The Internet world used us to everything being "free" (as in a "free beer" - not as in "free speech"). However, every activity has a cost. In the case of an online service, this cost is that of the platfom hosting, the wages of the administrators that maintain it in operation, and of the developpers that make the software to evolve.
"Free" online services are paid for by an advertising business model. This model has two major drawbacks when it is meant to ensure democracy:

  • first, the users are not the customers any more. They are the goods being sold, and sold to the true customers who are the companies purchasing advertising space
  • worse still, these advertising companies concentrate in their hands the economic power of life or death over the platform. They can decide to kill it if the proposals that are being elaborated on it are detrimental to their interests.

Democracy on the opposite is a regime of distributed power. This also is valid for the power of economic life or death over the platform. From this point of view, the fact of asking a small, but uniform contribution from all users is the most efficient and fair means to ensure that this power of economic life or death is distributed among all.
This model is the one used by online media and services that are weary of their independence towards the pressure of economic powers, such as Médiapart in France or die Tageszeitung in Germany.

The democratic character of a decision fully relies on the quality of its processes. A decision can be qualified as democratic or not, according to whether its processes earnestly and fairly took into account the wishes and interests of all. The content of the decision plays no role whatsoever in this judgement. A benevolent and honest dictatorship or bureaucracy can very well take high-quality decisions for the common good, and democracies disastrous ones.
The greatest danger a democracy is confronted with is the attempt by a minority to take over the power, the concentration of power in a small number of hands, generally from within the structure itself, and often at the higher levels of responsibility. The processes of a democracy must therefore protect it against this specific form of malevolence, anticipate all possible forms of attack and prevent them. For example, transparent ballot boxes make sure that they were not filled before the start of the election. These procedures must be considered as a security system, like a chain of which all links are coherent with one another, and whose total strength is that of the weakest link.
The online democracy software KuneAgi is in the same situation. Its design must prevent the largest possible number of actions through which some would concentrate power in their hands, with the specific feature that this malevolence can be performed by participants in the platform themselves, and even by the system administrators. This is why is was designed as an integrated, coherent and closed system. This is the price to pay for it to deter enough the bulk of potential malevolence - even if absolute security does not exist, and no system can be considered as absolutely water-tight. By achieving this, participants are freed from the worry of attempting to circumvent the rules, and can dedicate themselves bona fide to the substantial reflection on action proposals, within the framework of fair and accepted rules.

The custom in free software development is rather to code fast, code early, and to correct errors and bugs incrementally.

The reason why the software development started with a specification, before any form of coding, is that a software like KuneAgi touches very strong and sensitive power issues. Once set up in an organisation, an incomplete version of KuneAgi, which would leave open the possibility of a confiscation of power by a small clique, cannot be modified any more, as would be the case in the incremental development process that became classical in free development software. Not for technical reasons, but because those who have been able to exploit the weaknesses of a preliminary version will refuse to see it evolve in a direction that would deprive them from their (illegitimate) power. This is why, contrary to the usual free software development process, it is very important that, starting with the version 1.0 of the software, the essential elements of the democratic functioning, and that are described in the specification, be in place.

This is also why the development takes place outside from any existing organisation, using a public subscription mode.

Isn't proprietary software more reliable and more feature-rich?

The reliability of free software compares very favourably with that of proprietary software, as it is demonstrated by their extensive usage in the Internet infrastructure (a domain where reliability is a key feature). In addition, the number of code readers and testing volunteers assures an early and exhaustive bug detection and correction.

The key point lies elsewhere. When a software claims to assure democracy in a group of users, it is absolutely necessary that the source code be open and accessible to all. Indeed, it is the only way to assure that the software will indeed perform what it claims to, and that it does not contain exceptions, hidden traps and loopholes through which malevolent people would modify its behaviour (by manipulating ballots, destroying work, dissolving working groups, retaining information transmission ... the imagination of power confiscators is infinite).

It is therefore because their source code is open that we chose to use free software.

In addition, relying upon a free software is a means to re-use a considerable validated code base, legally.

Document indexing is necessary to automatically alert a participant of the appearing of a new Document in his/her Fields of Interest. In this way, the participant may request to participate in the corresponding Working Group, with no loss of time.

Similarly, Document indexing allows to regroup Documents by themes, in order to identify those that treat analogous issues, and that therefore potentially present rival solutions: the participants may therefore allocate their Support Token in full knowledge of all available alternatives.