Vilfredo & other tools for decision making (session documentation)

The slides of the talk are available.

Coordinating action within a group has often been difficult or problematic. 

What doesn’t work

Various people have tried to build tools that are scalable and versatile, but this hasn’t been all that useful: different scales need different aproaches and so we need a tool that is optimised for the scale we want to work at.

The various types of question

questions can be split along various axies:

- easy / complex (many parts) / difficult (fundamentally hard to solve)

- closed (pick from a fixed set of answers) / open (‘anything’ is possible, free proposal of answers)

- How many answers are needed: one / a specific number / as many as we have resources (budget) for

- type of answer: what? / how? / which? / how much?


Closed question, any number of participants:

Vote. A gold standard for voting is to pick the Condorcet Winner.

How much? (number pick), any number of participants:

Poll all participants for an answer and select the median. So long as every participant’s prefernce for other answers falls off monotonically as the other answer gets more different from their own then the median is also a Condorcet Winner. This method is far easier (though more specific) than a explicit Condorcet voting.

What [should we do]?

‘What’ questions need (at least) enough commitment of resources. Consensus not actually required. Probably best resolved by resource pledging (as Kickstarter).

How? groups of 8-20 or so:

‘How’ questions need (near)consensus.

Traditionally settled by debate. This can be facilitated by technical means.

Image having an unbiased and helpful moderator. Simple rules for moderation, applied mechanicaly: Vilfredo

The basic pattern:

Propose candidate answers.

Filter: vote & keep Pareto front (to preserve diversity within community).


Only works for limited size groups, because with big groups the filter doesn’t reduce, and so the process grinds to halt.

Refinements to the process include

  • Do each decision process pseudonominously.
  • Make participants who have especially importants roles in that round aware of what they can do to help.

For more: or the Vilfredo wiki.


Excellent work!

Very good wrapup, Leo, thanks!