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πŸ“– FAQ

  1. What is Polis?
  2. Is Polis a survey?
  3. What is Polis not?
    • A tool for gathering the 'best' idea, or comparing ideas head to head.
    • A tool for gathering specific questions like "how old are you" and "where do you live"
    • A tool for gathering data from groups of less than 50 to 100 people
  4. Can I embed Polis on my site?
  5. Is Polis open source?
  6. I've heard Polis promotes consensus over polarization. Is that true? If so, how?
    • It's certainly possible that a group of 1000 participants could join a conversation, submit 100 comments, and vote completely evenly, with a 50 - 50 split on every comment: totally polarized. There's nothing preventing this from happening.
    • The funny thing is, it never seems to. There's always a distribution of topics and subtopics that emerge. There are always comments submitted which capture a majority, or a supermajority, or nearly everyone in the entire conversation as having the same viewpoint.
    • In practice, this means that as the πŸ‘Ύ Algorithms find opinion groups and surface differences, one can then consider what they have in common, and which statements were supported or rejected commonly by all opinion groups.
    • See: integrating results from Polis into decisionmaking processes]]
    • See: consensus
  7. Can I deploy my own instance of Polis? How easy is it to do that?
  8. What are the maths behind Polis?
  9. Does Polis use natural language processing (NLP)?
  10. What about profanity and hate? Do I need to moderate Polis conversations?
  11. Is the main hosted instance available at pol.is GDPR compliant?
    • Yes. CompDem has worked with counsel in Europe and the United States to ensure that pol.is/tos and pol.is/privacy are compliant
  12. Can Polis break down opinions based on demographic or location information?
    • Yes, if you're collecting this data yourself. You can link a participation record to a random long number which links back to your user records, and merge the tables after the conversation ends. Thus, the data export from Polis can be connected to your data.
  13. What makes a good prompt for pol.is?
  14. Why are the options agree, disagree and pass? Why are those important to the way that Polis works?
    • Structured replies also eliminate the possibility of trolling by replying directly (and thus provoking further response).
  15. Does Polis visualize the debate as it's ongoing? Is this just for the conversation owner or for all participants?
  16. Is the interface complicated for participants?
    • No. Participants only have two options: they can submit a comment, or they can vote on comments submitted by other participants.
    • Across all our conversations, we've seen a roughly 10:1 ratio of voters to commenters. Ie., there are roughly 10 people who vote on statements for every 1 who comments. This higher engagement comes from providing a simple, low friction interface: participants can communicate their position via voting without needing to summarize it.
  17. Who needs to be involved to make it effective?
  18. Does Polis scale? To what degree?
    • Yes. There's technically no limit to how many people can participate in a Polis conversation. To date, our largest conversation took place in Germany, with over 33,000 participants who generated nearly 2,000,000 votes on 1,000 comments. With random sampling, this is more than enough scale to sample any size population.
  19. How do I get started?
  20. Does Polis work in multiple languages?
  21. Are comments sent out randomly?
    • No. They are sent out semi-randomly in a process Polis calls comment routing or comment prioritization.
    • The prioritization is based on divisiveness β€” consensus statements are lower in information for forming groups, so comments that are instructive to the formation of groups (higher statistical variance) are prioritized.
  22. How much is automatic? How much is required of people?
  23. Are there ways to game Polis?
  24. What are the tradeoffs and weaknesses of the methodology?
  25. What are the criticisms of the methodology?
  26. Why does survey tech have implications for democracy and democratic practices?

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