Consensus in a wiki environment/Measuring Consensus

On this page we will look at various ways of measuring consensus, pitfalls to avoid, and some examples of 'best practice'. Please feel free to contribute to building this resource!

Consensus without majority rule


Parliamentary procedure contrasts with consensus by broad support. In parliamentary procedure, a majority rule determines the outcome, which may lead to stakeholders disappointed if there input is shorted or excluded. Those that operate by broad support feel they can achieve greater consensus than what simple majority rule achieves. To measure consensus without majority rule, the participants attempt to find unanimity, by broad support, among the stakeholders, which does not mean the stakeholders must compromise what is important to them. (Susskind, McKearnan & Thomas-Larmer 1999, p. 5)

Consensus differs from a vote, like a majority rule. In a consensus the viewpoints are significant, but in a vote the individual tally from each person is significant.

How to balance a consensus


Consensus can balance the needs of the majority with the needs of the minority, so it is important to understand everyone's viewpoint.


  1. If a majority of the people have the same viewpoint, then that is one viewpoint in the consensus. If the minority of the people have the same viewpoint, then that is also another viewpoint in the consensus. If there is only a minority viewpoint and majority viewpoint, then there are only two viewpoints among all the stakeholders.
  2. If 4 people share a common view, 2 people share a different common view, and 5 more people share another common view, than 3 viewpoints are said to exist. People who agree, but agree for different reasons, may still have their views counted as separate viewpoints.

Does a new stakeholder represent an existing or new viewpoint?


Measuring consensus involves determining whether or not concerns were relevant and considers whether concerns brought up were reasonably addressed or satisfied by discussion or changes. Sometimes the determined outcome of consensus can also be questioned, questionable or members of the community may question the motives of the person who made the consensus determination, which may lead to further discussion that may result in a different outcome.

Who measures the consensus?


Community participants may sometimes question how consensus was measured, or feel that the motivation of the person who made the determination is questionable, which may lead to further discussion with a different outcome.


  • Susskind, Lawrence; McKearnan, Sarah; Thomas-Larmer, Jennifer (1999), The Consensus Building Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Reaching Agreement, US: SAGE, ISBN 9780761908449