Defining Merit?


“How do we define merit?”

This is a question we’ve often asked ourselves and have been asked by others too.

Does the work of the school crossing patrol person [lollipop man/woman] have any less merit than that of the brain surgeon?

They both save lives, they both have a special set of skills and it takes a special kind of dedication to do their respective jobs safely and with re-assurance that they both know what they’re doing.

Thus defining merit across the board for everyone is certainly not easy. There is no ‘one-size fits all’ answer. Rors and a few others on the forum have recently brought this up again, and perhaps it’s time to get down to nailing the basics of this issue.

To that end, I’ve come up with a very basic rough draft that can be edited / amended / expanded etc … by anyone who wishes to pitch in -

As you can see, that’s far from perfect, though it might do just to get the ball rolling …

“Who decides who has merit?”

Another relevant question that comes up time & again is - “Who decides who has merit?” I’ve answered a few times that meritocracy will eradicate nepotism, cronyism and bring in equal opportunity, but perhaps that isn’t enough to satisfy the general public.

Obviously a person’s work colleagues should acknowledge any special merit [ in an ideal world ] - though we can probably only put forward to employers / business leaders / government / education legislators / etc… any system of measuring merit that we come up with; and hope they will adopt it.

I’m sure many human resources depts of business employers will state that they have their own system of recruitment and promotion already and “no thank you very much, we don’t need your help” to the meritocracy movement. It’s getting society as a whole to adopt our basic principles that might be the key to further in-roads in the business world and state/governmental institutions.

Feedback welcome :wink:


I agree it is a subject that doesn’t hurt to define. I think merit can be seen as something whereby the individual has experience or is active in doing work for the ‘common good’ of the goals and policies of The Meritocracy Party. Such as voluntary work that helps underprivileged or homeless. Or being an active member of a union. A company could employ on the basis that the prospective employee has a CV or Resume that reflects values of the Meritocracy Party. Not just having a well read CV, but evidence of their commitment to a Meritocracy policy or ‘work ethics’. A good example could be membership of a Meritocracy Party nominated cause. It is difficult to implement into the existing current system I agree, as businesses will be, like Seán mentioned, be likely to say “No thanks”. You could have a voluntary scheme for employers, asking them to trial the Meritocracy ‘work scheme’ and at the same time they could get to know more about the government they voted in. You could have a ‘Meritocracy Union’ within companies as an idea for who decides who has merit. much like a labour union looks out for workers rights and well being, a Meritocracy Union could help workers work against cronyism and nepotism, and look towards equality in the sexes and races.


What would you intend for that to be used for Sean? Is that in regards to something specific like applying to vote? Or just like a general statement of merit? And is it for the applicant to fill out, or a colleague/s?

I think its great that you have got the ball rolling on this issue, and as you say yourself that is just a rough draft, but if I don’t see much difference between that particular outline and a regular CV. Though I guess the Work-ethic factor that Zach mentions adds another dimension to it.

But yeah, good to get a thread going on this, I know that for many people its not an urgent concern but I think if the aim is to try and win people around to Meritocracy then it would help to have more concrete answers on this issue, otherwise it could be an early deal-breaker for potential supporters.

In developing future suggestions, I think it might be beneficial to group methods of gauging merit under General and Specific, so that we can separate those points that are applicable in all scenarios, and those that relate directly to a skill, profession or knowledge area. That way folks wont get caught up in the whole defining a fish by its ability to climb trees argument.

I’ve got some ideas on how people could have online profiles that could build up merit ‘scores’ based on user feedback, discussion participation, usefulness in forming solutions etc. but this is really specifically related to the online platform & issue-voting idea. I need to think through how it would work further really so will get back to you on that later.


Thanks for the input Zach. The idea of a ‘Meritocracy Union’ sounds good, well worth exploring in greater depth. All these ideas brought together can map a realistic & achievable direction in the future …


Thanks for that Rors. The ‘Merit Assessment - Rough Guide’ wasn’t for voting merit, but meant for employers / institutions who might have adopted our meritocracy ideals as a company policy in the future, though I suppose it could be adapted for all kinds of scenarios. [If we develop it into something comprehensive. That was like a song demo, not a final master] …

I like your ‘merit scores’ idea though, please do bring it to the table when ready. Cheers!


OK so, imagining that there was an online issue-voting platform for citizens to participate democratically, how would such a platform look?

Well, as I’ve already said, it would need to be easily navigatible:

Gov } Take Part } Area (Education, Economy, Health, etc.)

Once we are in the area we have the sub-categories:

Education } National Curriculum / Teaching Methods / School Places / Higher Edcuation / etc.

Which could of course be split further into more sub-categories until we arrive at a specific issue or ‘Problem’. At the ‘Problem’ stage, this is where I imagine the discussion aspect to come in. On this platform, the problem or issue would be highlighted, either by Gov themselves or Citizens.

  • Debate on the problem itself - particularly if put forward by a citizen (who would have to put forward a pretty convincing explanation) - is this actually a problem? Do we need to create a solution?

Assuming the outcome of the debate is ‘Yes’

  • Proposed Solutions. Here the citizens and gov have chance to put forward their draft solutions to the problem, with accompanying explanations. Set out simply as Solution 1, 2, 3 etc.

  • Comments and feedback on solutions - what would work, what wouldn’t? Solutions analysed from various angles - Effectiveness, Practicality, Moral/Ethical considerations (People Principle), Health & Safety, Socio-economic context and potential wider effects etc.

At this stage, ‘Administrators’ and the ‘Research Team’ would supervise debate, ensuring forum rules are adhered to and to make sure the discussion is constructive, ‘facts’ are checked, statistics are put in context etc. (assuming the public don’t beat them to it). Where ideas cross over, synthesizing is encouraged leading to:

  • Refined Solutions.

At this stage we may have disregarded or merged several ideas and we can ask: Can ideas be synthesised further? Can further improvements be made? If the answer is no, then people can vote on their preferred solution. If there is only one remaining solution, then this gets adopted as Government policy.

So, how is this linked to Merit?

On such a platform, every citizen would need to have an active log-in and profile. Much in the way that you need to register to sign a petition. So only national citizens could log in. It would have to be secure, trust in the system would be vital. So to log in you would have to put in passport number, proof of I.D. real name, address etc.

Upon using the platform, individual users could be awarded ‘Merit Points’ for their input. So that could mean:

  • Points for putting forward a viable solution, the better your solution holds up to criticism and analysis, the more points. Extra points if your solution reaches the vote stage, and even more if it is chosen as official policy.

  • Points for effective criticism, e.g. raising an issue with a solution that forces it to change, highlighting an untruth or wrong assumption in a given argument.

  • ‘Angle of Perspective Points’ - Points specific to the angle from which a citizen would tackle a problem - e.g. Someone who as effectively criticised many solutions based on ethical grounds - those points would be awarded specifically to that viewpoint, so said user would build up a high merit score on his/her ability to tackle problems from the standpoint of ethical concerns. This way, said voter couldn’t just go into a forum on Economy and be perceived as an expert or particularly meritorious on that subject matter because his merit-points wouldn’t correlate. Only his ethical arguments would carry that authority.

  • Perhaps in discussions, users would appear anonymous to the general public in their comments, so people wouldn’t know who it was, and maybe their merit data would be invisible also, avoiding any bias in debating and impartial feedback? That way a new user with little or no merit could still be listened to providing the things he/she had to say were useful. Of course the admins would need to be able to see this data and individual’s merit-profiles (maybe as defining whether they have built up enough merit to pass a vote on a given issue.

  • Employment/Experience/Qualifications could also contribute a certain amount of points to ones’ profile originally, so a teacher for example may not have to spend hours in forced contribution to a topic to be able to vote on educational policy.

If you can imagine a profile with a bar or pie chart, colour-coded representing the total merit-points and the breakdown of how and where they have been awarded, giving an indication of general expertise and personal specialism.

You could even add ‘Titles’ to active users such as those given on this website, ‘Problem Solver’, ‘Critical Analyst’, ‘Synthesiser’ - not saying those titles specifically but that kind of thing?


I had an idea of Merit centres. Kind of like a driving theory test centre. Whereby you attend voluntarily and obtain Merit in a particular field, by answering multiple choice questions on a test. Tests will be designed with the obvious skillset choice of the attendee. e.g. computer science. The test is designed to find the character of the the attendee and the style of his/her computer science in line with Meritocracy principles. Questions can be designed to open the attendees willingness for Meritocracy. They can be scored like any exam e.g M1 being excellent and M10 being poor etc. Kind of like aptitude tests for volunteers that can be added to CV’s as a gold star so to speak.


Good input from you both there, Zach & Rors. Perhaps in the meantime, from the perspective of Zach’s idea of a ‘Meritocracy Union’ [even though it doesn’t as yet exist] we could hand out Merit Awards to people who’re highly active off-line as well as on + coming up with solutons, problem solving, promoting meritocracy within democracy, forming parties, standing as candidates etc…

We could think of extending that outside of meritocracy circles as well; to people who might not have heard of us, but are highly active doing good work in their local communities. Giving them an award of recognition might help spread the word beyond our walls to the wider world.

Perhaps a small badge icon they could add to their Facebook page / social media site? Maybe a rosette or a gold star is a little too cheesy, but you get the idea… If things went well, that could grow into paper certificates in the real world, that members could frame & hang on their wall…

This initiative could maybe even help the process of actually forming some kind of union / international association / dedicated group of meritocracy activists. So if that went ahead, it would be starting small as a seed planted for future growth. The beauty of an on-line award [ to begin with ] is zero cost of production, just time input to come up with the best formats and designs.

I’ll leave that as a group decision of course; as to the best course of action later. This is a melting pot of great ideas so far, so we’re not looking for finished ideas as yet. Nobody should worry if an idea seems outlandish at this stage, throw everything in the hat we can collectively think of … Something workable has to come out it :wink:


Great detail Rors, I like it! That looks like a good basic blueprint for building on.

Just wondering what the extra merit points will give a person for attaining them? Things could start to go pear-shaped with the public, if someone else is seen to be getting 2 votes or 3 votes, instead of one. Especially if they can’t see the name behind the points, as outlined in part of the proposed system. Maybe they could receive some kind of ‘outstanding citizens’ award, instead of extra votes, as I can’t see that going down well with the public, no matter how much ‘merit’ or ‘specialist knowledge’ that person has attained.

Also, their merit points could perhaps lead to them having an almost certain place at the debating table when policies are being shaped, alongside experts in the field and government ministers?


I think I may have explained something wrongly there, I’m not suggesting that some people get a certain number of votes and others don’t - the idea was that everyone can have as many votes as there are things to vote on, but obviously they can only cast their vote once on any given issue. No one gets ‘extras’. However, maybe there would be some issues where a certain level of (area-specific) merit points would be required to vote? If it was decided that should be the case for certain issues.

As for parts of profiles being anonymous - maybe this wouldn’t be necessary either - the main thing I was thinking about there was people just judging input by the user rather than the actual content. Obviously Professor Whatshisname is likely to know what he’s talking about but that doesn’t mean Joe Blogs’ side of the argument shouldn’t be taken seriously.

To be honest I don’t think that either the anonymous profiles or restricted voting would be necessary provided that the discussion/solution-making forum had the correct rules, clearly understood, and was set up in such a way that in instances where issues are highlighted with various solutions, they must be overcome before we can move on to choosing or voting between Refined Solutions. It cant be the case that once someone has built up a high merit score, then opinions from people with lower scores disagreeing with them are automatically shunned.

I do think that awards like the ‘Outstanding Citizen’ would be a good idea though, that could perhaps be the kind of title awarded when merit points build up to a high score and across numerous ‘angles of perspective’?

I think the whole point of the system (though admittedly something it may need to gradually work toward - slowly starting off as just Polls and opinons etc like you suggested) would be that the debating table is the forum itself. The experts in the field, government ministers etc would be fully expected to participate, alongside website (governemnt) administrators and research-teams, and the general public. Totally collaborative.