DEMOS (Delphi Mediation Online System) is a new online platform and specific method of supporting large scale citizen participation and result oriented public debates on the Internet – on a local, national or international level.
DEMOS stands for Delphi Mediation Online System and integrates three well-proven social research methods, namely the Survey technique, the Delphi approach and the Mediation method. Starting with the classic Survey technique, this method is designed for representative opinion polls and contributes to public opinion formation on a large-scale basis by including (virtually) the entire population. This technique allows to monitor the opinion shaping process and to come to collectively accepted decisions. While the level of interactivity of standardised surveys is rather limited, Delphi polls operate with a higher amount of interactive feedback and can especially be used to systematically exploit expert knowledge. The basic idea is to generate a consensus among a number of domain experts by aggregated feedback. Feedback is supplied by the ‘Delphist’ on a strictly anonymous and statistical basis to exclude direct personal influence among the participants. A Delphi process runs through two (or more) cycles of interview-feedback-interview. After each cycle the experts are asked to rethink their original answers in the light of the statistically aggregated ‘group opinion’ that has emerged in the previous cycle, until a satisfactory level of convergence or (statistical) consensus is reached.
Whereas both Survey and Delphi are quantitative methods, the Mediation technique is a qualitative method used to reveal problems and resolve conflicts. The basic idea of Mediation is that consensus is not a statistical figure but a negotiated compromise. Mediation is a group process chaired by an impartial mediator, and often running through several cycles of open discussion.
DEMOS is developed and based in Berlin and Hamburg, Germany.