Loomio

Using Loomio for multi-options decisions

MPR
Miguel Prados Rodriguez Public Seen by 121

I am currently running two active loomio groups and they ask for the feature of multi-options polling. What they usually do is to assign a color to a particular option rather than the meaning of yes or not. An example... Where do we go on holidays?
- Use green (yes) to choose beach
- Use rose (no) to choose mountain
- Use yellow (abstain) to choose lake
- Use red (block) to choose a big city.
And usually someone says that to assign "yes" to the option of beach could be a kind of manipulation... (yes, the people goes that far)... so...
The question is that it may be possible to be able to optionally substitute yes, no, abstain, block for an alternative text and therefore increase the possible use of Loomio.

CT

Chris Taklis Mon 8 Jul 2013

i would like to see that in act.

JD

Josef Davies-Coates Mon 8 Jul 2013

yeah, being able to edit the label (and to add more than four, e.g. so you can have likert scale like in dotmocracy +2, +1, 0, -1, -2 etc) would make loomio useful for even more groups and types of decisions.

CT

Chris Taklis Mon 8 Jul 2013

@josefdaviescoates i wouldn't agree with +2 +1 0 -1 -2 because it changes all the system of the simple vote. But it could be answer 1, answer 2, answer 3, answer 4 and if 2 answers are 1st can be automatically new proposal with the 2 firsts answers be competetive against the each other.

MPR

Miguel Prados Rodriguez Mon 8 Jul 2013

Well it could be both option1, option2, option3... and totally disagree, disagree, agree, totally agree, etc.. In fact, editing the labels you can use it as your will, Loomio can provide examples of different uses...

JD

Josef Davies-Coates Mon 8 Jul 2013

@christaklis sure, -2 to +2 isn't wouldn't be for deciding multi-option decisions (so I perhaps shouldn't have confused things by mentioning it in this thread).

The reason I mentioned it is that possibly the same functionality that would enable multi-option decisions (i.e. editing the labels etc) could conceivably also make it possible to create proposal on which people can express degrees of agreement/ disagreement, which is often very helpful/ useful.

RDB

Richard D. Bartlett Tue 9 Jul 2013

Customising language, symbols, and colours for the 4-option pie graph would be really easy.

One thing to consider is the behaviour of the various buttons - currently Yes, No, and Abstain behave the same, but Block triggers an email to the proposal author. There would need to be an option to switch this off if we were hi-jacking these buttons for multi-option proposals.

The deeper issue to consider with multi-option proposals, is how can we enable this functionality without promoting adversarial, polarising, majority-rules polling?

I have a hunch that the answer is something like @josefdaviescoates's suggestion: a pre-proposal stage for gathering ideas, and a way of sorting those options by popularity. Personally I'd want that sorting mechanism to be as 'fuzzy' as possible, i.e. I want to identify which ideas are worth discussing, as opposed to tallying up exactly what percentage of people support a given idea.

JD

Josef Davies-Coates Tue 9 Jul 2013

@richarddbartlett what I like about dotmocracy-like likert scales is that they can show which issues/ idea have e.g. some people who strongly disagree vs some who strongly agree, or conversely, some issues where some strongly agree, most agree and only some disagree but non strongly.

Personally, I don't see what is to be gained from keeping things 'fuzzy' - conflict about some issues will always exist, surely better to know that than to try to pretend it doesn't exist or purposely not show it.

Or am I missing something? :)

MPR

Miguel Prados Rodriguez Tue 9 Jul 2013

The advantage of Loomio (and that's why we arrived here) is the deliberative democracy proposal, other places just present the options and there is no debate, and of course debate can change one's mind (a sane one I mean), so I think the question is not whether you debate on a yes/no issue on a 4 options concept is whether you are able to talk about it and get to know other's reasoning.

So if the 4 option's scheme is that easy to implement in Loomio I would love to see that in action and we will start to use it right away ! Thanks !

RDB

Richard D. Bartlett Tue 9 Jul 2013

@josefdaviescoates I'm getting ahead of myself, describing solutions without first fully mapping out the problem. I'm not attached to a solution, let's figure this out together :)

Here's an experience that opened my eyes to the tyranny of the majority:

One night at a general assembly at Occupy Wellington (i.e. a group with a strict dedication to consensus), we had a discussion about safety.

To get a sense of the 'temperature' of the group, we did a round, where everyone described how safe they felt at the campsite.

When we got near the end of the circle, somebody summarised: 'so it seems more than 90% of the people here say they feel safe'. I thought to myself great job, aren't we doing well!

The next person had a different impression: '100% of the people who don't identify as straight white males report feeling unsafe'. At this point my stomach sank as I realised we were unwittingly perpetuating the kind of structural inequity that we had come together to resist.

This for me was a very stark lesson in how a strong majority can be totally blind, giving a false impression of democracy, leaving marginalised voices totally alienated.

This was an epiphany for me: sometimes the one person saying 'no' is the most important person to listen to. (And the corollary: if enough people say 'yes' loudly enough, you won't hear the person saying 'no'.)

I realise it is impossible to create a perfect process; consensus is not immune to tyranny and majority-rules does not always result in alienated minorities (e.g. see this article).

With that said, my hope for Loomio is that it gently encourages us all to consider the perspective of 'the other', to be a safe place for dissent, to foster a kind of unity that encourages diversity. I want us to develop decision-making protocols that are malleable and humanistic, that work in service to us, that bring out the best parts of our personalities. I want a process that is so robust that a person can disapprove of a decision outcome, while still approving of the process that lead the group there.

Tallying up votes for a range of proposals can be an effective thinking-aid, a shortcut that will often point us in the direction of the best ideas. But if you look at the track-record of representative democracy, it has a pretty abismal history of shutting out dissenters and trampling on people who have a different perspective to the majority. It's just so easy for us to take that thinking aid and extend it too far and discard an idea simply because not many people have been convinced of it yet.

And that is the looong story of why I am really nervous about any feature that involves tallying votes :)

MPR

Miguel Prados Rodriguez Tue 9 Jul 2013

@richarddbartlett totally agree ! and loomio offers an unique way to identify the means of those that totally oppose a position for (often) something that you may not think about... I do not identify to present a range of options (1,2,3,4) as a way to impose any criteria, but a way to present the different options, and openly talk about them... there is a dirty trick to try to do that and it is to shorten the debate period (i.e. 2 days) and I have got also many experiences on that (we take 2 million people out to the streets in 15M 2.011 to demonstrate). If a period of debate is sufficient and the arguments are presented clearly, to choose by majority an option is Ok for me, just like deciding where to go to have dinner. But.......

Having said that, there is a different way to take decisions and it is not for pure majority, it is the option that present less opponents to go ahead instead of the one that get more votes, sometimes may be the same, sometimes not (when there are very polarized opinions).

JD

Josef Davies-Coates Thu 18 Jul 2013

@richarddbartlett thanks for sharing your story :)

I'm a little confused though, loomio does tally up how many people vote yes/ no/ abstain/ block, no? :P

But, yeah, I'd like dotmocracy-like stuff to temperature check idea and suggested proposals. :)

TL

Tom Lord Fri 19 Jul 2013

I like the idea of extending online tools to deal with a number of facilitation situations. Crabgrass ( http://we.riseup.net ) tries to do that, doesn't it?? (I don't use it, it's too user-resistant :-) At the same time I guess there's the idea of modular tools, do one thing well, etc. Maybe e.g. a temperature check plugin??

I guess for now people could use other online tools to record preferences and link to them? E.g. everyone's friendly big brother, Google Forms / Spreadsheets, or https://pad.riseup.net/ or something. Or for smaller groups, just record people's preferences in their replies and manually add them up?!