 2013, 06:46PM
Jerod, excellent points. Thank you for posting. I'm Ben, and I'm a member of the team.

I'm glad you brought up the point about candidacy. The ultimate goal of the site is to indeed run candidates and fundraise. In other words, to be a complete political party. The candidates would ideally be members of the community who've gained excellent reputation by posting relevant and insightful content. These would be people who have expressed interest in running for office, who have engaged with the site for some substantial length of time, and who have gained the trust of the community at-large. This person could even be nominated and selected by the members of the Information Party, the same way all party stances are selected: by majority rule. And as the community has the power to nominate and elect, it also should have the power to remove candidates who don't fulfill their obligations to the community and to the Information Party as a whole.

I also agree that there are certainly challenges related to who exactly the site represents. One initial flaw, from my perspective, is that the party will only ever represent people with internet access. This is a substantial chunk of Americans who will remain unrepresented until a solution emerges (that which comes to mind is WiFi as a free public service, but that's neither here nor there). We will indeed need to be mindful of the demographics of users on the site, but there are numerous solutions for collecting that data. I'm glad that you contributed this, because transparency, in all areas of politics and government, is a cornerstone of this project. As the team's resident data analyst, I will plan on performing regular report-outs on user demographics and high-level engagement.
March 22, 2013, 05:18PM
It's a great idea, but my cynical side says it will end up being exclusive. Yes, in an information age, we have the tools necessary to engage the voting public more in the political process, increasing transparency and reducing corruption. What we don't yet have is a voting public that has any capacity to sort good information from bad or logic from emotional appeal. And the mainstream media keeps them drunk enough on half truth to sell themselves that they never have to go looking. The propaganda machine has a lot of money behind it.

Even if, through a Reddit-esque voting system, you manage to cultivate a community that truly values reason and can engage with the issues in a meaningful way, and even if you manage to keep such a community accessible, you still alienate anyone coming in "ignorant" and unwilling to challenge their existing paradigm. Which, sadly, accounts for an overwhelming majority of the American populace, I believe, liberal and conservative.

That said, one could optimistically argue that if you create greener pastures, people will flock to them. Perhaps if the bar is set high, it will create a top-down cultural shift, or at least pull the entire political environment a little higher.
Sam Stites's reply to Ben Williamson's comment
March 24, 2013, 05:50PM
Thanks for your honesty Ethan, your cynical side shouldn't be discounted and the points you mention are definitely valid. I think you accurately touched on some of the first hurdles we will come across as well as showing us that we need to explain our main concept in more clarity. I’m going to break down your thoughts into two portions: the good and bad now, and the good and bad further down the road. Please tell me if this is a just interpretation.

what you think is currently in our favor:
> We have all the tools to achieve this goal - to engage the voting public,increasing transparency and reducing corruption.

hurdles you see that we will encounter immediately:
> Currently, we don't have a voting public that can sort good information from unfounded opinion
> the mainstream media has a lot of money behind it and feeds people half truths which makes them ignorant and deters us from our cause.

I personally feel that with the technology we have now, we can help the voting public sort out the good information from the bad - however if we approach this problem purely with technology, then the public has no incentive to use it and we will face the same hurdles you mentioned. For that reason the information party can’t simply be an online platform for discussion, it has to be taken a step further to show that these discussions will be actively used and somehow be integrated into our government. The route we have decided to take is a cut-out-the-middleman-approach where we form a political party and the public’s Views will have direct and immediate impact.

It’s also good to keep in mind that money is a relevant factor. The mainstream media has their own constituents they represent and their funding allows them to have further reach and influence. With the power of the internet you can also reach a significant audience, however even with a shoestring budget this is unsustainable without funding and makes institutions like the Knight Foundation so beneficial in incubating these kinds of positive impacts. To this point, we’re looking.

what you think is in our favor father out:
>If we achieve success then we have set a high bar and it will create a top-down cultural shift.

hurdles you see for us father out:
> This has potential for exclusivity
>To that point, if we achieve success we will alienate anyone coming in "ignorant" and unwilling to challenge their existing paradigm

Success for us means that we are able to foster an open community which will contain deep, meaningful and informed discussion of politics which will ultimately be represented in the government. So yes, we’re setting the bar high and pushing for that cultural shift. We’re also trying to create a true democracy where everyone is a part of these discussions or is informed of them, however even if we achieve our success this will still be representational only to those who have access to technology and are aware of this site.

We’re trying to overcome exclusivity by allowing people to up-vote or down-vote a View or Stance and needing to posting their own reasoning if they think that their perspective is not fully addressed. However I think at a deeper level, this touches on the issue of structure which we start to address by saying that we’re working with a “reddit and stack overflow” style. It’s still an ongoing discussion and it’s an area I’d love to see some discussion around.

In regards to people who are unwilling to change their views we’re not trying to force them to - thank you for this comment, we’ll have to be more clear on this. While we want everyone to be open minded and take into account logic and reasoning, the two are not mutually exclusive and - at an extreme - everyone has their own logic framework which leads them to their decisions. The idea is not necessarily to change this, only to bring about discussion which takes all of these frameworks into account and allows everyone to be able to evaluate them on a personal level make those decisions more informed.


Great comment - we’ll have to add more clarity to the submission. Let me know if I didn't address your issues fully or if you have more input - we’d love to hear it!
John Smith's reply to Ben Williamson's comment
March 25, 2013, 09:38PM
Hi guys,

I applaud your attempts here. There are positives and negatives in your approach, but, for brevity, let me just outline a few points I hope you consider.

There are 2 main aspects to something like this, as it is in any political system. There's an information exchange and discussion part, and then there's the decision structure. It looks like you're considering both but fully integrating the 2, but the information part is the element that's going to determine if people trust and use the system.

And, the information exchange and discussion part is going to determine the decision structure. So until that's defined better, you really can't go far. So that begs the question of how can you describe and discuss, with very large groups, the dizzying myriad of issues that face society, within a consistent framework that's going to allow "the people" to have real control.

I put that question to myself a few months ago. After I came to, I resolved to find a realistic solution.

Since then I think I've conceived of a way for the people to see, discuss and make decisions for the vast majority of issues and incidents in society, including defined changes in law. My work is in it's infancy, just like yours, but we compliment each other perfectly. Mine deals with the information exchange and discussion process mainly, and yours deals with managing the technical aspects of the discussion and decision process.

I've posted my initial discussions on the "rabble" web-site, "babble" forum, "babblers helping babblers", "creating new information database" thread. Note that's from a specific perspective, and I was going to do a very detailed discussion there, from square 1. If you have questions, please ask.

If you don't want to interact with that, which would be easier, then with your own information system, I think you have to provide a sufficient array of standard information so you don't define the discussion. The nature of the information is going to determine how the people will be able to evaluate any issue, which will determine the decision.

If people think the information is being manipulated in any way, who would trust it. It doesn't even have to be true, just the suggestion it might be true is enough to distrust it. Especially since it's "new". It may seem like that would be the case no matter what, but I don't think so. It depends how you look at it.

Someone once said they didn't like discussing things with me sometimes because I put things in ways that you couldn't disagree. They didn't realize that was because I was just pointing out our points of agreement in different ways, in order to find exactly where and how we disagreed. To many, discussion means argument, but it doesn't have to.

As I see it, your entire concept is totally dependent on the integrity of your information system. And the information system has to be a lot more than just the pros and cons of specific points. It has to be investigative and allow independent exploration of the issues within a consistent and relevant framework.

I could go on for many more pages, but I think the discussion would be better framed within a slightly different context, so if you'd like to continue along those lines, say hello on the thread I mentioned earlier.

Ethan Carlson's reply to Ben Williamson's comment
March 26, 2013, 10:25AM
I think it might be a bit of a contradiction to say you don't want to force people to change their minds, but want them to be open minded and listen to logic and reason. I would argue that because logic and reason play such a secondary role in the current political discourse, you will necessarily be asking people to change their minds. So then, like John said, the issue becomes what information you're presenting. Take climate change for example. There is a wealth of very good information available on the subject, and presented in accesible formats, but, nuance aside, it only supports one side of the argument. So, do you allow bad information into your discourse? Or do you end the argument before it starts? All it takes is one situation like this to be typecast as liberal or conservative, and you immediately lose trust. Climate change happens to be a particularly clear example from a scientific perspective, but you see my point.

So that's what I meant by exclusivity. You're tapping into this relatively small portion of the country that is open to changing their mind. Everyone else, simply out of cognitive dissonance, will brush you off as a front for the other team. The fate of Americans Elect:

Another problem, that also happened with Americans Elect, is that you will naturally attract people who are 1) interested in new things, and 2) internet savvy. Ie. young, progressive. The mob voice will be skewed to the left.

That all said, if you manage to solve the trust issue, as somewhat of a neutral arbiter, and people buy into the platform, then you have the opportunity to change the infrastructure by which we interact with government. Which, now that I think about it, is an interesting idea. What if, instead of or in addition to making a national party, you created the infrastructure by which local and regional politicians could interact with their constituents? Constituents would have a forum for discussion, local issues wouldn't get drowned out, and information could make its way into legislation directly. And, best of all, it would all be recorded for accountability. Yeah, I actually like this idea much more as a local structure than as a national one. More interesting dialogue, fewer trolls. Have them locally moderated so that the incoming information doesn't appear to be top-down. This will undoubtedly result in a decrease in info quality, but could be traded for efficacy. Just a thought, albeit disjointed:-)
March 25, 2013, 03:23AM
I'm a fan of any platform, regardless of how big it becomes, that promotes facts and data vs partisan rhetoric.

There are definite challenges, but they are insurmountable. Good luck.
March 24, 2013, 03:37PM
First, a quick note: the name of the site is Stack Overflow, not Stacked-Overflow.

I agree that increased access to information is almost always a good thing, especially in political discourse. I also value the dual commitment to open processes and private reconsideration of previous views.

Let me outline a scenario in which the site as it stands now is vulnerable to a rapid descent into irrelevance:

1) The site acquires a small group of users
2) The users vote on Views and come up with their first few Stances
3) New visitors come to the site and look at the established Stances
4a) The new visitors who agree with the established Stances stick around to work on refinement
4b) The new visitors who disagree with the established Stances see that the Party already has a platform they disagree with, causing them to leave the site and never come back

In this way, the first group of users determine the entire character of the site. The Party becomes insular, only attracting new users who are similar to old users. Depending on the initial composition of users, the Party may adopt platforms too radical for the vast majority of Americans, becoming yet another fringe 3rd party.

I suspect there are ways to combat such groupthink, but as it stands now I feel the site may be vulnerable.
Scott Lowe's reply to Ben Williamson's comment
March 24, 2013, 06:06PM
This is definitely a huge concern of ours, and we've put some initial thought into how to mitigate that risk.

First, we've designed the landing page (page you land on at our domain before signing in) to display the party's Stances. Users will be able to click the "Endorse" or "Protest" buttons, and are encouraged to weigh in (they'll be taken to the login/signup page if they click either button). By advertising a culture where everyone's voice matters, we're attempting to keep the community from becoming exclusive to anyone.

Second, we'll aim to attract a diverse group for our initial beta. This should encourage discourse and help to prevent overwhelming groupthink.

We've also adopted the following motto: The Information Party, everyone's invited. :D


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