This goes here until a more official document can be presented. All features highlighted below may not currently be available. This is what the finished forum should look like
1.0 The System
This system replicates some of the workings of our established governments, builds off existing infrastructure, improves underdeveloped aspects, and replaces some aspects that are broken. This system can be easily integrated into our established governments to improve them and eventually replace them. It is a system that gives the people the power to shape the world they live in and pay for.
An excellent mechanism for a sustained conversation on the internet is the fully threaded forum. The ability for each post made to start multiple threads of dialogue that veer off into different areas while maintaining organized cohesion is crucial. Posts submitted on the forum will all start with a short title (max 140 characters) to serve as their main point. Everyone's title post will be displayed in feeds with others like them. Every title will be able to be expanded to view additional information, along with any replies that post has received (See 3.0). This title method keeps text condensed while including many participants.
The forum is initially broken up into feeds set to the user's location. The user's city, province/state, country, and the world are the default locational feeds. The feeds host the proposals; user-created changes that hope to be included in the functioning of the government (See 2.0). Besides a users location feeds there is also a default 'Department' feed for all proposals dealing with department adjustments (See 7.0). Users can post and vote in any of their default feeds. Users are also able to create their feeds by inputting keywords into a search bar. Feeds can be populated to any preference, but your defaults will always remain. Users can post in any created feed but may not be able to vote if the proposal is in a specific locality outside theirs.
1.3 Open Source
A key aspect of this system is the principle of total transparency. To have a system with no authority power structure while maintaining integrity and trust throughout, everything must be open source. All activity and information on the site need to be accessible.
Every post and proposal is permanent; there is no editing in the system once posted. Every form of activity by users will be logged in a feed on their account. Databases of statistics and their sources will be available for viewing by anyone. Every piece of knowledge is accessible, organized and updated to the best of its ability (See 9.2).
An account will be eligible once a citizen reaches the age of 18. They must have some identification linked to their account to ensure they are the registered one. Once registered they can access their account from any internet connected device and start participating. They should be aware of the process of the systems and their expected behavior on the site by the time they register. All accounts will be secured either through a password, facial or fingerprint recognition as the technology becomes more advanced and widespread. When users post or vote on the system their accounts will be displayed as a number. This number adds a level of anonymity to accounts and removes immediate judgment in observing who has posted.
2.0 The Proposals
Proposals are the main action of the forum. Every new topic that's started on the forum is a proposal for a change. A user that submits a new topic is known as the 'Author' of that proposal. Every topic is an idea, hoping to solve a particular problem. Proposals can be for anything the government helps shape: departments, research, construction, laws, etc. Every new topic post must complete a standard proposal template. The template lists sections to fill out, these sections are always the same, creating familiarity for ease of use and viewing. An initial limit of one proposal a month per user will be placed in the system.
2.1 Creating New Proposals
First, users are required to indicate the feed of their proposal, whether it's for a specific small locality or a worldwide change. Feeds determine who is prompted to view and vote on the proposal initially. Then, a title (max 140 character) explanation of what the proposal hopes to accomplish will define the goal. This title will be what's presented on the feed page along with the other proposals of its locality.
An emergency banner may be added to a title if it's a very time sensitive proposal. This banner gives the proposal additional feature time at the top of the page. Misuse of the banner may result in a suspension from posting if multiple reports are filed (See 8.0).
2.2 Writing the Preamble
After the feed and goal are stated, the author may add a preamble to the proposal. The preamble is to clarify the stated goal and to explain why this proposal is necessary. The preamble will have a 200-word limit.
2.3 Answering the FAQ
Following the preamble, the author will address the frequently asked questions. These questions are prompts designed to reveal the full proposal.
Each question has space for a 140 character answer which will be visible following the stated question. These answers along with the preamble will be what's viewable as the authors' proposal. Each answer then has an expandable option where the bulk of information can be stored. These expandable sections will also host the replies from other users addressing the author's stated answer.
The FAQ includes:
● Who or which departments will be affected? (See 7.2)
● What are the projected costs?
● Are there contracts? (See 2.4)
● Where will it take place?
● What are the duration dates? (See 6.3)
● What are the consequences?
● Are there conditional proposals? (See 2.5)
● How will it be managed?
2.4 Official Contracts
A collection of forms will be available to any user who wishes to create a proposal that involves legal dealings. Contracts will be pre-approved templates from the forum database and simple in wording. Authors need only to fill out a few fields to match it to their own need. The author should then attach them to the ' Contract' FAQ question along with any special alterations that are required. This affords trust, protection, and legitimacy to proposals.
When an independent proposal doesn't have a department dedicated to it, it can accept contract bids from outside companies. Companies post the filled out contract along with their rate in the 'Contract' FAQ. The selected company will be chosen through an adoption by the author (See 4.0). Funds for these proposals will come out of the reserve treasury and be incorporated in next year's budget assessment (See 7.4).
2.5 Conditional Proposals
Complex proposals may require additional proposals to also pass the vote before the original action takes place. These conditional proposals give assurance to users that more specifics are required before an official change is made. It allows for consensus on the idea, laying the groundwork for more technical aspects of a proposal. The author lists the conditional proposals needed, and the system creates links to submit them through once the original proposal passes the general vote. These conditional proposals follow the same layout as an ordinary proposal. They will show up in the main feed with the other proposals but will have a special marking indicating their purpose and origin of original proposal. Conditional proposals cannot go to a general vote until the author of the original proposal approves them. Conditional proposals may be suggested and submitted by other users or the original authors themselves.
2.6 System Automation for Proposals
To begin with, this feature will be performed by the Department of Assistance until the technology is sufficient. Upon completion of a proposal, the system verifies that all prompts have been filled. The system then tags any past or current proposals, laws, and links that appear to have similarities to the proposal. The author will have the option to address each tagged article in title form (140 characters) of what significance the particular tag has on their proposal. Each response can be expanded revealing additional information and responses from other users. The tagged articles will show up at the very end of the proposal.
3.0 Discussion on Proposals
This system operates as a fully threaded forum, any post made may start its own chain of replies. Discussion throughout the forum is focused on proposals, its merits, and its faults. Every post will be an attempt to enhance the post it replies to. Any criticism should be paired with a suggestion of improvement, keeping the discussion constructive and moving. No post should be a general question; it should always be phrased as a statement, this is why each reply begins with "I propose...".
Posts need to be paired with academic references whenever possible. All posts need to avoid overly technical terms. A grammar checker may be implemented to ensure a certain level of coherence is reached. No post over a 10th-grade reading level may be submitted; corrections will be suggested until that level is reached.
Again, there are no editing posts within the system once posted, ensuring continuity to debate.
Every answer to the FAQ can have its own feed of replies. These replies are accessible when expanding the answer of the author. The proposal as a whole can be replied to as well at the bottom of the proposal. Each user can only reply directly once to each given answer and once to the proposal as a whole. Users can also only reply once to each subsequent post that follows. This ban on multiple replies to the same post keeps dialogue succinct.
3.2 Propping (a.k.a. an Upvote, a Like, etc.)
Every post or proposal made on the forum can be propped once by each user. A prop represents agreement with a particular post. Props replace unnecessary congratulatory text. A prop helps determine the rank of each post or proposal on their respective feeds. Every post is ranked with others of its kind and displayed as a list using the ranking order formula (See 3.4).
3.3 Blocking Proposals Through Props
Should a post to a proposal more than double the number of props the proposal itself has received, a hold will be placed preventing the proposal from moving to the redraft stage (See 5.0). This hold is implemented because the highly propped post more than likely points out a glaring error in the proposal. In this case, the proposal would either need to break the prop differential naturally or adopt the doubling-post, agreeing to have it included in the redraft. Should the author see, there is no way to reconcile the post they can let the proposal die. If left the proposal will eventually be overtaken by newer proposals in the feed and fall out of sight. The proposal will always serve as a reference for when a similar proposal comes up again and may be resurrected if a solution to the highly propped post is found.
3.4 Ranking Order of Posts and Proposals in Feeds
To keep posts in the feeds fresh and in constant movement a formula is required. This formula is designed to allow new posts a chance to be seen while also keeping popular posts near the top.
Each feed is sorted and ranked by score, highest to lowest. Each post made on the forum starts with an initial score of 0, no post can go higher than this. Posts begin to drop in score the moment they're created. The initial drop score time of a proposal is set to -1 score every 10 seconds. This score is accumulated so after 30 seconds the proposal will have a score of -3.
Any first string replies to a proposal lose -1 score every 9 seconds instead of 10. Second string replies lose -1 score every 8 seconds and so on. -1 score every second at the eighth string level is as quick as points can be lost.
The drop score time can be increased however with each prop a post receives. If a proposal acquires a prop, it will only lose -1 score every 11 seconds instead of 10. If the proposal acquires two props, it'll only lose -1 score every 12 seconds and so on. Props can also deteriorate in value the further down the string of replies it's received, a prop for a second string reply may only be worth .5 of a second added so would lose -1 score every 8.5 seconds instead.
This drop score time is more lenient on proposals and early string replies because a post will always take on its highest scoring reply. If a user posts a reply in the third string of a proposal, that proposal, as well as the first and second string replies it comes from, will temporarily take on the score of the third string reply. At the moment of creation that third strong post has a score of 0, the highest possible score. A third string reply will lose points faster than the posts before it though and so eventually the other posts will go back to using an original score instead because it'll be the higher number. This formula creates a natural order and balance to posts, as an older post with many props will eventually overtake the newer posts with less.
4.0 Adding Amendments to Proposals
Authors may alter their original proposal by adopting other users posts that have acquired significant support. These posts then become the amendments to the proposal.
Amendments are adopted to make the proposal more widely accepted by the user base, increasing the chances that the proposal will pass a general vote. Because each post is a type of suggestion, the amendment will overrule whatever portion it responds to in the original proposal.
An adopted amendment will show up directly below the answer to one of the FAQs or directly below the end of the FAQ section if it's responding to the proposal as a whole. The other replies that haven't been adopted will follow.
A max of three adoptions for each FAQ along with the proposal as a whole is allowed before the system requires a new proposal to be created. In such a case, the author should incorporate all the adoptions into their new proposal and start again.
5.0 Re-drafting Proposals
When a proposal has had the chance to be seen and commented on, a minimum of two weeks time, the author can move it to the re-drafting stage. Here, paid system employees will rework the relevant discussions into an easily read report for voters. A report will include all adopted posts, official paperwork, and any conditional proposals. It will also include all heavily propped posts that did not get adopted. These heavily propped posts cannot be included as part of the official proposal, but are there to show voters that some disagreements might still exist.
The re-drafting employees are assigned at random to each proposal. Each employee must submit their re-draft within a 72-hour window. Each re-drafted proposal will be able to be propped by all the major participants in the discussion phase, including the author. The re-draft that gains the most props from the participants is selected as the final version to be presented to the voters. All other versions and the original discussion thread will remain intact for voters who wish to review it. Users that did not prop the winning re-draft will have a section to state their concerns for the selected version.
Re-drafting employees will be scored on their consistency in acquiring props from the proposal participants. The most neutral re-drafters will have the most success, ensuring unbiased re-drafts.
This section provides information on how the public voting procedure is carried out after an official re-draft has been selected.
6.1 Auto-Match Proxy Voting
This feature requires users to take a personality test upon signing up to determine similarities in voting patterns to other users. Each user will have a score attached to their profile based on the results. After a proposal goes to the voting stage, users will have one week to cast their vote. Every user that did not vote after the period will then be matched with their five closest matches that did vote. The majority vote of the five matches will then be chosen as the user's vote. There will then be a 24 hour period for the user to change their matched vote before voting closes. Users can opt out of a vote if they're conflicted. Auto-match proxy voting is done to ensure full representation of the people's will; it's designed to create the result that if everyone had the time to dedicate, they would come to.
6.2 Voting Stages
Each redrafted proposal will begin the voting process with a random sampling of eligible voters. If a proposal is posted in a specific locality, only the users registered from that area will vote at first. This local sample will need to vote in majority favor to pass the proposal to a larger sampling of voters. Every stage should have a voting period of one week. The size of the sampling continues to increase (1%, 5%, 15%, 50%, 100%) until the entire user base is involved. This sampling stems the number of proposals the public is expected to read, as many may fail in the early voting stages. Every user that votes will be able to leave a remark on why they voted the way they did. Votes will be revealed at the end of every voting period.
Following the end of a successful final vote, the predetermined transition period from the FAQ will begin (See 2.3). This period allows people to adapt to the coming changes. All relevant databases will be updated to reflect the coming change with appropriate sections being labeled "In Transition" until the period is up. Funds will be released according to the contracts and work can begin (See 2.4).
Departments do the actual work of the system. Departments are expected to see through each passed proposal in which they have been included. Employees of departments answer to their manager and managers are employed by the users. A department's purpose, duties, and goals are set by the public and displayed in their own section of the 'Department' database (See 9.2). Any aspect of a department, including its creation and dismantling, can be controlled by the users through proposals. Departments are required to publish their developments and submit expense receipts to their section of the database.
7.1 List of Startup Departments
These are the departments that are required to run the system effectively:
● Department of Site Developers- Responsible for drafting and implementing changes passed by the public in proposals. Also responsible for maintaining the security of the site. Official changes to the system are to be done at the access points.
● Department of Access Points- Responsible for monitoring and maintaining these physical locations around the world. (See 9.1)
● Department of Assistance- Responsible for helping users form their initial proposals before it's posted (See 2.6). Also responsible for redrafting proposals that are moving to the voting stage. (See 5.0)
● Department of Information- Responsible for inputting and linking all available information together in an organized manner into easily understood databases.
● Department of Disaster Relief- Responsible for providing aid from any natural disaster. Tasked with restoring a connection to the system when it is lost in a community.
● Department of Auditors- This department's sole task is to find discrepancies within departments. If the offending department does not respond to a request to fix the discrepancy a public proposal may be brought up by this department to force the change.
Additional departments are needed to run the global governance as a whole. These additional departments are not listed here as they will be created as the need arises. Departments should always have a clear focus (e.g., Department of Transportation), new duties can be added and removed via additional proposals.
7.2 Official Forum Accounts
Each department will have a forum account to use in addressing proposals that authors include them in (See 2.3). The department name will be visible in posts instead of a user number. Once prompted a department should acknowledge its ability to complete the proposals request. If approved by the department the author will need to adopt that post to their proposal. If departments can't complete a proposal request, a discussion should occur to determine the proper action. Conditional proposals may follow that discussion. A proposal cannot go to the redrafting stage if the associated departments have not approved their role. Department accounts can be reported but are unable to be banned from posting.
7.3 Electing Managers for Departments
When a department is created by a proposal, the users must elect a Manager at the same time. A contract is attached under the 'Contract' FAQto the proposal determining the duties, pay, and necessary qualifications for the position. The criteria for the position should be strict to ensure a quality candidate is chosen. A candidate will be selected at random out of all the qualified applicants. This selection process eliminates candidates trying to gain an advantage through campaigning for the position. Once selected, the manager may be responsible for hiring new employees in the department. Employees may also need to meet the qualifications set by the proposal. Managers have the ability to be fired by the public via proposal if the department does not perform its duties adequately. This firing proposal will contain the contract to hire a new manager at the same time, so there is never a vacancy. Individual hiring and firing of managers is the only exception in the code of conduct (See 8.0).
7.4 Department Budgets
A departments budget is what's used to fulfill duties, fund passed proposals that include them and pay employees. An annual operating budget will be determined by the users annually. This process will involve displaying, in the database, all departments that the system is responsible for financially. Each department will have a slider that will be able to be adjusted by each user independently. Each slider will start at last year's decided budget. The user's ability to set the year's budget would be dependant on how much the department saved or spent in excess the previous year. Each department is capable of a budget adjustment of 20% in either direction. A proposal may be made from a department's forum account before the start of the process requesting an exception to this rule. An average of all input from users will determine how much capital each department will have to work with throughout the year. Each department must submit a priority list of where their budget will be spent beforehand. This list will be used as reminders of what will be gained and lost as users move the sliders.
New departments in the system get their initial operating budget upon creation in the 'Cost' FAQ. A reserve should be put aside every year for this reason.
8.0 Post Infractions and the Judicial Process
Posts or proposals that violate a rule of the system may be reported by users. These violations may result in a time penalty from posting for the offending user. The right to vote can never be taken away.
Upon clicking 'report' in a post, the particular type of infraction can be selected from a list. A significant amount of the same type of report will prompt an automatic hearing to determine if the reported user will be suspended. A jury of 7 with no prior connection to the post will be randomly assigned to determine if the reports are valid. This can be seen as the equivalent to jury duty in our current system. Failure to participate in this process, if called, may result in a posting penalty of their own.
Once all jury members have been informed, a discussion will occur amongst them to determine the validity of the reports. A general vote is then cast, and a simple majority will decide the verdict.
Should the post be found to violate a forum rule, the post will be locked from further discussion, and the user will begin serving their time penalty. If no violation, the discussion will be allowed to continue, the post would need to be reported by others to go back to a trail. Violators may appeal a decision; in that case, the post remains locked while a jury of 9 is called to go through the process again. The time penalty for posting doubles if the same decision is reached. Repeated violations from the same user increase the time penalty with each subsequent infraction until finally a full ban from posting is issued. The increasing time penalties go; two days, one week, two weeks, one month, two months, one year, two years, ten years, twenty years.
The reportable infractions include posts that subjugate a particular group or individual, business or organizations. Proposals should be all-encompassing, able to be applied to every individual or an industry as a whole, managers are the exception to this rule (See 7.3). Proposals can also be reported if they present statistics without proper sources, if they misuse the emergency banner, or if they purposefully manipulate the language of a proposal.
9.0 The System's External Functions
This section deals with the resources outside of the main forum system.
9.1 Access Points in Society
Spaces will be established throughout neighborhoods, initially utilizing public libraries or school computer rooms, to act as access points to the system. The rooms will be under a constant live video stream. These spaces must be used to create or change account settings, such as passwords. The rooms will be staffed with officials from the Department of Access Points; they will supervise and assist new users in operating the platform.
The rooms will also serve as points where maintenance on the system by the Department of Site Developers occurs. Any maintenance will be announced and logged. A 24 hour period will be given before new versions of the system are activated, so users have the opportunity to check and test the changes.
The rooms will also be where certain sensitive information is kept, accessible through inquiry. A form will need to be filled out that creates a record of the user's reason for viewing. Access to all information is required in a truly direct democracy, but certain precautions can take place to make the process a hassle.
9.2 Databases within the System
There will be various accessible databases for users.
● One will contain the open source code of the system. Past versions of the system will be stored as well.
● Another will contain all existing laws by region. Users will be able to easily navigate the laws currently in effect, with the option to click on each element and view the entire legislative history.
● Another will feature all department records, current managers, budgetary spending, policies, templates, along with current and past projects completed.
● Another will feature all independent proposals that have been passed. This database serves to monitor the activity and tracks the progress of a proposal's development. The database will be split between completed proposals and those still being completed.
● A final database will exist for all failed proposals.
9.3 Preventative Measures for Tampering
Multiple versions of the system should exist that mimic all main site updates. When a breach is detected to the main site, the 'Department of Site Developers' (See 7.1) should shut down that version and move everything to another, without interruption. Users are also encouraged to keep archived versions of the forum to ensure the new version matches the old one.
In the case of total system failure, the Department of Disaster Relief will be ready to work on restoring the system at any cost. All previous laws that were in effect shall continue to operate by way of archived versions at the points of access. Payments will continue to be sent manually until the system is back up.