[pp.int.general] Liquid Democracy - a summary attempt
zzbbyy at gmail.com
Mon Apr 28 11:35:38 CEST 2014
There are three areas:
1. The Liquid Democracy concept
2. The Liquid Feedback software implementation
3. The social practices around usage of Liquid Feedback
It is all interrelated. It is possible that the Liquid Democracy
concept is missing some important parts and only a real implementation
with the software and social practices can validate it. But for the
start let's at least try to analyze them separately.
LD tries to be a kind of compromise between direct democracy and
representative democracy trying to fix some problems with both.
The main argument against it that I've seen here (and at other
discussions) is that there soon appear people with huge amounts of
votes delegated to them - the 'superdelegates'. This is discouraging
people from voting - because they feel powerless. But this cannot be
worse than in representative democracy - where the representatives are
also kind of 'superdelegates' with aggregated votes and the 'oridinary
citizen' cannot compete with them. The situation is actually a bit
improved - because here the delegation can be removed and the
'superdelegates' can lose their power quickly. Maybe the problem here
is mostly just perception? Too big expectations?
LD also does try to fix the problem with direct democracy - where
people just don't have time to deliberate on every decision of the
In democracy everyone should have equal power - but when the limiting
factor is time - then those who have more time to play the political
games have more power - and you get the 'vocal minority' problem. But
I am not sure if LD really fixes it or maybe it just replaces it with
another problem (a patronage system?).
Then the problem with buying votes - is it worse in LD than in
representative democracy? How about direct democracy? This is an open
question for me - I guess it will all depend on the details of how LD
is implemented - on the software and on the social practices.
And the problem with providing the right information for the
participants. Also an open question. With direct democracy the needed
information is the facts, with representative democracy the
information needed is who can you trust - with LD it is kind of
in-between, maybe both.
Two years ago a friend of mine made a Polish localization of LF. We
found out that to have it included into the main LF tree we need to
print some agreement with the LF team sign it and send by traditional
mail. OK - maybe in this kind of sensitive development area it is
better to have all formalities cleared. So we printed the agreements
and sent them. We also emailed the LF team. We waited. We emailed the
dev contats again. Nothing happened. After a few months I complained
on a mailing list - maybe even here I don't remember - everyone was
surprised that something like that can happen - I was advised to pass
the info to some other mailing list and I did that. There were
confirmations and stuff - but the code is still not included in the LF
The LF dev team is completely incompetent in leading a Free or Open
Source Software project.
And the LF user interface is ugly - then I read here that there were
some attempts to improve it etc - but of course they are not in the
main tree. Yeah!
Beside that - the choice of Lua as the main programming language. Not
a very popular language. Limits the community. This would mean nothing
if it was a good project - but here it only adds to the impression
that "we don't give a shit about the community".
Until there is competent team taking over the leadership in this
project I don't think there will be anything valuable out of LF.
I am sure that even once we have a good LF software - it will take
long time to work out the right social practice around it. Voting in
general is a very confrontational way of making decisions, but it is
the only one that scales. Maybe there are ways of using LF software
together with some consensus techniques?
I worry that LD is too liquid - that it encourages sweeping changes
that destabilize the system.
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