How to arrive at a conclusion?


(Rafa Font) #1

A discussion cannot go forever. Or can it?

Let’s say we have discussions that have a limited time range, and others that don’t. I’ll focus on the ones that have a time limit, and we want to agree on something after discussion.

Do you have any idea on how to do this? Do you want to do it? Will a voting system will be a good add-in for Discourse?

I’m thinking about using Discourse for a political organization: let’s talk about things, but let’s make decisions as well.


(Peter Stoinov) #2

As a core functionality is not making a lot of sense. The pools will be implemented as mentioned before.
But time constraints seems like very specific request. And besides once the deadline expires what will happen? The thread will be locked and who will summarize the decision being taken? It should involve some manual work from an administrator. So it could just as easily be locked manually by the admin or the owner of the topic.

Can you elaborate more on what exactly would you like to happen with such functionality?


(Trevor Hunter) #3

I disagree. I my experience, the “conclusion” is stated near the beginning and is continually refined or modified as the discussion progresses. The discussion facilitates a deeper understanding and consensus on the conclusion. In the related topic “Knowledge distillation” is a first-class citizen in the discussion process - it evolves with the discussion.

For that reason, I see it as an in-band process, not an out-of-band task by a single person who analyses the discussion.


(Rafa Font) #4

Let’s say that the discussion can stay alive, but the poll itself is locked. Could that work?

In any case I tend to agree more with @trevhunter. Now when I open a thread, I actually expect to see some kind of draft conclusion. So that I know as well how to get involved in the discussion without reading it all.

Imagine we want to decide about something. It can be political but it can also be technical. Let’s say, what’s the position of our organization regarding #OccupyWallStreet. We discuss what this movement is, what they want, what they do.

Then we decide we will have 5 different positions: Agree a lot, agree mildly, neither agreement nor disagreement, slightly disagree, fully disagree, and we open a poll and everybody votes. Then as the discussion goes on, some people change mind. I think we link here with the concept of Liquid Democracy.


(Brad Westness) #5

The admins have stated that polls are a in-progress feature that just wasn’t ready in time for the launch. If you want people to be able to submit suggestions and then vote them up and down, that sounds like more of a QA/Stack Exchange type of site as opposed to a forum.


(Aaron Levin) #6

This sounds like it could be a cool extension:

  • Ability to write a discourse as normal or decision-driven
  • Ability to state whether reply is normal or a proposal/opinion/idea (separate ideas from discussion)
  • Ability to state, as a user, whether you “agree” or “disagree” with currently-running conclusion.
  • Ability to define whether discussion will end with vote or consensus
  • Ability to “vote” on proposals/opinion/ideas
  • Ability to add time-length to discussion
  • Defined notion of Quorum
  • etc.

Basically, one could turn Discourse into a really incredible decision making tool.


(Peter Stoinov) #7

This is more like the topic that was spawned here - you want to have some kind of wiki that could easily be edited by the participants. Also you want pools to be easily added at later point when you need to make decision.
But where exactly is the deadline in this case that you mentioned in your first post?
As far as I can understand you want this pools to be limited, but this can easily be done by any member or maybe admin when the group decides that enough time has passed or that enough people had voted. Why limiting yourself with deadlines? I don’t see too much problems implementing deadlines but it just seems like something that is not necessary. Unless you have forum with tens ot hundreds of pools that you or some small group must manage manually.

I already stated in the other topic that I agree with summarization, I just did not understood the point of deadlines for a topic or pool.


(Rafa Font) #8

One reason why a time limit is good-to-have is because it enhaces participation. When you say “let’s give a reply in 1 week”, you get people more activated than when you say “let’s give a reply at some time”. It’s limiting in some aspects, but enhancing in others.


(Rafa Font) #9

In a political debate you don’t look for a QA system, as one question may have many twists, views, etc. The “answer” is much broader than a typical answer in a QA system.

But on the other side you cannot have a political decision hanging forever in a forum, if you want a decision taken.


(Peter Stoinov) #10

I just don’t see the reason, other than overwhelming amount of topics, for automatic locking of topics. If you state in the initial post or in the aforementioned wiki-like post that there is a deadline, it should be as enhancing as some automatic script that will monitor it. But you will have the flexibility to decide, as a moderator, when to lock it, if it need couple of more hours/days/weeks and so on.
Again automation is only meaningful if there is repetition. If such posts are rare or maybe comfortably spaced in time, there will be no such need for majority of the forums.
Pools on the other hand, will include timing option, since it would be more common to have a deadline for given question with specific answers, rather than an open thread.


(Brad Westness) #11

Yeah, I don’t get how this could ever be implemented programmatically. Just have a moderator close the thread once a decision has been arrived at. Likely you’re going to need a deciding or overriding vote in most cases anyway.


(EllieSemantic) #12

What would be more compelling would be a mechanism for branching discourse–i.e. a combination of multiple people involved in the discourse reaching consensus (not together in an American Idol way ‘vote this guy off’ but rather points over time) that the discussion has gone ‘off-topic’ and should be branched elsewhere, and/or entity recognition that would either automatically pull off-topic tags that would trigger a suggestion to do the same.


(Peter Stoinov) #13

There is already such tool at place. When you hover over a post, on the right you can see
This will create new topic, linked to the original post, and will also leave a link on the original branching place.


(Jeff Atwood) #14

For what it’s worth, we plan to implement an opt-in wiki like feature for a post.

Once you flip the “community editable” flag on your post, any basic trust (read: not-new) user can edit it. And of course we track revision history, as we do on all posts.

Other ideas:

  • Moderators could insert mod messages in the stream, and edit those to have a summary. Mod messages are in blue, and typically used for things like close, archive, posts moved, etc. They can be edited and liked and so forth just like any other post. But we also want arbitrary mod messages with any text.

  • You could make the first post in the topic have a summary at the bottom, that you as the original topic starter can edit.


(Peter Stoinov) #15

As far as I can tell, this will satisfy most of the requests I’ve seen so far on this site.
Any idea on ETA? Or everything is kind of http://sixtoeightweeks.com at the moment?


(Brandon Rampersad) #16

[quote=“stoinov, post:7, topic:1178”]But where exactly is the deadline in this case that you mentioned in your first post?
As far as I can understand you want this pools to be limited, but this can easily be done by any member or maybe admin when the group decides that enough time has passed or that enough people had voted. Why limiting yourself with deadlines? I don’t see too much problems implementing deadlines but it just seems like something that is not necessary. Unless you have forum with tens ot hundreds of pools that you or some small group must manage manually.[/quote]

Very nice. That alone is a game changer in forum software. Wiki-like posts.


(Jeff Atwood) #17

We did add auto-close intervals to topics and categories now.

I think the best way to even begin achieving a “conclusion” in a discussion is to put a time limit on it.

After the topic closes (note that closing only prevents new replies it does not prevent editing), then you could look at the strategies I mentioned in my post above.


Broken links, possibly related to HTTPS