2
  1. Should future democratic political systems effectively use publicly accessible version control systems, such as, (or similar to), git/Github? Legislation, laws, etc., would exist in a public repository with precise details such as:

    • a history of all changes
    • the various members that 'committed' the changes
  2. Should such a repository include a feature to enable members of the public to comment and raise issues online, (i.e. publicly, in a somewhat standardized format, cross referenced to the laws in question), similar to a bug tracking system?

  3. (Optional). Should anyone be allowed to issue pull requests, or just representatives?

  4. If not, why would a legislative VCS be ineffective or undemocratic?

EDIT 2018-11-28

Github has been adopted by the Council of the District of Columbia to not only include their web services, but also an XML version of their law!

Related:

  • 2
    A question asking whether policy should be implemented is almost always going to be opinion based, and I don't see how this one is any different. – Avi Jan 9 '18 at 4:13
  • @Avi could it be altered then to reflect something less opinionated? The core components are: are software methodologies being considered/researched in political fields and is this proposed model democratic – vapurrmaid Jan 9 '18 at 4:18
  • If you speak French you might find this repo and this other repo interesting. The first is an experiment to put the civil code and its evolution in diff format. The other was a short-lived participatory experiment if memory serves. (Or maybe it's still ongoing, I haven't followed it.) – Denis de Bernardy Jan 9 '18 at 8:01
  • 1
    Latvia has all the current national legislation online in a freely accessible portal. It includes previous versions (since the start of online service) as well. The law is that all national and municipal legislation must be online and freely accessible. However, the rest of the points of your question are not done via Internet. – Gnudiff Jan 9 '18 at 21:37
  • 1
    @blip not quite. I'm asking if there should be a publically accessible repository of legislature. Members can raise issues or comments in some manner (like github but more tailored to this domain). I'm trying to discern if members having direct contact with legislature is useful or undemocratic as opposed to contacting representatives/voting for representatives. There would still need to be a role for representatives (voting over a merge for example) – vapurrmaid Jan 10 '18 at 17:53
7

Should future democratic political system effectively use publicly accessible version control (git/Github)? Legislation, laws etc would exist in a public repository with precise details such as:

a history of all changes the various members that 'committed' the changes

This exists in every democratic political system of which I am aware, although not always on the Internet. Usually this is kept in paper books in law libraries. It is called legislative history. Some jurisdictions have commercial services (e.g. Westlaw) that convert this legislative history into an online format for a fee.

Should public members be able to comment and/or raise issues?

All democratic systems of which I am aware allow members of the public to comment on legislative history and raise issues, although generally this is done in different media than those in which legislative history is maintained. Letters to the editor and political advertisements are two of the most common ways to do so, political blogs are another.

Would anyone or representatives issue pull requests? If not, why would this be ineffective or undemocratic?

I have no idea what this means.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Pull requests: With git/github, you take a work (repository) and make a copy of it, and perform changes on your copy. You have the option to bundle some of these changes and issue a "pull request" to the original repository, where the owners may chose to apply those changes to their own copy or discard it. And yes, it makes little sense in a political/legal context; it works for IT because you can (should) have automated tests that make easy to check that the change does not break anything, but those test do not exist for laws... – SJuan76 Jan 9 '18 at 8:56
  • 3
    What @SJuan76 describes actually happens. Lobbyists often write law proposals for politicians which they might then propose to the parliament, with or without changes. – Philipp Jan 9 '18 at 9:50
  • 1
    This doesn't answer the question, (about using GPL free online database style tools that simplify oversight and reduce costs), rather it answer a different stupider question, (something like "are there public records of laws?"). Paywall vendors like Westlaw are not "publicly accessible" in the sense this question addresses, (for context, see also this geeklawblog pricing survey from 2010), since most of the public would need to borrow money to afford Westlaw's prices. – agc Jan 9 '18 at 13:08
  • 2
    It would, of course, be horrible if anybody could change the laws that are binding on everyone in society, at any time, a la Wikipedia. – ohwilleke Jan 10 '18 at 2:08
  • 3
    But as I understand the OP POV, once a "pull request" is accepted, it becomes law (because it would become part of the "official" repository). So, no opportunity to include ammends to the laws during the legislative process. The whole premise really looks like a solution looking for a problem to solve, or the classical "if I have a hammer then everything looks like a nail". Not to mention that the "solution" is using a tool that the OP knows how to use but that the 99.999% of the population has not even heard about it. – SJuan76 Jan 10 '18 at 8:55

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .