Blocked proposals

BB Brent Bartlett Public Seen by 96

Brent Bartlett Wed 12 Sep 2012 11:31PM

Two-part question:

1) Should we allow proposals to be blocked?
2) If yes, how do we handle the blocks?


Poll Created Wed 12 Sep 2012 11:47PM

Should we allow proposals to be blocked? Closed Thu 13 Sep 2012 9:16AM


Results Option % of points Voters
Agree 80.0% 4 JR F A T
Abstain 20.0% 1 BB
Disagree 0.0% 0  
Block 0.0% 0  

5 of 100 people have voted (5%)


Thu 13 Sep 2012 2:23AM

Well, we shall let people to place a block vote.


Thu 13 Sep 2012 2:23AM

Well, we should let people to place a block vote.


Thu 13 Sep 2012 2:26AM

A block vote is not a decree. I think it is an expression. Blocks should be an invitation to more discussion. Let people talk and decide what is really going on with a block as a block comes up. If people want to ignore a block, I guess they can. :)


Brent Bartlett
Thu 13 Sep 2012 5:48AM

I'm okay as long as blocks are not used as vetos.


Jason Robinson
Thu 13 Sep 2012 8:00AM

Loom.io ate my vote dammit, wrote a long text :( Anyway, agree if it is not used as a veto.


Thu 13 Sep 2012 8:19AM

Of course we should. If a problem with that appears, we will solve it a this time, but right now, why shouldn't we accept block vote ?


Poll Created Thu 13 Sep 2012 5:49PM

We agree that a block is not considered a veto. Closed Sun 16 Sep 2012 7:45AM

This proposal is just to give air to some things people said in the previous proposal. Let's just be explicit about it?

How about this:

In our community, when a block is used it is not considered a veto. Anyone should feel free to use a block, but also prepared to explain oneself for making one.

Making blocks solely to thwart discussion from moving forward is not appreciated, so please be judicious if you decide to use a block.

Blocks are intended to encourage further discussion, to spend more time examining arguments, or to invite persuasion.


Results Option % of points Voters
Agree 55.6% 5 ST JR BB T DY
Abstain 33.3% 3 FS JH SH
Disagree 11.1% 1 F
Block 0.0% 0  

9 of 99 people have voted (9%)


Thu 13 Sep 2012 5:50PM

Let's just be explicit what a block means?


Thu 13 Sep 2012 5:54PM

For me, block is a veto. It is really explicit.


Sean Tilley
Thu 13 Sep 2012 6:23PM

I think considering a block as a non-veto is doable, and actually is much less disruptive than actually using it to veto a proposal.


Dave Yingling
Fri 14 Sep 2012 6:50PM

This makes things more workable. A block as a red flag that should be addressed, but not totally stop a proposal.


tortoise Wed 12 Sep 2012 11:54PM

Well, I think we should allow blocks, and we should at the least have a civil discussion with the blocker what is at issue.

I am not sure about the software, but can the cutoff date be extended for the proposal once it has been set? If so perhaps we extend the proposal for further discussion.

I find it odd that something so sweeping is given one day to be decided. I mean what does it mean if not all members vote? Does that mean that anything put up for a vote is in stone?

I agree that the block vote can be abused, but I think it warrants that we have a vote that reflects how strongly a person might feel about something, especially that is moving forward too expediently, and it should be in the record that this has happened. It may be that a person is not adverse to the proposal but to the people deciding it and to the time given it for discussion. That to me can be construed as gaming the system. Is that what we want to set as a precedent here?

In any case, if a person ends up just blocking to block, then that will in time be reflected in the record, and we will all live with that, and perhaps we can trust people to deal with that accordingly.

By the same token, having votes rushed through and setting down tracks for rules before a decent representation of the community is here doesn't seem to be a good practice.

Which goes back to what I've been asking. What is community here? if it is just what community was before the D devs decided to give this to the community, that is only community coders, not users and not podmins, then why not say that clearly?

If it is open to everyone (even me!), then why not discuss what we envision this community to be? I think the software has been in use long enough to allow us to discuss that.

I think many people are watching and want to know this before they get involved. I don't blame them. And because I know they are out there, I'm pressing my arguments.

I don't mean any disrespect to anyone, and I hope that that is understood. I know that we are all here because we want to see this network thrive, which is in reality the people, that is the community that uses it.


Florian Staudacher Wed 12 Sep 2012 11:54PM

I think blocking has to be for a reason, and if it occurrs, it depends on the current mayority of votes in which direction it should go.

Ideally we'd have only good ideas, and people who block the proposals have some serious specific issue with that idea. If the rest of the votes is for the proposal, we should try and resolve that issue (possibly by reaching a middle ground everyone can live with) - the blocker can still vote 'no' but at least the block should be resolved.

On the other hand, if the idea it met with repeated disapproval or blocks, it is obvious the proposal is in some way flawed and should probably be reconsidered.


Sean Tilley Thu 13 Sep 2012 12:09AM

I dunno, if someone really wants to see a proposal fail for some reason, what's to stop them from blocking a proposal repeatedly?

Another thought: is voting no on a proposal and stating reasons as to why you don't like it somehow not enough that a proposal needs to be blocked?


Brent Bartlett Thu 13 Sep 2012 12:13AM

Sean: Yes, that's the potential for abuse that I'm worried about. I have heard about that very thing happening in other organizations. Instead of a tyranny of the majority, you have a tyranny of the minority. A small group can hold disproportionate power by simply refusing to compromise and repeatedly blocking.


Dave Yingling Thu 13 Sep 2012 1:58AM

In the loomio video it mentions the drawbacks of having members who hold more sway in face-to-face decisions just because they attend more meetings or have the loudest voice. To me, blocking is like shouting at a meeting. There might be times where it is appropriate, but those are rare. It would need to be a "STOP, THIS WILL BREAK EVERYTHING!" type of event. Not an "I really disagree with this proposal" event. Democracy is a funny thing. Getting more votes doesn't necessarily make it the right or best decision. But it does make it the community's decision. And at least in our first steps, I think that a plain majority decision is a method I could live with. Do we really need that emergency brake that anyone can pull? A convincing argument is far more effective than a single mouse click.


tortoise Thu 13 Sep 2012 2:20AM

@Sean, @Brent, @Dave: I think there are many ways that the system can be abused. I think a block is to say what it says in the hover, and I took it to mean what it said: "I have strong objections to this motion and I'm not OK with it going ahead." Whether someone wants to start a group or not on Loom is very controlling. I think it borders on censorship. And the issue was only given a day to decide upon it. That seems that could be abusive too.

For me Block is expression. Not a dictator's degree. I think it is useful to know if someone doesn't like how something is building up the voting process. I think a block should invite discussion. But I also am agreed that endless blocks are not productive. But does that mean we forbid them? Just because we are afraid of something in the future that hasn't happened?

I mean what did the Loom devs mean to have a block vote in the first place? I think having an emergency brake that anyone can pull helps a minority be heard if they feel they aren't being heard. It allows an opportunity for that.

I think we all will know if someone is abusing blocks. But then that will be left to remain displayed for the record and people can decide how much to pay heed to a well intentioned or bad intentioned block.

Is it really foul to use a block? I certainly didn't intend it that way. I just meant to express how I felt about the proposal going forward. I know that whatever people decide will go beyond the pie chart. I didn't think it was so definitive.

Also I thought we were evaluating the tool? I think this is all a good exercise.


Sean Tilley Thu 13 Sep 2012 2:26AM

Well, if we allow blocking, how much power should it be given? Should it stop a proposal dead in its tracks, or should the countdown to the proposal be paused somehow for a deliberation? Is it intended as a strong way of saying no, speaking your case, and then leaving those in an opposite position to consider?

The Loom designers made these tools to be flexible. Different projects come up with their own interpretations, guidelines, and policies. Deciding on a good decision-making process is important, so that a community may better achieve consensus.


tortoise Thu 13 Sep 2012 2:44AM

I don't think a block should stop a proposal in its tracks. I stated that it should invite further discussion, however and people might try to persuade the person to change a block to another vote, just like you did with Jason.

I certainly think anyone who uses a block should be prepared to say why. I think it is an invitation for the blocker to be persuaded as to why the vote should proceed.

I don't think it must prohibit a vote from moving forward, but at the same time it shouldn't be blatantly ignored. Heck there are a lot of people who aren't voting and their votes are being ignored. What about that? So does a block really make much of a difference? If people are going to ignore a block without discussing it, that says a lot to the process here. If they at least discuss it, then I think that that is the purpose of a block to allow for more discussion. I think that that is a good thing.

Is the red hand really so scary?


Dave Yingling Thu 13 Sep 2012 3:20AM

If we count a block vote per the expanded text "I have strong objections and am not OK with it going forward" that seems to be more of a strong disagree than an outright veto, then I am fine with that. It encourages discussion (why are they waving that red flag?) but does not stop the process dead.

5 yes + 3 no + 1 block is still approved.


tortoise Thu 13 Sep 2012 5:41AM

@Dave: In spirit I agree, but I think just like the Supreme Court Justice, a minority voice can be registered in a block vote, and the way that others respond to a block vote can say a lot in the record when people go back into the archive. I think that is helpful for the memory of the community.

What you say about "5 yes + 3 no + 1 block is still approved," may be so, but when people (in the future) examine the process of deliberation in the discussion (as a historical record) and see that no one addressed a block (i.e. attempted to address the concerns that the blocker raised), or the blocker did not articulate why the block was foisted (i.e. was acting trollish and being obstructive for no good reason), then it's clearly seen in the record that the discussion was being bypassed (on either side) and that does say something about the "quality" of the approval and/or the "quality" of the block. If people really care about the quality of the decision as it is recorded for posterity, then it means we continue to deliberate or move on as the case may be. Does that seem fair?


Jason Robinson Thu 13 Sep 2012 7:59AM

So it's kind of just to get more attention to your vote by showing it red. Majority still wins.


Jason Robinson Thu 13 Sep 2012 8:26AM

Btw please make proposals concrete. They should clearly say what changes or happens if one votes on it. Questions are not good proposals :)


Sean Tilley Thu 13 Sep 2012 4:53PM

I agree with Jason. I think proposals should be detailed enough so that they don't just give a suggestion of what to do, but an explanation of why to do it, and an idea of how to do it.


tortoise Thu 13 Sep 2012 5:42PM

@Jason & Sean: Well, let's think about it? I mean sometimes a proposal may just focus as a finger to the wind. Sometimes a person can identify what's at issue, but it would be impossible to know what the solution would be. For example, since we seem to be OK about allowing proposals to be blocked, then we can discuss more formally what is an amenable convention for handling blocks, so that no one gets hurt! :)

(Blocks can be made good humor. They could be floating a red balloon. :) They don't have to be obnoxious. )

So it seems to follow that someone might create a new proposal about what might be a non-contentious way to deal with a block (on both sides)? I did notice that it is possible to create more than one proposal per discussion.


Jonne Haß Thu 13 Sep 2012 5:44PM

If you see an issue but no solution start a discussion, no proposal.


tortoise Thu 13 Sep 2012 6:12PM

@Flaburgen: Is there a reason you think you would ever need a veto? I mean would you want to completely stop something if so many people share consensus? I think it would only create bad feeling if people ever use a block then. And it would invite trollish behavior, not discussion.

Why does a block have to be a nuclear launch button?


goob Thu 13 Sep 2012 7:19PM

If we're going to have a 'block' for 'I'm really against this', shouldn't we have an equivalent on the positive side? So either yes/abstain/no or force/yes/abstain/no/block. Otherwise it's unbalanced.

I'd say remove the 'block' feature and just have yes/abstain/no - people can express the strength of their feelings in comments. If a 'block' carries more weight than an ordinary no vote, it's in effect giving some people more than one vote. If you have this facility on one side of the vote, you need it on the other, positive side.


tortoise Thu 13 Sep 2012 8:22PM

@Goob, I think the block vote is built into the tool. I don't know that we can remove it.

I don't think a block vote is meant to be anything other than a vote. Each vote has a different weight. The Loom team is expanding this to be more than an up/down vote by giving two more extra choices. You could think of the "Abstain" vote as the counter to a "Block" vote.

So what I think you want is already there.