opt-in principle

opt-in principle

The opt-in principle is an integral part of participatory democracy, and the collaboration ethic.

Every consensus based (or grassroots) decision process has to operate either on an opt-in or opt-out basis.

In an opt-in process, the group agrees that while everyone will be notified of an upcoming decision process, decision making authority rests with those who choose to show up, - you snooze, you lose. This rule offers all group members the chance to participate and then accepting the decision of those who do so in a timely manner.

In an opt-out process, the group agrees that feedback from all members is required for a legitimate decision unless they decide to opt out. As this is a higher standard of consensus, it would normally be reserved only for the most important (or irreversible) decisions, because it gives a lot of latitude for those who behave as a critic, which tends to make for a slow and painful process.

In practice, adopting the opt-in principle for policy decisions places responsibility on the citizen to:
  • be aware of issues and decisions in process.
  • choose which decisions are most important for them to participate in.
  • not be a critic about decisions in which they chose not to participate.