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Liquid Feedback

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Liquid Feedback is a tool developed in form of stored procedures for PostgreSQL with a front-end in LUA. In non-technical terms this means, it looks like a social website and it operates surprisingly fast even under the load of thousands of users.

Features of Liquid Feedback

It is much more suited for the work of a political party than other liquid democracy solutions as liquid democracy isn't even it's most important feature. LF provides:

  1. Voting using the Schulze method which means each voter can take much finer grained decisions than just YES or NO.
  2. A proper work flow from discovery of issues, democratic discussion and ultimately voting that leads to decisions within a predictable time frame and cannot be tweaked for political purposes.
  3. Discussion of issues isn't led in the usual anarchic way as it happens in wikis, pads and mailing lists – in LF you need to build up support for proposals and even amendments of proposals in order to reach consensus.
  4. The procedure was designed to be troll-resistant, and it is very good at that.
  5. And yes, you can delegate your voting power, which is the point in liquid democracy. You can do it in a very fine grained way – per area, per issue. Many delegate the discussion part to others, then come back to vote in person. This is useful as the delegation is given to experts to make them more important in discussions.

After the success of Berlin most Berliner pirates would agree this tool was among the top things that empowered us to win the elections.

Five issues to address

In order to deploy a Liquid Feedback in your organization, the developers recommend that these 5 points be met:

WHO is to participate?

In some cases this may be obvious, in some other cases however you may have to consider well who is entitled to participate. It may be important that there is a registered list of real people to ensure legitimacy. The last thing you want is to allow for anyone to register an account, then have to deal with fake users.

WHAT is it about?

Are you trying to do a one time referendum, are you working on a party program or are you trying to find democratic solutions for any sort of problem that arises in a group of human beings?

WHICH instruments will you employ?

If you employ other discussion tools, what is their role in relation to liquid feedback?

HOW will you use liquid feedback?

There are many parameters to configure within Liquid Feedback that are of political relevance like the durations of working procedures and the quora needed for issues and initiatives to pass from one phase to the next. You may first need to decide upon these aspects before getting started.

Also, from a standpoint of democratic legitimacy, you may have to ensure that data of past votings is transparently available, that people can check if the system counted votes correctly, that administration of the LF instance is done in a way that ensures no single person can access the database and make secret changes.

WHAT happens with the results?

Are the votings only reflecting the opinions of a group or are they taking actual decisions with actual consequences? The more importance the output of the system has, the more people are motivated to work on it.