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s 1570-BW needs a decision making process Let s make one

Forum thread here.


Voting soon. Preparation in progress. Don't vote yet, that'd be uncool.

Who can vote

Two groups are eligible for the vote: All the participants in the forum discussion about this issue, and a random selection of members that represent 3 times the amount of forum participants. Voting is not mandatory and it isn't clear yet if vote should be transferable (preferable to not voting?).

Delay will be 1 week.

The following list will be snapshot on a read-only support (pastebin.com ?) to prevent wiki fraud.

This paragraph will be deleted when the vote starts.

Voters from forum thread

sitarane ARHZ claudiaab frenchyfranek pablobd TimLoal alestenico leoalone trave James_Oder_Dave nicogru giuliano176 philipp guaka ashwoods moxli raphaelh margaret Joesla Toub

Static snapshot (fraud security): http://pastebin.com/wvCWx675

Added after snapshot: Planetcruiser

Randomly selected voters

I'm waiting for a DB query that'll extract that for us. There is simply no way it can be done manually.

How to vote

The voting method is "Majority judgment", which worked well in a previous case: For each option, you're invited to state your opinion (Excellent / Good / Fair / Poor). The magic of the method will make sure the favourite surfaces: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Majority_Judgment

Short summary of the 4 options

Remember that these procedures are only used when consensus is lacking. Consensus is the default way to go.

3 gears

Discussion starts on the forum.

After 5 days, if no consensus, a vote can be set up. The vote involves all participants in the forum and a random member selection of 3 times the participants. It stays open for 3 days.

If, during the 5 days of discussion, a majority in the forum thread agrees that the issue should be considered "long term", the vote is postponed to 15 days after first post and a notice is posted on the front page. The vote involves all participants in the forum and a random member selection of 3 times the participants. The vote stays open for 15 days.

If, during those 15 days, a majority in the forum thread agrees that the issue should be considered "general vision", the vote is postponed 2 months, an integrated poll is set up by an administrator and a newsletter is sent to all members inviting them to cast a vote. In parallel, a universal poll is held within BeVolunteer (the association that legally represents BeWelcome), and within the Board of Directors of BeVolunteer. The 3 polls must have the same result.

Topdown random assembly

An assembly of 15 members is randomly selected from the members. This assembly votes all the decision.

There 1 month buffer period between decision and application, so that members can challenge the decisions of the assembly on the forum.

The assembly can, of course, decide to consult with the community.

Every 6 month, 1/3 of the assembly is renewed.

General meetings

4 times a year, a BeWelcome assembly is set up online and lasts 2 weeks.

All decisions for the following quarter are taken then.

Between assemblies, only the board of directors of BeVolunteer (the association that legally represents BW) can take emergency decisions.

Athina project

Problems are presented to the board of directors of BeVolunteer (the association that legally represents BW) that filter the illegal and redundant ones.

A forum discussion is opened about the problem.

The one that opened the thread becomes the "reporter". In that role, he must set the duration of the debate (no less than 21 days), must moderate the discussion and must stay neutral.

Solutions are suggested by participants in the discussion.

The reporter can label some members "experts" (on request from the member) and get their posts highlighted. He will decide based on the member's position in the volunteering teams or his expertise in the topic being discussed.

Voting takes place at the deadline, between the participants in the discussion.

System propositions (vote on those)

3 gears (Community discusses changes)

First, a suggestion is discussed and consensus is sought. That failing:

5 days after the first post AND IF nobody demands that the problem be considered "long term issue", a vote can be set up. The forum thread where it is discussed must be set to public. A random selection of 3 times as many BW members as forum participants will be emailed calling for them to cast a vote on this "short term" issue on the wiki, or name another member they wish to speak for them ; in the manner described as "liquid-draft-vote". The vote stays open for 3 days after this message is sent.

However, IF somebody demands that the problem be considered "long term" and is supported by an absolute majority in the thread where the issue is discussed BEFORE the 5 days limit, the vote is postponed to 15 days after the first post. At the same time, a notice must be posted to the frontpage, saying that a "long term" issue is being discussed an will be voted upon, with a link to the forum thread and corresponding wiki page. On day 15, AND IF nobody has nominated the issue for "General vision", a random selection of 3 times as many BW members as forum participants will be sent calling for a liquid-vote on the wiki. The vote stays open for 15 days after this message is sent. A reminder must be sent 3 days before the closing to the members that have not cast their vote nor named a representative at that time.

However, IF someone nominates the issue for "general vision" and is backed by an absolute majority in the forum thread before the voting day, the vote is postponed to 2 month after the first post. A "Poll" will be set up by a website administrator and a newsletter will be sent to all members to let them know an important vote is set up. In parallel, a similar vote will be held within BV and another within the board of directors of BV. Only if the three votes yield the same result is the decision accepted.

We do not have the technical means to implement a liquid-vote of this magnitude, a standard vote will be used until we do.


  • A short term decision takes 7 days to reach conclusion (obviously less if there is consensus). At the same time, an important issue is not rushed and can benefit of a long and detailed process.
  • BeVolunteer and the community can veto each other on the most important issues.
  • The community is in direct control of what's going on.


  • A bit complex isn't it? If we need everyone to understand that...
  • Heavy on volunteer time and energy.
  • Relies a lot of voting.

Topdown random assembly (A random group decides, community consents)

15 members randomly drawn among volunteer members. Every 6 month, 1/3rd of the assembly is renewed.

The assembly would discuss, let us know about the current discussions (and create a forum thread to gather the opinions of those interested), and take "temporary" decisions. In case of no consensus within that group a liquid-vote can take place within the group (see explanation below).

Those decisions will be validated after 1 month unless members take the decision to challenge them.

Members could do so by opening a discussion thread that would lead to a liquid-draft-vote (see explanation below). As long as this procedure is undergoing, the temporary decision is not enacted.

What's very important is that the assembly could also, from the start, choose not to decide and launch a wider voting procedure it would design (and this design could also be modified if more than 0,3% of the members request it)


  • Low on volunteer energy
  • Everyone has the same chances of "making a difference"
  • Little voting involved


  • Less community empowering (feeling that decision are taken by a small group).
  • Risk of stalling between the community and the assembly.
  • Quorum! 0.3%

General Meetings (Community discusses changes, BoD addresses emergencies)

  1. A two week long online general meeting held twice or four times a year.
  2. During this time, and only during this time, topics of greater scope* will be discussed and decided on.
  3. A liquid-draft-vote is organised to decide on them.

major changes to the website like "introduce Facebook", "introduce a novel reference system", joint ventures with other organizations, changes in general direction, policy changes like "address is required", "spam checking", "verification process"

Between those meetings Volunteers will work according to the taken decisions, smaller issues and fine tuning will be dealt with by consensus or voting within the respective volunteer teams or task forces.

If urgent topics of greater scope arise between those meetings and need immediate attention, the BoD takes a decision and the issue is put on the agenda of the next general BW meeting.

The BoD in general keeps the right to veto if decisions would violate the law or if they consider that decisions taken at a general assembly with the decided quorum (which would probably be way below the majority of members to work) do not match with the expectations of the majority of members. Such an example could be to remove all hospex related features from the website and instead add people matching functionality. This case (that will probably never ever happen) could be resolved by a members vote exceeding the absolute majority of BW members.


  • Simple! No way it's going to confuse anyone.


  • A bit heavy logistics, organizing 4 assemblies a year.
  • Not very flexible.

Athina Project

A member of BeWelcome wish to introduce a question to the community, in hope of change. He draws up a question, the shortest possible, he submits it to the BoD. The BoD checks the following points :

  1. The question mustn't be in conflict with the law, or the statutes of the organization BeVolunteers.
  2. The question mustn't be too similar with another one already presented to the community during the last past year.

The BoD accept or not that the question could be asked to the BeWelcome community or not, on justifying its decision.

The member who put the question forward becomes the Reporter of the vote, he takes the responsibility to moderate the debate, to lead it, and to denounce to the BoD any violation of the code of conduct. He decides, with the consent of the BoD, on a date for the begining and the end of the debate. The duration must be at minimum of 21 days. The reporter, the one who's behind the question, is duty bound to stay neutral.

The debate is held on forum, a bit particular. The debate is open to anybody, On condition to subscribe and take part to it. This permits to know who involves, and gives legitimity to the votes of every member. The entrants give their opinions publishing posts, but above all, they propose possible answers to the question.

The reporter must by default accept the propositions of answers, these propositions might be revoked by the BoD if they constitute an offence to the laws BeVolunteers is submited to. Nevertheless, the propositions of answer mustn't be too similar in relation to the others. The reporter might ask to several members having proposed similar things, to consult each other to make only one single proposition.

The posts of "expert" members, mind of "expert" members, who by their role in the site or their job by the daily life can make benefit from their "expertise", are indicated by a symbol meaning "to be read with attention". The role to give this statue is indebted to the reporter, on request of the concerned member.

The window for voting displays in its upper party the question asked and in its lower party the votes propositions.Every possible answer faces to three columns :

  • Very favourable
  • Favourable
  • Not much favourable
  • Non-favourable

To each proposition, the voter tells how favourable he is.

The software that evaluates the "popularity" of every proposition, counts in number of point. "Very favourable", it counts 3 points. "Favourable", it counts 2 points. "Not much favourable", it counts 1 point. "Non-favourable", it counts 0 point. The sofware declare the winner, the proposition which has had the most points.


  • Interesting graduated voting system. Can be used in any of the proposed decision procedures.


  • Makes the BoD of BeVolunteer the Great Referee of BeWelcome. Not democratic (not elected by BW), and giving a lot of power to a few.
  • 21 days minimum debate time. See guidelines regarding to need for fast decision making.
  • Reporter must stay neutral: it contradicts human nature. Reporter obviously has an opinion on the issue he reports. Will never manage to stay neutral.
  • Expert badge: 1) Ethically controversial, prone to abuse / 2) Not possible with the current code.
  • Power to decide belongs to forum dwellers, rather than hosts and travellers.


(moved down to ease voting)

  • Some decisions need to be thoroughly thought of, some decision must be taken fast. The system must enable both.
  • The decision system must be as light as possible on volunteers' time, resources and energy.
  • The decision system must validate the choices that benefits the most the community
  • The decision system must not require changes in the current code of the website. (Another thread can be started for integrating the decision system in the code of the future iteration of the website). External services can be used, but must be evaluated well.

Candidates for requirement:

  • Given that the forum crowd might be very distinct from the travel/host crowd, can we let the former decide for everyone?
  • A vote is a last resort solution (unrepresentative, too easy to hijack).

Voting procedures

What are the simple and efficient voting methods we could use for the cases when voting is needed?


To balance the problem of having the website ruled by forum addicts, we could query the database for a short list of random BW members, that amount to more than the people involved in the thread, and tell them by email that they've been selected to vote on something about BW. A bit like a jury.

If we have 10 participants in a thread, we would only need to massmail 30 people to bring some balance. The people from the list would find a wiki page summarizing the issue and the solutions so that they don't need to read the whole thread.



This trick prevents that uninterested people vote at random on something they feel compelled to vote on. Liquid democracy allows a voter to either cast a vote, either hand his voice to someone they think is more interested/expert in the matter. It can be combined with "draft-vote".

Some of the systems described above require more than a couple of people voting. Write here voting systems/devices suggestions.

Vote thread

A thread in a specific group prefixed with "VOTE:" i.e. VOTE: What colour would you like beWelcome.org to be?

  1. The initial post would describe the vote, what the options were and link to threads, wikis, groups, external sites, relevant to the topic, for background reading.
  2. To vote, you reply to the thread +1, Yes, C, etc, whatever the relevant options are.
  3. At a set date the votes are counted and recorded in the thread and in a wiki somewhere.

Text of any kind, other than that used to show your opinion, would be allowed. If you want to change your vote you can edit your post. Its cheap and nasty, but you don't have to change or add a line of code. Use culture is powerful, if we can't change the site for the moment we can change how we use it.

You can't edit a post after many people posted over it. Would be a quick fix though. sitarane - Fri, 07 Oct 11 09:11:56 +0000
So you'd have one thread for discussion and one for voting? Discussion WILL seep in the vote thread. That's human nature. At the risk of diluting the argument. sitarane - Fri, 07 Oct 11 09:11:56 +0000
I find it hard to count. I like more the vote-in-the-wiki bellow. sitarane - Fri, 07 Oct 11 09:11:56 +0000

Voting on the wiki

A wiki page is drafted by the participants of the discussion, summarizing the problem and listing the suggested solutions in an unbiased way, allowing people that can't bother reading kilometer-long threads to make a weighted decision. People vote by listing their username in the solution they like most.


  • http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/LiquidFeedback or http://liquidfeedback.org/

Website in German, no screenshots, hard to assess. Do they have a public webapp?

  • http://dotmocracy.org/what_is

Is paper based. Isn't it? It can be achieved using the wiki

What do others do?

The Debian Project

Debian constitution

It is a fairly complex system: there are several decision-making bodies, mostly elected, some appointed by other bodies.

The powers of a person or body may be subject to review and/or limitation by others; in this case the reviewing body or person's entry will state this. In the list above, a person or body is usually listed before any people or bodies whose decisions they can overrule or who they (help) appoint - but not everyone listed earlier can overrule everyone listed later.

There are votes to be held on most cases. Depending on the matters, e.g. when you want to override a decision of another body, or to amend the constitution itself, the vote can require a majority of 3:1 or 2:1.

  • The ultimate power is held by the Developers (in BW I think these would be the members.)
  • There are General resolutions and Standard resolutions.
  • The standard resolutions are proposed by individual developers and sponsored as required.
    Phases: proposal -> discussion and amendment -> calling for a vote -> vote counting.
  • Withdrawals and expiry time are also accounted for:
    • The proposer of a resolution or unaccepted amendment may withdraw it.
    • If a proposed resolution has not been discussed, amended, voted on or otherwise dealt with for 4 weeks the secretary may issue a statement that the issue is being withdrawn. If none of the sponsors of any of the proposals object within a week, the issue is withdrawn.

Their voting system is the Schulze method. Same as Gentoo and Wikimedia.

Crabgrass (from riseup.net)

Research still to be done

hitchgathering.org (hitchhiker's festival)

To vote on the destination of each years festival, they have a submission period during which people submit destination candidates. When that period is over, they use a voting module that allows the Borda count counting system. Borda count allows the best decision to be taken in one round of votes even if there are many candidates.