Lazy consensus is a method for decision-making according to which proposals within a group may be presumed to pass unless any explicit objections arise. It blends features of do-ocracy and consensus process. The Apache Software Foundation, which holds lazy consensus as a value, summarizes the method as “silence is consent.”

Input: proposal within group, presumption of approval

Output: approval by silence or objection that triggers further deliberation


Lazy consensus is most widely employed among free/open-source software projects.

Feedback loops


  • Empowers participants to take initiative and rewards commitment with authority
  • Lowers cost of governance


  • Privileges voices of participants with more time and attention due to external inequalities
  • Insuffient participation can lead to insufficient decision-making oversight
  • Ambiguity arising from community silence (cf. “Warnock’s dilemma”)




Free/open-source projects that employ lazy consensus often rely on email discussion lists for decision-making. The method helps reduce the traffic on such lists.

Further resources

  • Nowviskie, Bethany. March 10, 2012. “Lazy Consensus.” Based on #code4lib conference keynote.