Design Tip:
Single Proposals Preferred Design Pattern

This product tip is for people who are designing Buy a Feature, Buy a Project, Participatory Budgeting, or other collaborative funding frameworks using Decision Engine.


You’re designing a forum and you have three proposals:

Proposal 1, $40K
Proposal 2, $50K
Proposal 3, $20K

Let’s further stipulate that while each of these proposals are separate, they are related. For example, in a business these might all be marketing proposals. In Participatory Budgeting, these proposals might all be related to public safety or parks and recreation.

Design Questions

(a) Should you keep the proposals separate or should you bundle them into a single proposal? Meaning, should you have one big proposal for $110K that includes Proposals 1, 2 and 3?

We recommend keeping the proposals separate. See the Design Considerations for reasons why.

(b) Should you include BOTH the bundle AND the separate individual proposals in your forum?

We recommend only including individual proposals. See the Design Considerations for reasons why.

Design Considerations (Forces)

Here are some design considerations / forces that we have considered in making our recommendations.

(1) You want to understand the priorities of the group relative to each proposal. This suggests that you want to keep proposals separate because bundling proposals makes it hard to understand individual priorities. Consider, for example, a participant who supports Proposals 1 and 2 but is opposed to Proposal 3. Bundling proposals makes it impossible for a participant to support only those proposals they choose.

(2) The ideal number of proposals for a Decision Engine forum is between 12 and 20. If you have a lot of proposals, you might think that bundling them together is the best approach. Instead, we recommend running a lot of proposals as a tournament. Specifically, let’s say you have 40 proposals. Organize them into two forums: Proposals 1 through 20 and proposals 21 through 40. Take the proposals purchased in round 1 and the proposals funded in round two and feed them into a third forum.

(3) Including the same item multiple times is often confusing for participants and creates opportunities for slight errors in describing the items. It also makes processing results unnecessarily complex because you can’t compare the funding behaviors for the funding of individual proposals and the bundled proposals.

Of course, you may be facing design considerations not listed here that motivate bundling of items. If that is the case try to make these design considerations transparent so that design team understands the tradeoffs.

Please contact us if you have any further questions.