Tue 3 Mar 2020 11:26PM

How to use Loomio to co-create a document?

M martin ➬ Public Seen by 92

Kia ora community,

I am in charge of the process of setting up a representative body in an organisation of volunteers. The first step will be to draft the "governance" of this body, i.e. how it's formed, how it convenes, reports, how its members get renumerated etc..

I'd like to use Loomio and invite others to join me, rather than coming up with a draft behind closed doors, and then putting that up for discussion. And now I am wondering what the best approach for this might be. Have you done this before?

I could obviously just put the link to an Etherpad onto a thread and see what comes of it, but that feels wrong, and the discussion will likely go all over the place, and be not at all useful.

The other idea I've had was to also use a pad, but to isolate the various decision points, and create threads for each one of those, e.g. creating a thread about "term length" and using a poll for that, and creating a thread about "renumeration", and one for "reporting requirements" etc.. This would help keep discussions on-topic and hopefully allow everyone to work on this with more focus. It also sounds like a lot of work.

If you have done something like this before, I'd appreciate if you shared your insights, and maybe concrete recommendations.

Ngā mihi nui,


Colin Fletcher Fri 6 Mar 2020 7:28PM

There's a little blurb on "Taking a document to completion" in a thread here:


When you need to collaborate to prepare a document, video, or other content, start one discussion thread and link or attach the key artifact in the context. Large, complicated documents with multiple decisions or reviewers may require several threads; each thread might be a chapter or article. ¹

I'm a fairly new loomio user, but based to my experience so far I would more or less agree with the advice.

My inclination would be to use the context to contain the text of the document, rather than a link to it, though, as it keeps the discussion all in one place. My own group has done some collaborating with linked Google docs, which has its own system for commenting and discussion. That makes it tempting to use those for comments instead of tabbing back to the loomio thread, and very quickly the conversation gets spread around in a difficult-to-follow way.

The one-level-indentation of replies in conversations is great for having multiple conversations going within each thread, and is a good halfway measure to reduce complexity if you don't quite feel the need to split the document among multiple threads yet. "Pinning" these conversations into the context-bar on the right can help navigation around the thread if they get long and/or important.

I would suggest that you play with proposed language in the comments, and move it up into the document once there's agreement around it, perhaps after having used a proposal.

How you use the polls and proposals should depend on the engagement of your group, imho. If you have an active group, where everyone is checking in multiple times per day, I would use them liberally. A lot of the power of loomio comes from their effective use, and when applied skillfully, they can make collaboration fun and visual.

If you are trying to coordinate a group of people that can't check in more than once in a while, I would use proposals less frequently, perhaps only for things like decisions on final wording. A poll or proposal that is stuck for multiple days waiting for half the people to check in can be a real momentum killer, as further conversations often depend on the results.

It's helpful sometimes to check the room for casual agreement, but it seems like overkill to engage the formal proposal structure. We've happened upon using 'reactions' as a way of accomplishing this. It started out informally, but we wound up settling on a small subset of emoji to indicate different levels of support. Recognizing this has kept our recent subthreads clean of "+1" and "That sounds good" type responses, while still keeping the meaning.

That's all I can think of, but my group is relatively new. I'd love to hear how it goes for you, if these suggestions wind up being helpful, or if you discover other great ways to use the tool to build a document with other people.


Midi Berry Fri 6 Mar 2020 7:32PM

This is very useful, Colin, and affirms some of our experience in Gene Keys. Thanks for sharing and thank you too, Martin, for asking the question! 👋


Danyl Strype Thu 12 Mar 2020 11:57AM

@Colin Fletcher gives some good advice. My experience with drafting documents in the kiwi Pirate Party Loomio group led me to similar conclusions. The only other precedent I can think of was the NZGOAL-SE drafting process, where we used a Loomio group for discussion, and a GH repo for the work-in-progress text: https://github.com/camfindlay/nzgoal-se

There was a discussions a few years back about integration between Loomio and Etherpad or CryptPad, so that the current text of a pad appears in the Context Box, and the pad is editable only by members of the Loomio group. I still think this would be a great feature. That thread is here:



martin ➬ Fri 19 Jun 2020 3:34AM

Hey folks, I am sorry for the long silence. Your input was really appreciated at the time, and I've only just started to get back into it.

Did you know that you can just put an Etherpad into any context or comment, using Markdown mode?
1. When you edit the context, click on the M↓ icon at the bottom:


  1. You are now in "Markdown" editing mode. Here, you paste the following snippet, but replace "REPLACEME" with some appropriate unique identifier (but not easy to guess). Also, make sure it ends in "-keep":

    <iframe name="embed_readwrite" src="https://pad.riseup.net/p/REPLACEME-keep?showControls=true&showChat=false&showLineNumbers=true&useMonospaceFont=false" width="100%" height="600" frameborder="1"></iframe>

    Note that you can also access the link directly, so beware to not pass it around too much, but you might prefer to start editing in a bigger window at first; changes will be synchronised live.

Here is an example of what that will look like:

Feel free to play around a bit, and if you want, you can also open the pad directly.