A quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly (a body that uses parliamentary procedure, such as a legislature) necessary to conduct the business of that group.

According to Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, the “requirement for a quorum is protection against totally unrepresentative action in the name of the body by an unduly small number of persons.

Vote cast against Themistocles; a quorum of 6,000 was required for ostracism under the Athenian democracy, according to Plutarch; a similar quorum was necessary in the following century for grants of citizenship.

Open-source governance (also known as open politics) is a political philosophy which advocates the application of the philosophies of the open-source and open-content movements to democratic principles to enable any interested citizen to add to the creation of policy, as with a wiki document. Legislation is democratically opened to the general citizenry, employing their collective wisdom to benefit the decision-making process and improve democracy.

Applications of the principles

In practice, several applications have evolved and been used by actual democratic institutions in the developed world:

  • Open government mechanisms including those for public participation and engagement, such as the use of IdeaScaleGoogle ModeratorSemantic MediaWiki, GitHub, and other software by actual ruling governments – these mechanisms are well developed especially in the UK and the USA., or by civil society and citizens directly for example, Opengovpioneers in the UK.
  • Open politics forums and wikis, where political issues and arguments can be debated, either within or between political party constraints, taking three distinct forms:
    • Political party platform development, in which ideas are solicited from anyone or almost anyone and openly discussed to a point but the ranking and devotion of resources to developing ideas is reserved to party members or supporters. A variant is the non-partisan think-tank or citizen advocacy group platform development as has become common in Canada, for example the Dominion Institute policywiki.
    • Citizen journalism forums obeying stricter rules to ensure equal power relationships than is typically the case in blogs, strictly designed to balance libel and free speech laws for a local jurisdiction (following laws strictly is part of the open politics ideal).
    • Open party mechanisms to actually govern and operate formal political parties without the usual insider politics and interest groups that historically have taken over such parties; these experiments have been limited and typically take the form of parties run by referenda or online. An example of this is Italy’s Five Star Movement.
  • In the California AssemblyCrowdsourced legislation via a ‘wiki bills’ website is being initiated via an online wiki, with an introduction deadline of early February, 2015.
  • Hybrid mechanisms which attempt to provide journalistic coverage, political platform development, political transparency, strategic advice, and critique of a ruling government of the same party all at the same time. Dkosopedia is the best known example of this.

Some models are significantly more sophisticated than a plain wiki, incorporating semantic tags, levels of control or scoring to mediate disputes – however this always risks empowering a clique of moderators more than would be the case given their trust position within the democratic entity – a parallel to the common wiki problem of official vandalism by persons entrusted with power by owners or publishers (so-called “sysop vandalism” or “administrative censorship”).

Open politics as a distinct theory 

The open politics theory, a narrow application of open-source governance, combines aspects of the free software and open content movements, promoting decision-making methods claimed to be more open, less antagonistic, and more capable of determining what is in the public interest with respect to public policy issues. It takes special care for instance to deal with equity differences, geographic constraints, defamation versus free political speech, accountability to persons affected by decisions, and the actual standing law and institutions of a jurisdiction. There is also far more focus on compiling actual positions taken by real entities than developing theoretical “best” answers or “solutions”. One example, DiscourseDB, simply lists articles pro and con a given position without organizing their argument or evidence in any way.

While some interpret it as an example of “open-source politics”, open politics is not a top–down theory but a set of best practices from citizen journalismparticipatory democracy and deliberative democracy, informed by e-democracy and netroots experiments, applying argumentation framework for issue-based argument as they evolved in academic and military use through the 1980s to present. Some variants of it draw on the theory of scientific method and market methods, including prediction markets and anticipatory democracy.

Its advocates often engage in legal lobbying and advocacy to directly change laws in the way of the broader application of the technology, e.g. opposing political libel cases in Canada, fighting libel chill generally, and calling for clarification of privacy and human rights law especially as they relate to citizen journalism. They are less focused on tools although the semantic mediawiki and tikiwiki platforms seem to be generally favored above all others.

See also


  1. Jump up^ Open-source democracy: how online communication is changing offline politics by Douglas Rushkoff, published by Demos. Page 56 et al
  2. Jump up^ “Related projects”.
  3. Jump up^ “Upholding online anonymity in Internet governance: Affordances, ethical frameworks, and regulatory practices”.
  4. Jump up^ Service-oriented architecture governance for the services driven enterprise; Eric A. Marks
  5. Jump up^ Knowledge governance: processes and perspectives; Snejina Michailova, Nicolai J. FossOxford University Press. Page 241 et al
  6. Jump up^ “Open Government Pioneer Project” Retrieved 2017-05-19.
  7. Jump up^ As one experiment ends, a new one begins for Policy WikiThe Globe and Mail / Dominion Institute policywiki
  8. Jump up^ (Jan 8, 2015) “Gatto Promotes ‘Wiki Bill’ project” Crescenta Valley Weekly 6(19) p.1,8 accessdate=2015-01-14
  9. Jump up^ Decision Making Handout
  10. Jump up^ Liberal Party of Canada Renewal Commission, Notes from Task Force on Women Meeting
  11. Jump up^ “Liberal Party of Canada”.
  12. Jump up^ “Active projects”.
  13. Jump up^ “Collaborative governance”.
  14. Jump up^ Aktivdemokrati (Swedish)
  15. Jump up^ “Oregon 150: Public Information”.
  16. Jump up^ “DemocracyLab”DemocracyLab.
  17. Jump up^ “Votorola”.
  18. Jump up^ “Wikicracy”.
  19. Jump up^ “Future Melbourne Wiki”.
  20. Jump up^ New Zealand Police Act Review
  21. Jump up^ Audrey Lobo-Pulo. “Evaluating Government Policies Using Open Source Models”. Retrieved January 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  22. Jump up^ “Evaluating Government Policies using Open Source Models”Phoensight.

Further reading

Photo credit: Scott* via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA