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Consensus on Facts

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 8 months ago

Consensus on Facts

4. What a Tangled Web, Script by Bob Blakley

Act Four, Notes from WAAA2007


Use Case

We want to establish a forum where facts and representative statements can be established, to provide a common ground for discussion. Where a single consensus can not be established, we want to be able to characterize the set of opposing views and the support behind them.


Facts as presented by a partisan organization can come into doubt because of suspicions of partisan manipulation, but an open forum where all viewpoints can be applied to the discussion may alleviate this problem.


‚ÄúRepresentative statements‚ÄĚ implies that there is an identifiable group making the statement, and also that the members of that group are in consensus on the statement.


Not all subjects can reduce to a single consensus, so they may branch into two or more representative viewpoints, each of which is the consensus of a subgroup.



(what actions the user of the system will perform)


  • Create statements (in the Database that underlies all other use cases; this implies the ability to cross-link statements to a context).
  • Add commentary to statements, as change proposals, in support, or in opposition
  • Vote for/against a statement / Call for vote on a statement
  • Edit your statement to incorporate feedback
  • Split single statement into two or more related statements to get separate consensus on opposing viewpoints
  • Tagging comments


(Contributed by Dan Zalles on 8-26) UI for assigning selectable tags that characterize the nature of a comment. For example, let's say there is discourse in the C-Wiki on how much money is in the federal budget for Title I (the federal education program for disadvantaged children). Someone invites comments about the allocation. Any number of comments could arise but all could be taggable in terms of what characterizes them: For example: the comments could be expressing these broad sentiments:


1. "The allocation is wrong because the Federal Government has no business being involved in education." (Possible tags: idealogical, critical)


2. "This increase is a step in the right direction because many states are cutting back on compensatory education programs." (Possible tags: claiming, supportive)


3. "The allocation is wrong because my state isn't getting enough of the funding." (possible tags: self-interested, critical)


4. "The allocation is wrong because the allocation formula is misdirected away from educational outcomes." (possible tags: technical, critical)


5. "A cost benefit study conducted by _ and _ in 19__ showed no significant relationship between the national Title I funding distribution and gains on student test scores (Possible tag: evidence-based claiming)


6. (Response to #4 above: "The aforementioned study was only conducted in Kansas and Nebraska, so the results are not generalizable to the whole nation. (Possible tag: criticizing a claim)


7. "A cost benefit study conducted by _ and _ in 19__ showed no significant relationship between the Title I funding distribution and gains on student test scores in Kansas and Nebraska (Possible tag: factual -- a fact expresses a robust connection between a claim and the information cited by the claimant as supporting evidence)


8. "The allocation decisions were rushed too quickly through committee -- not enough time was scheduled for expert testimony." (Possible tags: process-oriented, critical)


9. To express opposition to this unfair distribution, we are launching a letter-writing campaign from parent-teacher associations. More information is available at www.______." (Possible tags: strategic, critical)


10. Of the senators who voted for the bill, ____% received donations from teacher unions for their most recent election campaigns. (Possible tags: process-oriented, claiming--until "connect the dots" proof is offered, which makes it factual.)


11. "The fact that most of the senators who supported the bill got campaign money from the teacher's unions only goes to show that they were corrupt and closed-minded." (Possible tags: process-oriented, critical, accusatory)


12. "The fact that most of the senators who opposed the bill got campaign money from conservative groups only goes to show that they were corrupt and closed-minded." (Possible tags: process-oriented, supportive, accusatory)


Then there is a whole other dimension to a comment, which has to do with the motivation and character of the commenter (e.g., honest, inquiring, collaborative, deceptive, spinning, adversarial). This is trickier for tag assignment and might become clearer as reputation is built from the contributor's comment history.



The last; the reputation layer has multidimensional complications; a legislator can be progressive on one issue and conservative on another, as can the commentor. e bay reputation has, by contrast relatively few parameters; is it the agreed upon item and quality, is it on time, etc. they progress in a linear way toward trust. here trust is parsed, and markets are the best analogy; truth and value will be of increasing value as their value is made granular or fractal, within key legislative units, like a particular bill compromise. this old fart will pay for things that help young poor women. but not for young boys. so he could be on board on that issue, from a personal standpoint, but that's the only needy people he recognizes. factor in particular money or power interests in play and even that simple fact; he wants to help young women become independent, becomes clouded. lyndon johnson wanted to help the poor all along, he only did it during the brief time of his ascendancy during the great society initiative. his prior rating would have not said he'd do that, but there were signs in many of his actions; he took action on behalf of the poor when he had the political power and the cost was not too great to his other objectives. how do you rate a guy like that? the halls of congress are full of complex characters and motivations. Kevin Jones




(the programmatic elements needed to fulfill the capabilities)


  • UI (Public Forum or Wiki) with consensus-management capabilities (the content itself is an extension of the commentary database)
  • UI to see at a glance the level of support for/against/undecided
  • UI for tagging and tag-based exploration

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