How many people can be involved? 

In 2010, the biggest Crowd Wise project offered all the 1500 members of AFC Wimbledon, a community-owned football club, the opportunity to contribute ideas for the options and then discuss them, for example by filling in a blank page in the programme, or coming to a meeting before a home game. There is no limit to the number of people who can be involved in the voting. At the other end of the scale, the process has worked with as few as ten people. 


How does Crowd Wise encourage
a constructive discussion? 

With consensus voting, each participant has an incentive to engage with the others, in the hope of persuading them to rate their preferred option, say, third instead of fifth. The process itself encourages a search for common ground. This incentive would not exist in an either/or vote, when everyone will talk up their choice and criticise the alternative. Nor would it exist if people were not expressing their preferences on all the options. 


Can the voting be done on-line? 

We have experimented successfully with on-line voting.

See for example http://www.opendemocracy.net/deborda/about

We are not yet ready to make this available to all, but intend to do so in future.


Can you tell how much consensus there is? 

Yes. The winner’s score will tell you this: 

If the top scoring option is well  ahead of the rest, it is likely to be very acceptable. 

If the top scoring option is some  way ahead of the rest, it is likely to be acceptable for all but the most  contentious issues. 

If no option has much of a lead, it is probably best to keep talking and then run another vote. 

Sometimes two options are ahead of the pack. Then it is a question of whether there are compatible elements in each that can be combined to make a new option. 


Could an apparent consensus give no-one
what they really want? 

In Crowd Wise, people have an incentive to engage constructively with the other participants. This often leads to options being amended to reflect better what people want. In addition, this danger is more likely when people are put under pressure to give up what they want for the sake of reaching agreement. This is much less likely where people are casting their vote on a ballot paper which is only seen by the people counting the votes. 


Can Crowd Wise help resolve conflict? 

Yes. A forerunner of Crowd Wise was used in Belfast in 1986 to discuss the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. Over 200 people, including politicians -both unionists and Sinn Féin – chose this outcome from a list of ten options: “Northern Ireland to have devolution and power-sharing with a Belfast-Dublin-London tripartite agreement.” It was a mini-Good Friday Agreement, 12 years ahead of its time!