Q) How does it work?
A) Very simple. People enter messages or select from existing messages. You get five messages. Those messages with the most "votes" rise to the top, forming concensus. If you want to promote a particular position, select an existing message with lots of existing votes that sufficiently represents your position. This will move your position higher on the list.
Q) Is this an official government website?
A) No. This website is a prototype of what I believe the government should implement. I want my government to make use of the internet to improve our democracy.
Q) Do leaders lead by opinion polls?
A) No, good leaders lead. But a good leader also listen to the people, not just lobbyists.
Q) Do you intend to make money off this website?
A) Never. My goal is to provide a proof of concept, with the hope that the government will adopt it.
Q) What is the purpose of this website?
A) To increase the level of democracy in our country. To break the partisan gridlock by giving the people a greater voice. To show that we are still a democracy.
Q) Is my information confidential?
A) To the best of my programming abilities. I would never intentionally give out your information to anyone, period. Neither should you type in anything you want kept a secret.
Q) What prevents me from opening up another account with another email address, thus giving my messages an unfair advantage?
A) Nothing currently prevents this. If I haven't already mentioned it, this is just a proof of concept. In an ideal scenario the government would provide one login per registered voter, providing the appropriate level of securiy.
Q) How do we know the system isn't rigged?
A) You don't, but doing so would be pointless if I'm trying to promote a larger concept. However this is a very important question. In a more developed implementation the entire database (less passwords) and code would be available for external analysis by anyone. Transparency is the key to trust.
Q) Does the government already have a system like this?
A) The closest system would be one recently implemented by the Whitehouse, called "We The People" (https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/). Contrary to my view of how democracy should work, messages from the people are hidden until a minumum level of popularity is achieved (hard to do when it's hidden). And if you don't reach the required number of signatures before a deadline, your petition is deleted. The goal of this website is to prove that such limitations are technically unnecessary.
Q) Can I contribute to the cause?
A) Sure. Spread the word. Thanks to the low cost of website hosting I don't need your money.
ďAll the ills of democracy can be cured by more democracy."
-- Alfred E. Smith