The Computational Democracy Project



If you are new to facilitation, Swerhun has published a wonderful book on their methods.

Maintained by Liz Barry

While a Polis conversation does not itself deliver a readymade decision for a course of action or answer to a philosophical dilemma, the results of a Polis conversation may provide input to a range of group processes such as governance or collective sense-making. Whether the group process is formal or informal, illustrative or binding, with defined participation or anonymous, among many other variations, there is usually a facilitator who suggested or designed the process, and who can guide the incorporation of Polis results.

Facilitators should consider if the massive input of polis is best suited during the formative phase or the feedback phase of a given process, or perhaps whether the journey is the destination. In vTaiwan—which is structured along the lines of the ICA-developed global best practice for facilitation ORID—polis is used in the "reflection" phase, and participants continue in the same conversation to the "ideational" phase.

Examples by domain:

  • Use of Polis by a news organization
    • Polis can replace the comment section on articles to collate public response. Polis can also be used early in a journalistic endeavor for discovery. Journalists themselves may act as the facilitator.
    • See case studies:
      • "Bowling Green Daily News Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA"
      • "WFPL, Louiseville, Kentucky, USA"
  • Use of Polis by a government
    • Polis can engage hundreds of thousands of participants, vastly more than could be convened through analog public consultations. Civil servants may act as the facilitator.
    • See case studies:
      • "vTaiwan, Taipei, Taiwan"
      • "Ministry of Canadian Heritage, Toronto, Canada"
  • Use of Polis with representative sampling
    • Polling companies can assemble a representative sample to participate in a polis conversation so that results may be extrapolated to a larger population. Elected representatives can act as a facilitator, enabling their constituency to more clearly signal their perspectives and situations through the use of polis.
    • See case study:
  • Use of Polis in a Citizens Assembly
    • Using polis to listen to the broader population can be useful in the input phase of a Citizens Assembly, which comes after the selection of assembly members by civic lottery and the input phase of learning from rightsholders, stakeholders and experts, and before facilitated deliberation in small groups and drafting recommendations.

The Computational Democracy Project

© 2021 The Computational Democracy Project, a 501c3 nonprofit.


© 2021 The Computational Democracy Project, a 501c3 nonprofit.