I am attempting to create an online Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) web site/forum. The site/forum aims to assess the costs and benefits of state and local level legislation through crowd sourcing. The goal of the project is to better educate perspective voters on the costs and benefits of upcoming legislation. The initial phase of the project aims to provide voters with a basic, yet easily digestible set of numeric values. These numeric values aim to quantify the costs and benefits of upcoming legislation.
Through crowd sourcing, the hope is that these valuations can occur in a transparent and open manner. If these valuations are erroneous or misleading, members of the community can debate and correct any invalid valuations. Another hope is that through crowd sourcing, these valuations can occur more quickly than traditional RIA’s. This is important, as RIA’s can sometimes take months if not years to complete and are generally only performed on large/far reaching pieces of legislation.
Before continuing further with the development of the RIA site/forum, I was hoping I could pose a few questions to the community. The questions pertain to various design issues with the RIA site/forum that I have not yet been able to solve for. These questions are theoretical and have to do with how the site/forum should operate. I will begin with a question regarding site/forum membership.
Question: Should membership be open to everyone and anyone?
My thoughts on 'yes': With a greater number of members, the knowledge base and speed at which RIA’s can be completed would increase.
My thoughts on 'no': Influence from external parties/non-voters could skew the RIA, resulting in RIA which is beneficial to non-voters. For example, let us say California was voting on legislation to ban meat from non-cattle friendly slaughterhouses. By cattle friendly, I mean cattle which are allowed to openly graze, grass fed, not given hormones, etc. Let us assume that none of the major slaughterhouses in California meet the cattle friendly criteria. Instead, slaughterhouses in another state (e.g., Texas) or another country (e.g., Uruguay) meet the new cattle friendly criteria.
It is possible that people from Texas, Uruguay, etc., could skew the RIA in favor of the legislation. This would ultimately be to the benefit of Texas, Uruguay, etc., both of which do not consist of California voters.
Note: I initially posted this question on the Politics Stack Exchange forum, but the post was closed down, and it was recommended that I instead pose my question to the Community Building forum.