Deliberative Platform Design: The Case Study of the Online Discussions in Decidim Barcelona

  • Pablo Aragón
  • Andreas Kaltenbrunner
  • Antonio Calleja-López
  • Andrés Pereira
  • Arnau Monterde
  • Xabier E. Barandiaran
  • Vicenç Gómez
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10540)


With the irruption of ICTs and the crisis of political representation, many online platforms have been developed with the aim of improving participatory democratic processes. However, regarding platforms for online petitioning, previous research has not found examples of how to effectively introduce discussions, a crucial feature to promote deliberation. In this study we focus on the case of Decidim Barcelona, the online participatory-democracy platform launched by the City Council of Barcelona in which proposals can be discussed with an interface that combines threaded discussions and comment alignment with the proposal. This innovative approach allows to examine whether neutral, positive or negative comments are more likely to generate discussion cascades. The results reveal that, with this interface, comments marked as negatively aligned with the proposal were more likely to engage users in online discussions and, therefore, helped to promote deliberative decision making.


Human computer interfaces Online deliberation Civic participation Technopolitics Online discussions Discussion threads 



This work is supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness under the María de Maeztu Units of Excellence Programme (MDM-2015-0502).


  1. 1.
    Ackerman, B., Fishkin, J.S.: Deliberation day. J. Polit. Philos. 10(2), 129–152 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Anduiza, E., Gallego, A., Cantijoch, M., San Martin, J.: Online resources, political participation and equality (2008)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Aragón, P., Gómez, V., Kaltenbrunner, A.: To thread or not to thread: the impact of conversation threading on online discussion. In: 11th International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, ICWSM 2017. The AAAI Press (2017)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Aragón, P., Gómez, V., Kaltenbrunner, A.: Visualization tool for collective awareness in a platform of citizen proposals. In: 10th International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, ICWSM 2016. The AAAI Press (2016)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Aragón, P., Gómez, V., Kaltenbrunner, A.: Detecting platform effects in online discussions. Policy Internet (2017, in Press).
  6. 6.
    Brito Vieira, M., Runciman, D.: Representation. Polity, Cambridge (2008)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Castells, M.: Communication Power. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2009)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Crouch, C.: Post-Democracy. Polity, Cambridge (2004)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Della Porta, D.: Can Democracy be Saved?: Participation, Deliberation and Social Movements. Wiley, Hoboken (2013)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Festinger, L.: A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, vol. 2. Stanford University Press, Stanford (1962)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Fuchs, C.: Internet and Society: Social Theory in the Information Age. Routledge, New York (2007)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Gómez, V., Kaltenbrunner, A., López, V.: Statistical analysis of the social network and discussion threads in Slashdot. In: Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on World Wide Web, pp. 645–654. ACM (2008)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Gonzalez-Bailon, S., Kaltenbrunner, A., Banchs, R.E.: The structure of political discussion networks: a model for the analysis of online deliberation. J. Inf. Technol. 25, 230–243 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Hague, B.N., Loader, B.: Digital Democracy: Discourse and Decision Making in the Information Age. Psychology Press, New York (1999)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Hale, S.A., John, P., Margetts, H., Yasseri, T.: Investigating political participation and social information using big data and a natural experiment. arXiv preprint arXiv:1408.3562 (2014)
  16. 16.
    Hale, S.A., Margetts, H., Yasseri, T.: Petition growth and success rates on the UK no. 10 downing street website. In: Proceedings of the 5th Annual ACM Web Science Conference on WebSci 2013, NY, USA, pp. 132–138 (2013).
  17. 17.
    Huang, S.W., Suh, M.M., Hill, B.M., Hsieh, G.: How activists are both born and made: an analysis of users on In: Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 211–220. ACM (2015)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Jungherr, A., Jürgens, P.: The political click: political participation through e-petitions in Germany. Policy Internet 2(4), 131–165 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Keane, J.: The Life and Death of Democracy. Simon and Schuster, New York (2009)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Lindner, R., Riehm, U.: Electronic petitions and institutional modernization. International parliamentary e-petition systems in comparative perspective. JeDEM-eJournal eDemocracy Open Govern. 1(1), 1–11 (2009)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Lindner, R., Riehm, U.: Broadening participation through e-petitions? an empirical study of petitions to the german parliament. Policy Internet 3(1), 1–23 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Margetts, H.Z., John, P., Hale, S.A., Reissfelder, S.: Leadership without leaders? starters and followers in online collective action. Polit. Stud. 63(2), 278–299 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Monterde, A., Calleja-López, A., Pereira de Lucena, A.: Disseny del procés de participació digital del programa d’actuació municipal (PAM) i de districtes (PAD) 2016–2019, p. 93. Ajuntament de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain (2015)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Panagiotopoulos, P., Elliman, T.: Online engagement from the grassroots: reflecting on over a decade of epetitioning experience in Europe and the UK. In: Charalabidis, Y., Koussouris, S. (eds.) Empowering Open and Collaborative Governance, pp. 79–94. Springer, Heidelberg (2012)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Rancière, J., Panagia, D., Bowlby, R.: Ten theses on politics. Theory Event 5(3) (2001)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Rosanvallon, P., Goldhammer, A.: Counter-Democracy: Politics in an Age of Distrust, vol. 7. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Toret, J., Calleja, A., Marín Miró, Ó., Aragón, P., Aguilera, M., Lumbreras, A.: Tecnopolítica: la potencia de las multitudes conectadas. el sistema red 15m, un nuevo paradigma de la política distribuida. IN3 Working Paper Series (2013)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Tormey, S.: The End of Representative Politics. Wiley, Hoboken (2015)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Whyte, A., Renton, A., Macintosh, A.: e-petitioning in Kingston and Bristol. International Teledemocracy Centre, Napier University, Edinburgh, UK (2005)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Yasseri, T., Hale, S.A., Margetts, H.: Modeling the rise in internet-based petitions. arXiv preprint arXiv:1308.0239 (2013)
  31. 31.
    Žižek, S.: The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology. Verso, New York (2000)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pablo Aragón
    • 1
    • 2
  • Andreas Kaltenbrunner
    • 2
  • Antonio Calleja-López
    • 3
  • Andrés Pereira
    • 4
  • Arnau Monterde
    • 3
  • Xabier E. Barandiaran
    • 5
    • 6
  • Vicenç Gómez
    • 1
  1. 1.Universitat Pompeu FabraBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.EurecatTechnology Center of CataloniaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Internet Interdisciplinary InstituteUniversitat Oberta de CatalunyaBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.ALabs.orgMadridSpain
  5. 5.Ajuntament de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  6. 6.School of Social Work, UPV/EHUUniversity of the Basque CountryVitoria-GasteizSpain

Personalised recommendations