Project VIF

Vision of the Project

The Project VIF is about fun and politics.

Why are people so freely willing to engage in a goal-oriented process to produce free software of high quality? Why on the other side is it so difficult to attract people in an analogous way to a process which aims at collecting distributed knowledge for to investigate a complex social problem under various perspectives and eventually find a solution?

To give an other example: Why does people adhere freely to the norms of open mindedness and problem solving in newsgroups and mailinglists in the context of open source whereas in analogous discussions groups about political themes, the discussion is defected by fundamentalistic assertions and dogmatic proclamations.

The reason may be that open source is about fun and technology whereas the political and social realm is both based on and undermined by ideology and taste. De gustibus non est disputandum: you can't argue about taste.

Nevertheless, the example of open source is tempting. Couldn't it be possible to trigger a crowd sourcing process, to harness the people's dispersed knowledge and experience and to focus that to a shared process of problem solving?

The vision of VIF is to provide a software tool that supports this process.

The VIF application implements the VIF discussion model.

The VIF discussion model consists of three distinct features:

Structure: The discussion threads are well structured. A discussion thread starts with a problem description and an opening question. The thread then evolves in a tree of subsequent questions. Each question of one level sheds light on a specific part of the parent question. Each subsequent question has to be justified and understandable. The process goes on up to the point where the questions have a granularity which makes it possible for the contributors to answer them. At this point, the process turns back. Each question can be replaced by a specific answer. At the end we don't have an answer in the form of true on wrong. Instead we are in the position to say under which conditions a certain action is the better response for the complex social problem then the alternative actions.
Remember: Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow. (Raymond, The Cathedral and the Bazaar)

Quality control and Workflow: There is no such thing as free speech to solve complex problems. In the discussion model we suggest, we don't intend the moderation by a (more or less) benevolent dictator. Each registered member acts as reviewer for the other's contributions instead. The workflow for the publication of a contribution is as follows: a) A member makes a contribution (answering a question or adding a child question). b) A reviewer (an other registered member) is selected by random. c) The reviewer either agrees with the publication or proposes a revision. In the latter case, the process returns to step a). d) If both the contributor and the reviewer agree on the contribution, it is published.

Defined community boundaries: Each person who likes to participate to the forum has to register. To make a contribution, the members have to log in. If a member doesn't adhere to the community norms, he can be excluded.