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Art and Science: The Design Behind Crowdsourcing Policy

MindHive is a platform built on the back of what we see as a huge potential growth area in policymaking — the use of crowdsourced expertise. MindHive is a platform that allows policymakers to access a greater number of experts than otherwise able and to develop relationships and collaborative partnerships with experts from various disciplines. But the promise of crowdsourcing policy expertise is not self-fulfilling. It’s a process that like many others needs to be managed and delivered with due consideration of objectives and the ideal circumstances for success.

Crowdsourced policymaking relies on four fundamental design principles for its success. These principles are inclusiveness, answerability, transparency, and modularity. They are self-supporting, each reinforcing one another to ensure a robust and viable process. A crowdsourcing process must be designed in such a way that it is able to invite participation of a large number of people from diverse backgrounds; this has the dual effect of enhancing knowledge search as well as the legitimacy of the process. This often involves implementing a targeted communications strategy and ensuring that the process supports any device, browser, and operating system and that the method of communication poses minimum barriers to entry regardless of the participants’ socioeconomic, demographic, and technological background. Authorities are answerable to the citizens for their decisions and actions. The process design must include accountability in every sequence so that participants remain informed about decisions, justifications, and actions. Transparency fosters trust and legitimacy in the policymaking process as participants can stay abreast of the policymaking process. The platform needs to facilitate peer-to-peer communication, helping to create a clear picture of what is exactly taking place at each stage. Transparency should be enforced both horizontally and vertically. Horizontal transparency refers to the transparency among participants. Horizontal transparency promotes peer-to-peer discussion. Vertical transparency, on the other hand, refers to the overall transparency that the entire crowdsourcing process is expected to integrate. A vertically-transparent system will allow for the availability of all information pertaining to authorities, goals, responsibilities, and potential outcomes.

Crowdsourced policymaking relies on four fundamental design principles for its success: inclusiveness, answerability, transparency, and modularity.

Finally, modularity ensures long-term participation in different stages of the policymaking process. When a process is divided into several sequences with each sequence being divided into several smaller modules, the chances of participation are boosted. The platform should be built with the capability to display the modules, which would allow the crowd to follow the process. This established and instills a sense of progress towards completion and rewards involvement in various parts of the process. The principle of modularity works to reinforce the normative guidelines that directly promote the goals of knowledge aggregation and democratic deliberation while also emphasising inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability.

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Each of these mechanisms has a definite correlation with each other and they work together to support their overall functionality. For example, a greater level of transparency in the process and platform is more likely to boost the possibilities for inclusiveness. When participants gain a clear understanding of what participation means and what they can derive out of it, they tend to develop a stronger motivation to participate. This again goes a long way to boosting participation. Increased transparency results in increased accountability as it becomes easier for the crowd to call for answerability and harder for the policymakers to close the feedback loop. Accountability further reinforces vertical transparency. A higher level of vertical transparency allows citizens to demand accountability. Similarly, horizontal transparency allows citizens to team up together to strongly exercise their enforcement capacity to demand answers from the authorities. This way, communication on both horizontal and vertical levels promotes accountability.

Finally, modularity ensures long-term participation in different stages of the policymaking process. When a process is divided into several sequences with each sequence being divided into several smaller modules, the chances of participation are boosted. The platform should be built with the capability to display the modules, which would allow the crowd to follow the process. This establishes and instils a sense of progress towards completion and rewards involvement in various parts of the process. The principle of modularity works to reinforce the normative guidelines that directly promote the goals of knowledge aggregation and democratic deliberation while also emphasising inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability.

Each of these mechanisms has a definite correlation with each other and they work together to support their overall functionality. For example, a greater level of transparency in the process and platform is more likely to boost the possibilities for inclusiveness. When participants gain a clear understanding of what participation means and what they can derive out of it, they tend to develop a stronger motivation to participate. This again goes a long way to boosting participation. Increased transparency results in increased accountability as it becomes easier for the crowd to call for answerability and harder for the policymakers to close the feedback loop. Accountability further reinforces vertical transparency. A higher level of vertical transparency allows citizens to demand accountability. Similarly, horizontal transparency allows citizens to team up together to strongly exercise their enforcement capacity and demand answers from the authorities. This way, communication on both horizontal and vertical levels promotes accountability.

Accountability further reinforces vertical transparency. A higher level of vertical transparency allows citizens to demand accountability.

These four principles represent the core of a successful crowdsourcing process — and while each process will have a different mix as a necessary function of its design, they are ideals that all policymakers should bear in mind when utilising crowdsourcing to develop policy.

This is an exert from Chapter 2: MindHive: How Collective Intelligence can Create Better Policy and Strategy. Hivers are welcome to read, rip, share and contribute their learnings on crowdsourcing to the next chapter of #collectiveintelligence

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Bruce Muirhead is the CEO of Eidos Institute and the Founder of MindHive.org —

More Blogs here: https://mindhive.org/slp/blog.html

Mindhive | ex — Eidos, Boilerhouse, Basement, Margaret Marr | Speaker, Author | Bringing the shared economy to problem-solving #collectiveintelligence

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