Decision-Making Tools

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Overview compiled by Josef-Davies Coates for his blog at (broken link)


Online Decision-Making Tools

Online decision making tools and projects:

The Decider -

A very simple site that helps groups to make decisions online. It enables the creation of “issues” (e.g. how should we spend this £1000?) and “options” (e.g. i) go on holiday ii) put it in a saving account iii) other). Users can then vote on how good they think each option is and/ or create a new option.

VoSnap -

VoSnap allows you to rapidly solicit the opinion of your social or business networks. Working seamlessly with SMS and email their system allows you to solicit a vote in a snap.

Smartocracy -

Smartocracy is an experiment in "augmented democracy", a meritocratic social network for collective decision-making. Each participant gets 10 votes to give away, and gets to exercise those votes given to them.

Smartocracy is a dead-simple social network, where a link from User A to User B is effectively a "proxy assignment" of one vote. In giving User B a proxy, User A is designating them as someone they trust to make good decisions.

The idea is to combine the best of direct and representative democracy and creates a true meritocracy where merit is decided at the individual level, but aggregated for collective use. See also, Liquid Democracy links under Further Reading

DemoEx -

The “Democracy Experiment”, DemoEx is Direct Democracy Political Party in Sweden that enables members to propose and vote on policies. Your Party was a similar effort in the UK back in 2004 (although the law here means members cannot dictate how their councillor or MP, if elected, votes - and the site is now down). Mikael Nordfors (author of Democracy 2.1, see Further Reading below) was involved with this project but they eventually adopted a non-delegative voting system.

Gnuvernment / Drupal Decisions Module -

Decisions is a replacement for poll.module and provides advanced voting systems and decision-making tools. It aims to enable groups to take decisions online in a manner that replicates and augments what is possible in face-to-face meeting.

However, the advpoll has seen much more development over the last year and is currently recommended over this module.

The project website is hosted at and the module is sponsored in part by

Offline Decision-Making Tools

Dotmocracy -

Dotmocracy is an established facilitation method for collecting and prioritizing ideas among a large number of people. It is an equal opportunity & participatory group decision-making process. Participants write down ideas and apply dots under each idea to show which ones they prefer. The final result is a graph-like visual representation of the groups collective preferences.

Who Wants To Be? -

A unique gameshow where the players design and enact the rules about how they are going to spend the prize money.

More Information

Further Reading

Democracy 2.1: How to make a bunch of selfish people work together -

A picture book about democracy by Mikael Nordfors. This nice little book highlights some of the key problems with hierarchical/authoritarian organisation and our current systems of democracy. It proposes a new form of democracy empowered by the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

Delegative Democracy -

Delegative democracy is a new paradigm in democratic organisation which emphasizes individually chosen vote transfers ("delegation") over mass election. Delegative democracy combines the best elements of direct and representative democracy by replacing artificially imposed representation structures with an adaptive structure founded on real personal and group trust relationships. Delegative democracy empowers individually and encourages widespread direct participation in democratic organisation, without unduly burdening or disenfranchising those members who, for lack of time, interest, or knowledge, would prefer to take a more passive role.

Liquid Democracy -

United Diversity's wiki contains an article by the original articulator of the idea titled Liquid Democracy In Context or An Infrastructuralist Manifesto.

It's rather long but it's key points are bolded and those bolded points are repeated here to give "the gist":

While LD would work great in contexts like shareholder meetings, city councils, and online forums, it was initially designed for one very specific purpose: To render obsolete traditional military hierarchy. Our civil infrastructure currently depends on our society's institutional underpinnings, which have failed, and will continue to fail, to adapt to radical change. To stave off societal collapse, then, we have but one path available to us: We must systematically render our most vulnerable (and perhaps cherished) institutions unnecessary, and our less vulnerable institutions more adaptable. Only then can have we any hope for the future. Perhaps instead of revolution through violence, or art, or music, or culture, maybe we could live to see a revolution through institutional design...?

Liquid Democracy is a fast, decentralized, collaborative question-answering system, which works by enabling chained answer recommendation. It occupies the middle ground somewhere between direct and representative democracy, and is designed to ensure that the things we all hold in common stay properly maintained (by small, stealthy, distributed teams of anarchist kung-fu badasses, if need be), even in the face of radical technological change.

See also for more recent round up of discussion.

Collective Book on Collective Process -

A handbook exploring democratic process within egalitarian collectives. Its focus is on the often unrecognised negative dynamics that can occur when people try to work collectively, the problems that develop and possible approaches toward fixing those problems. It is a collaborative word-in-progress and everybody is invited to contribute

Participation Works - 21 techniques of community participation

The rhetoric says that Participation Works! But what does participation really mean and what makes it really happen? Participation Works! contains twenty-one proven techniques from around the world. It shows how to choose between them, how to use them properly and where to go for more information. With this book, you can prove that the rhetoric is true: Participation Works! Published by the new economics foundation

Seeds for Change

Offer training and faclitation in consensus decision making. Lots of very helpful info sheets and downloads on their website.

Deliberative Structure

A deliberative structure is central to an online deliberation scheme. It allows participants to express their views in a semi-structured way (that is, a little more disciplined than plain text and a little less disciplined than formal databases).