Was vTaiwan such a big flop, after all?

Blog by Beth Noveck: “A recent issue of the Daily Beast featured an article about vTaiwan, Taiwan’s flagship crowdlaw project to engage the public in the legislative process, reporting what I long suspected and feared: early success has not translated into lasting impact or institutionalization of public participation in policymaking.

“The platform hasn’t been used for any major decisions since 2018” said vTaiwan co-creator and former Taiwanese legislator Jason Hsu. He went on to add that: “since the government is not mandated to adopt recommendations coming from vTaiwan, ‘legislators don’t take it seriously.’”

After vTaiwan enabled over two hundred thousand people to participate in crafting 26 pieces of national legislation, advocates for tech and democracy hailed this four-stage online and offline deliberative process as the poster child of tech-enabled public engagement. We celebrated vTaiwan as evidence of the powerful potential for meaningful public participation in governance.

vTaiwan began with a proposal stage, with offline and online discussion of problems using a series of different tools for deliberation and frequent polling.This collaborative problem-definition process, which lasted from a few weeks to a year, helped a large number of people to agree on and define which problems should be tackled.

While disappointing, vTaiwan is not unique in failing to deliver on the promise of tech-enabled participation. As my GovLab colleagues and I reported last year, Madrid’s online engagement platform Decide Madrid attracted almost half a million sign-ups. But of the 28,000 legislative proposals submitted by residents since 2015, only one became policy. Sign-ups have declined dramatically.

Online public engagements fizzle for a variety of reasons…(More)”.