Inclusive policy making in a digital age: The case for crowdsourced deliberation

Blog by Theo Bass: “In 2016, the Finnish Government ran an ambitious experiment to test if and how citizens across the country could meaningfully contribute to the law-making process.

Many people in Finland use off-road snowmobiles to get around in the winter, raising issues like how to protect wildlife, keep pedestrians safe, and compensate property owners for use of their land for off-road traffic.

To hear from people across the country who would be most affected by new laws, the government set up an online platform to understand problems they faced and gather solutions. Citizens could post comments and suggestions, respond to one another, and vote on ideas they liked. Over 700 people took part, generating around 250 policy ideas.

The exercise caught the attention of academics Tanja Aitamurto and Hélène Landemore. In 2017, they wrote a paper coining the term crowdsourced deliberation — an ‘open, asynchronous, depersonalized, and distributed kind of online deliberation occurring among self‐selected participants’ — to describe the interactions they saw on the platform.

Many other crowdsourced deliberation initiatives have emerged in recent years, although they haven’t always been given that name. From France to Taiwan, governments have experimented with opening policy making and enabling online conversations among diverse groups of thousands of people, leading to the adoption of new regulations or laws.

So what’s distinctive about this approach and why should policy makers consider it alongside others? In this post I’ll make a case for crowdsourced deliberation, comparing it to two other popular methods for inclusive policy making…(More)”.