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[P]
We the People of Kuro5hin.org...

By rusty in Meta
Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 08:51:58 AM EST
Tags: Kuro5hin.org (all tags)
Kuro5hin.org

Kuro5hin.org is fast approaching its first birthday, and to say it has succeeded beyond my wildest dreams would still be an understatement. You have built an amazing community here, and one that took me completely by surprise in both the quality of the participants, and the speed at which we have grown. In the FAQ I said that I wanted Kuro5hin to be "an online community that doesn't suck", and you have gone and created that community.

I think we are poised now to do something truly new in online community-building. In the "real world", when a group of people decide they have enough in common to form a community, they usually seek to solidify and protect their common interests by creating a government of one kind or another, to act as the arbiter of the common good. Until now, that government, on K5, has been me alone, acting as a dictator. Benevolent though I may be, the policies and operation of the site rest solely on my goodwill. I think now is the time for Kuro5hin, as a community, to draft an official Constitution, which defines a meaningful and robust form of collective governance, and which can act as a touchstone defining the values we hold as a community, and the structures we are willing to create to protect those values.


I'd like to start by addressing the inevitable rebuttal that we are merely a weblog, and we don't need anything like a Constitution or a government. In a way, that is true right now. But is that all we should strive to be, ever? I believe that the strength of K5 is not the stories or the comments, but the fact that we are a community of people, who interact, some of us, on a daily basis, despite being located often thousands of miles apart in real space. We are a block of humanity who have defined ourselves as sharing a common interest, which is expressed in the discussions that go on here.

The idea of becoming, literally, a virtual State might require a shift in perception for some of us. Instead of thinking of K5 as a website, imagine us all in a room. A pretty big room, actually; there are nearly 9,000 of you now. For comparison, that's more than three times the population of Al Gore's hometown of Carthage, Tennessee. That's a meaningful number of people, and it's a rather large number of people to all "get by" on an undocumented dictatorship.

I propose that we set in motion a process, a Constitutional Convention, which will ultimately produce a document that codifies what we feel are the important values that have made the site what it is, and how we can protect those values in the future, regardless of any individual leaders.

This is not a trivial task. We will need to determine what aspects of the site, and the community, the government will control, what form of government we feel will work in our interests, and how it can be implemented for a virtual state. Will we remain a dictatorship, albeit a constitutional one? Will we form a republic, or perhaps a parliamentary system? What rights will citizens of K5 have, and what responsibilities? And conversely, what rights will we grant the government, and how will they be beholden to the citizens? These are the questions that any constitutional process must face, and in and of themselves, they are fraught with dangers and pitfalls.

But there is yet another aspect to this whole thing, which is that all of this is defining a purely virtual state. Or, perhaps it would be more precise to say that we're defining a hybrid state. The world we, as citizens, inhabit is online, but the State will control certain real world properties. The core K5 database, the server or servers that run the site. Perhaps we will decide to raise a budget by advertising, or other means. That's real money, and real property, that will, if I can help it, actually be in the direct control of the duly constituted government of Kuro5hin.org.

This is, as far as I know, a new event in the development of the net. I welcome examples of real collective self-determination online, and I hope that we can learn from them. But what I am suggesting is that we create, from the base of K5 as it is now, a virtual nation, which operates according to principles we decide upon, and is governed by you, the people, or your representatives.

So, the questions before us are as follows. Should we draft a Constitution, and abide by it in the operation of the site? If so, how should we go about drafting this document? I'm not even approaching questions of what form the government should have, or what rights it will assume, yet. Right now, we need to determine who will address those questions.

I propose that we elect a number of representatives, who will form a Constitutional Convention, charged with creating the first Constitution of Kuro5hin.org. I feel that the number should be large enough to represent the diverse interests of the readers, but small enough to actually produce a document we can vote on. I feel that between 20 and 30 people would be about right for this, but I welcome your comments.

Further, I propose that this convention be run in a completely open manner, with all future citizens given full comment and discussion privileges to matters under consideration. Ultimately, the representatives will vote on items before the group, and their votes will be the ones that count. I think that a two thirds majority should be the minimum required to adopt an article or resolution.

When the Convention has finished, they will present a final draft of the proposed Constitution to the community at large, and each member will have a vote whether to adopt it or not, and of course, full commentary privileges. I feel that again a two-thirds majority of all voting readers will be required to ratify this Constitution.

The above is my gut feeling about how we should go about this. As current dictator, I feel that it's ultimately up to me to lay out the rules of the Convention. After that, I hope I will be supplanted by rule of law, and I won't have to make arbitrary decisions any more. But for now, I will follow my tradition, which has been to lay out what I think is workable, and open it up to you. Good ideas are more than welcome, and I'll be glad to explain further if that's needed.

To make it perfectly clear: I am very serious about this. We are not playing government. I am proposing we form a real online nation, and I'm willing to give up any power I have over the site if that's what's required. Kuro5hin.org is currently a Delaware C corporation, and I hope that whatever we come up with can be put directly into the corporate bylaws, to give real-world legal teeth to the structures you agree upon. I am suggesting no less than turning over ownership of the site, and control of the community, to all of you. I believe we can do this, and I believe it will change the world.

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Display: Sort:
We the People of Kuro5hin.org... | 219 comments (219 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
i can't really suggest anything yet... (3.78 / 14) (#1)
by Justinfinity on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 06:38:59 AM EST

...because i need to learn and think a bit more about governments. but i am going to say that i like this idea.

i was in #kuro5hin (as usual) when rusty first brought this up (anyone logging the channel then? i turned my logging off previously :( ) and it sparked some good discussion. this story will help to get these ideas down in stone (so to speak) and out to the entire community (front page it!)

i'm also going to commend both rusty and Inoshiro for bringing the k5 community this far. rusty is right though, they can only do so much, and we are growing. soon we will need something different and now is a good a time as any to start.

so all you people out there who have taken the political science courses, those who have experienced multiple kinds of government in your lifetime, those who think they have the next best thing, lets hear it!

oh yeah, and there is no cabal, so it can't be in charge (at least not visibly ;) )

-justin

I don't know... (3.38 / 13) (#2)
by ajf on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 06:53:52 AM EST

... I kind of like benevolent dictatorships.

I commend you, Rusty, for proposing it, because it's a bold move and shows a lot of respect for the community you've made possible here.

Maybe the k5 community is ready for this sort of step. But is the site ready for it? Where would we be if the denial of service attack that took place just a few months ago had instead happened shortly after this dramatic change took place?



"I have no idea if it is true or not, but given what you read on the Web, it seems to be a valid concern." -jjayson
matter of fact... (3.66 / 3) (#56)
by rusty on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 11:29:16 AM EST

Where would we be if the denial of service attack that took place just a few months ago had instead happened shortly after this dramatic change took place?

Probably a lot better off, actually. One of the main reasons the attacks were able to disrupt the site so much was that I was simply not able to deal with the problems in realtime. I had just moved, I was living between hotels, and starting a new job, and trying to find a home, and had nothing but a laptop and a slow RF link. If I had been at home with all my normal gear, the site probably wouldn't have gone down.

If there was a system in place aside from "Rusty will deal with it", a better response may have been possible. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Whole thing sounds silly to me... (2.47 / 23) (#3)
by Estanislao MartŪnez on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 07:04:32 AM EST

Come on, this is just a discussion website. Nothing of serious consequence comes out of this. I can understand the need for things like this in projects that make actual, serious product, like, say, Debian or FreeBSD.

K5 is not much more than just a website, in the end.

--em

Product? (3.00 / 3) (#54)
by ubu on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 11:17:43 AM EST

That's flimsy thinking. Many of us believe that there are serious consequences to ideas; in fact, that ideas have more serious consequences than most actions.

Oppose a Constitution, certainly; I do. But form a better philosophical framework than "it doesn't feel serious".

Ubu
--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Oh please. (3.00 / 1) (#70)
by Estanislao MartŪnez on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 12:19:23 PM EST

That's flimsy thinking. Many of us believe that there are serious consequences to ideas; in fact, that ideas have more serious consequences than most actions.

Well, that's a stupid belief. Ideas don't do anything-- people do. You can discuss ideas all you want; if nobody actually does anything concrete, nothing concrete happens. This is trivially true.

Oppose a Constitution, certainly; I do. But form a better philosophical framework than "it doesn't feel serious".

I didn't oppose it-- I voted "don't care".

And if you believe ideas are agents, you need a better "philosophical framework," anyway.

--em
[ Parent ]

Please yourself (4.00 / 1) (#87)
by ubu on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 02:46:00 PM EST

Well, that's a stupid belief. Ideas don't do anything-- people do. You can discuss ideas all you want; if nobody actually does anything concrete, nothing concrete happens. This is trivially true.

What's your point? Abstract classes don't do anything-- concrete classes do. You can discuss object frameworks all you want; if nobody actually implements any functions, no concrete objects will exist. This is trivially true.

And yet, the designs of your abstract classes will forever shape the future of your program, more indelibly than any single concrete class can ever hope to do. I believe in the power of ideas; if you think you're too grown up for that, go your own way.

And if you believe ideas are agents, you need a better "philosophical framework," anyway.

I didn't call ideas "agents", nor "actors", nor "governors", nor "magistrates", nor "citizens", nor anything even remotely similar. I called them "powerful". Perhaps your philosophical framework would benefit from the development of reading skills.

Ubu
--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Re: Please yourself (4.00 / 2) (#144)
by Estanislao MartŪnez on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 03:58:27 AM EST

What's your point? Abstract classes don't do anything-- concrete classes do. You can discuss object frameworks all you want; if nobody actually implements any functions, no concrete objects will exist. This is trivially true.

Are you taking "abstract classes" (OOP metaphor? Ugh.) to be metaphysically prior to concrete things? Gee, that is quite an assumption.

You should not try to force your Platonism on the rest of us.

And yet, the designs of your abstract classes will forever shape the future of your program, more indelibly than any single concrete class can ever hope to do. I believe in the power of ideas; if you think you're too grown up for that, go your own way.

And now, you take your "abstract classes" to be causally prior to actual things in the world. I bet you believe that there is an actual thing out there, among the realm of abstract objects, which is the number 13, and that it truly has the property of being prime, and so on, right?

Platonism is silly. Period. It posits that apart from everyday objects such as chairs and instances of vomit, there are "abstract" objects like numbers and ideas and feelings. And even more, it attributes to these fantasies causal powers.

But the exponential multiplication entailed by the addition of abstract objects incurs no limit on the amount of contradictions introduced (e.g. A Platonist is forced to accept the existence of contradictory objects such as round squares, even if only in the abstract). And, as as illustrated by justly famed nominalistic philosophers such as Hartry Field (e.g. his book Science without Numbers), there is nothing gained by incurring in these fantasies except for ease of calculation. Thus, there are only concrete objects. As such, there are no such things as "ideas". And thus, you attribute causal powers to something that simply does not exist. <blockquote rype="cite"> I didn't call ideas "agents", nor "actors", nor "governors", nor "magistrates", nor "citizens", nor anything even remotely similar. I called them "powerful". You never called them "powerful". Don't try to change your words post-facto.

You said: Many of us believe that there are serious consequences to ideas; in fact, that ideas have more serious consequences than most actions. Of course, action, by necessity, is something that emanates from agents. By saying that ideas have "more serious consequences than most actions", you are saying that ideas can determine actions. Since action is necessarily agentive, you are committed to attributing agency to ideas.

Perhaps your philosophical framework would benefit from the development of reading skills.

You need to stick to either OOP or metaphysics. You melange of the pair is simply dismaying.

--em
[ Parent ]

Re: Please yourself (4.00 / 2) (#154)
by ubu on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 11:21:59 AM EST

You should not try to force your Platonism on the rest of us.

Ideas precede actions in human events, that is so. As for whether a metaphysical "world of ideas" exists in reality, I don't care to speculate. Your affinity for "agents" over ideas implies a certain pragmatic fascism; do you mean to say that actions are committed to history for their own sakes, and justified later through specious "ideas"?

In any case, I haven't "forced" anything upon you; you're too defensive in the face of opposing thought.

And now, you take your "abstract classes" to be causally prior to actual things in the world. I bet you believe that there is an actual thing out there, among the realm of abstract objects, which is the number 13, and that it truly has the property of being prime, and so on, right?

No, and incidentally, neither did Plato. Philosophy 101 has left you out of your league, here.

Thus, there are only concrete objects. As such, there are no such things as "ideas".

As I said before, that's pretty flimsy thinking. My own criticism, of course. It doesn't have to be the case that you're "forcing" your nominalism on "the rest of us".

You never called them "powerful". Don't try to change your words post-facto.

No, indeed, I said they had "serious consequences". Notwithstanding, you don't believe in ideas in the first place, so it doesn't matter what their attributes... they don't exist!

If you're sporting for an argument of nominalism versus Platonism, you can take it elsewhere. I suspect that if you really understood what you're implying, you wouldn't be participating in this type of open forum in the first place.

You need to stick to either OOP or metaphysics. You melange of the pair is simply dismaying.

It's easier to disparage than to genuinely engage, as you so capably demonstrate. Wouldn't it be interesting if you expressed an opinion on whether abstract objects influence subsequent design action?

Ubu
--
As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
[ Parent ]
Re: Oh please. (2.00 / 1) (#111)
by Spendocrat on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 04:53:56 PM EST

People would do nothing without ideas.

More importantly, people would do nothing new without ideas.

Thus, any consequences in question can be traced back to ideas, even those as simple as "Og needs food".

Anyways, your conclusion has nothing to do with whether or not ideas have consequences more serious than most actions.

[ Parent ]

Re: Whole things sounds silly to me... (4.80 / 5) (#71)
by Tim Locke on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 12:27:24 PM EST

Come on, this is just a discussion website. Nothing of serious consequence comes out of this. [...]

K5 is not much more than just a website, in the end.


About a year ago, before I knew about kuro5hin, I was reading a thread on that other site, where a number of people had great ideas about how to properly handle a particular problem in the industry, and I asked myself, 'I wonder what the odds are of any of these ideas coming to fruition?' I suspect none of them did.

So I thought about it and wondered if it would be possible to turn such a site into a political group that was publicly visible and could gain the respect of the public, the media, businesses and politicians. Could Kuro5hin become such a site?

I guess there are others who do this sort of thing, but I know of none that are composed of the general public and democratic enough for everyone's vote to count for something.

The way I think it would work would be for anyone who becomes aware of a problem to post an article detailing it on kuro5hin and let it go through the normal approval process. If it gets approved, then after people have had time to express their ideas and have them debated, someone (I have no idea who) would compile the responses based on how strongly kuro5hin readers agreed with the ideas expressed in the article comments. Comments with the highest approval would be selected for publication. Then this 'compiler' would release a statement to the appropriate areas (public, media, business, government, etc.) on behalf of the kuro5hin community (thinktank?).

Hopefully this would be an avenue where something of serious consequence could come of our ideas.

I do not have any experience participating in such an entity, let alone organizing it, or even knowing whether such an idea makes any sense at all. I am just throwing the idea out to see what others think, and to let them bang on the idea and see what happens.

--- On the Internet, no one knows you're using a VIC-20.
[ Parent ]
k5's past (3.41 / 12) (#4)
by paranoidfish on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 07:20:44 AM EST

It's worth bearing in mind how k5 came about. It came into being because slashdot was, in many people's eyes, not good enough any more. K5 exists as an example of how benevolent dictatorships can work.

Whatever you decide to do, just make sure that there is some kind of break out clause. Something that says "Oh, and if some of us don't like the way things are turning out, we reserve the right to go over there and make k6".



Dictatorship, and splinters (3.75 / 4) (#45)
by rusty on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:42:54 AM EST

It's worth bearing in mind how k5 came about. It came into being because slashdot was, in many people's eyes, not good enough any more. K5 exists as an example of how benevolent dictatorships can work.

See, and I would have thought that K5 was an experiment in Democracy, more than dictatorship. After all, story voting was a big impetus for a lot of folks. I've been thinking that really we should be less dictatory than we are. Maybe you think I'm a better dictator than CmdrTaco, or maybe not, but the basic form remains the same. We'll see how good I am when there are a quarter million of you. That's what I'm worried about.

Whatever you decide to do, just make sure that there is some kind of break out clause. Something that says "Oh, and if some of us don't like the way things are turning out, we reserve the right to go over there and make k6".

This right is, of course, always built-in. The code is open, many of you have the technical ability to break off and form your own site. I did it WRT slashdot, you could do it WRT us. What I want to create though, is a place where that's not your only choice. Where you can change things from the inside, if you disagree with how things are. Leaving, after all, is pretty drastic in terms of community disruption-- you can't just take all your previous history and move it over. Well, you can to a degree, but only to the degree that the new site's operation and community makes it easy, and only if a number of others go with you. Basically, I'd rather have K5 change to fit changing needs than spawn splinter groups.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Out of context quote (3.25 / 4) (#55)
by codemonkey_uk on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 11:28:41 AM EST

"I'm a better dictator than CmdrTaco" - Rusty, K5

I think I'll make that my new .sig :)

No, I wouldn't do that to you Rusty, but then, now I've said it some one will. Sorry. ;)

Thad

---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]
Open Source Government (3.00 / 1) (#77)
by Devil Ducky on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 01:10:16 PM EST

This "government" would have a different set of needs then we are used to. Most governments only care about how much money they can raise so they can war with other such governments. On the same hand the governors (those in power) are only out to line their own pockets, and to assure their re-election (if needed) so that they may continue to become rich.

This government will offer no profits, will strive from the outset ot be completely community ruled. What other government would K5 war with? /.? that would be like a civil war to many of us who are a part of both.

The failing of the community aspect of democracy is the inability for people to communicate. In the time of the United States' forefathers there was a small fraction fo the people there are now in 1/6 the land area, and there was no good way to communicate. Thus elected officers were placed to communicate the needs of those who elected him/her.

K5 is a community/government of people who all they do is communicate. There would be little need for elected officers, with the exception of handling the day-to-day needs of the group. Due to the nature of K5 even the mundane COULD be voted on, I just dont think everybody would want to do that.


Devil Ducky

Immune to the Forces of Duct Tape
Day trading at it's Funnest
[ Parent ]
As I said in #kuro5hin... (4.12 / 16) (#5)
by vsync on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 07:31:40 AM EST

I voted for the constitution because it's what rusty wants. So I'm supporting dictatorship by voting against dictatorship... Weird.

I had an interesting idea regarding a potential form of representation. Someone in #k5 suggested having representatives for different sections of the site (for example, the Media senator). My extension to that is to imagine two sets of groups within K5: official and unofficial.

The official groups would be designated by K5 staff, and would be patterned around different areas of interest or expertise. Politics, Technology, Media, et cetera. Once you joined a group as a voting member, you would be allowed to help select its representative.

The unofficial groups would be created by the users. There would be some sort of certification process, possibly requiring a charter or something similar, but we would be able to create whatever groups we wanted. Trolls? Fans of Bob? GNUites? Yup. And each group could determine its own rules for membership, acceptable behavior, and so on. These groups would also have elected representatives.

Representatives from all groups would convene in the same congress, on equal footing, limited possibly by voting power being proportional to the size of the group being represented. This means that if the Trolls had 10000 members, and the Politics group only 9000, an unofficial group could have more say than one rusty himself created. The site government retains control over a limited number of groups, but the users get to govern the rest ourselves.

The best part about this is there's no conflict. You can be a member of as many groups as you want, as long as you can fulfill your obligations to each one. This also means that no matter how small your group, you are guaranteed representation.

I'm somewhat less optimistic than rusty about the results of online democracy. But I will say this: It is an awesome and powerful idea, and he is a brave man for suggesting it. It does have the potential to change the world.



--
"The problem I had with the story, before I even finished reading, was the copious attribution of thoughts and ideas to vsync. What made it worse was the ones attributed to him were the only ones that made any sense whatsoever."
democracy ? (3.50 / 8) (#7)
by codemonkey_uk on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 07:43:09 AM EST

It doesn't have to be a democracy. As Rusty said, we might just end up with a constitutional dictatorship.

Really, Rusty's doing a pretty good job right now, why stop him?

Thad

---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]
rusty can't do it all (although he wishes :) (3.44 / 9) (#9)
by Justinfinity on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 07:55:54 AM EST

IIRC, part of the reason he suggested this whole thing is because k5 is starting to become too big for just a single person (or even 2 or 3 people) to run

-justin
[ Parent ]
Not necessarily too big (3.50 / 4) (#57)
by rusty on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 11:31:38 AM EST

It's not necessarily becoming too big now, I just forsee the day on the horizon when it does become too big. But aside from that, it's more important, IMO, to elicit the real values that readers hold, and to make sure that we have an ownership and management system in place that reflects those. This can deal with growth, in a way that I, alone, may not be able to.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
i know that.... (3.37 / 8) (#10)
by vsync on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 07:56:35 AM EST

But he wants the people who make the constitution to be democratically selected. I'm very much in favor of tight-fisted ownership of Web sites, myself, but that's a side-issue...

--
"The problem I had with the story, before I even finished reading, was the copious attribution of thoughts and ideas to vsync. What made it worse was the ones attributed to him were the only ones that made any sense whatsoever."
[ Parent ]
online democracies - lambdamoo (4.00 / 9) (#8)
by acb on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 07:50:06 AM EST

i remember reading about lambdamoo and how they offered one of the first online democracies where people ran the place and the wizards mearly did the coding, sort of like the public sector of today ;)

it eventually ended up with the wizards retaking control and the democratic bliss ending.

hell, i am not saying that anything like this will/could/should/would happen, but if things do go ahead, and then mess up something chronic, what will happen?

---
acb
--- acb #kuro5hin
[ Parent ]
really? (3.25 / 8) (#13)
by vsync on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 08:04:05 AM EST

According to A Rape in Cyberspace, it started out as anarchy, but the wizards eventually set up a formal democratic system for players to express their wishes. Or did that later collapse? Kinda sad if it did; it seemed quite elegant...

--
"The problem I had with the story, before I even finished reading, was the copious attribution of thoughts and ideas to vsync. What made it worse was the ones attributed to him were the only ones that made any sense whatsoever."
[ Parent ]
well, now that you mention it... (3.14 / 7) (#20)
by acb on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 09:20:15 AM EST

can't remember, to long ago ;)

i know it did collapse at one stage, but whether or not it was reimplemented is another issue.

i can't seem to find the site which i originally dug that info up from... heh, so much for the moo resource site i was going to build in 1998 ;)


--- acb #kuro5hin
[ Parent ]
but what is the purpose? (3.33 / 6) (#33)
by delmoi on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:00:34 AM EST

But, what is the purpose of all that complexity? What is the problem that we are trying to solve?

Rules that solve non-problems only breed real problems (witch must, of course, be solved with more rules...)
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Rusty, I salute you (3.30 / 10) (#6)
by codemonkey_uk on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 07:38:46 AM EST

You make a damn fine dictator, and the addition of a constitution to k5 is an inovative, far reaching, idea, and like all inovative, far reaching, ideas, it comes with risk.

The power of dictatorship is a hard thing to surrender, and I salute you for offering it up. Even if this idea fails, it doesn't mean that k5 fails. Its worth doing, not just for the good of the site, but for the experiance of doing it.

I hope it does well, and look forward to controbuting.

Thad
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell

experience... (3.40 / 5) (#11)
by Justinfinity on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 07:59:36 AM EST

isn't that why we're all here anyway? to experience the joy of being a human being, interacting with the world around us. generally being human.

experience has always been the best teaching tool. maybe our experience here in kuro5hin can teach future generations of experiencers (humans) a thing or two :)

-justin
[ Parent ]

innovative? (2.50 / 4) (#29)
by delmoi on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 09:57:48 AM EST

I like k5 as much as the next guy (and spend more time reading k5 posts then slashdot posts nowadays). But I don't really think it's that innovative. People were clamoring for storymod on slashdot and k5 came about (as far as I can tell) beacuse it didn't happen os slashdot. Not to dis k5, Its a great site, but I wouldn't really call it 'innovtive'
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
innovation? (2.50 / 2) (#49)
by rusty on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:54:46 AM EST

I see what you're saying. We're not innovative in the sense that I personally invented the idea of story moderation. I certainly never claimed that! I merely responded to what I saw as a significant niche. We are innovative, IMO, in the sense of having actually gone ahead and done it. No one else did, so we "innovated" in the field.

We are also not innovative in the sense that we did very much build on the functional base that slashdot developed. I think we have innovated in comment rating, and in user trust. Not as far as we need to, but it's a step.

And finally, this is all completely offtopic anyway. :-) He didn't say the site was innovative, merely that having a constitution for a web community is innovative. And, frankly, Microsoft has so deeply perverted that word for me that I don't know what it means any more.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

not really innovative (4.33 / 3) (#66)
by sugarman on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 12:02:04 PM EST

Hey there rusty,

I think you might need to take a step back from this a bit, or maybe look at some of the other forms "web-communities" exist. Many of them do already have Constitutions, or other agreed upon forms of conduct.

Of course, I'm thinking more of large Uber-guilds and the like, in EQ or other MUD's. Most of these have a charter, and some have taken it a step further and drafted "Constitution's" and the like. Some of these have also been persistent for quite some time, moving as a group from one MUD to the next.

Also, there are other communities that have formed, sometimes around mailing lists or Usenet newsgroups. Again, these have persisted and changed in their own weird, twisted way.

So, I don't think that having this constitution is "innovative". The innovative part will be the extent that a constitution can bridge the gap between meatspace and the k5. How strong will it's bite be? That is what needs to be addressed.
--sugarman--
[ Parent ]

Immigration (assuming democracy) (3.85 / 14) (#12)
by codemonkey_uk on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 08:01:13 AM EST

This may become a problem in the future. I can imagine a situation where a democratic online community with no "immigration control" could be abused / invaded by new users with evil intents.

Just thought I'd mention it.

Thad
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
Anecdote along those lines... (4.28 / 7) (#32)
by flieghund on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 09:58:20 AM EST

Though I wasn't involved, I remember an incident from high school in which one of the "geek" clubs was destroyed by a bunch of fsckers who showed up for just one meeting -- the election.

The club in question was the "Environmental Club" which had about six "real" members. Their charter said that anyone who showed up to a meeting was a member with full rights. So, on the day of their officer elections, about a dozen guys show up -- I'd say jocks, but they weren't exactly athletic, IYKWIM -- and elected two of their own as President and VP. None of them ever attended another Environmental Club meeting. The club eventually re-elected those offices, but not until a couple of months of getting absolutely nothing accomplished.

All-in-all, I think the intruders' mission was complete, since the disruption coincided with the EC's "Earth Day" celebration plans, which had to be severely scaled back.

What I'm trying to say is Be Careful. I wouldn't go so far as to promote paranoia, but don't be naive and expect everyone to follow along for the greater good. The experience at my high school was the relatively harmless antics of a small group of idgits who were bored one day at lunch. A larger, more determined group could easily undermine what kuro5hin is all about.


Using a Macintosh is like picking your nose: everyone likes to do it, but no one will admit to it.
[ Parent ]
true (4.00 / 2) (#44)
by rusty on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:34:50 AM EST

This is a question that the convention will have to consider carefully. Should there be a time constraint on members for voting? Should there be some other form of citizenship constraint? You see why this is something that needs to be done carefully. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Citizenship Constraint... (4.00 / 1) (#191)
by Dr Caleb on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 09:30:38 PM EST

How about contribution as a way of maintaining citizenship?

You join, you contribute. You don't contribute you're 'deported'.

I'm not saying just because your contributions are ignored, flamed, etc you get the boot, but if you have nothing meaningful to contribure, say, every 6 months or so, the account goes dormant or something.

It would be a way to keep the ideas flowing, and weed out any possible troll accounts like "Bruce Perens." (with the period)


Vive Le Canada - For Canadians who give a shit about their country.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

Benevolent dictatorship is good (3.62 / 8) (#14)
by Potsy on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 08:16:24 AM EST

I am weary of creating a Constitution. I think it's still early enough to where making it up as we go is still the way to go. I also like the fact that you (rusty) make up most of the rules. Benevolent dictatorship has worked extremely well so far, and I think you should stick with it for now. The early Greek philosophers were right, it is the ultimate form of government.

Voluntary dictatorship is acceptable. (4.00 / 7) (#16)
by Farq Q. Fenderson on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 08:55:54 AM EST

Since this is a virtual nation that we're discussing, membership is voluntary and can be dropped at anytime. Are there any investments other than the social? I don't see it. Therefore a dictatorship is quite acceptable.

However, a formal constitution is a powerful document. I think that a dictator that honestly enforces such a document makes for a very powerful nation. I'm an elitist in the sense that I do not put any trust into popular opinion, which is how my government is elected (and criticized, and applauded if at all) right now.

Finally, I'd considered proposing something similar in response to nasty laws like the DMCA et cetera, but to whom? The 'net in general? I wanted to write an article for 2600 with the proposal, but something wasn't quite right about it.

The answer is this, rusty's got a good thing going on here. We've got a sizeable userbase, but a small population in terms of a nation of humans. This is perfect, it has weight in its domain (the 'net) yet it isn't overpopulated and thus has a chance to get into its groove, and then be free to grow.

I'm in.

farq will not be coming back
[ Parent ]
Free the benevolent dictator :) (4.80 / 5) (#30)
by Merekat on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 09:57:51 AM EST

From the end user point of view, benevolent dictatorship rocks. However, from a benevolent dictator's point of view, it might be nice to remove the need to make every decision about everything. It is very tiring to be in control of things and it is one thing having to do it for a work environment, but when it is voluntary, you shouldn't have to put all your spare time into it. A few frameworks behind a benevolent dictator makes it a lot easier for them to continue to pay attention to the community and continue to enjoy it as opposed to getting bogged down in niggly decisions.

People who post to k5 are already used to having a certain degree of control over the site, including what stories get posted and what comments get seen. It isn't too much of a stretch to include other aspects. I think you can trust us, Rusty ;)
---
I've always had the greatest respect for other peoples crack-pot beliefs.
- Sam the Eagle, The Muppet Show
[ Parent ]

ugh (4.26 / 19) (#15)
by Snugboy on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 08:45:15 AM EST

Is it possible for us to just enjoy each other's company with out having to draft up something as ridiculously formal as a Constiution. I for one find that I have to follow enough rules and regulations and conform to enough standards and fight enough good fights in meatspace to make this at all appealing. A web nation is about the most ridiculous exercise in futility I have ever heard. Can we delcare war on "that other website"? Can we impose economic sanctions on the banner ad providers? If we could do all these things, why the hell would we want to?

To be clear, why do we need to bring the rules and officiallity of the real world into what I consider to be the last place where we can speak our minds and discuss things intelligently. To do so would only cloud the value of this site, interaction between its members.

Don't try to make K5 something it is not

Exactly. (1.50 / 4) (#48)
by StatGrape on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:52:40 AM EST

Killer post, and right on the money.

NerdPerfect
[ Parent ]
beauracracy (4.33 / 3) (#53)
by rusty on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 11:16:06 AM EST

I for one find that I have to follow enough rules and regulations and conform to enough standards and fight enough good fights in meatspace to make this at all appealing.

That is not government-- that is beauracracy. I have no use for that either, and I hope we don't institute it here. The point is not to make you follow rules and regulations, but to give you a voice in the real operation of the site. You can already vote on stories, and that's a step, but there's a lot more that goes into running the site. If it worked as it should, the only thing you'll notice is how well the site maintains the things you love about it, even while it continues to grow.

...the value of this site, interaction between its members.

This, apparently, is what you value in the site. What I want to do is to clarify what people hold dear, and provide a means to protect that. Nothing more sinister. I don't want to simply translate the failures of RL onto the web. I think that collective self-governance is not a failure of RL, despite some forms of it having failed. I still believe in the idea, and I think it's high time we of the net stopped complaining endlessly and started organizing ourselves in a better way. Basically, we have a chance here to do something new-- not just to repeat the mistakes of before. If we choose not to choose, then the old ways will just translate online, and we will find ourselves unable to get back what we once had (what we have now). Don't wait until it's already too late.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Oh, can we _please_? (4.00 / 1) (#169)
by Arkady on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 06:29:54 PM EST

I would be out dancing in the streets if I could think of a way we could declare economic sanctions against the banner ad companies and make it stick (throw in the spammers, and we've got a seriously winning package). I wouldn't declare war on /., though; they've got way more conscriptable Anonymous [Coward/Hero] readers to throw on the front lines as cannon fodder ... ;-)

The interesting thing about this proposal, though, is that if you're not interested in it, it shouldn't affect you at all. If the site administration were opened and constitutionalized, but you didn't want to take part, the rest of the site should remain as it is anyway. It's one of those win-win situations the marketing wonks are always on about, or at least a no loss.

-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
My thoughts (4.00 / 12) (#17)
by Beorn on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 08:56:12 AM EST

My experience with BBS's is that benevolent dictatorships usually work well - but then a 100 member BBS isn't comparable to a 9000 member web site, so I'm not saying this is a bad idea, (just unexpected and experimental.)

A few thoughts:

- Who's an owner? Anyone who fills out a form? If so, Kuro5hin can be stolen through campaigns or clever scams. Legal ownership and final veto power should belong to our benevolent dictator.
- Simplicity. No politicians, just technicians. It *is* just a discussion community, and doesn't need a government in any real life sense of the word.
- Like in Switzerland, holding a referendum should be easy. Practical and validity issues concerning this needs to be worked out.
- Free speech, within legal and technical bounds. To further this, discarded articles and deleted messages should be available on their own page.
- Money issues must be worked out. Nothing splits a community faster.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]

Scaling, democracy and dictatorship (3.75 / 8) (#18)
by spiralx on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 08:58:23 AM EST

<P>Well I was forewarned about this to an extent, but rusty is certainly proposing something a bit more far out than I'd expected. But....

<P>Most of us came here from /. for one reason or another. I followed a link in a /. story a long time ago, about a month after k5 started I think. In fact, judging from the comments I've read, a lot of us are people who used to contribute quite a considerable amount to /. in one way or another. But the one thing that everybody seems to prefer about k5 over /. is the fact that it is more democratic than /. could ever be. Story moderation being the most obvious example, but the fact that rusty has always been open to suggestion is also a factor. I remember stories where the k5 code used to change in between comments in reposnse to user requests :)

<P>But what IMHO really hit /. and turned a lot of people away was not so much any major changes in policy or content, but more problems related to scaling, from when /. had 1000 users and no accounts to today where it has over 250000 accounts. And whilst I think that scoop is probably more scalable than slash due to increased user participation and control, it'll still become a problem sooner or later. Just look at the flood of stories just after this place reopened.

<P>I was going to use this as an argument for more user control, but now I see it can be taken both ways. On the one hand, more user control means that as the site gets bigger there are more people to deal with problems and come up with new strategies for dealing with problems. On the other hand you can get problems like with /. where spam accounts and other idiots attempt to break the system from within.

<P>I'm going to come down on the side of a Constitution of some kind, but I think that I'd feel much safer with rusty holding an executive veto of some kind allowing him to dissolve Congress/Parliament/Duma/whatever if the experiment fails.

<P>But then I've just gotten back from the pub. My judgement may be suspect :)</P>

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey

my thoughs on the scaling factor (5.00 / 4) (#24)
by boxed on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 09:49:21 AM EST

One (perhaps temporary solution) to the scaling problem in relation to voting is that you as a k5 citizen can choose maybe only one area in which to moderate, for example only technology or culture. This also has the strong potential of reducing the number of "don't care" votes since the persons voting will be more interested in the area covered by the articles. If k5 gets really, really big one can always make at least two levels where an article has to pass through some kind of "local" group before being let into the main moderation queue.

However I view it I see sub-communities as the solution to any and all scaling problems just like in real world politics: (example from sweden) first there is the city/town, then the kommun (several cities and towns), then län (several kommuns) then we have country (in this case Sweden), then we have the European Union, then the United Nations, then Earth. In actual fact there are way more sub-communities than that since, for example, families are sub-communities. For k5 to survive a massive onslaught of increased number of users this needs to be modelled into the system somehow.

[ Parent ]

With so many references to "dictatorship" (3.50 / 10) (#19)
by greyrat on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 09:14:54 AM EST

From Webster:

>dic∑ta∑tor

  • An ancient Roman magistrate appointed temporarily to deal with an immediate crisis or emergency.

    So are we operating under seige right now? If not, should we return to (or make) a democratic society? These are the basic questions any community needs to ask every not and then.

    Interestingly, in Roman times, the people started a dictatorship by choosing a dictator, but the dictator usually got to decide when he should step down. So I say, if you want to step down Rusty, go for it!

    Now what?
    ~ ~ ~
    Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
    "Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

  • The correct term would be Tyrant (none / 0) (#148)
    by needless on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 07:46:08 AM EST

    It seems to me that most people's idea of a "benevolent dictator" is closer the original Greek Tyrant. Tyranny's were usually well liked by the people, and didn't really gain their bad reputation until later in Greek history. Originally, the tyrants restored power back to the people when the abuse from the rich and powerful became too much for the populace to bear.

    I wouldn't say that is the case on K5, but many political philosophers over the years have lauded the merits of a "Benevolent Tyranny".



    [ Parent ]
    Hrm. (3.27 / 11) (#21)
    by inspire on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 09:39:06 AM EST

    Well, if there is to be a kuro5hin.org constitution, I propose that the following clause be made first and foremost:

    There is no k5 cabal.

    Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your attention.
    --
    What is the helix?

    I think this will have dire inforseen consequenses (3.72 / 11) (#22)
    by el_guapo on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 09:46:03 AM EST

    If we do this, we put in place a VEHICLE for alienating people, IMO. Right now, K5, and #k5 sort of (where I usually hang out, but missed THIS one ;) ), are palces where everyone is "equal". If we go forward with this, I think we'll have a form of popularity contest (sound familiar?), albeit a "representative" popularity contest. This is one of those things that "just feels bad" to me, unless you're one of th lucky ones who either: A)have the "approval" of the powers that be, or B)are one of the powers that be. Right now, K5 has very little "memory", piss everyone off on Monday with a blatantly lame post, come back on Wednesday with a good one and it'll probably get modded up. I see this going away if we have a Constitution, Senators, or whatever. So I voted "NO" to the Constitution. I will, however, participate if it is decided to create one.
    mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
    note to self, click "PREVIEW"!! (1.75 / 4) (#23)
    by el_guapo on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 09:46:50 AM EST

    unforseen i meant.....
    mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
    [ Parent ]
    Constitution != democracy (4.16 / 6) (#37)
    by rusty on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:17:49 AM EST

    Again, a constitution need not create a democracy. We should very much think about how to not alienate people, since nothing could be further from the goal. The idea is just to lay out a foundation for how decisions that affect us all are made. Representative democracy, in the US republican sense, might not be a good fit at all. But that's not really the issue here.

    ____
    Not the real rusty
    [ Parent ]
    What about Scoop? (5.00 / 1) (#93)
    by sugarman on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 03:13:40 PM EST

    The idea is just to lay out a foundation for how decisions that affect us all are made.

    So, would this proposed change take into account any modifcations on the code behind the site? Would an upgrade to Scoop necessitate us having to vote on whether the site gets upgraded as well? Could, if enough people approve, the whole site be moved to Slashcode, or UBB, or whatever else happens to strike the fancy of the populace of the k5 republic?

    Arguably, these low-level tech details are the real ones that affect us all. Things like story moderation, or mojo, or new sections and categories. But the burden of handling these and any other changes is still going to ultimately fall back on the site admin's hands: you, Inoshiro, whoever else is here currently or will be in the future.

    While directing people to Scoop to discuss thing about the k5 "engine" may be alright (and to the extent that it is open-sourced, it is wise to keep the 2 separate). Perhaps a "Scoop" Section at k5 to discuss issues with the engine that affect k5 as a community would be better off for now.

    Hold off on the constitution. Give us a place to talk about it, and one will form. You're correct in surmising that it is easier to draft one while the population is smaller is correct. Any student of Canadian politics can confirm that one for you. However, the ball has started rolling, and the meme (grrr...) has spread into the community now. Now we can iron out some details.
    --sugarman--
    [ Parent ]

    scalability and dictatorship (4.18 / 11) (#25)
    by Anonymous 242 on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 09:51:01 AM EST

    Currently, kuro5hin is of small enough size that a single person can act as a benevolent dictator and still have time to have something of a social life and hold down a job. Though, I imagine that the social life gets put to the backburner during times of crisis such as the DOS and the grand re-opening.

    So, if we are going to keep the benevolent dictator model we are going to need to do one of two things. (1) limit the size of the population. (2) Pay someone to be dictator.

    Do note that keeping a dictator is not the only option. We could expand the dictatorship to an oligarchy (assuming that k5 keeps growing, an oligarchy simply puts off the problem because eventually the site will outgrow the compentence of an unpaid oligarchy). We could move to some sort of democratic system. We could follow the business model, incorporate, sell (or otherwise distribute) shares of stock and elect a board of directors at a stockholder's meeting. The possiblilities are really as limitless as our imaginations.

    Personally, I think some sort of parlimentary system would be best. Leave the k5 population to form their own politcal parties, each of which decides how it will fill its seats in the government if it receives votes. The largest party (or coalition of parties) chooses the PM.

    Whatever the system, the pivotal issue will be how citizenship is conferred. It seems to me that people need ought to have something of a track record of making posts in order to vote in election. How much of one? I don't know. And under what circumstances is a person elgible to have citizenship revoked? How will this be enforced? Will we require faxed/scanned photos of picture ids? Snail mail of notarized copies? Credit cards?

    Of course the possibility exists that I am taking this entirely too seriously.

    have a day,

    -l

    Citizenship (4.33 / 6) (#36)
    by rusty on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:15:10 AM EST

    Citizenship will be an issue. Considering there's no such thing as "being born here", we will need to determine if there are rules for conferring citizenship. Personally, I'd much rather not tie it to posts-- there are people who mainly just read, but are still perfectly able and should be allowed to participate in the governing of the site. I'm thinking more along the lines of a simple exam that demonstrates you've RTFM, basically. That you understand what your rights and responsibilities are, and can excersize them as best you know how.

    ____
    Not the real rusty
    [ Parent ]
    Citizenship exam (3.33 / 3) (#42)
    by codemonkey_uk on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:33:09 AM EST

    I don't think a citizenship exam is the way to go. People with no interest in the good of the site can still bone up on the answers and pass the exam. People can cheat on an exam.

    Initially I was thinking that using the "trusted user" metric would be a good way to go, but now I'm not so sure. Your right that people who just read & moderate are also making a valid controbution to the site and deserve to be included in the proccess.

    On the other hand, if people don't controbute in discussion, who's to say they will make a valid controbution to constitutional government.

    Thad
    ---
    Thad
    "The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
    [ Parent ]
    determining citizenship (4.00 / 1) (#46)
    by Anonymous 242 on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:47:48 AM EST

    IMO, one of the most important part of determining citizenship is restricting voting. Bluntly put, if I can pass a citizenship test once, I can pass it many times under many different pseudonyms.

    Basing citizenship on some sort of trusted user metric has the advantage that most people that want to stuff ballot boxes won't take time to create more than one account and work each of those accounts until they attain trusted user status. The downside of such metrics, is it excludes lurkers. Another consideration is that the trusted user system seems to me to be fairly simply to hack. I haven't looked at the code, but I'd be willing to guess that a ring of ten or so accounts could be manipulated by a single person to acheive trusted user status on all of them fairly quickly.

    How about having more than one point of entry? Require non-trusted users to register by snail mail/fax or some other method that can be traced to a live warm body. None of these methods will be perfect. No system is perfect and perfection is not the goal. The goal is to limit abuses to the point where they are not statistically significant.

    Another possibility is to weight votes. Votes could be weighted proportionally according to age and/or measure of trust of an account.

    [ Parent ]

    Aren't we already citizens? (4.33 / 3) (#74)
    by Strider on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 12:46:41 PM EST

    Isn't everyone who posts under a login name a citizen (in a way) already?
    ---
    "it's like having gravity suddenly replaced by cheez-whiz" - rusty
    [ Parent ]
    Please... (4.00 / 1) (#88)
    by h0tr0d on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 02:48:10 PM EST

    "Considering there's no such thing as 'being born here...'"

    Are you sure? I was hoping to take my laptop into the delivery room when my next child is born. Can't that count for automatic citizenship? I'll make sure that as soon as he/she is born that K5 is the first thing that is seen. Even before Mommy. That oughta count for something.

    -- It appears that my spleeing chucker isn't working again.
    [ Parent ]

    Just say no to Citizenship (2.00 / 1) (#108)
    by retinaburn on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 04:24:28 PM EST

    If you have a user id then you are a citizen. At least for the first year or so. This avoids the eventual problem of stuffers no matter what solution you pick.
    You take the time to register, you get the right to vote, period.
    This will work for the time being, unless an explosion of "l0sers" that end up hanging around here like a bad tie and decreasing the signal/noise ratio. /. has explosions of users but most die off and become uninterested.

    And why should people that haven't RTFM be excluded from citizenship. My girlfriend uses a computer and is interested in the discussions we have, and participates on occasion. Just because she hasn't stayed up until the wee hours tweaking code for fun, or spent written her own compiler in 32 hours, or even heard what firewire is does not mean she cannot contribute to our society.

    There are the "elite" even here in our 1 voice-1 vote society. The believe that anyone that hasn't done/can't do the above do not have a worthy opinion. I hope they are not in the majority, if they are then the elite will end up getting the votes while us "lurkers" get the shaft. Why not just throw in Karma in the mix and let it fester.


    I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


    [ Parent ]
    Re: Just say no to Citizenship (5.00 / 2) (#115)
    by edibiase on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 05:29:01 PM EST

    <blockquote type="cite">And why should people that haven't RTFM be excluded from citizenship. My girlfriend uses a computer and is interested in the discussions we have, and participates on occasion. Just because she hasn't stayed up until the wee hours tweaking code for fun, or spent written her own compiler in 32 hours, or even heard what firewire is does not mean she cannot contribute to our society. I don't think rusty was suggesting that people be able to pass a "geekiness test" of sorts to be considered a citizen. RTFM stands for Read The Fine Manual, and (at least in the "support" world) means something like "try to make an attempt for youself to figure out what's going on with your problem before you come looking to us for help."

    The sense I got from rusty was that we could make a "K5 competence" test for Citizenship similar to what is currently in place in the US, not the Linux purity test ;)

    [ Parent ]
    K5 Competence (4.00 / 1) (#118)
    by retinaburn on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 06:03:17 PM EST

    I understood RTFM as Read the F*cking Manual. But the same intent applys.

    I also don't believe rusty intended to mean it would be an "uber-geek test", but if it is voted in the constitution I can see some trying to make the "test" swung into the "geek" realm.

    Perhaps I am getting ahead of the process but what kind of questions could you ask ?
    Surely nothing too technical, or you eliminate the intelligent but technologically challenged.
    But the questions couldn't be too easy either or what is the point.

    Perhaps the best "questionnare" could be simply a survey of what your views (if any) on certain topics, ie. Open Source movement, privacy on the internet, cryptography, politics, etc. It could be fairly general. This information would be available as part of the User Info page. This would make every user-hopeful contribute to the community by sharing their views (if any). As soon as they click submit blammo they are a citizen and are a member and with their voice the get one vote. And of course you could modify this as time progresses. Perhaps even make it mandatory to update your Op-Page say every year.
    We already have this information in some form by seeing what comments each user has posted. Why not condense it.

    I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


    [ Parent ]
    Re: K5 Competence (none / 0) (#125)
    by edibiase on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 07:03:37 PM EST

    <blockquote type="cite"> Perhaps I am getting ahead of the process but what kind of questions could you ask ? Surely nothing too technical, or you eliminate the intelligent but technologically challenged. But the questions couldn't be too easy either or what is the point. It seems as though we have different ideas of what an "RTFM test" means. Personally, I would see it as more of something that tests K5-specific knowledge, as opposed to general knowledge, and you seem to see it as more of a general knowledge test. Personally, if rusty were suggesting the type of test you seem to think he is, I'd be agreeing with you, but I think a "citizenship" test along the lines of the one used in the United States would not only help to keep the quality of Kuro5hin high (by making sure people who have good intentions do the right thing) but would also keep people who are just here to be detrimental out (although someone dedicated enough would obviously be able to pass the test).

    If we are actually going to consider this, I would suggest that we create more questions for the test than needed, and randomly generate every test. That way, it'll be harder to create scripts to bypass that section of the "application process."

    [ Parent ]
    RTFM (none / 0) (#133)
    by rusty on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:23:47 PM EST

    What I meant was that there would be something that explained how the K5 government worked, and a small quiz that just checked if you understand how to participate in it. Nothing more extensive than that at all, merely a few questions that ensure you aren't completely misinformed about what is going on. I'm not sure this is the right way to go, still, but it seems like it could be at least equable, and not exclude anyone based on factors unrelated to their potential ability to contribute to the process.

    ____
    Not the real rusty
    [ Parent ]
    Re: RTFM (4.00 / 1) (#135)
    by edibiase on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:51:59 PM EST

    What I meant was that there would be something that explained how the K5 government worked, and a small quiz that just checked if you understand how to participate in it. Nothing more extensive than that at all, merely a few questions that ensure you aren't completely misinformed about what is going on.
    Good :) That's what I thought you meant. And you said it in far fewer words than I -- what can I say, I've got this problem with rambling on and on an... oh. Sorry.
    I'm not sure this is the right way to go, still, but it seems like it could be at least equable, and not exclude anyone based on factors unrelated to their potential ability to contribute to the process.
    It doesn't seem like it would hurt anything, at least, because you're right -- nobody who doesn't really want to contribute to Kuro5hin is going to be unable to comprehend a simple page describing how we work and then take a test on the material. They don't even have to remember it.

    It could also help by serving as a sort of "K5 101" (and, to be obscure, we could even call it "K101" because 101 is "5" in binary) for people who are new to things. That way, people don't wander around looking confused and/or do things that, to an established K5-er, don't make any sense and are counterproductive.

    ::coughs:: In other words (in fewer words), I think you have a good idea here :)

    [ Parent ]
    I'd agree to that (none / 0) (#150)
    by retinaburn on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 09:48:37 AM EST

    But I still would like a questionnare that would have to be filled out.


    I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


    [ Parent ]
    Likes and dislikes (none / 0) (#197)
    by Aquarius on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 08:37:35 AM EST

    Perhaps the best "questionnare" could be simply a survey of what your views (if any) on certain topics, ie. Open Source movement, privacy on the internet, cryptography, politics, etc. It could be fairly general. This information would be available as part of the User Info page. This would make every user-hopeful contribute to the community by sharing their views (if any).
    I am very, very leery of this kind of thing. Now, I am well aware that you're not suggesting that these views are in any way significant in terms of citizenship rights or whatever, but it would be very easy, at some point in the future, to tie granting of voting rights, for instance, to your answers on the questionnaire. Don't agree with the current members? No membership for you!
    This is conceivably what the general membership of K5 would want, but I'd be surprised, to be frank. From the discussions above, I get the impression that most people are looking for a fairly open membership, and the key issue here is to eliminate abuse of the system, not to eliminate contrary viewpoints. However, I think that this sort of idea, where one fills in a list of likes and dislikes, has the potential to be abused later on. I've seen these things happen before; the first couple of times, these choices are made for a good reason ("ah, you can only really be a member if you agree with the current Constitution completely"), but it's a slippery slope.
    Of course, this is only my view of the whole thing; one of the things I most like about K5 is the free exchange of viewpoints, and it's, I consider, a central thing to be protected.

    Aq.


    "The grand plan that is Aquarius proceeds apace" -- Ronin, Frank Miller
    [ Parent ]
    But .... (none / 0) (#182)
    by aphrael on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 07:13:35 PM EST

    And why should people that haven't RTFM be excluded from citizenship. My girlfriend uses a computer and is interested in the discussions we have, and participates on occasion.

    I doubt anyone would be in favor of having a rule which tied posting rights to citizenship --- but, and this cuts to a basic question which troubles both K5 and other weblogs: if there is a community here, if there is an 'us', then how do we (a) know who is part of 'us' and who isn't, and (b) protect 'us' from an influx of 'them'? And should we let random people participate in decision-making if they haven't yet been established to be part of 'us'?

    There are more high-minded ways of phrasing this, but they boil down to the same thing.



    [ Parent ]
    Please no oligarchy (4.00 / 1) (#147)
    by needless on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 07:40:37 AM EST

    That word just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Isn't slashdot somewhat of an oligarchy? We see where many problems (stories from "patricians" get posted more often than the "plebes" and groupthink is the only form of mobility). Historically, most oligarchies eventually fail, simply because those in power keep it to themselves, and the rest of the citizenry resent the fact that they have no real say over anything, nor any chance to elevate their decision making status, also, much like slashdot.

    Perhaps, like my favorite Voltaire quote, that a tyranny tempered with the occasional assassination would be safe bet. The tyrant makes the decisions, but if things go badly, the tyrant can be voted down (assassinated), and another like minded individual could seize power through some form of popular vote. Penalties of for assassination might possibly be loss of citizenship or something similar (ie loss of your user id, therefore having to build your persona anew... yes, it's harsh, but when you accept the responsibility of power, you accept the potential consequences). Granted, one can also step down, therefore preventing themselves from being "killed". Assassination would only be for those that abuse their power.

    Please note that this is unfocused rambling, so feel free to attack it thoroughly, just don't be too hard on me, it's early ; ).



    [ Parent ]
    Not really a good idea, I think (3.54 / 11) (#26)
    by delmoi on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 09:51:35 AM EST

    Rusty, unless you actuallywant step down, i.e. quit working on k5, spend a lot less time on it, etc. I think that trying to form a k5 government isnít really a good idea. Well, not a terrible idea, but not exactly the most optimal.

    Democracy has historically been a product of revolution from tyranny. There is no tyranny here so who cares? K5 works fine the way it is, why do we need a democracy? Also small isolated town (as most towns in the US started out as) has limited resources. In any reasonably large group there are going to be some aberrant cases, people who would harm other people, for fun or profit. And they can inflict real hardship on people (even to the point of death). A government is needed to prevent chaos.

    But k5 already has its own laws, ones that cannot ever be broken (although they might be used in ways the authors never intended), the code of the scoop engine that runs this site. If someone wants to change those laws, they can propose a feature request, or submit a patch. If we could define physical reality however we wanted, would we need government?

    K5 does not need a government to continue to function, its worked fine so far, but what about the future?

    I believe that a democratic government (Iím assuming thatís what were talking about so far) simply wouldnít scale as well as a single person. Just look at how well the US democracy has scaled. Today we get to pick from dumb and dumber, from two people who no one really likes. The US democratic process simply canít cope with todayís complexity to produce the best leaders (does anyone thinks that Dubya is in anyway the best republican out there to be president? And Iím sure there are probably better democrats out there then Gore, who just gets on my nerves).

    And in another sense, democracy is inefficient. Would the elected government need to convene for every feature request, slowing down the change and improvement? Iíd think so. Would the government need to decide on server movement? Upgrades? What posts are Ďunacceptableí?

    Also, youíd have to consider who we are going to get as a government. Look again at US politics. The people running the country are nowhere near the best and brightest. I certainly donít have time to involve myself in k5 politics, nor do I want to. Iím not saying that anyone would want me as a leader, and Iím sure there are better people here then me. But whoís to say that those people better then me would be interested either. People who seek power in a democracy are the ones with big egos. I donít want a bunch of soliphicates(sp?) running k5.

    A constitutional government on k5 solves no problems, and (I think) would only serve to make things slower, less efficient, and elevate the egos of a few blowhards.

    But, maybe Iím just cynical...

    (Finally, I'd like to state that I think that if we are going to have a government, it should be a direct democracy, rather then having an elected representation. Based on the comments I've read here most k5er's are not morons, witch is the reason to have a representative democracy rather then direct. We also have the technological capabilities to make a direct democracy work fine, unlike the US in the 1780s or whatever.)
    --
    "'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
    Baic, and common, confusion (4.33 / 3) (#35)
    by rusty on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:10:26 AM EST

    I'm not proposing a democracy. I'm not proposing any specific form of government, I'm simply proposing that we, as a community, actually work out how we want decisions about the site to be made, and what we value about the community, and codify that into a binding agreement. It's just as likely that we'll end up with a completely totalitarian form of control, much like we have now, as a democracy. Judging from the comments so far, it seems perhaps even more likely.

    But the importan thing is that "democracy" is not at issue here, except in the small instance of who specifically will be charged with writing a constitution. The constitution itself can express any form of government deemed appropriate.

    Also, don't mistake the US government for an ideal, or even workable, form here. The issues here are different, I think, and we need to be open to all of the possibilities. I think the worst thing that could happen would be if we jingoistically decided that we'd just copy the US constitution and assume it'll solve anything. That document is having a really hard time dealing with the net as it is, let alone if it were applied to an exclusively online nation.

    ____
    Not the real rusty
    [ Parent ]

    I'm not saying you shouldn't do it (none / 0) (#75)
    by delmoi on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 12:50:21 PM EST

    I'm not saying you shouldn't do it, just that I don't think it's an optimal solution :P.

    Itís true that you could have a constitution say anything, but you were talking about using a system of representation for writing the constitution. I guess that's what got me on the idea that you were planning on having a representative democracy.

    Anyway, I think that this constitutional convention or whatever should be run more like a jury then a congress. That is, they should be charged only to find an accurate representation of what most of us want (based on the consensus in threads), rather then what they individual think would be a good idea. 20-30 people is a poor statistical sample for 9000 people, I think.
    --
    "'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
    [ Parent ]
    constitution, not government (4.60 / 5) (#40)
    by codemonkey_uk on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:25:16 AM EST

    Looking at it from the code angle, K5 is the scoop + users:
    But k5 already has its own laws, ones that cannot ever be broken (although they might be used in ways the authors never intended), the code of the scoop engine that runs this site. If someone wants to change those laws, they can propose a feature request, or submit a patch. If we could define physical reality however we wanted, would we need government?
    We are not nesseserly electing a govenment, but drafting a constitution. The constitution is not the law itself, but a framwork within which the laws exist. A constitution would help whoever is in charge, be it Rusty, be it a direct democracy, decide if a subited patch or feature request should be accepted.

    Suppose, hypothetically, we as a comunity, decided that all messages, and stories, even rejected / zero rated ones that currently get dumped should be logged, and searchable, but we don't want ads, and sposership should be approved via a democative vote.

    Now, fast forward 6 months, and the server is getting slow, does Rusty buy a new server with ad revenue, get sponsership from, oh I don't know, Nike, or apply the optermisation patch, which purges messages from the database during low traffic periods?

    With a constitution there is a guide. With a constitution, we know where we, as a community, stand.

    Thad
    ---
    Thad
    "The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
    [ Parent ]

    Dictator! (2.66 / 9) (#27)
    by fvw on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 09:54:44 AM EST

    Do not cooperate with this dictator! He's just giving us the illusing we're becoming free! We must revolt.

    Oh, wait. Wrong script. (Anyways, most of you are already revolting).


    Seriously:
    Nice idea. I don't know if it'll lead to anything, but we can always go back to just blogging. Nice to see k5 still has some lovely experimental surprises up it's sleave.

    Constitution: No. (1.93 / 15) (#28)
    by Signal 11 on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 09:55:31 AM EST

    It is a website, not a political movement. We don't need a constitution, and even if we had one, it wouldn't make sense anyway...

    Just my $0.02. But Kuro5hin will take off, mark my words. ;)


    --
    Society needs therapy. It's having
    trouble accepting itself.

    For once, to agree with Sig11 (2.75 / 4) (#51)
    by ubu on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 11:10:30 AM EST

    To draft a Constitution would be to deform the notion of a voluntary community. In this innovative marketplace of ideas, our contributions are the constitution of the community, for good or for ill. It would be inappropriate to draft a Constitution to govern this place.

    Rusty, I assume, is still the owner of the principal private assets involved. In that sense it will always be a dictatorship, of little importance though it may be.

    Ubu
    --
    As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
    [ Parent ]
    Read again (4.00 / 3) (#61)
    by rusty on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 11:42:14 AM EST

    From the article:

    I am proposing we form a real online nation, and I'm willing to give up any power I have over the site if that's what's required. Kuro5hin.org is currently a Delaware C corporation, and I hope that whatever we come up with can be put directly into the corporate bylaws, to give real-world legal teeth to the structures you agree upon. I am suggesting no less than turning over ownership of the site, and control of the community, to all of you.

    What I want to do is draft a document that can then be used to form the official bylaws of K5, Inc, the corporation that owns the real-world assets of Kuro5hin.org. In a very real way, you will own Kuro5hin.org. This is not an intellectual excersize-- if we do it, we must do it for real.

    Now, your other point-- why would a constitution deform the ideal of voluntary community? I'm not going to sit down and write it for you, you are. Do we have no values that we all share and can agree on, and which can guide the operation of the site? I think right now they are mostly implicit in the fact of us being here. But that certainly doesn't mean it'll always be that way. A constitution lays down the founding values of a community. A good one will always provide for it's own amendment if the situation warrants change. In that, it seems to me to be the ultimate tool of voluntary community.

    ____
    Not the real rusty
    [ Parent ]

    [More] (none / 0) (#86)
    by ubu on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 02:39:45 PM EST

    The problem is the definition of "we". Unless you can clearly delimit the franchise you're offering, there is no franchise in the first place. That's what strikes against the "voluntary community", which phrase was meant to imply a free-form and unrestricted (albeit not unrestrained) commingling of ideas and expression.

    Establishment of a franchise would be contrary to your stated goals, I think.

    Ubu
    --
    As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
    [ Parent ]
    Kuro5hin is /just/ a website (3.33 / 3) (#60)
    by Anonymous 242 on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 11:37:48 AM EST

    Kuro5hin may be just a website, but it is a website that is entirely contingent on a healthy community to have any meaningful value to most of us. Given the rate of growth of the internet, k5 is likely to grow in numbers whether or not it sucks. The questions Rusty is asking are questions that need to be answered to keep kuro5hin from devolving into a /. with the sole distinction that the front page stories can be voted on. Rusty won't be able to singlehandedly delete all the spam and ignorant troll posts (I think we're all willing to live with the intelligent troll posts) if Kuro5hin becomes very much more popular.

    What Rusty appears to be attempting to do is give Kuro5hin a certain amount of autonomy. Rather than Rusty making executive decisions because he is the only one that can, he is exploring the idea of building a framework similiar to a state constitution or a corporate charter that will define the rolls the members of kuro5hin will play.

    And for those that don't care, that just want to read the discussions, that option will still be available. I doubt that Rusty has in mind any sort of system that will force people to take part in transitioning Kuro5hin from Rusty's id to something that controls its own destiny.

    [ Parent ]

    Ironic (2.00 / 1) (#181)
    by aphrael on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 07:11:12 PM EST

    Funny ... since you're I think one of our most thoughtful thinkers, I was going to nominate you as a delegate to the constitutional convention ...

    [ Parent ]
    What about ballot stuffing? (3.60 / 10) (#31)
    by Paul Crowley on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 09:57:54 AM EST

    The biggest challenge with creating any kind of online voting community is always ballot stuffing. So far, K5 hasn't had too much of a problem with this, but it will need to be considered very carefully indeed if it is to take this step. Otherwise, we'll end up with Hank the Angry, Drunken Dwarf running the site...
    --
    Paul Crowley aka ciphergoth. Crypto and sex politics. Diary.
    hey! (2.00 / 1) (#43)
    by phunbalanced on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:34:12 AM EST

    I like Hank. He's a good guy!

    [ Parent ]
    Good experiment - maybe (4.08 / 12) (#34)
    by dorsai on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:00:41 AM EST

    I like it. It's bold, it's almost unheard of (the Republic of Lomar comes to mind, along with several dead initiatives) ... BUT :
    • What purpose does it serve ? I could understand if we - as a community, decided to write up a "geek manifesto" or somesuch - a "position paper" on the issues that we find important. But a constitution ? As I understand it (IANAL and so forth) a constitution, like any law, is a contract between a group of people that defines how they will interact. Is this necessary ? Desirable ?
    • What effects do you expect ? (Probably the unexpected ones would outnumber them by a good factor anyway) And how will they be relevant ?
    • What value will it add for the community ?
    • How can it operate freely ? If for some reason "our" constitution would contradict that of where k5 operates, how could we try and uphold it above the other one ?
    Of course, it could be construed as an academic exercise... as a such it may have some merit, but for now it is not clear to me why we should embark on this venture in the first place.

    Dorsai the sigless


    Dorsai the sigless


    Good questions! (4.50 / 4) (#41)
    by rusty on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:32:26 AM EST

    To see if I can answer them...
    • What purpose does it serve ? I could understand if we - as a community, decided to write up a "geek manifesto" or somesuch - a "position paper" on the issues that we find important. But a constitution ? As I understand it (IANAL and so forth) a constitution, like any law, is a contract between a group of people that defines how they will interact. Is this necessary ? Desirable ?
    We are a group of people who share common interests, one of which is to protect this virtual space for the good and enjoyment of all of us. Currently, we rely on my benevolence to do this. I have great doubts about my ability to be a useful and responsive dictator forever, but I want to see K5 grow and flourish with or without me. I hope with me, obviously, but I'm assuming the absolute worst here. ;-)

    To that end, I feel that there should be a binding structure in place that lays out who is allowed to make decisions that affect all of us -- for example, What does the site look like? What features does the code need? Should we add section Foo? Should we remove section Bar? Should we accept advertising? If so, from who? And what form would that take? If someone feels they've been treated unfairly, where do they take their complaint? What rights do users have W/R/T privacy? What are our copyright policies? And, perhaps most importantly, how do we pass power from one leader to another, and who decides when it is time to do that? These (well, most of these) are things that I decide unilaterally right now. They aren't things that can easily be written into the code to be democratic, in the way that story voting can be. They are, basically, social issues about the preservation of this space. The purpose would be to lay out the answers to my questions above, in a way that continues to empower the citizens of K5 to determine the direction the community takes.

    • What effects do you expect ? (Probably the unexpected ones would outnumber them by a good factor anyway) And how will they be relevant ?
    I agree that chances are the unexpected effects will be more numerous than the expected ones. :-) I expect that people will be able to refer to a clear vision of what we feel the site's strengths are, and will be impelled, socially, to tailor their behavior to fit those goals. I expect that the readers will be more engaged in the normal operating choices of running a large community site, which will in turn expose all of us to the delicate balance that needs to be struck in such an operation, and hopefully make everyone more sensitive to how difficult it actually is. These are justa coupl concrete things, which all fall under the general header of "Strengthen The Community". A strong community is one that can be meaningful in people's lives. That's important to me.
    • What value will it add for the community ?
    Er, I think I got this one in the last answer. :-)
    • How can it operate freely ? If for some reason "our" constitution would contradict that of where k5 operates, how could we try and uphold it above the other one ?
    Your constitution would be where K5 operates. There would be no other. I'm not sure what you mean here, I guess-- but this would take it's place as the document of reference for questions about how the site operates.

    HTH :-)

    ____
    Not the real rusty
    [ Parent ]

    What if rusty got hit by a bus? (3.16 / 6) (#50)
    by spiralx on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:57:41 AM EST

    <P><I>I have great doubts about my ability to be a useful and responsive dictator forever, but I want to see K5 grow and flourish with or without me. I hope with me, obviously, but I'm assuming the absolute worst here. ;-)</I>

    <P>It could happen! Without this, we are at the mercy of public transport systems across America!</P>

    You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
    [ Parent ]

    even worse! (4.00 / 3) (#58)
    by rusty on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 11:33:31 AM EST

    We're at the mercy of the San Francisco public transit system. Not a good spot to be in, IMO.

    And, BTW-- see that little selector below the comment box? Set it to "HTML Formatted" for God's sake. Plain text means plain text, and all that html makes your comments look so... naked. :-)

    ____
    Not the real rusty
    [ Parent ]

    Plain text (3.00 / 1) (#63)
    by spiralx on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 11:47:25 AM EST

    I was going to bitch about that... it has always been HTML Formatted which I'm used to. But when I posted the IRC log earlier in Plain text mode, it now defaults to that and I can't get it to change back... I keep forgetting it's not HTML any more :(

    Is there a way to get it to default to HTML mode again?


    You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
    [ Parent ]

    should be (3.50 / 2) (#65)
    by rusty on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 11:58:52 AM EST

    Set it to HTML, submit comment. That should make it "sticky" again for future comments. If it's not, well, Houston, we have a problem. Basically, it's designed to default to what you last used. There may be bugs, but see if that works...

    ____
    Not the real rusty
    [ Parent ]
    No, it appears to be broken (2.50 / 2) (#67)
    by spiralx on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 12:06:27 PM EST

    That's what I thought would happen and why I didn't check on that post... but it didn't then, and didn't this time either. Woohoo, it's a bug! :)


    You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
    [ Parent ]

    Re: Good Questions (3.00 / 2) (#72)
    by delmoi on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 12:31:52 PM EST

    Well, it seems like you have your hear set on this, and, ironically since this isnít a democracy yet, there isnít anything I can do to stop it from becoming one: P . Of course, I donít really want to Ďstopí anything from happening, all I want to do is let everyone know why I think it might not be the best idea.

    If we do do this, I think the best solution would be to have a direct democracy, rather then a representative one. K5 is born of the Internet, and it is that Internet that makes obsolete a lot of the reasons for having a representative democracy rather then a direct one. Here, a direct democracy can probably be as efficient as a large representative body.

    What might be a good idea would be to have an elected Ďreview committeeí of a small number of people to look over the shoulder of an executive, then the general populous would review decisions of the committee. With each larger set ultimately having power over the smaller set (with the option to dissolve the whole thing if it goes terribly wrong). That way, speed and efficiency are maintained, and a lot of power remains with the Ďpeopleí. I donít think a true representative-democracy, where the people only get to cast ballots for people, not issues or ideas, is a good idea for k5.
    --
    "'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
    [ Parent ]
    Different understandings & further considerations (4.00 / 2) (#151)
    by dorsai on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 09:54:27 AM EST

    Your constitution would be where K5 operates. There would be no other. I'm not sure what you mean here, I guess-- but this would take it's place as the document of reference for questions about how the site operates.

    Apparently I was not clear on the exact scope of your proposal - thought it was more far-reaching - disregard. What threw me was that usually, people making such a declaration entailed also making a secession from something. This new outlook cancels most of my ovjections on the subject.

    On with the show... so one of the objects of the "constitution" would be to make k5 "rusty-independent". I can see that as useful - even if I sincerely hope you don't get hit by a bus :-) <tangent>how should puctuation behave around a smiley ?</tangent> - a chap is entitled to a vacation once in a while, and it's probably a good experiment on the viability and workings of an online decision-making process.

    There are (at least) three sides to the issue of making a working charter or constitution:

    • What areas of decision will exist. This decision is crucial for any scenario save the continuation of the "benevolent dictator" system. I see the following areas as necessary :
      • Outside relations - with hosting companies, sponsors, advertisers, "guest speakers", interviewees, etc.
      • Technical & code - New features, technology options, who implements what and how
      • User relations - Complaints, bitching, larts, membership issues
      • Big picture - Such area would deal with "strategic" decisions... the very decision on whether to adopt a constitution or not would come under this heading, if such a system was already active. Too general to be overly delegated, I think.
    • Who makes the decisions and how. I can see this going in three ways :
      • One person is "appointed" to make decisions regarding one issue for a given ammount of time
      • A "comittee" (shudder) is apointed in similar conditions
      • Every single issue is a direct "one being, one vote"
    • Now what ? It has been noted that since you still are the dictator of k5, we cannot stop you from implementing a constitution or whatever else you wish... but if the drafting process is to be a collective effort but still maintain a decent feasability, I'm guessing you'll still have to set the agenda on this one... suggestions :
      • The "mission statement" - as it stands or rewrite ?
      • A "declaration of user Rights
      • "Citizenship" criteria
      • A "what to legislate about" list that will spawn particular items of the constitution

    I hope folks expand / cut from this set of items as they see fit, of course...
    Sidenote - I come from a country that legislates things to death... our constitution has over 174(!) ammendments(sp?) ... it's barroque to say the least. Less is more
    Ok... I've said my piece, go ahead and tear it to shreads :)

    Dorsai the sigless


    Dorsai the sigless


    [ Parent ]
    referenda (none / 0) (#180)
    by aphrael on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 07:10:03 PM EST

    What areas of decision will exist.

    I suspect these can be pretty easily agreed upon, and won't be the major area of discussion or contention.

    Who makes the decisions and how. I can see this going in three ways : One person is "appointed" to make decisions regarding one issue for a given ammount of time A "comittee" (shudder) is apointed in similar conditions Every single issue is a direct "one being, one vote"

    Or some combination of the same. Say, for example, that someone is empowered to make a particular class of decisions, but if their decision irritates enough people, they can force the issue to a one-being one-vote decision (sort of like a referendum process). Clearly, the line for what kind of decisions were subject to referendum, and how you would go about forcing one, would have to be *clearly* drawn, and there might need to be different thresholds for different types of decisions ...



    [ Parent ]
    wow (3.00 / 10) (#38)
    by phunbalanced on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:19:09 AM EST

    I personally think this is a great idea. I think the people who disagree, probably find it easier to be dictated over then to actually ever have to make a decision. For after all, if you don't make a decision, you can never be wrong.

    We all discuss this. Online, with friends, with co-workers. Change is needed, governement is stale, it hasn't changed enough to keep up with the times. So if we all think we can do it better, why not take such a prime opportunity.

    I mean after all, if we screw up, at least millions of people won't die, and a small third world country won't starve to death. (at least not yet).

    Why not? Is it just cause everyone here is too lazy?... or like I said before... does no one want to be wrong.

    Well I want to be wrong sometimes if it means being right other times... and who knows, if we all come together and think about this, maybe we can be right more of the time.

    And if anyone's interested, I would like to nominate myself to help with this... These types of thing interest me greatly, and I would love to have the opportunity to help draft something like this.

    Am I lazy or afraid of being wrong? (3.66 / 3) (#69)
    by delmoi on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 12:14:49 PM EST

    I personally think this is a great idea. I think the people who disagree, probably find it easier to be dictated over then to actually ever have to make a decision. For after all, if you don't make a decision, you can never be wrong.

    What?!

    It isnít that Iím worried about being wrong, itís that I donít want to worry about it at all k5 is fine now and this thing wouldnít solve any problems. Does the old saying ďIf it ainít broke, donít fix itĒ mean anything to you?

    There are so many potentials for problems with a representative-government that simply donít exist now. The web simply doesnít have the kinds of government-needing problems that meatspace does. Ultimately because we can always just leave. If Rusty was a bad Ďleaderí (or whatever) we simply wouldnít be here. The problem I have with this Idea is twofold: The first is that a lot of k5 readers, I think, are not really going to be bothered to vote. Iíd imagine that voter turnout here would be far lower then it would be in the US at least. So yes, people can be lazy.

    The second is that there are a lot of pitfalls that I see with this. Rusty has proven absolutely that he is capable of running k5 without a formal government. On the other hand, most representatives we would elect wouldnít have. Personally, Iím not worried about screwing up. Iím not worried about being wrong. But, as Iím sure youíre aware, there are a lot of Wrong Things. Why would you want to trade a proven, effective solution with one that is eminently failable?

    So it isnít that Iím lazy, itís that a lot of other people are to. And it isnít that Iím afraid of being wrong, itís that Iím afraid of other people being wrong.

    (btw, Iím not saying k5rís are stupid or anything, but setting up a government is a very, very difficult thing to do without screwing up somewhat. A benevolent dictatorship is the most efficient, effective, and simple form of government. We can be absolutely certain that rusty can do it, so why change?)
    --
    "'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
    [ Parent ]
    Why Change? (4.50 / 4) (#81)
    by phunbalanced on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 01:59:18 PM EST

    Well first it appears that no one has faith in such a system, and that that is their primary motivation for saying it's a bad idea. Numbers of users have posted saying things like, summed up "if it doesn't work, k5 will suck and everyone will leave". But no one has said what would happen if it did work.

    If it did in fact work, we would have another level of community unmatched anywhere else on the net.

    Start small, think of the 1 main difference that comes to mind (at least to mine) when I think of K5 and /. This 1 main difference (again, in my mind) is the ability of everyone here to choose which stories get posted, and if so where. The ability of all of us to choose which comments are best.

    Rusty is a very smart person in 1 main sense here. He knows that he will not always make the best decision. However there is a greater chance of a bunch of people discussing ideas, to make a good decision. By passing on said "power" to multiple people, he insures that no one person (yes even rusty himself) doesn't screw this up for everyone. He also guarantee's that K5 will head in a direction even more dictated by that of the community. This isn't a matter of who gets to choose what stories get posted, this is the matter of all of K5. How the site is run, what happens to it, advertising, what's done with revenue, etc. etc.. etc.. (if I understand Rusty correctly on this).

    But most importantly, this is a prime chance to experiment. To setup something we think is better then the US gov (for example only) or the French Gov or the East Krakiov gov. This is a chance for us to organize a community. Why would someone turn that down? If you don't want to put in hours to contribute then that's fine. You are the equivalent of a citizen of a government. Not required by any means to work directly for that government. But merely supporting it, and electing representatives is not too much to ask. You have the time to mod stories in or out, don't you? I think that's evident from the fact the K5 functions at all. So why not?

    Perhaps you lack faith in your community. Perhaps you think the people here will fail as most people feel their governments representatives have failed them.

    But what a smack in the face it would be to all those hoity toity politicians if a bunch of "geeks" and "nerds" and "normal" people, sitting in front of a computer, managed to dictate the role of government, demonstratably better then them.

    This does not even begin to touch on the implications of community outside physical borders. Sure we have "online communities". But do any of them reach the social structure of physical communities? Is there not something to be said about having more control in the community you exist in?

    On a final note, just to reiterate.. how can we be certain that rusty will never falter when rusty himself, as one purpose of this, has suggested this very idea to us. Either he has already failed by suggesting a bad idea, which contradicts your argument that he is a good dictator, or he admits he's not perfect, and has therefore proposed an idea that took quite a lot of foresight imnsho.

    [ Parent ]

    Viva Rusty!!! (2.00 / 2) (#76)
    by Strider on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 01:01:08 PM EST

    I think the people who disagree, probably find it easier to be dictated over then to actually ever have to make a decision.

    You describe me to a tee here. I have a life. I work 40hrs. a week and am heavily involved in a few organizations. I don't have time to make decisions about how K5 should be run. Rusty could put up little pink dancing squirrels all over the place and I wouldn't get angry (I might not come back either...). I don't care if you think I'm wrong (if we met you would probably disagree with me a lot), but don't confuse my disagreement with this issue for bloated pride.

    Rusty has done a great job on this site. I trust his leadership. If he decides to pass it on to someone or something else then that's his decision. If K5 starts to get really pathetic (because of this decision- or dancing pink squirrels) then I probably won't stick around much and I probably won't try to fix the problems. I don't have the time and I don't care.
    ---
    "it's like having gravity suddenly replaced by cheez-whiz" - rusty
    [ Parent ]

    Yes Vive Rusty! (3.66 / 3) (#84)
    by Spendocrat on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 02:21:26 PM EST

    If that's what we want.

    Maybe we do, maybe not. Either way, a constitution would make the possible time in the future when Rusty doesn't want to be dictator of K5 a lot easier to deal with.

    I really respect the fact that Rusty is offering to give up all power over K5 if that's what we want. I don't know if I'd be able to do that in his place. That alone makes me just as happy to keep Rusty here as long as he wants as anything else.

    The idea of building and continuing to build an online community really strikes a chord with me. If nothing else (and I highly doubt that) it'll be an interesting exercise in thinking about what could be. At it's very best this could be something entirely new. I can't think of any type of thing I'd rather be involved in.

    [ Parent ]

    you DON'T care? (3.00 / 1) (#94)
    by phunbalanced on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 03:22:59 PM EST

    if you don't have time, or don't care... then why do you bother to post?

    this shows use of time you claim not to have, and a longing to express your views on something you claim not to care about.

    seems pretty hypocritical.

    [ Parent ]

    It seems (2.00 / 1) (#101)
    by Strider on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 03:51:10 PM EST

    as though I miscommunicated or you missed the conceit of what I was trying to say. I do not favor any democratic governing body over K5. Rusty and his cronies do just fine in my opinion. If a new governing body rubs me the wrong way I will leave. I don't care for their leadership.
    ---
    "it's like having gravity suddenly replaced by cheez-whiz" - rusty
    [ Parent ]
    Requirements BEFORE design (4.00 / 10) (#39)
    by pete on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:19:48 AM EST

    While I think this is an interesting idea, I don't have a good idea of what a Constitution would do for us. So before we start drafting it, we should have some kind of statement of goals.

    Sign me up for "The k5 Federalist Papers" if we ever get ready to ratify. ;-)


    --pete


    keep it simple (3.00 / 5) (#47)
    by muddyfunster on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:51:41 AM EST

    If you want to form an online community with a Constitution, do so and discuss it on K5, you'll probably find lots of new devotees for your new kingdom. But K5 is and should stay a discussion forum - nothing more and nothing less..... keep it simple......

    State of affairs (3.60 / 5) (#52)
    by Fjord on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 11:14:48 AM EST

    As most everyone knows, the best form of government is a benevolent dictatorship. With that, the laws are clearly understood, clearly followed, and the most progress can be made. However, I believe k5 to be somewhat of different case right now. Now, k5 has, as the general public, a bunch of techno-heads who actually do think, and have some idea of where they're going. However, if rusty's right and k5 does reach a quarter of a million users, then the general public won't be the thinking few. That's the drawback.

    Thankfully, we don't have to decide on the form of govn't now. I think this constitution would do a great deal to clarify the direction of k5.


    No one can force an OS down your throat, you ultimately have to pay for it, one way or another. - rednecktek
    My thoughts (4.30 / 10) (#59)
    by dreamfish on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 11:37:46 AM EST

    I'm broadly in favour of forming a constitution but with the emphasis on KISS :)

    It shouldn't have more than 20 clauses unless there is a very good reason. It should be seen to be democratically accountable to users (all users, not any given cabal of 'special users') but attempt to avoid all the complicated problems with trying to implement 'perfectly fair' democracy (cf. ICANN).

    It's important that this constitution doesn't just cover how users/dictator(s) work with the site at the moment but also include guidelines that help it grow. Some have called K5 a weblog; maybe it is (personally I think it's more) but a constitution shouldn't be written from the point of view that it is a weblog, with the consequence that it could constrain any new and radical changes to K5. As a first stab it could have headings like:

    • how to change the constitution
    • story submission
    • story moderation
    • user rights (and dealing with flamers)
    • overall responsibility
    • site management
    • improvements
    • commercial considerations
    This is just a rough list :)

    As for this 'council of wise men' to think of the the clauses, it would probably be simpler and quicker if rusty came up with a draft of the whole thing, gave us time to look at it and discuss it and then asked for a vote. After all, who and how would you choose to be on the constitution working-party? It could become nasty ;)

    After the whole constitution is accepted by all, any successive changes could be suggested by anyone and decided with a simple vote. To avoid getting bogged down in changes I would recommend the first version not be changed for 3-6 months to see how well it works. After that maybe only one vote per month on any change.

    What I seem to be banging on about here is: keep the whole thing simple and transparent. Then it's more likely to work and maintain the support and interest of users.

    Ahh Finally... (3.00 / 1) (#68)
    by retinaburn on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 12:08:00 PM EST

    Getting to the point of what needs to be done, I love it :)

    The first thing to conquer is the "council of wise men", for the purpose of creating the first draft of the consitution. I see this being a painful process. I see the following options:

    1) For those interested they could submit their names, then have them rated by the populace. The 20-30 highest rating gets in (personally I hope rusty is in there somewhere).

    2) Just do a little random grab through the user database, selecting 40-60 names or so and post those. Having the populace again vote, with the 20-30 being selected. This would be a quick and dirty solution.

    3) Have no "council of wise men". This seems the best solution for "us". Rusty could create a draft consitituion (or simply thoughts on what should be included). A good starting point would be the headings in the above post. If rusty however is trying to distance himself from this, to become a participant rather than the leader than it is up to him if we can follow this path.
    If a rough thought for each heading was posted then changes could be proposed as comments. But a better rating system would be needed for the comments, IMHO the simple 1-5 does not reflect the importance of the comments with relation to constitution discussion. Perhaps if they could be voted on like voting on a new story. Have "yay, nay, don't care". Not sure of the logistics of doing this for a special constituion post. If we had this type of structure it could also be used for future drafts, proposed ammedments to the constitution.

    Any changes to the constitution would have to posted as a story ..perhaps a Consitution heading would be appropriate.


    I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


    [ Parent ]
    Amendments (4.00 / 2) (#95)
    by interiot on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 03:25:02 PM EST

    For #3: Amendments would be entered as separate stories into the 'K5 Konstitu5hin' section (and numbered in the story title, for reference). People can vote just by using the poll (though a person should be able to change their vote). Ratings are still relevant to comments; they're used to mark insightful comments about the debate, regardless of whether they're pro- or anti-.

    [ Parent ]
    Your own sins... (4.50 / 2) (#102)
    by RadiantMatrix on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 03:52:20 PM EST

    I realise you probably just hacked this comment out to express your ideas -- and truth be told, I like where you're going -- but your list of headings commits the sin of assuming K5 is a weblog that you so vehemently protest. Not thinking of something as what it currently is can be very tricky.

    For example, you include sections titled "story submission" and "story moderation." Nevermind that this ignores the comment system, which is IMHO the backbone of this community. Who is to say that this will always be a weblog with stories? Perhaps "content [submission|moderation]" would be more accurate?

    If we are to avoid constraining ourselves to a weblog mentality -- and I agree that we should avoid it -- we need to do so conciously and carefully. This is not a light undertaking by any means...
    --
    I'm not going out with a "meh". I plan to live, dammit. [ZorbaTHut]

    [ Parent ]

    Re: Your own sins... (4.00 / 2) (#120)
    by dreamfish on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 06:32:23 PM EST

    OK, I said they were a rough outline :)

    I was trying to put forward a few ideas so people had something to run with, which is better than a blank sheet of paper. That's why I'm in favour of someone creating a draft which we can all tear to pieces, though the process could be simplified if we came up with a set of headings first.

    rusty: a con5titution section is needed so we can argue this away from the front page.

    Final thought: there still needs to be a benevolent dictator to implement and uphold this con5titution, according to outcomes of votes. I'm definitately not in favour of K5 being run by committee.

    [ Parent ]

    Flexibility is a must (3.83 / 6) (#62)
    by Elendale on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 11:42:48 AM EST

    If we draft a constitution, it should probably be very flexible. K5 may be stable now, but i highly doubt this is the form it will be in next year and who knows about two or three years into the future. Perhaps we should write up a document saying "This is what we believe in, this is what we will fight for, these are the ways we will do it"
    Personally, i don't think we're ready to give Rusty up yet. He's still to much a part of the site to remove him, but i think eventually he will be able to leave the site. K5 is not autonomous now and a constitution might cause troubles later. If we do this, we must make provisions for a time when we look at it and say "This is all wrong!"

    -Elendale (just my .02 USD)
    ---

    When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


    K5 Cabal...why not make one? (3.00 / 4) (#64)
    by GlennC on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 11:56:57 AM EST

    I find it interesting that Rusty's .sig ends with "There is no K5 Cabal".

    I also think that this may be the time to create one.

    I for one would have no problem with Rusty recruiting some volunteers and creating a distributed administration model. K5 is Rusty's site, and he can do what he wants with it. If he wants or needs help, I say let's make an agreement (if you want to call it a constitution that's your call), and do it. I don't know how much help I can be, or if I even deserve to be part of the Cabal, but that can be worked out as part of the process.

    That's my take on it. Take it for what you think it's worth.
    A Formal Constitution? nah... (3.50 / 6) (#73)
    by royh on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 12:39:19 PM EST

    The code is the constitution.

    In conformance with that, I propose patch moderation.

    Meaning, anyone who wants to patch scoop (kuro5hin?)'s source posts it, in a manner very similar to story moderation, and if it gets voted up enough, it goes in.

    The Process (none / 0) (#82)
    by interiot on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 02:12:44 PM EST

    As pete pointed out, the various layers of law and policy can be viewed as the various steps in software development.

    federalist papers => purpose and justification
    constitution => requirements
    US law => design
    police officers, judges, juries, scoop code => implementation

    If you don't go through the process, you can have implicit and conflicting requirements that manifest themselves in a mishmash of competing code. It's better to argue over why and what you're doing before you actually do it, especially when we already have many conflicting opinions and unknown assumptions.

    [ Parent ]

    Your point? (1.00 / 1) (#97)
    by royh on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 03:33:11 PM EST

    You're post was interesting, but I'm not sure what you are trying to say with it.

    [ Parent ]
    The Point => . (3.00 / 1) (#100)
    by interiot on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 03:50:36 PM EST

    Okay. Let's say one person submits some code with a feature that facilitates the amendment of a K5 constitution. Then another guy comes along and submits code that lets anonymous cowards post anything they want without restrictions.

    Even though the features don't directly compete, different features can serve to undermine a feature's real intent because their intents aren't explicitely stated.

    Sure, during the discussion, the topic of pro- or anti-constitution/K5-government might come up, but it won't be the central issue, even it really is one of the core issues and the community should come to a consensus over the higher-level issue before such features are voted on.

    [ Parent ]

    Easily solved (2.50 / 2) (#112)
    by royh on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 04:55:09 PM EST

    So someone can just make a story for people to discuss it. If people are unsure about whether the patch sould be done then they should vote it down until they are convinced otherwise.

    Then another guy comes along and submits code that lets anonymous cowards post anything they want without restrictions.

    You're assuming this is a bad thing. Ok, so if it's a bad thing, it gets voted down, right? Assuming that the voters will be too stupid or ill-informed to vote on something, and too stupid to not vote, is the equivalent of stating that we are not completely capable of living in a democratic society, virtual or not. I don't see how what you say uniquely affects my proposal.

    [ Parent ]
    As we've all heard before... (1.66 / 6) (#78)
    by MmmmJoel on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 01:21:39 PM EST

    If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    *sigh*......

    that doesn't apply anymore (4.00 / 2) (#80)
    by Defect on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 01:57:27 PM EST

    At least not when it comes to anything relating to software. You have to keep adding things to keep up with the needs of the system as a whole. If k5 keeps on growing like it has and nothing changes it will most likely die not because the idea was bad but because it didn't adapt.

    Software, especially software involving the internet has to constantly adapt to new technology and the needs of it's user base. It's just the way it works.
    defect - jso - joseth || a link
    [ Parent ]
    A Constitution is not software (1.50 / 2) (#99)
    by MmmmJoel on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 03:44:47 PM EST

    Software, especially software involving the internet has to constantly adapt to new technology and the needs of it's user base. It's just the way it works.
    What does a K5 Constitution have to do with software? Sure, Scoop has to evolve and I encourage code improvements, but a Constitution? How would that make K5 a better place to be?

    [ Parent ]
    Why is it... (3.33 / 6) (#79)
    by Phil the Canuck on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 01:46:17 PM EST

    ...that Americans believe that a constitution implies a democracy? I mean no disrespect, I like the US, but one does not necessarily bring the other.

    I voted "Yea". Let's make this a constitutional monarchy, with Rusty our King. The constitution will guarantee specific rights for members, but Rusty will retain supreme executive power.

    One last thing, a plug for Canada. Let's drop the "freedom of speech" thing and go for "freedom of expression".

    ------

    I don't think being an idiot comes with a pension plan though. Unless you're management of course. - hulver

    Enforcement (3.75 / 4) (#83)
    by Joshua on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 02:21:20 PM EST

    Why write a constitution that you cannot enforce? Let's say we decide, with a majority vote, that we won't tolerate some particular behavior. That's all fine and good, but how do we enforce that? The only way we enforce that is the way we always have, with a moderation system. Posts that the community likes get modded up and posts that the community doesn't like get modded down. What more of a government do we need?

    I'd also like to say that I think the moderation system and the software itself still have a long way to go, and we should strive to improve them. I think the person who suggested code moderation is very much on the right track.

    Joshua

    I pledge allegience to my, uhhhh ... T1 ?? (3.28 / 7) (#85)
    by lmnop on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 02:22:43 PM EST

    Will I have to pay taxes to k5 as well ?-)

    I think we should avoid the natural tendency to form into groups. K5 is doing quite well striving toward the goal of being a "site that doesn't suck".

    There also exists an issue of improper metaphor here. I don't think the ideas of government (dictator, constitution, etc.) apply to what k5 is. I tend to view myself as rusty's customer. K5 is the service provided by him (with community effort).

    If I feel k5 isn't providing me with the functionality I look for in a site I'm free to leave. Rusty's strength in building k5 is in his giving us customers a voice to make changes to k5. That's good capitalism more than it is good government.

    What if, in the proposed government, a faction blossoms that wants k5 to run exclusively on NT? What if it turns into a majority? Will someone be legally responsible to make the changes?

    So far k5 is a good example of people voluntarily cooperating with each other. Guidelines for posts, peer review, and a clear philsophy will suffice IMO.

    I enjoy k5 for the intelligent content. I prefer not to spend too much time in the virtual world. In that I don't feel I'm unusual.

    Let's keep k5 a valuable service to its customers.

    Thanks,
    lmnop
    "If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error." -- John Kenneth Galbraith
    No goverment.... no constitution... (3.00 / 4) (#89)
    by unstable on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 03:00:33 PM EST

    a community does not need a constitution.
    we run things by what we belive in. telling someone what they need to believe in is not going to work. we already know what the rules are. why write them down. anyone can learn them by listening.

    or you can just make a FAQ :)





    Reverend Unstable
    all praise the almighty Bob
    and be filled with slack

    One step at a time (2.80 / 5) (#90)
    by jxqvg on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 03:02:03 PM EST

    If the poll can be considered a rudimentary vote, and that "initiative" passes, I have a couple of very simple suggestions to kick things off:
    • New Section entirely devoted to creating this government.
    • Post a topic to that section where we decide how to pick the people who draft a constitution, after the suggestion of our benevolent ruler.
    • We begin with a very clear definition of what a citizen is(assume a citizen is a user account for the next suggestion).
    • Restrict new "citizenships" until we've decided how to accept new citizens. Start with the current user base. That way We've got a finite set of citizens to work with.
    • Enjoy your new dual(or triple, quadruple, etc.) citizenship.
    Just a piece of the puzzle, I hope.

    [sig]
    Restrictions ... (3.00 / 1) (#179)
    by aphrael on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 06:57:59 PM EST

    New Section entirely devoted to creating this government.

    Absolutely has to be done. For now, I imagine it's all going into 'meta', but there is other stuff (bug fix announcements, feature requests, etc) that needs a place to go, so meta can't be over-run in that fashion ...

    Restrict new "citizenships" until we've decided how to accept new citizens. Start with the current user base. That way We've got a finite set of citizens to work with.

    This is *very* important --- otherwise we open ourselves up to a /. story about what we're trying to do followed by a flood of trolls intending to wreck it, or people with axes to grind, etc. OTOH, we would need to provide a mechanism to allow people who come in in the meantime to post --- this is going to take months.



    [ Parent ]
    Scope, Formality, Change, and Debate (4.00 / 3) (#91)
    by interiot on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 03:02:11 PM EST

    First, don't assume that the scope of this story has to be huge. It could consist of a constitution drawn up by rusty and a referendum every once in a while to amend it. Or it could consist of an entire government, with representatives in three blanced branches of government, an elected law enforcement group, etc... But it doesn't have to consist of anything more than an explicit document that we can argue over and some social methods to enforce it.

    Second, formality is necessary sometimes. Most communities change a lot as they grow. Yes, change is good, but unlimited uncontemplated change can be very damaging. In genetics, mutation is good because it allows a species to accommodate to changes in its environment, but too large of a mutation can destroy any semblance of what it was. The changes should be clearly introduced and contemplated before they go into effect.

    I think the main point is this: All parties should always be aware and agree to abide by the consensus (or leave). If some newbies show up, they shouldn't be able to overpower the site just because they post more often. And if a ton of newbies make this their home, the elders shouldn't be able to overpower the site just because they can patch the code or are better friends with Rusty. Community changes should be made after careful logical consideration and debate, not after careful hacking of perl code.

    Ever heard of... (2.50 / 4) (#92)
    by Zeram on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 03:12:04 PM EST

    You've been beaten to the punch by over a year, check out Cyber Yugoslavia
    <----^---->
    Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
    Lots of ground already covered (4.50 / 12) (#96)
    by spaceghoti on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 03:28:09 PM EST

    Yes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. This forum is currently stable and quite popular for those who participate, and for more who probably aren't heard from.

    On the other hand, nothing ventured means nothing gained. Just because the forum is stable and popular doesn't mean it should be restricted from growing and evolving to its logical ends. K5 rocks, but why not let find ways to rock even more?

    I'm leery of changing the system. A Constitution suggests to me a bureaucracy put in place to help run, modify, moderate and enforce the rules. While I applaud the common creation of a series of guidelines people can expect to see enforced, I deplore any creation of bureaucracy. For the most part, I feel that the system currently in place best serves our needs. Anything more would be purely administrative, for those minded toward such things.

    Compromise is a good thing. What I suggest is a new section serving as the central forum where people can propose, vote on and discuss issues with regards to the site without creating offices or bureaucracy. Thus, we remove the need for elected representatives. Proposals are voted on based on merit of submission, rather than electoral popularity. The government/nation created this way will of course require a central organization to perform maintenance, updates and the like, but if Rusty is willing to give up whatever power necessary to make this work, then we can use this forum to give instructions to whomever is currently in charge of such duties. If Rusty feels he needs to step down due to Real Life (tm) concerns or philosophical differences or whatever, this forum can be used to decide how to handle it.

    This forum becomes the foundation for the government. Every issue regarding the administration, maintenance and direction of this site/nation becomes public domain. Each change or addition would have its own dicussion, just as we have it now. Trusted users become the officers voting on and moderating discussion through ratings. Membership requires only your participation. If you want to make a difference, you only have to submit, vote, moderate or whatever your preference. Thus no one is unduly rewarded or penalized for their level of interaction. Someone who is found to be abusing the system gets voted down until they hopefully give up or the other members are incited to vote on taking action against the perceived abuser.

    You already have what you're looking for in this site. I think you're just looking to find a way to make it legitimate. Calling ourselves the Nation of Kuro5hin seems a little over the top, but if we give it a foundation and let it grow into such an entity or wherever it wants to go seems more appropriate than simply declaring ourselves to be the first viable virtual nation. Imagine our application to the United Nations. ;-)



    "Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

    There already are online "countries" (2.00 / 2) (#98)
    by error 404 on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 03:34:02 PM EST

    CyberYugoslavia (http://www.juga.com/) for one.

    Might be a good idea to look at them, see what works for each, what might work here.

    And I'm seeing lots of posts about problems with voting, that seem to come with the assumption that constitutions are neccessarily about voting. Maybe we need to think of some other ways to come to decisions. I don't have any specific ideas to offer right now, but I think I see the discussion stuck inside a particular box. A rather obvious box for this particular day.


    ..................................
    Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
    - Donovan

    Re: CyberYugoslavia (2.00 / 1) (#110)
    by interiot on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 04:38:41 PM EST

    No offense intended to the citizens of CyberYugoslavia, but this seems like a model of what we don't want to do. CyberYugoslavia seems like a youngster's tree fort that he only lets his two friends go into. If there's nothing to protect, or there's not a credible threat to the thing we want to protect, then it doesn't seem like there's any reason to have a constitution.

    In our case, it might be necessary for us to protect K5's S/N ratio or our sense of community. Or, if it's not possible to protect against it, maybe we could all take out a little insurance on K5's S/N ratio. (I might be half serious-- it would be a loss to me if there was nothing to replace it)

    [ Parent ]

    CyberYugoslavia: k5 is not a country (4.00 / 1) (#156)
    by error 404 on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 12:04:56 PM EST

    I agree - CY is probably a richer source of ideas to avoid than ideas to emulate. Several thousand "citizens" but no real community that I have noticed. On the other hand, I might have missed something in the email that I can't read.

    I think the constitution metaphor might be causing some people difficulty. Writing out the ground rules and core values is a good idea, but for a lot of people, the idea of constitution carries a lot of baggage that I don't think is helpful here.

    I don't agree with the "it ain't broke, don't fix it" POV. Rusty is thinking ahead, solving problems that he sees on the horizon before they hit. If "constitution" means a document that expresses the core values and gound rules for a community, that can be a very good thing. If it means copying the core documents of a nation, well, k5 is not a nation and will never face many of the problems nations address by constitutions. Just one example (and I realize there is a lot more to the U.S. constitution than just the Bill of Rights) would be the First Amendment. There is no need for that here - I seriously doubt that anyone here only expresses themselves here. Being restricted from expressing my opinion on Natalie Portman's pants and hot grits on k5 does not inhibit my human right to free expression, I'll just troll somewhere else. And if there were an official k5 religion that was not in keeping with my faith, I could rather easily ignore it, or quit k5. But if my country arbitrarily restricts my speech or religion, it can easily come down to coercion and violence. What are you going to do, break my door down at 2:00 AM and disappear me for heretical trolling? So Rusty or the new Grand Poobah can do things here and have me say "thank you" where the same action on the part of a President would have me organizing a revolution. On the other hand, there is no need for a country's constitution to provide a framework for deciding on ways of determining what to put on the front page.

    Different questions demand different answers.

    ..................................
    Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
    - Donovan

    [ Parent ]
    Evolution. (4.27 / 11) (#103)
    by delver on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 04:00:00 PM EST

    To all who love K5 the way it is.

    A constituion will NOT ruin it.

    A constitution will allow K5 to become something more than it is. Right now we are a loose mix of technically-minded individuals. We love to argue and debate, but aside from that we don't do much.

    We can do more.

    The real greatness of K5 is not the stories posted. We could go to the other site for that. It is the discussion. We create the site with every comment posted. What rusty is offering us is an increased control over the site and its focus. The constitution, and any elected officials, will exist only to allow us a stronger voice in the direction and essence of the site. Don't think of it like setting up the US constitution for the website. It won't be. There won't be a overly burdensome burarcracy or taxes. We may set up a digital state, but only to further our own enjoyment of what already is a wonderful medium of expression. There are always places where K5 could evolve. I think this is one of the big ones. So I'm for the constitution. If nothing else, it'll be intresting. And GREAT meat for discussion. which is what all this is about, right?

    Necessary Information and some definitions please (3.50 / 6) (#104)
    by farl on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 04:02:27 PM EST

    As a fairly long time user of this site, I still struggle to define exactly what fits under what categories when i post a story...

    Maybe as part of this proposed constitution, or maybe as a little bylaw or some such, can we define what is meant by each section? i know for some of you this stuff is obvious, but what exactly is the difference between an a topic and section? or rather, why the need for both? This might not be the right place to bring up these things, but some redrafting of these ideas, sections in general, and overall way items are posted and KEPT in circulation (say if they hit more than 10 comments a day they stay near the TOP of a section) need to be addressed in this Constitution.

    Viva La Rusty!

    Farl
    farl@sketchwork.com


    Farl
    k5@sketchwork.com
    www.sketchwork.com
    Maybe not a Constitution, but... (3.60 / 5) (#105)
    by RadiantMatrix on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 04:10:14 PM EST

    A set of Guiding Principles would be a good idea. A Constitution, to me, implies the creation of a governing body -- something I don't think is such a good idea for K5.

    As a voluntary body, the community has taken it upon itself to make sure good policies are implemented and bad ones are not. "Good" and "bad" are decided by discussion of the community. This is what drew me to K5.

    However, I also see Rusty's point that some sort of "failsafe" needs to be in place should he be unwilling/unable to continue managing the site. Thus, I see great value in having a set of principles that community members agree to abide by when they activate an account. The community at large will be able to decide when there need to be exceptions, revisions, or additions to these principles. I don't think the process for doing so should be spelled out. I would much prefer the "village hall" approach to management of the site -- if the community wants change, we should all meet and discuss it (via Meta or some special section). When a decision is made, we trust Rusty either to carry out the change or appoint someone to do it. If we can't trust Rusty, our "village elder" as it were, to either carry on the work or appoint qualified people to carry it on (preferably with the saction of the community), then what have we gained?

    We are not limited to this community: if Rusty or his successor(s) would become malevolent, any number of us could set up a new community "just like K5" -- after all, the source to the site is GPL'd...

    If we can all agree to a clear set of guidelines, but not set forth in some "body of law", then I believe that we will be truly progressive. To emulate the Constitutional governments of the present is to be doomed to emulate thier flaws as well -- maybe not now, but over time, when the ideals are lost.
    --
    I'm not going out with a "meh". I plan to live, dammit. [ZorbaTHut]

    Advantages of Benevolent Dictators (3.83 / 6) (#106)
    by Delirium on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 04:18:04 PM EST

    I personally tend to think that a benevolent dictatorship is the best possible form of government...I believe several philosophers of governmental systems have reached this conclusion before me. The problem, of course, is that it is nearly impossible to make this work consistently in practice - you just have to get lucky to get a benevolent dictator, because systems like electing someone for life rule tend to fail since it's impossible to predict how much power will corrupt someone. Thus, democracy is the next best solution, and the best one for ensuring consistent rule that is at least decent. However, in this particular case we find ourselves with a benevolent dictator, and the scope of k5 is relatively short-term - this isn't a 500-year endeavor - so IMHO we might as well stick with what works. =)

    Re: Benevolent Dictators, Advantages of (3.00 / 3) (#121)
    by swc on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 06:33:02 PM EST

    I agree. Under a benevolent dictator, there is no petty in-fighting or power grabs. Also, since Rusty has put a lot of effort into K5 and is the one with "the vision" for the site (past, present and future), I think it's important that he maintain some degree of control over the site. It's hard to say what would happen if control of the site is handed over to people with different visions of what Kuro5hin should become.

    Since Rusty isn't elected, he can do things that may piss people off if it's the best thing to do for the long term viability of Kuro5hin. One of the big problems in the USA is the politicians refusal to take a stand on any "third-rail" issues because it will kill them in the election - I would hate to see this recreated on Kuro5hin.

    Practical concens aside, I think this is a damn cool idea. I've had a strong interest in online communities for several years now, so it'll definately be interesting to see how this works out.



    [ Parent ]
    Government by the people (none / 0) (#206)
    by Aquarius on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 04:47:26 AM EST

    It's hard to say what would happen if control of the site is handed over to people with different visions of what Kuro5hin should become.
    Surely, though, this is Rusty's point? I got the impression that part of the reason he was floating this idea was so that K5 became K5's idea of a good community, not Rusty's idea of a good community. Admittedly, he's doing a pretty good job at the moment, but this could be a feedback loop: does Rusty manage to match the ideals of the K5 people, or are the K5 people K5 people because they like the way Rusty runs things? It's possible that relinquishing control to the K5 community would change the way the site is, but that would be changing it to what K5 wants...

    Aq.

    "The grand plan that is Aquarius proceeds apace" -- Ronin, Frank Miller
    [ Parent ]
    no need for a 500-year endeavor (3.50 / 2) (#140)
    by ppanon on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 12:52:33 AM EST

    There is already a very strong democratic bent in this benevolent dictatorship: i.e. how articles are selected and how responses are rated. That said, it would be pretty tragic if both Rusty and Inoshiro died in a plane crash on the way to LinuxWorld (or whatever).

    Or perhaps, like so many entrepreneurs, rusty has some other ideas he would like to explore, but that require more time than he has available due to Kuro5hin's maintenance. If he wants to encourage his child to mature into adulthood so he can do other things than 3AM bottle feedings for the rest of his life, I can't blame him.



    [ Parent ]
    Proxy voting (3.75 / 8) (#107)
    by doomsayer on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 04:18:59 PM EST

    Proxy voting can be used so that everyone could vote on every issue they wish or could give their vote to a proxy; someone whose views they agree with and who is interested in every issue, no matter how small. This way, even the small issues can be voted on democratically; but, not everyone would have to stay glued to the kuroshin page every day. To help see who you would want to have your vote, proxies should have the option of posting their voting records. On important issues where most people vote; this defaults to a referendum. On little issues, this system is a weighted parliament. Those people who want a benevolent dictatorship can give their vote to Rusty. By choosing whether to give your vote away or not; you're in effect choosing dictatorship or democracy.

    Proxies (4.00 / 1) (#123)
    by spaceghoti on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 06:57:13 PM EST

    I approve of this idea. I can see some potential for abuse, but it really depends on whether or not people pay attention. This forum seems to attract the more consciencious among the population, but if you look at statistics of people who don't vote, a lot of 'em simply don't care. The Electoral College votes by proxy for the average citizen, and they're content with that. Politics will go on whether or not they pay attention. Sooner or later, we risk that sort of apathy here.

    One form of possible abuse are those "politicians" who go out soliciting for proxy votes, trying to give artificial weight to their opinions. Obviously, this can be quickly addressed by having users withdraw their permission, then having someone else propose a recount. But this would require people to actually pay attention to how their votes are being used, and there's no way to force this.

    One more abuse would be those people creating bogus accounts to surrender their proxy votes to a single individual. Actually, I can see that sort of abuse to the system regardless of how we handle voting.

    Overall, I'll give the parent message a 5. Very nicely considered.



    "Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

    [ Parent ]
    If code is law ... ? (4.40 / 10) (#109)
    by Simon Kinahan on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 04:35:07 PM EST

    Some of you will be familiar with Lawrence Lessig's idea that the 'laws' of cyberspace are defined in part by code. That is, the code for a system imposes a policy as to how it can be used, which is as powerful as the laws of nations.

    Rusty's suggestion of a constitution started me wondering; if code in a public system like Kuro5hin is its law, what is its constitution. I came to the conclusion that the constitution is the development process for the code.

    Given that Kuro5hin's code already defines how people interact here, I don't think a constitution should lay down the law as to what the site (and any other technological components added later) should be like. The code for the site does that itself just by existing. Instead I think it should set out the principles the code for the site should reflect, and the process for changing the site itself. This seems to reflect what, for instance, the US constitution does quite nicely. It lays down the fundamental rights of people and states, and defines a governmental process for creating laws. Kuro5hin's constitution should define the goals of the community, and the rights of its members, and a process for making changes to the site.

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    Perhaps I'm misunderstanding the nature of "c (3.00 / 1) (#207)
    by Aquarius on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 04:50:07 AM EST

    I can't quite see how the code for the site defines what the site's like. For instance, it would be quite easy to run all of K5, /. and technocrat.net on Scoop, but the three sites have a vastly different "feel" to them. The constitution, as I see it, if it's a good idea for it to exist at all, would want to attempt to enshrine the "feel" of K5, not mundane details like how it's implemented.

    Aq.

    "The grand plan that is Aquarius proceeds apace" -- Ronin, Frank Miller
    [ Parent ]
    Animal Farm (4.25 / 8) (#113)
    by rongen on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 05:11:58 PM EST

    Yo, Rusty! Didn't you ever read Animal Farm!?! :)

    Having said that, your idea is really intriguing and is obviously striking a chord with everyone. It is definitely not something to take lightly if you spend any time here at all on a regular basis. At first I was be tempted to say "maintain the status quo", but why? I started thinking about it and I realized that you can always go back to the way things are now, if the government doesn't work out.

    Mostly it was all the well thought out comments below concerning how the code is, in part, the constitution. In effect, you could fork the k5 code base and archive it somewhere (an old nuke silo would be cool, don't you think?). Do the government thing, break new ground, maybe change the world (who knows?). Meanwhile if the whole thing gets bogged down and crazy you can just whip out the old source, and rebuild k5 from where it left off, perhaps leaving the government site up or eliminating it as you wish. This idea is quite dependent on making sure that whatever content is generated in the new era can be used fully (i.e. read and discussed) if the government doesn't work out.

    Finally I would like to point out that a great deal of unhappiness can stem from avoiding change. It's part of life and when you fight it it happens without your consent or involvement. It is better to roll up your sleeves and get involved (bearing in mind that a line can always be drawn if the change is unethical). I suspect that there are a few people here who see this site as a triumph over "big government" and view the prospect of k5land as one step toward it becoming bogged down in administrivia and common consent (as opposed to the rule by common opinion that we have now---with the patient guiding hand of a benevolent dictator, of course!). Micromanagement giving way to global rule and all that. Arg.

    To echo one poster below: do this if we must but let us keep it clean and simple!

    read/write http://www.prosebush.com

    Animal Farm (2.50 / 2) (#129)
    by pete on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 08:27:54 PM EST

    Animal Farm was the first thing that went through my head as well. Come to think of it, the idea of sending Signal 11 off to be slaughtered for booze money is kind of appealing. ;-)


    --pete


    [ Parent ]
    Con5titution (2.60 / 5) (#114)
    by driph on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 05:24:25 PM EST

    I'm behind the idea. If not because of the actual practicality of the move, then because of the questions it will bring up and the issues that will be discussed. Could be one hell of a social experiment. The future implications especially.

    The Snowcrash homage in the name would now be notably applicable.

    Take for instance user accountability. Are you as a user responsible for your actions? Can you be held accountable? If there are laws, how could they be enforced?

    And once decisions are made, we are going to make enemies. Those that disagree with the process, or feel excluded. Others who are removed from the system or punished under the new laws. We WILL be attacked. How do we respond?

    Are visitors ready to have broad determining power? Are they even interested?

    I'm looking forward to this.

    --
    Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
    Da5id and Snow Crash (3.00 / 1) (#141)
    by ppanon on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 01:02:40 AM EST

    For some reason it took me a few years to clue in. Da5id is not Dasid, like any ordinary 1337 script kiddie. No, Da5id is a hacker extraordinaire, with the benefits of a classical education. The 5 replaces the roman numeral V. Da5id is David, and thus the 5 in Kuro5hin, while an interesting homage, misses the point a bit. It's still one of my favourite web sites though :-)

    "Les Romains en perdent leur latin." - Goscinny & Uderzo

    [ Parent ]

    Youe help (1.33 / 9) (#116)
    by zephc on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 05:50:50 PM EST

    I need everyone's help to form a new ogvernment, based heavily on libertarian ideals. Check out http://207.168.234.207/ for the current draft :)

    Thank you
    Zeph

    A few thoughts... (3.20 / 5) (#117)
    by Wah on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 05:56:44 PM EST

    First: Formalizing the community's values.

    I don't think this is a good idea in a general way. Perhaps more examples would help clarify which direction these might be heading. There shouldn't be a page where someone can go to read what opinions they should have in order to be accepted by the community. But I think having a section where they are discussed and voted upon would be a good thing. It would have to be revisited (perhaps annually) to achieve renewed interest and discussion, but the voting statistics should be publically accessible.

    In that vein I'm not sure how we would go about "protecting" those values. Unless we go to more obvious, abstract choices like "Uptime" (i.e. we as a community value most being able to be a community, we hate DoS!)

    Second: Elected Officials

    I think we should take it literally that elected officials run Kuro5hin. That is we elect officials based on their merit, perhaps through the posting of a "resume" and requisite discussion, followed by an affirming 2/3 vote (which brings us to another problem, 2/3 of who, or is this a popular vote) to make it onto the ballot? But that's not the point of this point. *cough*

    Each elected official becomes a paid employee of Kuro5hin (the corporation, non-profit, whatever) and is able to put their full professional attention to the running of the stite (state/site). Perhaps by estimating or testing how much revenue Kuro5hin can generate, we can get a good feel for how much of a government is needed to run it. What I would like to see is a self-perpetuating (?) entity. Now we have a slight catch-22 as Rusty seems to want to vote on what types of revenue earning avenues we wander down, but I'm sure something could be worked out. One other advantage of a community could also exploit advertising. If we want to embrace as a community value "clicking on the banner ads on Kuro5hin." then we might be able to generate significant honest revenue.

    Third: A mailing list!!! (or many)

    C'mon e-mail is the shit. Is there one and I've just automagically filtered it out? This is the most important thing as it creates a "call to action" necessary for forming group consensus in a timely manner.

    That's about it for now. Now someone please moderate this up it gets read, or we could agree that "we value viewing newest posts first." :-)
    --
    Fail to Obey?

    27th amendment (none / 0) (#178)
    by aphrael on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 06:54:58 PM EST

    Each elected official becomes a paid employee of Kuro5hin

    In the short term, that's difficult, although I agree that in the long term it has to happen. On the other hand, we run the risk of creating people who become dependant on that job (think professional politician); there has to be a way to keep that unlikely, or the whole thing goes to hell.



    [ Parent ]
    hmm (none / 0) (#186)
    by Wah on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 08:01:44 PM EST

    I think I left out the term suggestion. Each position should be elected for one year. Not too sure about term limits, though. Is there any way we can find out what kind of revenue K5 can generate? Or operating capital?
    --
    Fail to Obey?
    [ Parent ]
    Re: 27th amendment (none / 0) (#201)
    by Spendocrat on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 02:06:00 PM EST

    I'm not sure that you can always look at the term "professional politician" as a negative thing. The thing about this type of community is the fact that anyone who holds some type of authority is going o be visisble to the community. I don't have the time or resources to see what my MP is doing in the House of Commons every day, and what he's doing outside of that, but the impact of some type of exec on the K5 site and community would be hard to miss.

    This is the same argument I would make to people who feel that any government attracts corruptible people inherently, or people just looking out for themselves. As far as scrutiny of "public officials" goes, K5 is as close as we can get to hanging around an open Parliment each and every day. If someone is obviously politicking and not doing good things for the community, we can (and I would imagine will) boot them out. This is the type of situation you'll see in student groups on campus. Everyone is close, everyone is informed, and everyone knows enough of what's going on to elect people that weill benefit the community.

    [ Parent ]

    Paid Officials (none / 0) (#213)
    by zantispam on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 02:37:47 PM EST

    Wah said: Each elected official becomes a paid employee of Kuro5hin

    aphrael said: On the other hand, we run the risk of creating people who become dependant on that job [...] there has to be a way to keep that unlikely, or the whole thing goes to hell.



    Easy. Make the salary symbolic. Make it US$1.00 or something equally trivial. This solves quite a few problems:
    • There will be much less emphasis on things like K5 GDP, banner revenue, etc (geez, I'm already thinking of this place as a nation-state)
    • Fraud won't be an issue because of the small dollar amount
    • Folks won't be trying to get elected just for the money. I personally think that quite a few of our (USian, to be sure) officials are there only for the paycheck and the perks
    However, I also think that this might create one very bad problem: campaign contributions. I've seen a lot of ideas about having different groups which cater to different interests. This is a wonderful idea, until money becomes involved. If anyone could come up with a way to help prevent monet from changing hands during a campaign/term, I'm all ears.


    Free Duxup!
    [ Parent ]
    Ideas (2.66 / 6) (#119)
    by Dacta on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 06:07:15 PM EST

    I like the idea of a constitution, but I'm not sure about the idea of an online nation. What exactly does that mean? I'm not sure K5 fits any of the conventional ideas of a nation - the fact that we would continue to operate under the laws of another country for one thing.

    Having said that, here's some ideas for the constitution:

    The purpose of Kuro5hin is promote thought and educated discussion. All issues are potentially fit for K5, but "technology and culture" is a particular focus.

    1) Equality based on merit. I don't consider that someone who can argue a point in a civilised and educated manner is equal to someone who considers it fun to try and start flamewars. This doesn't mean that not knowing something is bad - but it is bad to not admit that.

    2) K5 should be tolerant of all points of view, but should not suffer fools (This is related to point 1)

    3)Members of K5 come from all nations, religions and walks of life. This is to be activly encouraged.

    Some more ideas:

    Assuming we have an election, the number of potential voters shoudl be frozen now, to stop the potential of ballot stuffing. Obviously this would end after the election, when a better anti-ballot stuffing idea would be put in place (exactly what I'm not sure).

    Perhaps we should have a look at the model used for the GNOME foundation?



    Will, will, where are you, Will? (3.00 / 1) (#177)
    by aphrael on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 06:53:17 PM EST

    1) Equality based on merit. I don't consider that someone who can argue a point in a civilised and educated manner is equal to someone who considers it fun to try and start flamewars.

    I agree in general, but this is dangerous --- who determines the meaning of the word 'merit'? Ultimately, this is why literacy tests were banned as a basis for voting rights --- they were being abused to deny the vote based on something other than intelligence. Both intelligence and merit are extremely subjective; am I stupid because I voted for Nader?

    This doesn't mean that not knowing something is bad - but it is bad to not admit that.

    Agreed --- I always ask people, when interviewing, a question I think they can't answer. If they don't admit to it, game over.



    [ Parent ]
    Re:Will, will, where are you, Will? (none / 0) (#185)
    by Dacta on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 07:42:45 PM EST

    I agree in general, but this is dangerous --- who determines the meaning of the word 'merit'? Ultimately, this is why literacy tests were banned as a basis for voting rights --- they were being abused to deny the vote based on something other than intelligence. Both intelligence and merit are extremely subjective; am I stupid because I voted for Nader?

    There are no easy answers for something like this, but I still think it is an important concept. Technically, ideas like the advogato trust matrix have potential, but still have the problem of turning merit into something of a popularity contest.

    Mojo and Slashdot's Karma are two more potential technical solutions, although both have their own problems.

    Another idea is something based somehow on the old alt.2600 usenet group, where you had to fake moderation approval headers to post. You could only post once you knew how to do that. That depended on the social convention of not telling anyone how to get around it, though, and it broke down sometime in 1994 or 1995, I think.

    The point that the idea of equality based on merit is important. Technical and social implementations will never be perfect, but but they need to be tried.

    There also needs to be a well understood way for the implementations to be changed, so that unfairly disadvantaged groups have the ability challenge the current implementation.



    [ Parent ]
    Loss of U.S. citizenship (2.20 / 5) (#122)
    by yellena on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 06:47:40 PM EST

    There is an interesting paragraph in all U.S. passports:

    LOSS OF CITIZENSHIP. Under certain circumstances, you may lose your U.S. citizenship by performing any of the following acts: (1) being naturalized in a foreign state; (2) taking an oath or making a declaration to a foreign state; (3) serving in the armed forces of a foreign state; (4) accepting employment with a foreign government; or (5) formally renouncing U.S. citizenship before a U.S. consular officer overseas.

    It seems that most of these rules might apply to U.S. citizens who would want to become a citizen of this new virtual state.

    Virtual state? (none / 0) (#124)
    by B'Trey on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 07:01:54 PM EST

    I would think that before this became an issue, the new virtual state would have to be recognized by the US. While I respect Rusty's ambitions, I don't see that happening in the near future.

    [ Parent ]
    Unless.. (none / 0) (#152)
    by retinaburn on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 09:55:17 AM EST

    K5 can make oodles of many that can be taxed easily and quickly and often :)
    If that IS possible maybe the U.S. would require all states become virtual.

    All bow to technology


    I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


    [ Parent ]
    What's the point? (3.85 / 7) (#126)
    by mmcc on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 07:09:09 PM EST

    Real governments are necessary because people are physically immobile. i can't just pick up my house and move to another country, can i? People need some way to resolve conflict between themselves, to make life "fair".

    As a member of an online community on the other hand, if you don't like the way things are going, you can just leave. That's why benelovent dictatorship works... i can see all the different "dictatorships" available to me and choose the one that works for me, or even create my own.

    i can really only call myself a "refugee" from slashdot in jest, right?

    OTOH, the Walled City idea is pretty cool. :-)

    The "just leave" factor (4.00 / 4) (#134)
    by rusty on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:49:03 PM EST

    As Lawrence Lessig rightly points out in "Code", the general perception is that online communities don't need governements because you can just leave, more easily than you can leave your RL country. Is that really true though? In the real world, if I move due to dissatisfaction with my government, I can at least take all my "stuff" with me, usually. I don't have to give up *everything*. Online, the only property you have is your connection with the community. People know you, you know them, you have built up a record of speech and a reputation. You can't take any of that with you. If you leave, you start over from scratch. Would you rather it be a purely all-or-nothing, stay or go, choice, or would you rather be able to change things if they need changing? Of course, you can always leave as a last resort, but that kind of misses what I think is possible.

    ____
    Not the real rusty
    [ Parent ]
    taking stuff with you... (3.75 / 4) (#137)
    by boxed on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 11:40:34 PM EST

    can't it more or less be arranged so that you can take at least the stuff you've "created" here with you? I mean, like a link under your private page that will lead to a d/l of all the stuff you've done and relating documents.

    [ Parent ]
    thus, a constitution (4.00 / 2) (#146)
    by codemonkey_uk on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 07:36:01 AM EST

    This is the kind of thing that a constitution can lay down.

    Do controbutors to K5 own the copyright to there stories, their posts? (IMHO Yes)

    Do controbutors to K5 have the right to REMOVE the work they post? (IMHO No)

    Many people have said that the code is the law, but this is very much a Just In Time system. You don't know about it till its there. With a constitution you know what to expect. It not only defines what the code IS but what it COULD BE.

    Thad
    ---
    Thad
    "The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
    [ Parent ]
    giving up *everything*? (4.00 / 1) (#174)
    by mmcc on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 06:48:50 PM EST

    In the real world, if I move due to dissatisfaction with my government, I can at least take all my "stuff" with me, usually. People know you, you know them, you have built up a record of speech and a reputation. You can't take any of that with you. If you leave, you start over from scratch.

    I disagree. A reputation is a reputation, it doesn't just exist on one discussion site, it exists in other peoples minds. Many former sdot readers would remember signal 11 from sdot, right?

    Infact, i believe the opposite is more true. A refugee from a war torn land arrives in another country with *nothing*. What reputation will they have? Somebody who posts messages on a discussion site can post on another discussion site using the same name, and be recognised.

    i like the idea of having a charter for k5, but i thought that it was well expressed in the FAQ. If you need financial help to run k5 ask for donations. How about considering it as something other than a country?



    [ Parent ]

    Reputations (none / 0) (#208)
    by Aquarius on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 04:56:04 AM EST

    I disagree. A reputation is a reputation, it doesn't just exist on one discussion site, it exists in other peoples minds. Many former sdot readers would remember signal 11 from sdot, right?
    I think that that's rare, though. Pretty much the only person I'd consider visible enough just from /. is Signal 11 (well, along with CmdrTaco and Hemos). There are others who are visible, too, but they're visible owing to eminence outside weblogs (think ESR, Bruce Perens, &c). Building a reputation is easier said than done, I think, and it's a large thing to sacrifice if you're interested in keeping it; in theory, posters shouldn't be worried about their reputation, only in contributing to the community. In practice, however, those who are looked up to by other posters generally like it. :-)

    Aq.

    "The grand plan that is Aquarius proceeds apace" -- Ronin, Frank Miller
    [ Parent ]
    huge gap in posts (none / 0) (#219)
    by Wah on Fri Jan 05, 2001 at 02:30:47 AM EST

    ...but that's what dynamic pages do for you...

    Anyway, I recognize at leat 10, maybe 20 people here from /. The proliferation of personal homepages also makes it easier to identify individuals as they flit from virtual community to virtual nation and back again.
    --
    Fail to Obey?
    [ Parent ]
    Dictatorships (3.00 / 2) (#145)
    by needless on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 07:15:36 AM EST

    "The best form of government is a benevolent tyranny tempered by an occasional assassination"

    -Voltaire



    [ Parent ]
    What are your plans? (none / 0) (#192)
    by Dr Caleb on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 11:51:09 PM EST

    DDoS Rusty or Inshiro? ;-)


    Vive Le Canada - For Canadians who give a shit about their country.

    There is no K5 cabal.
    [ Parent ]

    No... (none / 0) (#205)
    by needless on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 02:56:38 AM EST

    Actually, this comment pretty much sums up what I would like to see.



    [ Parent ]
    Code Development (4.00 / 4) (#127)
    by aeil on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 08:01:44 PM EST

    This is an opportunity to do something very few of us will ever engage in during our entire life. To create a "Constitution" for a forum in which people seriously contribute creates innumerable possibilities for the future.
    Many of the opinions raised by this posting are well thought out and only exemplify what the future of this community could be. I beleive that a formally defined base for the continuation of this site as a sociocorporate entity could help bring about changes in the real world that we as a whole feel strongly about. There is strength in community and I believe that we should really consider all of the possibilities that this type of union can accomplish.
    Although the timing for the release is a little too syncronized with current events in the USA, I too have been thinking about this idea for some time. One of the above comments noted that kuro5hin will probably not be around in 500 years, why not? As it currently stands, no it will not be around for anywhere near that long, but as an "Organization" it can expand under the carefull attention of its members to do anything.
    Remember, the only sin is to think too small.
    In conclusion I fully agree with rusty and would like to see this initial forum grow beyond any of wour wildest expectations.

    Taking this way too seriously but... (2.80 / 5) (#128)
    by Skippy on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 08:22:03 PM EST

    Wow. I have so many things to say about this. First I will say that should we start this I have great fears about the survival of Kuro5hin. So far I have found K5 to be a gathering of like minds. I feel at home here and would hate to lose this. On the other hand, we have the opportunity to create something greater and it is one I believe we should take. As I read Rusty's comments I realized that what he intents is that we become the body of the incorporated K5 but I think there is potential for much more.

    In the history of the world, new governments have been formed by those who did not like the current system in the place they lived and moved to somewhere else. There they either inhabited formerly uninhabited places and started their own governments or conquered the place and changed the government to their own design. Neither is a viable option today. There are no uninhabited places and if you try and conquer someone the powers of the status quo are going to be perturbed and put you back in your place. We are not constrained by either of these problems.

    This place is by its nature uninhabitable, therefor uninhabited, and we can "move in" and do as we wish - the "expansionary" view. Another way to look at it is that we are the inhabitants of this new place and we are just realizing the desire for government - the "natural law" view. Either way, we have the ability to try new things, to test new forms of government, or simply to improve upon the old in ways that _cannot_ be done in the "real" world.

    If we do this and do it right, we also have the ability to change the "real" world. Suppose for example that the Nation of K5 works out a way for a very secure online voting system - something I don't believe beyond the skills of this community. After proving the system would we not have set an example for "real" governments? What's to say that in the future we might not evolve into "Mr. Rusty's Hong Kong"? with little semi-autonomous real world holdings?

    I worry for K5 as it is, but I am excited for the K5 that might be. We should do this. At worst, K5 dies and we begin again as what we were, at best - we change the world. That's a bet I'll take. Can you tell I'm taking this perhaps just a bit too seriously?

    # I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #

    Isn't that the question? (none / 0) (#176)
    by aphrael on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 06:50:56 PM EST

    First I will say that should we start this I have great fears about the survival of Kuro5hin. So far I have found K5 to be a gathering of like minds. I feel at home here and would hate to lose this. On the other hand, we have the opportunity to create something greater and it is one I believe we should take.

    That's one of the great questions in life: when is it appropriate to risk something incredible that you have in the hopes of gaining something better?



    [ Parent ]
    What risk? (none / 0) (#190)
    by Arkady on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 08:59:15 PM EST

    I don't really see that much risk. As was pointed out, a flood of malicious newbies could trash the voting, but as was replied, we don't have to let you vote the moment you get an account. Some form if "imigration" policy (say, 6 months of active participation culminating in a ratings level of 2) would certainly be reasonable.

    Since this only affects administration, not use, of the site, I don't see the risks. Could you point a few out that concern you?

    Thanks,
    -robin

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


    [ Parent ]
    government (1.25 / 4) (#130)
    by goosedaemon on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 08:34:25 PM EST

    its purpose to maintain stability, without infringing on its citizens' inherent human dignity.

    i'm still working on the details, though. :p


    The important implications... (1.50 / 4) (#131)
    by Pseudonym on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 09:16:12 PM EST

    Who gets to register the .k5 TLD? And will there be a "cyberspace" region next ICANN elections?


    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    What will it govern? (3.66 / 6) (#132)
    by nigiri on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 09:34:14 PM EST

    While the idea of a constitution for a community website is appealing on some level, I can't help wondering what such a thing would actually govern?

    Will there be taxes? How will anyone collect them? And if someone comes up with a way, will the last person to leave please turn off the lights?

    Will there be defense? From what? Crackers? The Government? And if there is defense, who will pay for it (see above)?

    All that's left is personal conduct and infrastructure, both of which are handled just fine by the current moderation system. Infrastructure, i.e. code, can be posted and discussed just like anything else. If it's approved of, it can be added to the code base. If not, it can be modded down and "obliviated". Likewise with personal conduct. People who are jerks get likewise modded down.

    It seems to me that the only reason to have a "government" is for the sake of doing so, and while it may be interesting as a social experiment to inject politics into K5's operation, I think it's unnecessary, and will make the site a lot less fun.

    -Joe

    We already do pay 'taxes' on k5 (5.00 / 4) (#142)
    by byte on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 03:12:50 AM EST

    All of the readership already pays for k5 in the most precious commodity of all.

    Time.

    We take the time to read what is written, we take the time to write the stories (or, at least post the links ;-), we take the time to share our thoughts, feelings and ideas with one another. What more can we or should we need to give?

    If you think about it, time is probably the most consistent and important commodity we have. We constantly trade time for money and money for time hoping, of course, to maximize both. But to be honest I strongly believe that time has the greater value, at least in the hands of a knowledgeable citizen.

    Rusty is probably one of the richest people I know in that he has gotten several thousand of the brightest people from around the world to freely contribute their most important asset for anyone who has the means and will to take advantage of it. If that isn't real value I don't know what is.

    [ Parent ]

    The Virtual Community (4.00 / 1) (#155)
    by Danse on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 11:55:42 AM EST

    While all that may be true to some extent, it still doesn't answer the question of what will be governed? What if we, the people of K5, decide that Rusty should step down and get out of the way? Will he do it? Is there any reason for us to have such a system? K5 is not simply a community, Rusty has made an investment in it. The domain is considered property, as is the website itself. Is there any reason to expect that he should allow someone else, or some group to take control of that property?

    I agree that it might be an interesting experiment. Might even be fun. But I'm not sure how far Rusty is willing to take things. I'm also not sure what the expected result is, or how K5 will be improved by this. While we may be a "virtual community", we are also all part of existing physical communities which apparently meet most of our needs as people. K5 does not need to provide the amenities that we expect from a community because we already get those from the community we live in.

    That said, I think my comments beg the question, what sort of amenities can only or best be provided by a "virtual community?" I guess we'd have to think in terms of intellectual amenities rather than physical. There could be some definite merit to the idea of a formal virtual community. Does anyone have any ideas about the sorts of amenities that could be provided by a virtual community that would warrant some sort of formal governance?




    An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
    [ Parent ]
    Ads == Taxes ? (none / 0) (#189)
    by Arkady on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 08:37:43 PM EST

    (Argh! Another anti-advertising comment from Robin, right? ;-)

    In a sense, though the banners are gone, we still pay for K5 by seeing the VA and VH "sponsor" links on every page. Speaking only for myself, of course, I'd far rather give my money than than my mind.

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


    [ Parent ]
    representative (1.00 / 4) (#136)
    by joeyo on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 10:53:59 PM EST

    I hereby nominate myself for the position of k5 representative. :)


    --
    "Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi

    communication and static forums (4.00 / 4) (#138)
    by boxed on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 12:05:09 AM EST

    I think for k5 to evolve into a virtual nation of sorts we need to make it easy to create sub-communities. As it is now there isn't really any persistant forums and there is only one community and no sub-groups. This work fine now but I predict this will go bad in the future as I think it has at the other site.

    K5 currently is, as I see it, a system made for a more or less large community. We need to add facilities that work good with small communities (like a circle of friends, up to perhaps 50 people) and huge communities (like cities or nations) and to somehow interweave these into eachother.

    The small group systems can have huge payoffs even at the current size of k5. I can imagine posting an article I've written to my sub-community. There we can discuss the article, add to it collectively and fix any obvious inaccuracies. This way the problem we're having of articles getting voted down because of wrong sectioning can be remedies.

    I disagree (none / 0) (#166)
    by retinaburn on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 05:45:23 PM EST

    The last thing you want is the splitting of the whole into parts. The whole benifit of having a large community is that everyone is involved (theoretically).

    When you have sub-communities then people become excluded from the other discussions that occur in other communities. In the real world this happens due to geography, race, sex, religion, etc...Why would we want to duplicate that here.

    Each post is similar to a sub-community as it stands now. People that are interested in the topic comment and converse with others that share the same interest. I don't see the advantage of adding "circles" ? ...Perhaps you could elaborate.


    I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


    [ Parent ]
    because (none / 0) (#193)
    by boxed on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 03:37:10 AM EST

    I believe that if normal society does somthing there is a strong reason for it. The construction of sub-groups is one of the most prominant of these properties. Thus for a virtual society to work one must enable these things to happen. I do, however, think that all the discussions in these sub-forums should be public to all and that one can join any subgroup you want. This will be the best of both worlds I hope.

    [ Parent ]
    Wohhh watch it there :) (none / 0) (#199)
    by retinaburn on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 12:23:17 PM EST

    I believe that if normal society does somthing there is a strong reason for it.

    You must have a greater faith in humankind that I. I guess it depends what you define /normal society/ as being. Use of nuclear bombs, wars in the name of God, holocausts, religious persecution. A large part of these societies believed they had a strong reason for doing all these things...reason != good reason. My motto is /People are stupid./.

    I don't see the disadvantage to having one large group. If we can keep or even perhaps improve the signal/noise ratio would this be a problem. Or is the problem that theoretically as population increases the s/n decreases ?

    Having 9k, 18k, 100k people participating (if they so choose) in a discussion seems like a good idea to me. We are all here because we are interested in "technology and culture, from the trenches". Sub-communities in my opinion form because people feel their needs are not satisfied. An example is IRC, there are gazillions [note: not an accurate number] of channels because not everyone wants to talk about the same thing. I don't see K5 having such a large population that it becomes insanity trying to follow a post.

    My position still remains that each post forms a sub-community of those interested around it.


    I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


    [ Parent ]
    ehem (none / 0) (#202)
    by boxed on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 06:48:35 PM EST

    I believe that if normal society does somthing there is a strong reason for it.
    You must have a greater faith in humankind that I. I guess it depends what you define /normal society/ as being. Use of nuclear bombs, wars in the name of God, holocausts, religious persecution. A large part of these societies believed they had a strong reason for doing all these things...reason != good reason. My motto is /People are stupid./.
    First of all, the stupid stuff you mention humans doing is exceptions to the normal behaviour, it is not the normal way of things. Or at least it is not a very frequent behaviour. Subgrouping however is an extremely common thing, not only in humans but in all social species and if you think about it in all life since a species in itself is a subgroup. I have modest faith in humankind, I do however have extreme faith in what evolution has brought forth on a large scale, like four limbs for land-dwellers, aerodynamic shapes for aquatic life and such. If something has been proven to be Good by millions of years of testing I'd trust that trial-and-error any day over any and all arguments against it. People may be stupid, but evolution isn't.

    [ Parent ]
    Wha ... (none / 0) (#203)
    by retinaburn on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 09:05:56 PM EST

    First of all, the stupid stuff you mention humans doing is exceptions to the normal behaviour, it is not the normal way of things.

    It was the /normal/ things at the time. It was the fringe groups that protested the dropping of the nuclear bombs. It was fringe groups of Germans that disagreed with the holocaust. Or do you want to talk more generally about humans. We continue to increase population despite the fact that we are running out of room. We continue to use and rely heavily on fossil fuels despite the fact they are poisoning our planet and they are running out. We continue to say /children are our future/ yet we don't spend the money on text books, teachers, schools to educate our children. We continue to persecute people because their religion/race/sex is different from ours.


    I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


    [ Parent ]
    for the love of whatever diety you may believe in (none / 0) (#209)
    by boxed on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 08:03:57 AM EST

    When you talk I hear someone trying to convince himself.
    It was the /normal/ things at the time.
    Yes, but the time when it is normal is always very small which leads to the conclusion that the behaviour is very rare.
    We continue to use and rely heavily on fossil fuels despite the fact they are poisoning our planet and they are running out.
    First of all the poisoning of our planet comes not from burning fossil fuel. We are in essense merely bringing back what was once in our atmosphere. Humans do pollute but the burning of fossil fuels are not a poison per se. As for the "running out" well.. we've been saying that for a long time and it doesn't seem to happen, and besides, all the alternatives are limited (in produced power or in time).
    We continue to say /children are our future/ yet we don't spend the money on text books, teachers, schools to educate our children.
    Now that's a piece of bullshit. The state in the US doesn't finance the education of the children no, but this is a very uncommon thing if you look at the world at large. Despite how expensive schooling is for the individual in the US children still get schooling. Why? Because the parents DO spend money on it.
    We continue to persecute people because their religion/race/sex is different from ours.
    Oh yes, but these behaviors are not the normal way of things. It's not like every normal person on there way to work take a detour to run over a bunch of kids from another religious group or something. Persecution is not as common as you try to lead on. Why? Because the majority of humans are against it.

    What does all this tell us about humans? It tells us that the majority of humans are good people.

    [ Parent ]

    Wha...Wha.. (none / 0) (#210)
    by retinaburn on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 09:58:18 AM EST

    I really have to think up better subject lines.

    First of all the poisoning of our planet comes not from burning fossil fuel. We are in essense merely bringing back what was once in our atmosphere. Humans do pollute but the burning of fossil fuels are not a poison per se. As for the "running out" well.. we've been saying that for a long time and it doesn't seem to happen, and besides, all the alternatives are limited (in produced power or in time).

    You honestly believe this. Are you saying millions of cars pumping out carbon monoxide, unignited fuel, and the like is not poisoning our atmosphere. Smog is bad. Sit in the garage with you car running and you'll get the picture on just how bad it can be. We dump CFC's in the air enlarging the whole in the ozone...or do you think thats a rumour ?. Hope you enjoy wearing Sunscreen SPF 50, and a lead vest on sunny days.

    As for /running out/ of fossil fuels...Fossil fuels are fuels that result from the fossilization process of living tissue after millions of years. So your position is we have a limitless supply of oil in the ground due to the fact that all the life that existed on the planet millions of years ago produces oil at a rate equal to or higher than what we consume.

    My only conclusion is either you reject science because you don't want to feel guilty about driving a gas-hog xtra-smog producing vehicle that runs on crude oil...or you are misinformed.
    <br.

    I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


    [ Parent ]
    my beliefs (none / 0) (#211)
    by boxed on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 12:07:27 PM EST

    You honestly believe this. Are you saying millions of cars pumping out carbon monoxide, unignited fuel, and the like is not poisoning our atmosphere.
    Well here in Sweden we have strict laws against cars that spew out stuff like that :P Anyhow what I'm saying is that you have to look at it in proportion. Sure these things are poison, but so is eating some forms of candy. The poison just doesn't have as much impact as it is hyped up to be. Don't buy into the hype, remember the "common knowledge" about rain forests and oxygen.
    As for /running out/ of fossil fuels...Fossil fuels are fuels that result from the fossilization process of living tissue after millions of years.
    Actually this is not prooven. The last thing I heard from the area was that oil is actually primarily formed from the decomposing mass of bacteria that live in the area.
    My only conclusion is either you reject science because you don't want to feel guilty about driving a gas-hog xtra-smog producing vehicle that runs on crude oil...or you are misinformed.
    I hate cars and I personally don't have a drivers license, nor do I ever plan on getting one. And as to my "denial of science": I deny hyped popular science. There are a lot of things that people believe to be emperically prooven that have been disprooven a long time ago. To name a few: the rain forest give us a great deal of our oxygen, the existance of races, the linnean system of classification is still valid, etc etc.

    [ Parent ]
    Constitution != Country (3.33 / 3) (#139)
    by JB on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 12:07:14 AM EST

    The goals of expanding K5 and democratizing it are good. But having a constitution doesn't mean that K5 would be a country. A country/nation/state involves exerting monopoly power over a defined space, having the authority to tax, pass laws, draft people, declare war, etc. Why would K5 want to get into those lines of activity?

    What is a "real online nation" ? What would it do that is different from a non-profit organization or existing website?

    Nation != State (none / 0) (#158)
    by Spendocrat on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 01:14:13 PM EST

    This is a case of conflicting definitions. When you speak of a Nation you're not necessarily talking about a nation-state, such as Canada, the US, Japan or Isreal. A Nation can also be the native people of Canada, or the Jewish people of the world. Any group of people with common cause, common background or really common anything that see themselves as "a people" can be termed as a nation.

    Now, the people of K5 don't own any land collectively, but they do (or will maybe) have monopoly power over the area of mind-space known as kuro5hin. This might eventually include the physical manifestation of the nation (the server :) but already include the site, the stories and all the trappings of the discussions that occur here.

    As with many things on the internet, an analogy to things physical doesn't really apply. Not only will we have to build a new nation here, but we'll have to build the point of view that involves seeing this type of online community as a type of nation. A constitution allows us to point people at something tangible, which explains what our nation is.

    What can make K5 a online nation instead of just a site that people visit is the people of this site viewing themselves as a nation. Just like the economy and the banking system, it only will survive and flourish if people believe in it. What will help in this case is the additional control over the website (where we already have a level of control higher than most online communities) which will help us be more or less autonomous.

    [ Parent ]

    Are the Scouts a Nation ? (none / 0) (#168)
    by JB on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 05:56:12 PM EST

    I am familiar with the use of nation as a term for a people with a common identity, but they are usually linked by things like language, religion, ancestry, and geography, and they usually aspire to form a nation state.

    I still don't see the vision. From reading the initial posts, it seemed that people were proposing something truly new. Instead, it seems that there is an attempt to democratize the site and form a board of directors ... a good thing to discuss, but terms like Government and Constitution are confusing when other terms (governing body, by-laws) would better describe the goals (or am I wrong)? Sure, governing body and by-laws don't sound very exciting. But isn't that what is being proposed? If done right, it could lead to some new ways of doing things online, but nothing like the radical proposals of a carving out a new country.

    I see this group as a cool group of people, but a social/intellectual group and meeting place - more along the lines of the Rotary Club or Elks, less like a country or government.

    -- My 3.14 Cents worth - a poor approximation of Pi, but not quite so irrational.

    [ Parent ]

    Nation State (3.00 / 1) (#188)
    by Arkady on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 08:33:44 PM EST

    You should read "Beyond Sovereignty: Territory and Political Economy in the 21st Century" by David J. Elkins. He's a Professor of Political Science (ummm) at the University of British Colombia, or was when the book was published.

    For one thing, he considers the concept of partial sovereignty (and claimed versus accepted sovereignty) and its effect of the concept of State.

    My personal opinion is that any collective sovereign unit is a state, though I'm happy reserving the term Nation to refer to geographically bound sovereign units. A declaration of sovereignty and a will to protect that sovereignty should, in my opinion, be sufficient to qualify any collective unit as a State. In that sense, I think it's quite within reason for K5's readership to declare itself a State.

    I voted for Nader out there, but I'll vote for Rusty in here. ;-)

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


    [ Parent ]
    Why fix k5 if it's not broken yet? (3.75 / 4) (#143)
    by byte on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 03:39:17 AM EST

    I like k5 just fine the way it is, why do we need to change it? Years ago my father shared the well-known clique with me, "If it's not broken don't fix it." and I have to admit that it has proven to be a truism in almost every instance I have had the chance to test it. While I admit that I kind of like the idea of forming a 'virtual democracy' I don't really see the need for it. And I have to wonder what more real value the readership will receive from a 'virtual constitution'?

    A constitution is a document written by governments, or at minimum by people looking to form governments. They work well in that sphere but why should we see our community in that light? As Mao Tse Tung put it "Power flows from the barrel of a gun" and let's face it, all governments, even benign ones, ultimately back their ideals with force. I have a hard time equating k5 in these terms. I contribute here not because I'm required to or forced to but because it is what I wish to do. No one is holding a gun to my head here and if they did I'd be gone. I just can't see any need at present to have any type of written guides or 'leaders' in the form of constitutional congressman. It seems too much like passing sentence before the crime is committed. I do very well representing my own views here, thank you very much, and I like it that way. Why try and intuitionalize good conduct and intelligent discussion when we already have it?

    The best part of k5 is that we do not seem to need rule by force. We all get along pretty well, I don't see the massive flame wars I see just about everywhere else, the discussions are smart and good thoughts and ideas are brought to the table without the negative crap. It is this freedom more than any other thing that makes k5 a good place to hang out.

    I agree (none / 0) (#163)
    by yonderboy on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 03:34:33 PM EST

    The best part of k5 is that we do not seem to need rule by force. We all get along pretty well, I don't see the massive flame wars I see just about everywhere else, the discussions are smart and good thoughts and ideas are brought to the table without the negative crap. It is this freedom more than any other thing that makes k5 a good place to hang out.

    This is the whole reason why I continue to post here. It's not because I feel that I have to, or that I would be doing something important, but I do it because I want to. In my opinion, this makes all the difference. K5 is a forum that allows that freedom.

    My main concern is what will happen if this new "constitution" gets changed to something more forceful? Posting quotas? The appeal that keeps users like me here will be gone, and all hope for the Community That Was would be lost.

    I would have to say, I like it better without rules... leave K5 the way it is.

    [ Parent ]

    If it ain't broke ... (none / 0) (#173)
    by aphrael on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 06:47:12 PM EST

    I like k5 just fine the way it is, why do we need to change it?

    Because waiting until a system is broken to fix it results in a fix which is designed entirely in response to whatever broke it --- which is *reactive*, and not thought-out in and grounded in both philosophy and in an analysis of the big picture. If you had reason to believe that your software wasn't well-designed for future use, would you redesign it *now*, taking the time to do it right, or would you wait until some crisis forced an immediate redesign? Which would lead to a better end product?

    The best part of k5 is that we do not seem to need rule by force. We all get along pretty well, I don't see the massive flame wars I see just about everywhere else, the discussions are smart and good thoughts and ideas are brought to the table without the negative crap. It is this freedom more than any other thing that makes k5 a good place to hang out.

    Amen.

    Yet ... that's totally dependant on the goodwill of Rusty and Inoshiro, right? I don't *think* they'll do what CmdrTaco did and let themselves get bought out by the corporate world, but if they *did*, where would that leave K5?



    [ Parent ]
    If it ain't broke... (none / 0) (#196)
    by pwhysall on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 07:31:00 AM EST

    ...it doesn't have enough features yet. You'll never make an engineer :)

    K5 is an opportunity for us to participate in something the like of which you might never see again.

    I say take this opportunity, and if it sucks, it sucks. But let's at least try.
    --
    Peter
    K5 Editors
    I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
    CheeseBurgerBrown
    [ Parent ]

    interesting idea (3.60 / 5) (#149)
    by daevt on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 09:19:25 AM EST

       All through high school I've been plagued with teachers who wanted "the class to be able to run its self". The closest we ever got to this was having some one other than the teacher read the daily annoucements. This appears to be very much more serious though.

    A government must incorperate the following thrre items:
    0. It must look out for the well-being/best interests of it citizens,
    1. It must be dynamic and be capible of interupritive rulings,
    2. It must have a method of removing members from power at the people's disgression,

       Item 0 is best achived through some sort of reprsentative government, similar to a Senate, or House of Representatives (HoR). In such an elected body, people must be held accounteble for how they vote, and how they exercize the power bestoyed apon them. In this arena, large far reaching decitions will be made. As with all true representational governments, it must at some point brake down to the voice of the people, which in some fashion (perhaps by interests) would be sectioned off into districts, which inturn would hold a town-meeting (direct democracy at its best) to suggest how one's senator should vote (albeite non-binding to the senator), and what should be voted on (purpose questions for ballots). If at all possible, this sort of meeting, and any senatorial meetings should take place in realtime (irc, or some form of im) as apposed to email or posting to threads. For town meetings, a Moderator should be appointed to take control of town-meetings, and a Prefect should be choosen from the Senators to leed the course of their debates. Unlike the Prefect, the role of Moderator is a silent one, moderators have a sort of absolute power over the small meetings, and as such must not influence tany votes or discussion in any way.

    Item 1 simple dictates that the government must be flexible enough to change without re-writing everything, and must be caplible of dealing with every matter, impartially on a case to case basis.

    Item 2 is an escape route for the people, if a government, or governing official is found to violate the social contract between governemnt and people, there must be an organized way of removing them from office in a way that is fair to them as well as the people. If 5 years down the line whatever people choose for a government system for Kuro5hin turns out to be more of a hiderence than a help, than the people must be able to remove, redesign, or modify the system in order to preserve the freedoms of the users. "God forbid we should go twenty years without a revolution." was what Thomas Jefferson said, and perhaps he was right.

    A group of common users should be assemble by the end of the year to draft constitution. The users should not currently hold power over the site. The draft they develope must be ratified by the users by a very large margin (purhaps 3/4 or 4/5).

    Elected groups must have the ability to be monitored by the common user (flies on the wall).

    There must be a process by which lower banches can over turn higher branches of government, specifically to avoid senators from voting against the will of the people. This would act to balance the power between the elected officials and the poeple.

    Grounds for dismissal must be specific,a dn the official charged with violation of the Kuro5hin Charter must have access to due process.

    The system should be uni-camrial (one house, Senate but no HoR, or HoR but no Senate).

    I could go on forever, but I think I want feed-back on what I've said so far. If dessired, I will continue with a better writen outline of virtual government.
    yo
    HoR unnecessary (2.00 / 1) (#153)
    by retinaburn on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 10:11:18 AM EST

    Item 0 is best achived through some sort of reprsentative government, similar to a Senate, or House of Representatives (HoR). In such an elected body, people must be held accounteble for how they vote, and how they exercize the power bestoyed apon them. In this arena, large far reaching decitions will be made.

    I am under the belief that the HoR is needed because logistically it is impossible for everyone to vote on every issue, and to have the intellect to deal competently with every issue (supposedly your representative is).

    We don't need this in a Virtual Community. Each "citizen" votes on each issue if they wish to. Majority of the total users (or some other function of total users) passes the bill/change/etc.

    Virtual communities allow a town meeting of 9,000 people easily. A moderator would be needed (ie. rusty, or someother "elected" person). This person needs no other qualifications than intelligence, well read, able to express ideas clearly and concisely...hopefully with good spelling :) (guess i'm out of the running).


    I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


    [ Parent ]
    Protection of citizens (5.00 / 1) (#157)
    by Spendocrat on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 12:51:22 PM EST

    Item 0 is best achived through some sort of reprsentative government

    I agree completely with your sentiment/goal here, but I think the only tool required to achieve protection of the citizens of K5 is a constitution. A representative democracy would be sufficient, but not necessary (whereas a constitution would be sufficient and necessary) to protect rights.

    This might be where I'm in disagreement with some people here on K5. I don't necessarily think that a representative deomcracy is the best way to go. At least not for all things. Maybe I should try to explain.

    Right now we have a benevolent dictatorship. The success and the feelings people have about this site (a sense of community, a sense that this is a home of rational discussion) shows to me that Rusty has done quite well by us thus far. If Rusty ever steps down, it would be nice and perhaps very necessary to have a plan as to what the next step would be.

    Another model would be one of a direct democracy. We have the tools, and most people have the time to devote to running the site. Along with a direct democracy a steward (or possibly stewards) would be required to take care of system maintenance, ensuring that everything is working properly etc. The steward would have a very minimal role, essentially deciding very little to nothing with respect to the operation of the site. With this model, you (as a citizen) put into the site what you want. We sort of do this on our own right now with the code base. If you want to contribute code, that's great, if not, you still contribute greatly to the site when you mod stories, make and mod comments or even just lurk and excercise your mind by reading. You are still important to the community regardless of if your presence is visible or not. The only problem I see with this model is one of somewhat slow turn around, especially if we're going to be voting on day to day operation issues. How long would the votes last, what kind of majority (of the whole population or of those who voted?) be required to make day to day decisions, to make major decisions?

    The model I'm leaning towards is one of a hybrid democracy/dictatorship. What I would like to see is some type of elected (or somehow otherwise chosen) small group of people who would have a set of responsibilities with respect to the running of K5, and have most or all major decisions (that aren't highly time sensitive) decided on by the population. We would want to vote on things like keeping/removing story categories, the thresholds used for accepting stories to the front page, or the methods used to vote a story into a section, etc. Also on the code side, we might want to vote on what features we want added to (or allowed into :) the version of Scoop running on K5, and it would be the responsibilty of the core group to ensure the changes work properly and are implemented on the K5 server.

    A constitution would be required to define things like what decisions *require* a vote by the populace, who the populace is to being with, what rights the populace has as members of the communityu, what authority the core group has in cases of emergency, how K5 is paid for, etc. Once we have the framework that lays out what we want, we can go about actually putting what we want in place. The good thing about a constitution is it doesn't matter how the core group is formed (except for the part of the constitution that dictates that :), the constitution applies regardless.

    Things I'd like to see in a K5 constitution (if not right away, then eventually).

    • A statement regarding the goals and purpose of K5, even just the page tagline.
    • The definition of a citizen of K5.
    • Basic "rights" that comes with being a K5 citizen.
    • The method of selection of a core group/steward.
    • Methods for removing/replacing a core group/steward
    • The responsibilities of a core group/steward. (Including a level of communication that needs to be kept with the populace through the site as to what's going on).
    • Comprehensive list of decisions that have to be taken to the populace.
    • Guidlines for the timeframe of populace votes and requirements for a deciding vote (2/3 in some case, 50% + 1 in another, etc)
    • Guildlines for modifying said list, and what the core group/steward should do about items that aren't on the list (Here I'd hope for a bias towards asking the populace).
    • Steps for changing the constitution itself.

    I imagine this might appear as slightly anal on my part, though I feel this is very necessary in the case of a document like a constitution. The good thing about a constitution like this one is that we're dealing with a pretty limited scope. We can be comprehensive while still being flexible and covering future developments in the community.

    [ Parent ]

    Early Amendments (4.00 / 1) (#187)
    by Arkady on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 08:25:06 PM EST

    First, it's a bit anal, as the common term goes, but if the anal folks weren't around to organize things we'd all still be living in the trees ... ;-)

    I think you're coming from the right motives, but I'd take issue with the basis of your desire here. For example, I don't think that a Charter should specify the rights of the citizens; it should specify, as clearly as possible, a set of principles for the State, a definite structure for it and the exact authority delegated to the State. Everything not _specifically_ granted is witheld; the State has no authority over anything not specifically delegated to it.

    The people come first, and they authorize the Charter. It should detail a delegation of their authority.

    On that topic, I also think:

    1)   There should be no legislative body except the citizenry.
    2)   The Executive should be limited to administering the specific public functions delegated to them.
    3)   All Judicial decisions (from whatever judicial structure is chosen) should be appealable to the vote of the citizens.

    I'd strongly recommend that anyone interested in this stuff read "Njal's Saga", the national epic of Iceland. The social and political structure there was _very_ interesting.

    -robin

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


    [ Parent ]
    Weird coincidences (3.00 / 1) (#198)
    by Spendocrat on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 11:47:22 AM EST

    Just an aside.

    I'd never heard of Njal's Saga before this summer. My girlfriend took a course in Icelandic studies so I got to hear some things about it. It is indeed interesting.

    [ Parent ]

    trhurler's two cents (4.16 / 6) (#159)
    by trhurler on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 01:47:54 PM EST

    I don't mean to be rude or disrespectful in any way, but Rusty is wrong on one point raised elsewhere, and is using rather kludgy metaphors instead of reasons as justification, which latter makes it hard to tell whether I agree with him or not:)

    First, the mistake: you cannot have government without bureaucracy. Government means rules, and rules must be enforced, and enforcing the rules requires a means of arbitration. Arbitration is time consuming and bureaucratic by nature, and will make some k5 people "more equal" than others. If you don't have that, then you don't have government - period.

    Secondly, the metaphors: "virtual nation," "online government." These are neither new nor interesting; the people who participate in them are mostly students in civics classes and frustrated would-be politicians who can't hack it in the real world. They quickly become an ugly spectacle, and are abandoned by everyone with good taste and common sense.

    Now, my argument against: If what you really want is a set of bylaws for a corporation to manage what assets k5 has, then just say so and let's do that. That is not a government and it is not a constitution - it is merely a way of making sure k5 can outlive Rusty. But if that isn't what you want, then please don't do whatever it is you -do- want. We don't need favoritism here(all forms of government breed it,) we don't need to attract politicians(all forms of government attract them,) and most of all, we don't need the intellectual and temporal overhead(all forms of government create them.)

    I have never seen #kuro5hin. I have no idea who hangs out there or what they say. And I don't have to - that's what makes things workable here. People can do what they want to do, say what they want to say. Some days I'm popular; some days I'm reviled. It doesn't matter. The discussion is all that matters; for all I know, people sit around on #kuro5hin making fun of the rest of us all day(I doubt it, but hey:) Would it make any difference if they do? Obviously not. With a government, it -can- matter, and even if the initial draft of this "constitution" is good, it can change later, which means that sooner or later, it probably -will- matter. A government is a means of suppressing - it can destroy, but it has no power to create. As such, it attracts the worst kind of people - and if it will not let them exercise the power they want, they'll try to change it from within so that it does. When it is necessary to destroy, or to at least be capable of threatening it, a government is a wonderful thing to have - but on k5, the threat of destruction is precisely what we need NOT to have. This is why k5 moderation works so well - the vast majority of users cannot prevent other users from seeing posts, and so they respond with arguments rather than moderation terrorism ala Slashdot. If they don't(see my bio:) then their opinion is lost and they either learn better next time or fade into irrelevance.

    Back to the idea of a simple set of bylaws setting out additional corporate officers and so on - as long as these people are given no additional authority over the site's day to day operations(ie, they aren't permanently trusted or anything stupid like that,) this would work well. I'm thinking the top two(currently obviously Rusty and Inoshiro, and that should NOT change unless they decide they have had enough,) would remain essentially unchanged, but this would provide a line of succession should one or more of them need to step down. Presumably the existing officers(including whomever stepped down, unless it was due to unfortunate accident like getting hit by a bus,) would choose a replacement. This would provide corporate immortality to k5 without changing the current, well-working and very enjoyable system in any functional way. The top one or two people would have the additional administrative authority that Rusty holds today, and the rest would be successors.

    --
    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    Thanks... (none / 0) (#162)
    by Strider on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 03:18:02 PM EST

    for clarify my thoughts. I agree with this post entirely. I couldn't have articulated it this well (I already failed miserably a few times). Oh yeah and: VIVA Rusty!
    ---
    "it's like having gravity suddenly replaced by cheez-whiz" - rusty
    [ Parent ]
    Government (3.50 / 2) (#160)
    by QuantumAbyss on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 03:04:54 PM EST

    A government is always a scary, as is apparent from the comments so far. It is especially so with the US elections still in the air (as I'm writing). But one thing I'm noticing from the comments so far is that they're not quite understanding what I think a constitution would do here.

    People are concerned about an excess of bureaucracy and other forms of centralized control. I certainly understand that concern and share it, to an extent. But I think that it needs to be kept in mind that our constitution could easily be (although I don't think it would be):

    "Rusty rules."

    A nice short document, eh?

    But seriously - the constitution doesn't need to create some group of bureaucrats. I know I wouldn't vote for one that did. But what it probably does need to do is deal with questions like who will handle money directly and who will be the ultimate controller of the code base. It probably also needs to deal with things like how we decide when we want a new topic or want to change something in the code (like including flags, optionaly, next to posts).

    My personal feelings around many of these things are that they should be directly voted on - but possibly only people who have a reasonable number of posts that scored 3+ are allowed to vote (otherwise things could be thrown by somebody registering themselves a bunch of times, and other such tricks). Aside from that maybe there is a person (or small group, like 5) that ultimately have to agree to whatever it is and co-ordinate the implimentation of it. Those people would need to elected, and on it goes. Yes, it isn't as simple as having rusty make the change, viola (not that it works that way for rusty), but it isn't out of the average users hands either.

    Also I think that there is something important in what rusty is saying. This is an opertunity to test something new. All of us are constantly whining about this or that - well this is a change to actually try something out. We know that in the "real world" dictatorship doesn't work so well in the long term. So why do we think it is going to work out here? What happens when rusty doesn't have time anymore and he sells the site to some company (not to say he would, but it could happen, especially if he needed $)? Then we loose our say, that's what. But if we have a working government that has been founded and molded during a time of stability Rusty won't be able to do that, and we'll still have our site (and it would be OUR site).

    On a more positive note we have a chance to play with government structures. We can test things out that can't be (or won't be) tested in "real world" governments. Not to say that this forum isn't important, but as somebody pointed out, if things get really bad we can just backtrack to a prior version. Not to mention in comparison to the affect that major changes could have if implimented in, say, the US constitution, the affects here are pretty minor, so more risk can be taken.

    One last thing I want to point out has to do with the way rusty proposed the drafting of the constitution. He was saying that EVERYONE could comment/write things and that there would be a couple of people (30 or so) that would draft the whole thing. I have one problem with that setup - it means that we can't accept individual components, and might get stuck voting for a whole that has parts we don't like. What if instead we come up with smaller parts (end draft written by the 30 or so) that gets voted up or down. If it gets voted down the 30 or so listen to our comments and go back to the drawing board on the part. That way nobody can slip things in that are annoying, but might not get noticed.

    Oh, just thought of something else. If people are 'running' for office or something it would suck to have that whole big political thing happening. So let's not make some complicated process. Just a statement or something and we can judge them by that and other posts. The reason I'm mentioning this now is that I could see it being an issue with regards to deciding who has drafting power with the constitution.

    Science is not the pursuit of truth, it is the quest for better approximations to a perception of reality.
    - QA
    Voting (4.50 / 2) (#161)
    by trhurler on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 03:11:03 PM EST

    is bad. K5 moderation works well, but only because posts don't matter that much. I've already found(but NOT abused) at least one way to guarantee that I will always be a trusted user if that is what I want to do, so you can't keep people from having voting status using their post history in any useful way. You can't just use age of accounts; creating accounts and waiting for them to get old isn't hard. You can't just use -anything.- Trust metrics are not robust; you have to actually know a person to trust him, unless the matter entrusted is very minor. The absolute worst thing that could happen to k5 is a system of control by vote. (For those wondering why you have to trust voters, consider that with 9000 people, we could easily be swamped by a sea of idiots at any time; if those idiots create accounts, keep them active, and help each other maintain high comment ratings, which we can't prevent, they would then have more voting power than all existing users - and they're probably the kind of people who vote comments on Slashdot to -1 because they disagree with what is being said.)

    --
    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Voting (3.00 / 1) (#170)
    by QuantumAbyss on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 06:31:19 PM EST

    Okay, that makes sense to me. I wasn't really proposing that as a hard rule type of thing.
    There just needs to be ways for people to "vote" in some way in the system - whether it be by moderation or by other means. Certainly, a bunch of idiots could blow down on the site and destroy it... but maybe that can be fixed by making it hard to get citizenship or something (a highly crackable idea, i know, i'm just thinking in type, and most anything is breakable, the question is whether it is fixable once broken). Make the citizenship, which gives you the right to vote and express yourself as a member of k5, be something that... shoot i don't know.

    Maybe i'm just sticking my mind in the wrong direction. I'll think some more...

    Okay, i just read all your comments and such on these topics, very well thought out, and certainly against having a government type thing, i can respect that - sometimes agree with it. But I think that some of us are wanting to get something done in the "real world" and it is hard to get things done unless you have a group. I am involved in other "real world" things that get stuff done (and I know a lot of other people are too). The reason that I'm excited about doing something here is that it allows for a larger oganization. That implies bureaucracy, and that does suck. It also implies that some people have more power than others, and that sucks too - but it is already true, just to a lesser extent. I guess my solution to the problem is to ensure that this board stays the same with regard to conversation and such. If the government thing flies then it needs to be a seperate peice, integrated into the site but seperate from it. Issues can be discussed here and such, and access to the other area can be totally up to people. That area (section, whatever) can deal with this real name stuff and all of the other things that go along with creating a power base in the "real world". Does that sound acceptable? I know it probably has a bunch of pitfalls and you'll pick'em apart. But I think that a number of people really want to see this (including me) and a number really don't (I'm guessing you). I don't want the groups to split or anything (cuz what you say jogs people like me back to reality, and visa-versa I'm sure) but I don't want to sacrifice the idea all-together.

    Science is not the pursuit of truth, it is the quest for better approximations to a perception of reality.
    - QA
    [ Parent ]
    Only one thing. (4.00 / 1) (#200)
    by trhurler on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 12:27:59 PM EST

    Trying to keep your government separate from the rest of the site is going to have one major flaw: Rusty wants to use the k5 corporation(the legal entity) for the government, and that's going to mean the government controls the server. As such, no matter what you might implement today, there is no real protection for the division between the "real world" activities and the discussions. Even if this wasn't true, you would have a situation where you had a lot of organized k5 people and a lot of unorganized ones, and if the organized ones decided to try to "take over," there isn't much short of organizing against them(which is what the remainder do NOT want to do) that could prevent it, and that might not work.

    Simply put, while I trust most individuals, I do not trust organizations. Ever. They are not trustworthy, whether they be governments, companies, or just a group of people standing around on a corner. Of those three, I'd trust the group and the company long before I'd trust the government. About the only things I trust less than a government are politicians and criminals.

    --
    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    [ Parent ]
    Good point (none / 0) (#212)
    by QuantumAbyss on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 12:42:53 PM EST

    Yeah, okay. I pretty much don't trust Government as much as I don't trust Corporations as much as I don't trust any groups of people. But I think that we already are a group of people - whether we like it or not.

    I've had this discussion with other non-group groups that I've been involved with (usually they were a lot smaller, as such it went a lot faster and was more easily communicated). See, whether there is a definition of a group or not there is a group. Defining a group doesn't create the group, it is just a thing that happens naturally and before people know it their ideas have narrowed and they are acting in really stupid ways. Entropy I guess...

    At any rate, we don't need to call it "Government" we don't need to call it "Corporation" or anything else. It doesn't matter what the label is. Labels don't create, they're just pointers to what is already in existence (of course a pointer can speed up the process of degradation, which I'm guessing is your major concern). However, let's think about what a zero structure thing would do. I think that it would most assuredly degrade, and fast. As people join a predominant idea of what the site should allow for discussing will crop up. It won't matter that something is interesting and generates good discussion cuz it doesn't fit within some framework. Labels and organization and all that stuff can be used in two ways - it can be used in an attempt to freeze things and fight change (thereby becoming a huge organization because you have to constantly fight harder and harder) or they can do the opposite, working to ensure that entropy doesn't take over and all parties get a fair shake. I'm not saying I know how to design the second type - but I do think it might be possible (I think eventually it'll degrade as well, but maybe it can slow things down). So maybe it isn't the best idea to run off and create a "government" and stuff it in the corporate by-laws. Maybe instead it should just be a discussion about keeping things from going south, and a recommendation from rusty can come out of it. If, for personal reasons, he needs to hand stuff over he can do it in whatever way he sees fit - and you are probably right, it shouldn't be a "governing" body - too many ways for things to become totally screwed up.

    Science is not the pursuit of truth, it is the quest for better approximations to a perception of reality.
    - QA
    [ Parent ]
    Online Community Manifesto (3.50 / 2) (#164)
    by jabber on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 04:14:07 PM EST

    The <a href=http://www.partnerships.org.uk/cyber/>Online Community Manifesto</a> might have some worthwhile ideas in it.

    I for one am all Governmented out for a few weeks - due to the US Political Feeding Frenzy.

    Could we table this motion until some semblance of sanity has returned? Any actions now would be surfing on the wave of the Election, and might not be as intelligient as K5 deserves.

    [TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

    Internet time (none / 0) (#171)
    by aphrael on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 06:38:18 PM EST

    To a certain extent, I think you have a point --- but to another extent, I think you're missing something: an activity of this nature won't happen on internet time; it's a process which will take *months* to play out.



    [ Parent ]
    My .02$ (4.25 / 4) (#165)
    by Arkady on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 04:53:13 PM EST

    As, to my knowledge, one of the only "out-of-the-closet" Anarchists in the regular K5 readership, I would like to take this opportunity to make a few proposals on the topic that may seem a bit radical to those of you (Americans ... ;-) who live in countries where Anarchy is commonly misconstrued as Chaos:

    1)   Any State needs to remember that it is constituted only by the action of the people; as the population changes, it needs to have built-in provisions for acquiring the endorsement of the new members and for accepting the changes proposed by incoming members. Thomas Jefferson understood this and, unfortunately, did not succeed in getting it expressed concretely in the American Constitution. A Constitution for K5 should include a requirement that citizens _expressly_ agree to its provisions and that any incoming citizen has the right, within their "candidate" period, to challenge any aspect of that Constitution to a vote as a condition of their accepting citizenship.

    2)   We do not need a "government", per-se. I propose that we conceptualize the State construct as an administration of a public trust as opposed to a ruling body. There is no reason, with the technology we posses, for us to delegate authority to construct Law to representatives. It's dangerous and unnecessary. The tradition triumvirate of Legislative-Judicial-Executive is a convention created by a technological need for representation, and I do not think we should replicate it here. We should reserve the authority to create new Law to purely democratic process. This would still be a three part structure, in a sense, but there would be no difference between the populace and the Legislature.

       Given a State conceived as an Administration, the Executive is therefore a collection of administrators (the same root as Minister) to whom is given the task of administering some aspect of the public trust. In the case of K5, we have an added benefit that administrator is also the title we normally use for folks who run servers and networks anyway ... ;-)

       The Judicial form is, I think, the most flexible (or perhaps it's only that I can see several equally attractive alternatives). I am open to suggestion for how to structure this, and I don't feel it's particularly important at the outset, as we have fairly few problems with willful violation of our social norms as it is. It would, however, still be wise to plan with the expectation that we will encounter those problems later.

    3)   Since I'm currently reading Lessig's "Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace", I'm moved to ask that we solicit respected outsiders like Lessig to participate as observers during the process. As non-members (though, of course, they would be welcome to join if they choose ... ;-), they would not be voting participants. To take Lessig as an example, however, he is a fellow who has spent much of his life studying and working with American Constitutional law and could provide an experienced voice among the theorists. I have many opinions, but he has much experience, if you know what I mean.

    OK, so at this point I think I'd be rambling if I went on here. There will be other articles on this topic. I just think these three points should be on the table from the beginning.

    And _one_ aside here, for those of you who have read Kim Stanley Robinson's "Red Mars" and later books. Did you find the treatment of the Constitutional conventions in those as inspirational as I did? (Those of you who haven't read them yet should start now. It'll prepare you and fire you up.)

    -robin

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


    Hmm... (5.00 / 1) (#175)
    by trhurler on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 06:49:29 PM EST

    Two comments. First, how do you propose to preserve a sane democracy when you cannot authenticate people? Fraud comes to mind, as does simple flooding by idiots and power-hungry fools getting new accounts.

    Second, are you really sure you want to bring in "experts?" Lessig is well known, and lots of people respect him. Personally, having written some of his writings(but not the book in question,) I find him to be annoying in the same way that FSF lawyer Eben Moglen is - he has many opinions about things he can't do, code he doesn't understand, and cultures he has never really been a part of. He's part of the beginning of the lawyer invasion into the geek world. I don't like it. That's also part of why I don't like this government idea.

    --
    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    [ Parent ]
    mostly, I agree (4.00 / 1) (#184)
    by Arkady on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 07:39:18 PM EST

    I think you're largely correct in your thoughts on Lessig; I agree that (especially in his discussion of "perfect" trusted systems) he really doesn't get it. At some point, I'm hoping to get a chance to discuss this with him personally. Reading a book is a very one-way communication and that's really bugging me with "Code".

    I wasn't thinking of him as an "expert advisor" sort of thing, more as someone who knows the history of conflict over the existing Constitution who might be useful in pointing out potential issues based on things that have raised problems before. I also just thought he might be interested. ;-)

    Your point about authentication and fraud is a good one, and well taken. I'm not going to pretend to solve that problem here, but I think it can be solved to a reasonable degree of certainty (though I don't think it can be solved absolutely).

    Crypto software is pretty common, and the regulayions are _mostly_ gone. We could build a pyramid structure for "trust" on accounts, where Rusty and Inoshiro sign the keys of those they've met, who sign the keys of those they've met and yadda. It would not be _certain_, since (say) I could possibly get Rusty and Inoshiro to sign different keys for myself and this risk gets greater the further out into the pyramid you get. I think it would be fine for a starting point, though.

    I'm running on again; this issue will need to be solved once the decision to or not on a Charter is made. I do think we can solve it, so let's deal with it then.

    Cheers,
    -robin

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


    [ Parent ]
    poll (2.50 / 2) (#167)
    by daevt on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 05:53:15 PM EST

    as much as i understand that these online polls are far from the truth, its kinda interesting that (at current) its 2/3 for constructing a constitution. i personally think we should form a charter and not a constitution, but i am for the gerenal process of drafting a governing body, and would be very willing to help in what ever way i could.
    yo
    Charter (none / 0) (#172)
    by Arkady on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 06:41:31 PM EST

    I agree with the terminology; I generally prefer to think of what I see as desirable, State-wise, as a chartered entity. If you conceive of it as an administrative State, rather than a governmental State, it also seems more natural to charter an administration.

    It also helps keep the State aware that the Charter can be (or _should_ be able to be) revoked by the people; the word "Constitution" does have more of an air of permanance.

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


    [ Parent ]
    [OT] interesting bug (2.00 / 1) (#183)
    by aphrael on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 07:38:30 PM EST

    Click on 'Other polls'.

    Click on 'See Results' for the poll asking 'Is this method of selecting delegates acceptable'.

    Note that you can now see the conversation attached to the 'Proposal for a method of selecting constitutional convention delegates' article, even though the article itself has gone away.



    The best system of government (4.00 / 1) (#194)
    by daani on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 06:16:16 AM EST

    I think it was one of the famous old American politicians who advised that a nation should have a revolution every generation or so to ensure good government. And I reckon that's the safest way to go with kuro5hin.org too. You leave your benevolent dictator in charge, and if (s)he ceases to listen to the people, you stage armed rebellion.


    You arm yourself by setting up scoop code, a server + bandwidth. Then you rebel by telling everyone who hates the dictator to come and contribute to the new site instead. Now that would be real democracy.



    Sue for the domain name if you're successful enough I suppose ;)



    Have an organised government if you like. They can't be a real government though, just a board of advisors to the dictator. Because the only real power in this world is the root password. Someones got to have it (or do they?). And that person is the dictator. Whether they like it or not.



    .







    Virtual Nation of K5 (4.50 / 4) (#195)
    by erotus on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 06:48:39 AM EST

    Please see Republic of Lomar and CyberYogoslavia. These are both online virtual nations with constitutions, laws, and citizens. Lomarians predict that "the population of the Republic of Lomar will reach 10,000 in December 2000 and 50,000 at the end of 2001." They even have consulate offices around the world and issue citizenship/passports! This is an interesting concept. A virtual country, with citizens from all around the globe and from different cultures. The Lomarian passport is even recognized in many countries. They even offer camoflage passports for those with dangerous places of birth. e.g. American wanting to visit Libya. Of course, there is also CyberYugoslavia. Also similar to the Lomar Republic, CyberYogoslavia wants to get 5 million citizens so it can petition the United Nations for recognition and 20 square metres of land on which to place the communityís home server. You can read about that here.

    At first I thought having a constitution for k5 was a little bit too much. Now I see that it is far from too much. The aforementioned sites are virtual nation states with consulates and passport bearing citizens! Rusty, is this what you have in mind for k5???? I mean, it would be cool to have a passport with the k5 logo on it. How far do you want to take this constitution/govt/charter thing Rusty? I want more info as this idea is wacky and entertaining as it is seriously intriguing.

    The creator of CyberYugoslavia said "We are looking for active, committed citizens," says the siteís creator Zoran Bacic. "People capable of founding a new kind of country, a new kind of nationality that has stripped bare the trappings of state and placed its future in the hands of humanity." When I thought about it, it didnt seem so wacky anymore but genuinely humanitarian. Is this what you have in mind Rusty? Could this be just a backlash because we are so fed up with our own governments and ways of life we want to try something new? Well, we now have a unique opportunity to do just that. We already have 9,000 people on k5. The Republic of Lomar has under 10,000 and CyberYugo only has 13,150 citizens. K5 clearly has a head start.

    K5'ers are like-minded people who are interested in technology and culture. I have a B.A. in anthropology and yet I work in the computer field and I enjoy techie things. I'm still into humanitarian things and enjoy psychoanalyzing human culture and society. K5 is THE website where I feel completely at home. I think we need to have a more indepth discussion of what a constitution means. Do we mean just an online institution or a full blown virtual nation with passport bearing citizens? Should we model our new nation after Lomar or CyberYugoslavia? What are the consequences of turning a discussion site into a virtual nation state? Finally, do we really want this? We need to think about the issues and possible consequences, good or bad, before any action is taken.

    Another thing (4.00 / 4) (#204)
    by trhurler on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 09:06:47 PM EST

    Another thing that just occurred to me, for those of you who are seriously into the virtual nation thing complete with passports and all, is that the dual-citizenship arrangements these people use are dangerous. If, for instance, you are a US citizen and you take up a 2nd citizenship in some new k5 nation, you run the risk that, if k5 upsets the US government, your US citizenship will be arbitrarily and summarily revoked with little possibility of appeal. The same is true in most other countries, and a good many simply do not allow 2nd citizenships at all. The US doesn't actually specifically allow it except under special circumstances, but I'm guessing that unless you pissed them off they wouldn't do much about it.

    The thing is, though, on a discussion site, sooner or later you will piss off just about ANYONE who is reading. The risk here is not one you can measure merely by the worth of k5; sure, we can always create another discussion forum if we destroy this one, but you cannot just get your citizenship back; some places it is impossible, and others it is very difficult, and in most if you were a natural born citizen, you will not have the same rights you had before. That's a hefty price to pay for an experiment that offers few known upfront benefits beyond getting to tinker with power structures that, by definition, don't really matter all that much anyway.

    --
    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    Let's see... (none / 0) (#214)
    by Pakaran on Mon Nov 13, 2000 at 07:42:43 PM EST

    Well, to start with, I don't think any court in its right mind would see K5 as a nation, unless we do something like all moving out of any nation, etc.

    Secondly, in the US at least, the only advantage of being a native citizen is that you get to run for President; I don't think that's a great deal to forfit.

    [ Parent ]

    Citizenship (none / 0) (#215)
    by trhurler on Tue Nov 14, 2000 at 02:04:51 PM EST

    Well, to start with, I don't think any court in its right mind would see K5 as a nation, unless we do something like all moving out of any nation, etc.
    Perhaps you don't understand the legal process involved here: if you declare citizenship in something that even -claims- to offer it, you have forfeited your original citizenship in most countries(the US included,) at least in theory. Granted, the government officials in charge at any given time might or might not decide to do anything about it, but that's irrelevant. In the US, losing your citizenship doesn't mean so much; you can probably get it back and you haven't lost a whole lot, as you point out. On the other hand, there are countries where declaring a foriegn allegiance, -especially- to an entity not recognized by the government, is considered treason. Think about that.

    --
    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    [ Parent ]
    re: Citizenship (none / 0) (#218)
    by Pakaran on Fri Nov 17, 2000 at 12:07:45 AM EST

    if you declare citizenship in something that even -claims- to offer it, you have forfeited your original citizenship in most countries(the US included,) at least in theory.
    That is indeed true, but what sane governmental body would see someone as having applied for citizenship in a website?

    However, your point about declaring allegiance out of a nation being regarded as treason is definately a good one. I think sometimes here in the US we don't recognize how spoiled we are, never mind how other nations view us after we do things like going to war several times for the sole purpose of "fighting communism".

    [ Parent ]

    citizenship worthless? (none / 0) (#216)
    by mercenary on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 04:53:14 AM EST

    Secondly, in the US at least, the only advantage of being a native citizen is that you get to run for President; I don't think that's a great deal to forfit.

    US citizenship is a pretty valuable thing.

    You get the ability to work in this country with no restrictions. That alone is something a lot of foreign nationals would like to be able to do.

    You get access to a number of social programs, including health care and job-related issues; this might not be the greatest in the world, but it's better than most.

    Unfortunately, you also get taxed. It's relatively difficult to walk into a U.S. Embassy and abandon your citizenship; they generally believe that you're just wanting to avoid taxes somehow.

    There are probably other advantages to being a U.S. Citizen that I can't enumerate right now; compared to other western nations, you might turn up your nose; compared to other areas of the world, it's hard to say that citizenship is worthless.

    [ Parent ]

    dual citizenship (none / 0) (#217)
    by mercenary on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 04:54:58 AM EST

    I've heard of a couple dual-citizenship models. For example, Americans of Irish descent can claim Irish citizenship while still hanging onto their U.S. citizenship.

    I'm not sure if this is also true for people from other countries; as discussed, it probably depends on the laws in your home country.

    [ Parent ]

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