I have an idea for a website, which I'm calling "virtualdemocracy.org" for now. For lack of a better term, it would be a mock congress, a place where people can come together and work out resolutions, statements of shared belief. I don't particularly like the term mock congress, since that implies that this site won't do anything important, but it's the closest term I can come up with.
I have two big ideas that I think will make this site special.
The first is a modified rules of order that borrows concepts from wikis and from open-source programming. Instead of having to amend a bill the old fashioned way, anybody (for certain values of "anybody") can edit a proposed bill, using a simplified markup language, just like in a wiki. In order to cut down on the bickering that takes place in wikis, the sponsor of the bill will serve as a gatekeeper, and will get to decide who can edit the bill and remove any last minute vandalism before the bill goes for an up-or-down vote. In addition, anybody can fork the bill and create a new version which they will be the gatekeeper of. If a bill gets forked, then the group will be given a chance to pick their favorite version through instant-runoff or concordat voting before the winner goes for an up-or-down vote.
The second big idea is that members of the site will be automagically assigned to "political parties" based on their votes on bills and on various polls. In this day and age, political labels are virtually meaningless. "Liberal," "conservative," "moderate," "independent," "libertarian" all mean very different things depending on who uses them. Instead of assigning people to "political parties" based on how they label themselves, they'll be placed based on their actual voting records. These "political parties" will be part of a structure in which ideas - in the form of resolutions passed by "political parties" and other groups - can vary, mutate, cross-pollinate, and compete before going before the site as a whole for approval.
My hope is that these ideas and others will transform this website into something more than just a mock congress, but a place where people can both hang out with others who share their views and have actual meaningful discussions with people with different viewpoints without descending into the mudslinging that happens all too often on the 'net. (Or at least I think we can keep the mudslinging to a minimum. I'm not asking for miracles here
Of course, there is just one big problem - I can't code my way out of a paper bag. I need someone to do the actual heavy lifting needed to get this site off the ground. And did I mention that I have zero budget, being a broke college student on foodstamps? There is the possibility of grants and/or donations, but we'd probably need a business manager for that. I used to own a small business, but that just means that I now know my limits.
So, are there any volunteers out there? Offers of support, moral or otherwise? Constructive criticism?