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Meritocracy is governance by merit. Merit is earned by experience or performance. However, mertit is not based on credentialism, but competency based on performance. Meritocracy is part of OSE project's governance. It is worth studying other projects' meritocracy principles to distill best practices.

OSE's elements of meritocracy involve:

  1. Transparency - who has what merit? Systems need to be in place to make skills transparent. Certification or Badges can be used here. Each of these must define specifically what skills are merited - and how those skills/merits are measured. This includes temporality - skills should involve some time of timestamp as extra transparency, because skill sets/capacities change with time as OSE capacity grows. Merit can be verified via Logs including wiki history or recent changes for any page - which are a record of one's activities and contributions. Upon careful study, logs can be used to verify merit, and even to proactively award merit. Other means of transparency are status/badges that arise from participation in discussions.

OSE Context

We favor integrated merit, not shallow merit. Shallow merit is specialization: a person that is good at only one thing. OSE favors generalists. Not point skills, but integrated skill sets - where working well with others (collaboration) is more important than superstar skillsets:

See critique of shallow merit aDo you judge nothing but code, or do you also include other skills, including “plays well with others”, in your reviews of people’s merit? - [1]

So in summary - yes to meritocracy - but not superstar asshole merit, typical in governance by Political Ponerology - but more Super-Cooperator merit.

In Popular Culture

Vox Article

  • Vox on meritocracy - - I think that meritocracy mostly gets invented after the fact. You have significant inequality, and then you get people reimagining how the economy works. They first make the false assumption that individual merit or individual talent and effort is the main factor in production, and it isn’t. Most human economic activities depend far more importantly on the degree of cooperation that people are able to establish between themselves — cooperation within firms, cooperation between firms in a marketplace, and cooperation in a society at large in terms of having standards of trust, reasonable laws, and so on. All those things are far more important in determining economic output than mere merit or merely allocating rewards to merit.

People make this false assumption precisely because the inequality is already there, and they’re looking for a justification. Then, they make the further false assumption that the variation in human merit is tremendous — it’s astonishing that some people are literally a million times smarter than other people. You have to qualify a little bit because whenever you criticize meritocracy, someone will come back and say, “Well, people are unequal, some people are smarter.” I have no problem with that, there are differences among people, and those have to be recognized. But it’s completely false to think that those differences are great enough to explain the kind of variation that we see in the economy.

Nonetheless, all of this rhetoric around meritocracy tends to grow and becomes more convincing precisely as inequality grows. In this respect, I don’t think our meritocracy is all that different from previous aristocracy. The definition of aristocracy is just the rule of the best, and people who have merit are also by definition the best. It’s the same kind of rhetoric. Yes, aristocracy usually relied more on birth, but that’s just a mechanism for identifying the people who are going to be perceived to be the best.

  • Proposal of Vox article - Attacking the trusts and the oligopolies, that’s a very clear avenue to pursue; breaking apart some of the professional guilds that strangle the economy. Health care is an obvious place to look on both ends — on how much we spend on it and how access to it is distributed. We need to provide more public support for child care. Another avenue that’s very clear and very difficult to do is housing — we have a tremendous amount of land, and there isn’t really an excuse for the kind of housing affordability issues that we have.