Frequently Asked Questions.
Your questions, answered.
If you run a community organisation, irrespective of the size, dedicated to the improvement of your community, then this is good enough for us. You cannot be profit-driven, otherwise, we will charge our standard rate. We believe that Polis can help all communities reduce conflict, finding solutions to tricky problems. Polis takes the heat out of conflicts. We are a non-profit organisation ourselves, but we must cover our costs.
If your organisation’s purpose is to enhance and protect the environment, then we are happy to support you at no cost, on one occasion. At our discretion, we may offer you additional free Polis surveys. Environmental collapse is the biggest challenge facing the planet. We humans have to make very difficult choices if we are to save the planet and ourselves. We believe that Polis could help to save the planet by sourcing the best solutions and finding consensus points. That is why we offer this service for free to organisations whose purpose is to help the planet, anywhere in the world. As a non-profit ourselves, we want to help other non-profits.
We need to cover our overheads, otherwise, we cannot help anyone. Our view is that environmental catastrophe is a real existential threat to all inhabitants of this planet, overriding all other worthy causes. At our discretion, we may choose to offer free or low-cost surveys to charities and community organisations, but in these early days of our organisation, our efforts will go into supporting environmental groups for free. We believe that in order to save the planet we all need to make very difficult trade-offs. We believe that Polis is the perfect tool for navigating such challenging, divisive conversations in a civil and anonymous way. Although we do not ask for payment for our work, we ask that environmental groups recommend us to other environmental groups; that they provide a link to our site from their website; and that they mention us in any media coverage.
Yes. We are registered in the UK as a company limited by guarantee, rather than being limited by share capital. Our company name is Consensus Politics Limited. Details of our company can be located at Companies House in the UK. Given that we are somewhat engaged in politics at an organisational level, we cannot register as a charity in the UK. A company limited by guarantee is the typical legal vehicle for non-profits and social enterprises, like the Crowd Wisdom Project. A company limited by guarantee has members rather than shareholders. Given that we are here to make the world a better place, our service is free for environmental groups and cost-price for community organisations.
The superstars who created Polis gave their genius away – for free – for us all to use. Why did they do this? Answer: to make the world a better place. Cleverly, the creators of Polis copylefted – rather than copyrighted – their code. In simple terms, this means that anyone is free to use Polis, but if any improvements are made, then the modifications must also be made available for the world. The licence governing Polis can be found here. At the Crowd Wisdom Project, we are fully committed to enhancing Polis, in adherence with the licence, to the benefit of humanity. The world needs more people like the creators of Polis at the Computational Democracy Project.
No! The clever, altruistic folk at the non-profit (just as we are) The Computational Democracy Project, spearheaded by Colin Megill, created Polis. We take zero credit for this work. At the Crowd Wisdom Project, we believe that in this polarised world, in which social media companies pour petrol onto disputes to generate likes and dislikes, that the right technology can be a force for good. Polis is a force for good. We believe that Polis requires promotion throughout the world, after being very successfully used in Taiwan.
Polis is a super cool, super clever survey tool, which facilitates an online anonymous conversation, and then uses artificial intelligence to distil often divisive topics into a consensus. Polis works by a person, or an organisation, posing a question, supported by some statements. Users then vote either – agree, disagree, or pass/unsure – on the statements. Once finished, users can then suggest their own statements, for other users to vote on, thereby giving the survey life of its own.
What at first appears to be a standard survey, morphs into an intelligent conversation. At the Crowd Wisdom Project, we have ensured that the users/voters on our Polis surveys are anonymous. Read more about it here.
Data Security & Policy
Polis cleverly produces detailed reports in real-time. We can send you a link to the report at any point. Examples of the reports can be seen in our case studies. At a basic level, you will see the voting for each statement, as well as the number of voters and statements submitted. Polis then creates a line between Consensus and Divisiveness, plotting each statement on this line. Thereafter, Polis displays the statements with the majority viewpoints. After that, Polis then cleverly finds anonymous groups/cohorts within the voters, displaying the groups/cohorts on a graph. You can interpret the results yourselves, or we can provide data scientists to analyse the results for you, though it is unlikely that you will need to take this extra step.
Yes. We specifically do not connect Facebook and Twitter to our Polis surveys because of their poor track record in the political space, as well because of their promotion of division.
Yes. Polis was created by kind, genius technologists in Seattle and famously used in Taiwan to inform government policy, as well as being used all around the world, including by the British Government’s Cabinet Office. Polis is international in deployment and outlook, and so are we at the Crowd Wisdom Project. Any grouping of people on earth can make use of this ground-breaking technology.
We have taken the complex, opensource Polis code and, using our engineers at the wonderful New Redo of Leeds, England, hosted it on our own server. Our server is hosted by AWS at a data centre in the UK. The Polis surveys, which we are hosting are anonymous, so we do not know how users vote. For more information on data privacy, please see our Privacy Notice. For additional information, see the original Polis site for information on their GDPR stance. To ensure that a device is remembered so that a user only votes once, Polis drops a cookie onto the device, as is common with web most applications.
Once a Polis survey is live, during the duration of its existence, voters can suggest statements for others to vote on. Our job as moderators is to only allow appropriate statements to be voted on. Often, voters ask questions, rather than make statements. This is a frequent occurrence, even when we make it clear that additional questions ought not to be asked as statements. Moderation also ensures that bad language and confidential information etc cannot be voted upon. There is skill and time needed to effectively moderate. The more voters, the more statements are usually submitted for moderation. Therefore, the largest surveys are the most time intensive for us. View moderation policy.
We work with you to distil the optimum question to pose. Sometimes a bland question will be recommended, but at other times a more hard-hitting question is needed in order to elicit more votes. We will work with you to create circa 8 statements to commence the conversation. Then, we will provide you with a link to share with your stakeholders. We then moderate the conversation.
First, contact us for a free consultation, to see if we are the right fit for what you need. If you want to work with us, together, we will formulate the right question for your audience. Thereafter, we will formulate the most optimal statements, both in content and in number. We will then distribute the Polis survey link to you, together with recommended wording for your audience, for you to share to your intended audience. Once the Polis survey is live, we then provide a moderation service to ensure that only appropriate statements are voted upon i.e. we do not permit bad language, additional questions, confidential/sensitive information, etc, to be seen by the voters. There is skill and time needed to moderate correctly.
No. The organisers of the Polis can do what they wish with the results. At the Crowd Wisdom Project, our instinct is one of transparency. Therefore, we usually recommend to organisations that the results of the Polis surveys are distributed to the participants, particularly in the case of large surveys. We will not release the results other than to the organisers.
At a basic level, yes. However, even from a modest-sized survey of, say, 100 voters, vast data points are generated. Data scientists might be able to provide a more in-depth analysis of the results, but this is not needed. We can refer you to our recommended data scientist, should you wish.
Only if the organisers of the Polis choose to share the results.
No. Our brains, time, and experience go into setting the right question with the optimum statements. After that, moderation requires our time. At the Crowd Wisdom Project, we blend human intelligence with the best altruistic technology to find solutions to intractable problems and to build consensus.
A Polis survey has a life of its own. Polis cleverly uses machine learning to find the best ideas and to build consensus. We are unaware of a similar system. If there is, please let us know. The Crowd Wisdom Project and the clever folk at The Computational Democracy Project both are run as non-profits because we believe in the power of humans to solve complex solutions. Other survey providers are likely to be driven by the pursuit of profit.
The wonderful coders at New Redo, Leeds, England charge us for hosting and for tweaks to the functionality. Their charges are modest, but they need covering, as does the server hosting. In addition, we have the usual staffing, IT, website and accounting costs.
Probably. We say that because Polis unlocks wisdom which you as an organisation is unlikely to know. If you are open to the best ideas, then Polis is for you. If you are looking for a survey tool to confirm your biases, then Polis is not for you. Only open-minded organisations should deploy Polis.