open politics service

Any open politics service grows through several degrees of maturity from facilitation of protest to eventually become part of the flow of daily life.


In Defense of Politics establishes it as an activity that is inherently competitive but in which political virtues can gradually be fostered. A set of ethics is not useful to resolve disputes unless and until it is embedded in a set of organization protocols. If such protocols exist but are defied, or definitions within them bent beyond their spirit, there's necessarily conflict, and resistance, even if the protocols aren't themselves being changed. So dealing with this politics as usual is the first step:

troll (first)

Initially, an open politics service must begin as a troll service enabling opponents of a dominant or "neutral point of view" to bring together a coherent alternative from a "sympathetic point of view". Even within one political party there will be factions pushing one view or another. Only secondary development of planks is taking place and disagreement may be mostly offline or resolved by selection of the initial participants. ImagineHalifax was at roughly this level.

The main deliverable is the terminology or list of policy terms that is being debated. This permits focus to shift to the process of decision:

factional (second)

Even in a simple majority rule situation where members vote on policies, each must be clearly presented as a sympathetic statement, so that the statements can fairly compete. Factions coalesce into persistent formal groups, or policy salons. Often political parties are hosting many mailing lists at this point.

So a true multiple point of view is the next step: a Living Agenda and policy resolution and answer recommendation facilities that permit many competing answers to one question to be compiled, compared, and chosen from. At this stage there is a functional equivalent to a policy convention working online - a minimal platform for instance. Green Party of Canada Living Platform was at this level before it was sabotaged in early 2005.

The main deliverable is the terminology or list of process terms that describes the means by which disputes are resolved. All control verbs must be examined for implications and in whose hands they put the control.

In an open party for instance, the candidate protocol and member protocol and officer protocol and fund protocol must be settled. An election protocol in particular must be settled beyond any dispute.


A Collaboration Ethic cannot take root ithout passing through the above steps. The terminology is essential: an enterprise taxonomy at least, if not a whole upper ontology, must be available to settle disputes of a minor nature. The organization protocols can mature, especially more complex ones such as the position protocol.

issue-based argument (third)

An issue-based argument system such as the true Living Platform and livingplatform.ca itself pioneered, is the first step beyond mature pre-adversarial process terms. While it is still possible to run onhearsay, echo chamber and rumour mill, a serious party will be ultimately destroyed by this in the press, so it must institute proper issue-based argument and adversarial process before the public realizes it is irresponsible, sloppy, unable to take on actual power. Differences need to be respected and managed without spinning out of control, and this requires a much more sophisticated method of handling and segmenting the material than to have one group simply declare another group to be bad and then struggle to seize control of the majority of the adminiships:

The Wikipedia for instance employs Jim Wales' pre-adversarial "laissez-faire" method of "just letting a bunch of people argue over one page and declaring the end of the edit war of attrition to be "neutral." This is wrong in many respects - it might work for most topics but will necessarily fail on concepts that one group says exists, and another group wants to deny exists: that is, for politics as usual. Bill Hulet has accurately written that this is not a viable model for a political party seeking power - to simply and naively "agree on a neutral point of view". He is correct.

Experienced lawyers like Fred Bauder also agreed and started wikinfo as a response to the difficulties of some topics at Wikipedia. Some known trolls point people at wikinfo.org as an example of things done right and consider it THE basic model for open politics, since:
  1. .sympathetic point of view permits positions to be cleanly stated
  2. .multiple point of view allows for critical point of view and factional positions to be explicitly endorsed and argued over
  3. .import of a vast corpus (Wikipedia) that others maintain, lets wide references be made without any problematic out-links to one source, and resolves most of the difficult naming conventions problems

robust naming (fourth)

True open politics argument requires robust ability to refer to things, before one can sensibly defer to them:

of persons or credentials

A major weakness in collaboration is that one isn't able to be sure who one is dealing with, or (when answering to objections from anonymous parties), what their sources are, or that they are in fact anonymous parties. On any large public wiki where anonymous post)ing isn't supported, pseudonyms will abound, leading to confusion, bad feelings and minor identity theft, and ensuring that only administrators see IP numbers, and thus have power over users: a Panopticon or carceral state.

Robust identity requires an anonymity policy that acknowledges bodily reality: Adoption of a common jabber.org login standard for all net services, and a requirement to use real names in a standard form (like "Fred_Bauder" or if necessary "_Fred_Bauder") averts an "identity crisis" and makes it easy for third parties to actually detect political differences and collaborations, e.g. with a simple search engine. An open politics search engine can interpret the naming further.

For anonymous input, it's far more of an equal power relationship to let IP numbers alone stand as identification, or to require logins or obvious troll names. That way there is no confusion between a disposable "nym" and persons of persistent identity, nor between those who are seeking a reputation
versus those who are only seeking to be held legally accountable for their actions (by showing their raw IP number to everyone equally and permitting anyone to "call the police" about a post).

A set of wiki best practices at this level thus must include:
  • permit anonymous edit and comment but show raw IP number for same; do not show the IP number of logged-in users but ensure that those users use their own name in some consistent form, e.g. Craig_Hubley
  • if pseudonyms are permitted then they must be obvious pseudonyms that no one can confuse for a real person, and ideally not long term pseudonyms, unless/until these can be reliably controlled by a single person, by such means as a common jabber.org login method
  • any role account or credential, e.g. OP-recognized credential should be clearly identified with the authority that grants it, e.g. a party or official faction of a party, citizenship, so that signatures like "a Canadian citizen" or "a former GPC candidate" can be used and validated to be true.

of groups and concepts used in TIPAESA

A similar legal strictness must then apply to other concepts:

Practices such as those of sourcewatch.org are evolving in this direction.

An open politics search engine works reliably at this level of maturity.

An issue challenge can be ethically issued against a person. Without the naming guarantees, it's unethical to do so at a less mature level unless the person is actually engaged in taking over a party or in a position of power as a result of having achieved some election or influence. In which case, anything goes, see Gang of Crookes for an example of people who earned the right to be dealt with to the absolute limit of what the law will permit.

Actual decisions might be attempted through the service at this point, but, only if there are countermeasures for the lack of representativeness of the online players.


The highest levels of open politics service emphasize the multi-player game like nature of open politics and facilitate a Play Ethic: to be competitive during "games" and collaborative between is the highest ideal. As Nelson Mandela put it, to be colleagues and roommates for 22 days at the Olympics, and competitors for 17 seconds.

open politics game (fifth)

Once the open politics web, consisting of all pages that have meaningful information interpretable by the open politics search engine, can be reliably traversed, it is possible to imagine many games and open politics principles taught and reinforced by games.

open politics currency (sixth)

An open politics time market and open politics prediction market permit people to literally buy and sell research and opinion, in ethical and traceable ways. One's reputation at this point will depend wholly and only on quality of this work.

That's the theory anyway. This may be somewhat utopian.


The ultimate open politics service will embed open politics argument, currency, betting and other request and offer or bid and ask mechanisms, directly into daily activities like dating and buying not just debate and voting. A genuinely open politics must become part of one's daily life.


Craig Hubley was the major source of views in this article, which is presented from a sympathetic point of view to the idea that an open politics service must not be confused with other large public wikis or undisciplined troll services.

Some rules from open politics in force and Infrastructure of Democracy are cited in the above as if they were fact, not opinion.