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What is Deme?

    deme n. (dm):

    1. A township or division of ancient Attica. In modern Greece: A commune.
    2. Biology. Any undifferentiated aggregate of cells, plastids, or monads. (Applied by Edmond Perrier to the tertiary or higher individual resulting from the aggregate integration of merides or permanent colonies of cells.)
    3. Ecology. A local population of closely related plants or animals; also used as the second element of more precise terms, as in ecodeme, gamodeme, topodeme, etc. Hence demological, adjective.

    (source: Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, 1989). is a host for Deme (pronounced: deem), our web-based platform for online deliberation (formerly referred to as “POD”). Deme is being developed as an asynchronous environment for groups to meet, discuss, and come to decisions via the World-Wide Web. Deme can either be installed on your own server, or accessed via our free prototype hosting service on You can learn more by reading our page of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). is housed at Stanford University as part of a research partnership with the East Palo Alto Community Network (see PIECE). This website and the Deme software are still in alpha stage, and we make no guarantees about its reliability. Deme has been in active use by a few groups around Stanford since early 2004, and we are excited to have people participate in the groups on this site. However, you should be aware that both this software and this server are prototypes for research. They are both intended and being used for real-world application, but bandwidth and storage limitations may force us to impose space quotas or rules about which groups can use it if the current service gets more popular. We hope to turn into a fully-supported, self-sustaining site for users and developers of Deme, but that will take more volunteers and/or funding than we currently have.

Deme is free software, licensed under the AGPL. The latest version is v0.7 (Skeletal). This is the first release of the new line of Deme code, rewritten and redesigned in Ruby on Rails (the previous, PHP version of Deme is available here). The current release is architectural, with only skeletal functionality. However, Deme will eventually support asynchronous interactions that include discussions, document collaboration, polls and decision making among small to medium sized groups of people. Our intent in creating Deme is to support the type of deliberation critical to the functioning of smaller, informal organizations in civil society. Read the Deme white paper (pdf format) for more detail on the priciples behind Deme.

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