Review of Online Deliberation Systems

The 6 blind men of Indostan.


In any given situation there are more than one truth. Some of these truth’s may contradict each other. Even then they are all truth’s.

We could spend our time convincing others that their truth is a lie and our truth is the only gospel. Or we could consider each of these truth as a truth, collect them understand them and try to move another step in understanding the greater truth.

The process of collection of truth could be through literature(Books, pamphlet, Articles and papers etc.), social interaction(discussion, public speech etc.) Each of this is a method of exchange of Idea’s

Flow of an Ideal deliberation process.

Model of an iterative deliberative process.

A deliberative process starts when one person in a community gets an Idea which is currently not present in the community. He may decide to keep the idea to himself in which case it will die a natural death after some time or he may choose to disclose it to his community.

Each member of the community receives the idea and depending on his or her cognitive bias and life experience critically examines the idea in a different light thus modifying, rejecting or improving it.

Each recipient may then decide to either voice his opinion or keep his views to himself. The exchange of views among the community members will result in a new consolidated body of ideas derived from the original Idea. Each idea in this body of ideas will again be subject to critical examination by all members of the community resulting in a newer body of Ideas. This process will continue until the community is satisfied that all the viewpoints are collected and critically examined.

  1. The process has resulted in an individual understanding and acknowledging the existence of other viewpoints without negating his own viewpoint.
  2. A deliberative process would go in numerous cycles of examination, discussion and collection of ideas until it reaches a steady state.

Components of a deliberative system

  • Idea Distribution
  • Discussion
  • Consolidation
  • Feedback

Online space for Deliberation

The online world has experimented with various methods of discussion like

  • BBS
  • NNTP
  • Slashdot
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Whatsapp
  • Stackexchange
  • Forum Software (phpBB, YABB etc.)
  • Comments section in blogs, newspapers etc.
  • Digg
  • Myspace, Friendster etc.

What follows in part 2, is an examination of some of the above experiments in massive online public deliberation.