Liquid Democracy is NOT Delegative Democracy

Liquid Democracy is NOT Delegative Democracy

Liquid Democracy is a fast, decentralized, collaborative question-answering system, which works by enabling chained answer recommendation. It occupies the middle ground somewhere between direct and representative democracy, and is designed to ensure that the things we all hold in common stay properly maintained (by small, stealthy, distributed teams of anarchist kung-fu badasses, if need be), even in the face of radical technological change.

I love liquid democracy!  Have done so ever since reading that article 10 years ago.

However, a very important point made by Sayke, the guy who came up with the idea, is almost universally missed by most people who talk about it these days, and by every single software implementation I’ve seen to date.

And that is the difference between vote delegation/ proxies and vote recommendations.

See here where he writes:

Other systems similar to LD have been designed, but as far as I know they employ vote proxying, rather then answer recommendation

And here where he re-iterates the same thing:

I’d just like to stress the difference between vote proxying and vote recommendation. One’s “pull” and the other’s “push”, and that’s a big part of what makes liquid democracy unique. With liquid democracy, people can request recommendations from multiple people, and from there they can do all kinds of things – take the average, ignore some recommendations, ignore all the recommendations and vote their unique conscience, etc. with proxying, you can’t do that, and that’s why proxying isn’t enough

He doesn’t spell it out, but vote recommendations also help to keep power at the edges where it belongs, and makes it harder for people to become too influential.

Please, everyone, stop saying delegative democracy is liquid democracy, because, really, it isn’t.

As Sayke wrote at the end of that article from 10 years ago:

I felt like LD was being sorely misinterpreted – people were basing their picture of LD off of 3 year old information. I didn’t want to see mischaracterizations surround an idea I came up with. If people are going to hate it, I want to make sure they’re actually hating it, and not a strawman of it, you know? So, I wrote this article.

And hence why I wrote this article too. Because the Liquid Democracy I love is NOT Delegative Democracy.