Welcome to Discussions at govdis.org

Late Note (September 20, 2011)

What is below was written at a time when I thought there could possible be enough interest to justify this project.   The minimal response to this and the apparently weak response to the much, much better funded Americans Elect, has convinced me that at least for the time being my efforts would be better directed at my mathematical research.

Introduction

You can think of this site as either a supplement to Americans Elect, or as a competitor.   The person behind this site started working on this on August 1, 2011, because of the lack of transparency at Americans Elect, and because it appeared to be controlled too strongly from the top. If you think that discussion where everybody posts their comments, and every once in a while votes on things is going to lead to some kind influence, then this site is probably not of interest.   So what is different here?
  1. People here really will control the site, including the hoped for replacement of the founder of the site.
  2. All income and expenses will be reported on the site, with the exclusion of items of $100 dollars or less that wish to remain private.
  3. All decisions will be public, guided by comments from those on the site, but made by a governing board, selected by those involved on the site.
  4. People will be encouraged to evaluate comments by others without adding additional commentary to reduce the site content.   We firmly believe that if there is too much repetitious talk on the site it attracts too many who like to talk and not enough willing to listen.   Opinions change only by listening.
  5. You may comment on anything, or suggest anything.   Others will evaluate what you post.   Automatic algorithms on the site will track what you and others have done in order to assign an initial weight to what you post, and what weight to assign to your evaluations of others.   This is meant to make most visible to others the things that others on the site find of most value.   More technical detail is below.
  6. It will be possible to easily link to other things on the site and to determine what sort of things will generate email to you, if any.
  7. It will be possible to contact others who have posted through an anonymous email system.
  8. You will need to register on the site in order to post comments or to evaluate others.

We are Just Getting Started

As you already know we have a domain name govdis.org (or www.govdis.org).   I have started by hosting this site using a virtual host on a DSL connection.   Keep this in mind, as an asymmetric DSL connection does not have a lot of bandwidth.   If we manage to get a web site set up that really seems to be working, I'm willing to buy a new server and lease a T1 line in order to allow this thing to scale up a little.   Anything bigger is going to need others to step in.   It will need more money than I can afford to commit to use a larger connection with more bandwidth, and to handle more traffic.   I am not qualified to do this sort of work, and either someone needs to step up (sooner is better than later so we know where we are going), or money needs to be there to hire someone who knows what they are doing.

I could use help in the following areas:

Ultimate Destination?

The immediate goal is just to provide a place for discussion that we hope will be useful.   With moderate success, we may be able to get those running for office to give clear unambiguous answers to questions that concern us.   If this gets really big, it might track legislation (federal, state, local?) and give people a chance to comment on legislation prior to passage.   People on the site will determine the direction taken so I don't want to preclude anything including a possible third political party.   However, I do believe that such talk is premature, and not likely to lead anywhere useful soon.

General Layout

There will be several type of entries.   (On Aug 17, 2011, I've added a few things here -- still no plans to actually do this.) The goal here is to get discussion that is more focused and reduce the number of comments that add little to the discussion.

  1. Headers -- Nothing to comment or rate here; these just help guide one to the area of interest, see Example Headings
  2. Comments -- These are what you can add, comment on, rate, etc.
  3. Topics -- These are meant to make it easier to find things. They will consist only of a brief header and no other text.   Users will be able to gather together a group of comments, or just introduce a topic.   A topic will look a lot like a header.   Comments under a topic will tend to be more visible to those interested in a specific issue.   Suppose you want to comment on an issue local to Portland, OR.   If not already there you might introduce a topic "States", then under that a topic "Oregon", under that a topic "Cities", Under that a topic "Portland", and under that you might introduce your comment on say a zoning issue.   After more comments come up under "Portland" a new topic "Zoning Issue" might be introduced to gather comments on that issue to separate that topic from other things like for example who ought to be the next mayor.
  4. Summaries -- Users will be able to moderate a topic.   The moderation will look a bit like the PRO and CON lists on this site.   The idea is to get all the common arguments for and against some view in one place.   The moderator of a summary will be replaced if there are sufficient complaints and there is someone else willing to take the job.   The moderator is expected to include all reasonable (to some people) views in the summary, but to make the point as succinctly as possible.   The points listed in the summary can be rated and voted on in a way similar to comments.   It is expected that most of the action will take place under the summaries.   A summary can be created without any preceding comments, or can be introduced after comments that are being summarized have already exist.   There will a mechanism in place to move comments under the points elaborated on in a summary, as is also the case for topics.
  5. Evidence -- These should point to one or more places that offer substantial evidence in support of a view.   People will be able to rate what they think of the quality of the evidence.   Text that is given as part of the evidence should give a brief summary of what the link describes.
  6. Polls -- A poll can only be an immediate descendant of a summary.   Anyone can suggest a poll, but I'm unclear at this point whether any user should be able to actually create one.
  7. Votes -- Like Polls, but use preference voting.
  8. Misc. -- For things like registration, searching, previews of comments you are submitting, etc. A possible user page.   On this page you can update/change your information, and others can view what you have made public.
For those technically inclined, here is a very rough idea of the database structures that would be used to track information.

Send comments to founder@govdis.org.   A link to the contents of the messages will be posted at feedback.   If you want your comment posted please indicate the part of the comment you wish to have posted.   You may also vote with a simple email message with a subject line containing

Hopeless
Good Luck
Bad Idea

I'll accept suggestions for other categories.

Note that the feedback link is only updated manually, so don't expect immediate feedback as you would get with the final site.

That's all there is after a day and a half + 1 hour on this.   Others will decide if this goes forward.

Added on May 5, 2014: Here is a link likely to be of interest to anyone interested in the subject here.

Last modified: Wed May 5 18:40:54 PDT 2014