Popular / citizen initiatives provide a way for the inclusion of constitutional or statutory proposals on the ballot (e.g., at an election) if enough signatures are collected in support of the proposal. Once citizens are enabled to digitally sign such initiatives remotely, the next challenge will be to provide support for verified eligible citizens to debate on running initiatives. Intelligent ways of structuring information for easy access and cooperation is a major research interest in computer science, with results like WWW, Semantic Web, Forums, Blogs, Slashdot. We propose here a new interaction paradigm for debates in the setting where participants are verified for eligibility and have equal weight. The estimation of the popular support for proposed initiatives and emerging comments (justifications) forms a basis (and a by-product) of such debates. The idea central to our approach (akin to Slashdot) is to use voting for visibility and visibility for voting. A novelty lies in the generalization of this concept to a second layer, namely to initiatives (articles). To defend users for spam and distasteful language, we propose a scalable solution based on a collaborative filtering paradigm. The technique also helps authors to write texts that are acceptable for the users, and can find application for forums in general. This paradigm can find additional applications in supporting debates of shareholders for decision making, as well as for debates of working groups and committees, or for the administration of other entities like towns and countries. An implementation of the system is available.
Kattamuri, K.R., Silaghi, M.C. (2005). Supporting debates over citizen initiatives (CS-2005-03). Melbourne, FL. Florida Institute of Technology.