The Computational Democracy Project



A conversation topic, or prompt, tells participantsΒ what the conversation is about, and sets the frame, scope, and tone for the comments they should submit.

The prompt is made up of two fields, the Topic and the Description.

  • The Topic should briefly summarize the question(s) you'd like the participants to respond to with comments, and
  • The Description should expand on the Topic, giving examples, linking to an article, asking specific sub-questions, or mentioning what's off-topic.

Note: These are both optional fields; you might decide to describe the conversation topic in a different spot (especially if you're embedding the conversation) or on a different page than the Polis conversation.

Best practices

Open-ended conversations are good - If the topic is too small, the results won't be interesting. Examples:

  • "What's your experience and how can we make things better?"
  • β€œWhat should we start, stop, or continue doing?” But topics can also be quite specific, while being large enough to produce interesting results. For example:
  • "How should we protect and restore biodiveristy over the next 50 years?"

Polis is best for controversial issues with a diversity of opinions - If there aren't many possible points of view on a topic, the results probably won't be very interesting. Keep it short - Polis is designed to let participants jump right in and vote on statements. Long descriptions of the topic probably won't be read by your participants, or worse, they'll make them less likely to participate. If you need to include more information to educate people before they participate, use other channels like in the emails used to distribute the Polis link, or on a website that has the survey embedded.

See: educating participants

The Computational Democracy Project

Β© 2022 The Computational Democracy Project, a 501c3 nonprofit.


Β© 2022 The Computational Democracy Project, a 501c3 nonprofit.