Mon 23 Nov 2015 10:10AM

Shall we create a crowd funding campaign for a Loomio app?

LF Luke Flegg Public Seen by 445

I would really love an app for Loomio.
Push notifications, faster & more reliable.

Would a lump of money make this happen or is it already guaranteed for the near future?


James Kiesel Mon 23 Nov 2015 12:54PM

Sounds like a perfect thing to raise a proposal over, as I'd love to hear other's opinions on it.

I am, at the moment, of the opinion that supporting a native app is one of the worst decisions our organisation could make at this time. Loomio, in the grand scheme of things, is not a mature app. In terms of performance, in terms of feature richness, in terms of UX, in terms of interoperability and ecosystem connectedness, we still have much to do. (I say this with complete love for the amazing humans that are working on the thing, but it is the truth.) Adding another ball in the air is, in my opinion, going to significantly weaken all of the Loomio experiences, and double (treble if you're asking for app for iPhone and Android... which people will) our development & support cost, and slow the forward momentum of new feature development significantly. At this point in our company's development, getting the product to the point where it is a joy to use has to be the primary priority; there's no other way for us to survive.

We can make a web app that is fast and reliable (we are working so hard on it :D). There are even some newer options bubbling around for web app push notifications. (Push API comes to mind: https://developers.google.com/web/updates/2015/03/push-notifications-on-the-open-web)

My other thought is that it's not a question of money in my head. Apps aren't just made out of cash; once we had some resources, we need to do recruitment, which in and of itself is exceptionally costly and risky. Maybe we could attract some great talent and get another team working on the thing that's reliable and amazing and fantastic to work with... but maybe not, and it doesn't strike me that a mercenary approach to the thing would work too well (are we going to pay them more than everyone else? What happens if / when the contract is up, the money's gone, and there's no app?)

So to me it's more a question of energy; is there someone or a team of highly skilled technical talent out there willing to do some work towards this and support the thing even as Loomio 1.0 is changing rapidly? It will have to be a person with really highly sought after skills who shares your strong desire for an app experience and is exceptionally generous with his/her valuable time. Seems like a really tough find, although I'm more than open to it being possible, and I'm happy to support that person / group of people with some time and resources if they exist... but not at the cost of our main product, which really needs all the love we can give it.


Damon Meledones Mon 23 Nov 2015 4:27PM

Our organization has left Loomio because the members insisted they needed a native app. No amount of demonstrating the speed and usability of the web app would convince the majority of the membership that Loomio was better than Facebook Groups, despite Loomio's better suitability to the operation of our organization. Push notifications was a big part of the movement to go back to Facebook Groups. Participation was low on Loomio because people were not getting push notifications the way they do on Facebook. Email notifications were considered a nuisance by many members.


Matthew Bartlett Mon 23 Nov 2015 6:16PM

Wow that's really useful feedback thanks Damon.


Connor Sat 21 Sep 2019 6:14PM

I know it's 4 years later, but this is the struggle with my group as well.


Robert Guthrie Sun 22 Sep 2019 6:33AM

Loomio 2.0 is going to have a mobile app soon, and push notifications will be included.

It's also worth mentioning that you can now see a full break down of "Seen by" and who has opened their notifications. (try Notification History on a context or a proposal)


Z. Blace Sun 22 Sep 2019 6:55AM

OK - but Loomio app just for Android or iOS also?(myself not hugely into it but know people who are)


Robert Guthrie Sun 22 Sep 2019 7:28AM

It will be for both platforms.


Connor Tue 24 Sep 2019 1:51PM

That's awesome to hear! Is it "soon" as in "within a month" or "within the year" or not until next year?

Also, cool tip on how to see who has opened their notifications, except there's no way to know if someone has opened their email. Since thats the only way people get notifications right now, and they'd have no reason to open the web app if they don't want to reply, it would seem that the statistic would be unreliable, no?


Robert Guthrie Tue 24 Sep 2019 7:51PM

I feel confident that it means within 3 months, hopefully 2. The notification will be marked as read if they open the email, so it's fairly good at indicating if someone is aware.


Connor Wed 25 Sep 2019 12:30AM


And what I was getting at was that it's not possible to tell if someone has opened an email. (This is a somewhat by-design privacy feature of email). A clunky email feature called "Read receipts" does exist and can be set up on some clients, but virtually no email clients send them by default. And link tracking only helps if they click a link in the email, so you can't rely on link tracking to tell you if an email has been opened.


Robert Guthrie Wed 25 Sep 2019 12:33AM

Just to be clear,

I'm trying to highlight a feature of Loomio, that will tell you if someone has seen a notification email, because we can track if they're opened with fairly good accuracy.


Connor Wed 25 Sep 2019 2:17AM

Yeah, that was clear, but I just wasn't sure how doing so with "fairly good accuracy" works at all, due to the constraints I mentioned, without the user explicitly enabling privacy-compromising features like image autoload (for "pixel tracking", which is the only mechanism you might use that I can think of).

It sounds like you didn't know either, so I just did some research on pixel tracking. Looks like a few years ago Google changed Gmail to show images by default, which would move the majority of users (since gmail is the most popular client, and most people don't change its settings) back into the "passively trackable" category. So I guess that's the explanation.


Danyl Strype Wed 23 Oct 2019 5:12PM

Email notifications were considered a nuisance by many members.

+1 on that. Receiving and replying to posts by email is helpful for those of us who came of age during the email list era, and know how to user folders and filters effectively in our email clients. For most people, they just get lost in the firehose.


Danyl Strype Wed 23 Oct 2019 5:18PM

One problem with allowing read receipts is that spammers can use them to confirm that addresses they firehose with spam are in use. Jabber mitigates spam by having clients ask users if they want to interact with Address X. That connection request can contain spam content, but you can then block that user with one click. In some clients, like Conversations, you can block the whole domain they're spamming from. Because of this, the Jabber network can and does use read receipts a lot more than they tend to be used in email.


[deactivated account] Mon 23 Nov 2015 5:44PM

Keen as. I was actually just thinking of the need for smartphone apps just over the last couple days too. It would probably influence my team peers to more seriously consider it as a good alternative and then transition off watsapp and Facebook to use Loomio to organise communications.


Matthew Bartlett Mon 23 Nov 2015 6:36PM

@jameskiesel could Loomio send notifications to Facebook?


Benjamin Knight Mon 23 Nov 2015 8:11PM

Thanks for starting this conversation @lukeflegg! This has been on my mind a lot recently too, spurred by reading about strategies for scaling and distribution of other similarly-positioned digital tools. I agree with @jameskiesel that practical constraints mean it would be a mistake for us to rush into app development within the next few months (outside of the dream scenario of a committed talented person(s) appearing and offering to jump into it).

At the same time, in the longer term I'm convinced that releasing Loomio in mobile app form is totally critical to scaling the positive impact it can have in the world. No matter how good our browser-based experience, if we don't push mobile app distribution, Loomio will only ever serve a particular demographic - i.e. people who are privileged enough to afford laptops/desktops. For so many people, particularly folk living in developing countries and people below the age of 20, the primary mode of accessing the internet is through buttons on the home screen of a mobile device. And this is only increasing. For me it's a question of timing and logistics, and I'm very keen to jump into research mode, and think carefully about whether we can fit this into our 12-month roadmap. I think there are a bunch of different ways we could go about this, so getting good information and talking to other folk who have been here before seems like the most valuable thing we can do right now.

I really appreciate this prompt, and @williamasiata and @damonmeledones 's feedback is invaluable. Thanks!


Matthew Bartlett Mon 23 Nov 2015 10:25PM

Is there research we can read about use of mobile apps versus web apps in developing countries?


[deactivated account] Tue 24 Nov 2015 2:37AM

I'm a total noob at all things software development in general but couldn't you just create API capability for each of group management functions, personal profile, thread editing, commenting, proposals and voting. Then bootstrap it all into a single phone app.


Genevieve Parkes Tue 24 Nov 2015 11:10AM

I found this article about Indian company Flipkart published earlier this month in the New York times a interesting perspective on the value of native apps in developing countries.

Native apps use more data and so can be less convenient in areas with lower connectivity.

I'd be interested in exploring how Loomio can also gain some of the benefits - push notifications etc - without the costs of building a mobile app.


Luke Flegg Tue 24 Nov 2015 11:11AM

I love the steady & considered integrity with which Loomio develops.
I also wonder if the already pretty huge amount of people like myself, who are restlessly excited about Loomio could do anything to support the project, because we're here and we're keen! Whether that's doing a big search for developers (under some framework of guidance probably!) raising funds (sounds like perhaps not?) or anything else (I don't know! Somehow trying to remove/reduce some of the obstacles/unwanted pressures or distractions in the lives of those leading the development, whose time is evidently so precious in this project!)


Greg Cassel Tue 24 Nov 2015 4:37PM

I'm wondering if people perceive any compelling reasons to have a mobile app other than push notifications. This intrigues me because of the link James posted before. ( As of Chrome version 42, the Push API and Notification API are available to developers.. )


Richard D. Bartlett Tue 24 Nov 2015 8:14PM

Wow that is so lovely @lukeflegg <3

To me the answer is not 'more resources', its 'more stigmergy'.

In my opinion, the challenge of developing a great UX that people love and making it economically sustainable is primarily a question of nurturing a great team. A great team can't help but produce valuable stuff.

Having worked with Loomio since the early days, I can say that the happiness and productivity of the team is directly proportional to the amount of focus we have. I'm always campaigning for us to do one thing well, and avoid everything else if we possibly can.

I'm going to keep advocating for my team to stay relentlessly focussed on one thing, even though that means saying 'no' to a lot of exciting enticing massively impactful opportunities.

At the same time, I don't feel like I own online decision-making, and I don't feel like I own this software: we made it open source because we reckon it can have it's greatest positive social impact if it is held in the commons.

I'm sure a dozen other teams could focus on a dozen other facets of this online decision-making challenge. Some of those teams might make a mobile app. And some of them will play nicely with loomio.org.

Our job, as the first stewards of Loomio, is to build the architecture in a way that eventually makes it possible for other people to contribute without asking for permission.

Thankfully, this is already happening, see for instance @nolandarilek's incredible work to port Loomio to Sandstorm: an easy way for people to securely host their own version of the software. Nolan didn't have to ask, they just got started. The first I heard of it was, "hey I'm doing this thing, do you want to help?" (Swoon!)

So now there is this whole new huge chunk of value in the Loomio ecosystem, and it cost our team almost zero expenditure of energy or distraction of focus. To me that is the web working at its best!

Luke, I'm not sure of the best way you can support Loomio. Asking these questions in such a thoughtful and considerate way feels like a pretty good start to me :)


Alanna Irving Wed 25 Nov 2015 4:02AM

This is a great discussion. I totally see the attraction of a native app, but I agree with the need for the core team to stay focused on the web app right now.

Leaving push notifications aside for right now (even though I know they are really important), I wonder if one cheap, easy, and helpful step would be to create a button in the app that just adds a shortcut to Loomio (via mobile browser) to your phone's homescreen. That's what I have - it has the Loomio icon and everything so it looks pretty much like the buttons for all my other apps, and when I click it and Loomio opens, the basic experience is very much like a native app. For a bunch of users, I think making this option easy would help them feel like Loomio on mobile is actually pretty OK. I use Loomio on my phone constantly and for me it works really well.


Richard D. Bartlett Wed 25 Nov 2015 4:08AM

Making it easy to add Loomio to your phone's homescreen is probably a very cheap and very useful improvement. Here's how to do it on Android.


Aaron Thornton Wed 25 Nov 2015 8:56AM

Adding app icon to iOS is quite easy too, although having to log in every time to open it means you need a very simple password


James Kiesel Thu 26 Nov 2015 12:03AM

I should mention that another potentially easy win in this direction is a Twilio integration which allows us to send text messages to your phone with a link to the appropriate place to go. Is it a push notification? No. But actually it kinda is. :)


James Kiesel Fri 11 Dec 2015 1:22AM

Just stumbled across this today: app centricity is primarily a US (and to a lesser extent AUS) phenomenon - most of the rest of the world is still really heavily web dependent. Would be interesting to see this info over time to see how it's growing (like, for example, is Europe becoming more app-centric over time?)


Greg Cassel Fri 11 Dec 2015 1:28AM

I readily believe that graphic @jameskiesel but would you happen to know the source?


Danyl Strype Wed 23 Oct 2019 5:20PM

Maybe not the most appropriate place to chuck my mobile-app-related 5 cents in, but can we make sure the Loomio app for Android gets packaged for F-Droid?


Robert Guthrie Thu 24 Oct 2019 11:11PM

Maybe not though. The focus will be on PWA for Android.

iOS will get an app, but I wonder if we'll need it on Google play actually.


Danyl Strype Mon 28 Oct 2019 4:32AM

Fair enough. I think browser apps are more likely to be used than native apps, which is why so much software migrated to the web in the early 2000s. If there's no Loomio apps in the Goggle Prey Store, I'm not going to insist on seeing it in F-Droid ;)

FWIW the downside of a native app on iOS is that AFAIK Apple don't allow copyleft licensed software in their app store, forcing you to put the source code for that app - and potentially for a bunch of core Loomio code - under a pushover license instead of (A)GPL. Maybe better to look at a more nativish web app on iOS too?


Lisandro Gaertner Thu 7 Nov 2019 11:54AM

I would much more prefer a responsive website.


Robert Guthrie Thu 7 Nov 2019 5:58PM

Glad you said so! Are you on Loomio 2? It's responsible, mobile ready web app. It's what we're going to use as the basis of our app distributions.


Lisandro Gaertner Thu 7 Nov 2019 7:52PM

Not yet. I will try it now.


Luke Flegg Fri 13 Mar 2020 2:44PM

What's the latest re: getting push notifications on Loomio?

I've so nearly got several groups to try Loomio (and a couple which did try it) but always is the lack of push notifications that keeps them moving over to Slack or MatterMost. Or even worse, some single thread group chat in an instant messaging app.

In my experience, a lack of push notifications simply makes Loomio disappear under the noise of daily life, for many of the groups I am out have been working in. Of course with push notifications it's possible to have the choice of turning them off, if desired.


Matthew Cropp Fri 13 Mar 2020 7:19PM

Actually just had this same conversation with a co-op committee that uses Loomio, but has been having some trouble with consistent engagement with it, and the lack of push notifications were identified as a major barrier.


david rayner Sat 14 Mar 2020 12:38AM

that is what slack integration is for? to keep the doohickey device users happy?


Luke Flegg Sat 14 Mar 2020 1:06AM

Hey David :) I've never heard the word doohickey in my 34 year life but happy to be told what it means!
Sure, can integrate Slack through an API, but man...I don't know if you have experience of getting normal / diverse groups (including non-techie people) to change to a new tool? It's difficult mate. Without having to connect it via an API to a 2nd app! what about all the people who don't use Slack? Or only want to use Slack?

We just need 1 tool. I deeply feel that's what so much of the world is crying out for.

1 tool that does all the things we need around group decision making in decentralised organisations. That's why there's a time poll feature + a partipation feature. I don't want to rely on everyone also installing Slack.

(thanks though : )


Connor Sat 14 Mar 2020 4:50AM

Exactly this - we actually did the very thing you said was worst, using a Messenger group chat for everything. Rudimentary polls are built in, fortunately, and push notifications for everyone (which is sooo much better than email), and our engagement is way better since switching from Loomio.

But... I'd rather a libre solution. Slack obviously is therefore not an option. And I agree, one tool for everything would really be ideal because it's hard enough to get everyone to do that - especially in an organization like mine where no one gets paid...


david rayner Sat 14 Mar 2020 11:09AM

certainly luke...

doohickey(gadget,dingus,thinga me bob😎) device is my passive/aggressive way of denigrating modern phones clutched in hot little hands expecting an effortless Push...while actively checking another site.

i really must put more detail in my sentences.

the slack integration i was referring to was the slack integration that loomio has built in. did u know of that?

but,yes...getting people to engage constructively is a challenge.(yes,i do have experience...)

i can see the hard place that loomio is up against in terms of what people expect.