Delegable proxy is a system of considering individual "proxy assignments" and amalgamating them to provide a stronger estimate of a community consensus than is reliable from pure ad-hoc voting.
A proxy assignment is a revocable designation of an individual (the "proxy") as the one, of those available and willing to serve, whom the designator (the "client") most trusts to participate positively in a discussion or decision process, if the client does not participate.
Delegable proxy is not a decision-making system nor is it an election method, though it could be part of either. It does not require voting.
- This was proposed by a user inspired by the idea after conversations with Abd. The description is not highly developed, and was somewhat confusing. A file system was designed whereby users would place a proxy designation file in their user space, that would then be transcluded into a central table. Later work simplified the system, and required no central table, but many tables could exist. Again, though, the key element is the revocable designation of a proxy.
- The proposal was deprecated as "not accepted," but the proposal did not depend on any central acceptance. DP works to efficiently organize any faction that adopts it. Abd has seen benefit from even a single proxy designation.
- Delegable proxy is experimental, and the proposal was explicitly that. It required no adjustment to policy. The use of proxy information, if it became relevant, would be completely up to the closer of a decision. However, a DP system sets up certain other possibilities that could radically transform Wikipeda, and fairly quickly, which may explain why the attempt was made, not to merely deprecate the proposal, but to delete it.
- The nomination there assumes that the proposal requires voting, and that voting would be "proxy voting." No. As designed, delegable proxy assignments do not transfer voting power. Rather, a clumsy explanation talked about an active proxy's opinion "counting for" all the clients trusting that proxy, directly or indirectly.
- Wikipedia does not vote, so this information might be used by a closer to estimate the "representativeness" of community discussion. This would not change the guideline that closes are based on evidence and argument, not votes. However, every experienced Wikipedian knows that many results are based on votes. So DP might have some effect, if enough people who were active participated in the system. It could wave a red flag that the apparently majority -- or even supermajority -- wasn't.
- The MfD discussion was remarkable. A quick unverified count shows 22 users supporting Delete, and 7 favoring Keep (almost entirely Keep as Rejected.). The first close was Keep as Rejected. And, of course, the other side screamed "consensus was ignored." I.e., the vote was not used, rather strength of argument was used. As well, a series of irrelevant and false arguments were raised. There was no sock puppetry, for example. There was an individual who, for personal reasons, changed his account name (It had nothing to do with this proposal). He did not double-vote, and in a delegable proxy system even what he did would have caused zero harm. Wikipedia is insane on the sock puppetry issue. Sock puppets cannot introduce new arguments, giving them additional power, they can only affect, possibly, vote counts. In a contentious discussion, and especially where revert warring is an issue, they can distort process. None of that applied in this case. The user and I made mutual proxy designations, using the system. We were immediately checkusered, to verify that we were not the same person, though anyone who checked editing history would have seen that the allegation was preposterous. (He had actually first contacted me on behalf of a faction opposed to what I was doing. Clever, those puppet masters, eh?)
- There are two common objections on wikis to DP. The first is "we don't vote," which assumes that proxy voting is involved. It's not. Evidence and arguments still apply, with "consensus level" for a result being, now, possibly adjusted, completely at the discretion of whomever is advised by a discussion. That is not a change, just a somewhat expanded possibility.
- The second is "sock master heaven." That shallow, knee-jerk thinking. A puppet master wants to conceal the connection between the master and the puppet. A proxy designation lays it as a possibility for public examination. For no real gain. In a mature DP system, proxies represent a whole point of view, on average. The real function of the proxy is to be able to analyze the representativeness of a discussion. Again, in a mature system, where everyone names a proxy, there is never a reason for a "me too" vote if one's proxy has participated. (And with proxy loops, any member of the loop may participate.)
- At this point the reader may need to know that if a client participates, the proxy no longer "represents" the client in that discussion.
- There are also more complex systems possible, with alternate proxies, but Abd's considered opinion on that is that they are not worth the extra complexity, they dilute the concept of maximal personal representation and the creation of a communications network, which is what DP will do.
- Even more to the point, sophisticated analysis could look at, not only the numbers of clients, but the edit counts, age since registration, or other status of the clients. Analysis is not part of the system, though, obviously, tools could be created if found useful.
There is a voting system called Asset voting that could use DP as a means of more rapidly negotiating results, but, in that voting system, true proxies are created for all those who vote in a secret ballot election, being the candidate they vote for. DP would be used as a system to advise the candidates holding votes (called "electors") as to how to most effectively transfer votes to create an election quota for seats in an assembly. The system is designed to waste no votes.
- Electorama article on Delegable Proxy.
- As a page in a voting systems wiki, this emphasizes voting. Abd does not recommend the use of DP for direct decision-making by vote, absent prior experience. There are too many unresolved issues that will require study and practice. However, Asset Voting can be used to create an Assembly. Delegable proxy can be used in consensus organizations to estimate the representativeness of a discussion. These organizations often have supermajority rules where full consensus is not necessary. Delegable proxy could assist in making better override decisions. What if the sole dissenting vote could be seen as representing half of the membership?
- Rather, DP is suggested by Abd for "Free Associations," which are a type of consensus organization based on the Alcoholics Anonymous model. These organizations do not collect actual power, the power remains in the hands of the members. Delegable proxy can facilitate the formation of broad consensus, by allowing informal representation of *all members* in small-scale discussions. If it is necessary to ratify that, then a formal all-member vote might be held, but if the scale is large enough, an Assembly, elected by Asset Voting, can handle it, closely enough.
Wikipedia is not a Free Association. However, the full Wikipedia community -- or the body of registered users of a wiki -- ould be. However, the Wikipedia community has no independent communications structure allowing that to become a reality.
Nevertheless, a DP system could be built from the ground up, i.e, from proxy designations that represent established communication between two people.