Loom.io - Require Proposal to Start New Groups.

ST Sean Tilley Public Seen by 89

Poll Created Tue 11 Sep 2012 8:50PM

Loom.io - Require Proposal to Start New Groups. Closed Fri 14 Sep 2012 3:44AM

For the sake of keeping order and preventing too many groups from starting up at once (as groups, at the moment, are purpose-driven), I think it would be sane to propose that if someone wants to start a subgroup for Diaspora Community, we should try to take a vote on its creation and necessity. (For example take a look at this proposal here: http://loom.io/discussions/694)

As a community, we owe it to ourselves to be as organized as we possibly can. That includes setting up workflows and policies to prevent clutter from overflowing on our boards of governance and decision-making.


Results Option % of points Voters
Agree 66.7% 8 ST FS JH JH JR G BB SH
Abstain 8.3% 1 F
Disagree 16.7% 2 A DY
Block 8.3% 1 T

12 of 101 people have voted (11%)


Tue 11 Sep 2012 8:59PM

Not under the evaluation period. As a result of creating a new group we already have a good question to the Loomio team about how to move a discussion from one group to another.


Dave Yingling
Tue 11 Sep 2012 11:43PM

I would think that at this stage, "require" is too strong of a word. "Encourage" is more in line with my feelings.


Jeremy Huffman
Wed 12 Sep 2012 12:15AM

I agree if we are going to create groups to which we delegate certain tasks/decisions, the mission of the group should be agreed up-front.


Jason Robinson
Wed 12 Sep 2012 6:47PM

Sean, how would we control this? By access rights? I'd rather have moderators than a few super users.

So please can you fill the proposal to make it concrete on how to establish this? Does Loom.io support access levels or moving discussions?


Brent Bartlett
Wed 12 Sep 2012 7:53PM

Too many groups invites chaos.


Wed 12 Sep 2012 9:39PM

Be a little more patient, allow for more people into the process, allow for plural voices, and deal with any problem once it comes up, instead of being afraid of problems before they happen.

Let people talk and see what happens.


Wed 12 Sep 2012 9:42PM

Be a little more patient, allow for more people into the process, allow for plural voices, and deal with any problem once it comes up, instead of being afraid of problems before they happen. Let people talk and see what happens.


altruism Tue 11 Sep 2012 8:53PM

Sean, are we not evaluating the platform? I do not think such restrictions are a good idea right now.


goob Tue 11 Sep 2012 8:53PM

Thanks, Sean. That's a very sensible idea. I've been getting a flood of emails over the past few days as people have started new groups/divisions etc, and there's already too much to deal with. Organised anarchy is better than complete anarchy, and I support your proposal.


Sean Tilley Tue 11 Sep 2012 8:55PM

@Altruism: I think it pretty much goes without saying that we'll be adopting it soon. The support from the community users evaluating it has been more or less unanimous. Henceforth, if we adopt it, we need to have some rules about how we use it, so that we can stay organized.


groovehunter Tue 11 Sep 2012 9:19PM

I would see it as a general guideline. Kinda wiki spirit not to create a top level category or group without at least announcing it.


Brent Bartlett Wed 12 Sep 2012 7:55PM

Okay, so how does this work? We have 8 yesses, 2 noes, and a block. We have to work through the block before we come to a decision?


Sean Tilley Wed 12 Sep 2012 8:41PM

I think a good, simple process is to just wait for the proposal to run out, and just rule by majority vote. I do agree that we'll need moderators, but for now, we're small enough that it's not really an issue.

For example, if you made a proposal to start a "Diaspora Tea-Drinking Group", and somehow it passed by a wide margin, I'd be okay with setting it up promptly in the meantime. ;)


Jason Robinson Wed 12 Sep 2012 8:43PM

Brent, no idea, I guess we haven't decided yet :D

I do agree on limits and control, but it would be better if it was not enforced with access controls unless things really get out of control. That is why I think this needs more elaboration.


Jason Robinson Wed 12 Sep 2012 8:45PM

So Sean - how do you propose this is enforced since you proposed this? :)

Specific proposals > non-specific proposals


Sean Tilley Wed 12 Sep 2012 8:55PM

At this point, I'd say the easiest way to enforce it is to just follow a good-faith model. Think of it as a guideline more than a rule- we can all agree that spinning up a group that has no real defined purpose is bad, and adds clutter.

For the sake of not inconveniencing everyone else, we can also agree that really, the simplest thing to do is to just follow the process. The enforcement comes with the repercussion: if you don't follow the guideline, you're likely to clutter up the place and annoy other members on our governance boards. Heck, if it's really a problem, we can just close the non-approved group in worst-case scenarios.

What do you think?


Jason Robinson Wed 12 Sep 2012 9:01PM

Sounds good to me. We need to follow up this proposal later in some kind of community guidelines page.


Sean Tilley Wed 12 Sep 2012 9:07PM

@Jason: I concur.


tortoise Wed 12 Sep 2012 9:33PM

I think we should invite all the people from here before laying down any "rules."

I mean I thought that this was supposed to be for the community.

I'm not saying I want to run this group, but I'm not understanding why an employee from Diaspora is deciding the rules here? Sorry, Sean. I don't mean to rip, but it feels like expediency is more important than representation.

I'd like to hear what other people think. I'm pretty clear what Sean thinks.

I agree with Justin even though he is voting yes. But I also agree with Altruism and with Dave Y.

As far as too many groups being started who has created the majority of these groups? And what is the "chaos" that we are afraid of happening?

It's clear that we can talk to the devs of Loom.io to help us move groups if we want. I think everyone should be free to speak. The irony is pretty amazing to me, considering the entire point of diaspora in the first place.

I think it is ridiculous to ask permission from everyone to start a new group. I also think majority rule to start a new group is a pretty scary proposition when I seem to be the minority here. And when people read this, if they are fair minded they weill be very surprised by this move. I gather that everyone would feel the same as I do were you in my shoes.

I think we need more non-technical people here. I think we need to not make decisions quickly. What is the hurry anyway? I think there needs to be a little more room given for people to just be able to talk and decide without having it forced into Roberts Rules of Parliament.


tortoise Wed 12 Sep 2012 9:42PM

Sorry I thought I made a typo and could correct it.


altruism Wed 12 Sep 2012 9:53PM

MP, I agree with you and not only that.. I understand your reaction, because Sean's proposal came as a direct reaction to you creating a group. I also created a group on top level (not a sub-group), I did so without asking for permission, I did not crate a proposal for others to vote if it was necessary or not. But hey, maybe it was a "bad" thing.


altruism Wed 12 Sep 2012 9:57PM

I find the "block position" interesting, it reminds me of the UN security council :)


tortoise Wed 12 Sep 2012 9:58PM

@altruism: How do you know that Sean did this?

@Sean: Is it true that you created this in direct reaction to my creating a group? If so, why?


tortoise Wed 12 Sep 2012 9:58PM

@Altruism: LOL. Thanks for keeping your humor!


Brent Bartlett Wed 12 Sep 2012 10:21PM

I think that there should be some process to creating groups. Otherwise, you could, theoretically, have 15-20 groups created by people, and there would be a lot of redundancy and disorder. For instance, we don't need to have 6 groups for development. My opinion is the fewer groups, the better.

Too many groups reduces efficiency, and causes fragmentation.


altruism Wed 12 Sep 2012 10:22PM

MP, I don't know! I could have been clearer on that, what I meant to say was: ... because TO ME Sean's proposal came as a direct reaction to you creating a group. You created the first group (top level) and short after Sean created this proposal. That was what I observed and that was my impression.


Brent Bartlett Wed 12 Sep 2012 10:25PM

Sean, if we're going to regard a "block" as a "no", then we should be able to either A) remove the Block button, or B) make sure that people know that those two votes are equivalent.

I prefer simple majority rule, too.


altruism Wed 12 Sep 2012 10:37PM

If we hover over "state your position" we can see that "block" in Loomio means "I block, I have strong objections to this motion and I'm not ok with it going ahead".


tortoise Wed 12 Sep 2012 10:43PM

@Brent: Who decides that a "block" is a "no" vote?

And why is that discussed after I decided to use the "block" vote?


tortoise Wed 12 Sep 2012 10:44PM

@Altruism: I read the hover, and I do have strong objections to this motion moving ahead. I think we need more people in the mix before deciding to get autocratic about the process of starting a new group with the software.


Brent Bartlett Wed 12 Sep 2012 10:52PM

MP: I actually brought this up before you voted. I was talking about Jason Robinson's block (which he changed to a "yes").


altruism Wed 12 Sep 2012 10:53PM

It would be very interesting if we create the proposal "Block should mean the same as No" and the have one or more voting to block it :)


altruism Wed 12 Sep 2012 10:54PM

Brent, MP's question is still a relevant one.


tortoise Wed 12 Sep 2012 11:11PM

@Atruism, I think I would block that vote, were it to occur. :)

Still there is nothing that prevents people from doing whatever they want despite what any pie chart says. The folks here is certainly not representative of the entire D* community.

Still I think it's interesting that Sean was cordial to address Jason's block and discuss it and he persuaded (I guess) Jason to change his vote. Isn't that what's supposed to happen?

But in the chronology of events, this has come up after I began a new group, (and I only started one new group not a FLOOD of them) and that seems to be an issue. I'd like to know the count of who has started groups here? Would it be OK if I propose that in governance? ;)

Then, I block a vote and now that block is being dismissed away, after I made it.

Is it a coincidence? I don't know. May be not!

Are we also going to decide to vote on whether members may starting a new discussion too? Or a new proposal too?

Hey it's OK. I'm just asking before I do something else that is evidently against the current here.


Brent Bartlett Wed 12 Sep 2012 11:27PM

MP: It's nothing against you (or Jason, for that matter). The reason why I asked is because I hadn't seen a block used before. It seems to me that how we handle blocks is very important, because the potential for abuse is there.

However, this is is off topic, so further discussion should go into a thread dedicated to this topic.


altruism Wed 12 Sep 2012 11:32PM

Brent, please feel free starting a new discussion on the "Governance Proposals" group. Or should we vote first? :)


Brent Bartlett Wed 12 Sep 2012 11:34PM

altruism: I think we should vote on whether or not to vote.


altruism Wed 12 Sep 2012 11:40PM

Yeah, you have a point Brent, consensus without voting is one alternative.


tortoise Thu 13 Sep 2012 12:05AM

I think in Roberts Rules of Parliament, I may be wrong, someone moves to propose a vote, someone seconds it and then people vote to vote. and if there is a majority that agrees to move to vote, then people vote.

I think this is to measure the building of consensus. When there is a perceived consensus, it makes sense to move to vote. But the idea is to allow the issue air for discussion.

But do we really have to do that? I mean if everyone feels that kind of formality is required, I'll go with it, but it seems more about censorship than allowing discussion in this case.

Certainly, people could abuse that too (and they do, look at the Republicans in the US). Shouldn't minority voices be protected? I'm just asking (not just because I am one in this instance, but because it seems not a really nice thing, since at one point any one of us will be in the minority, and no one should be dismissed because of that.)


Brent Bartlett Thu 13 Sep 2012 12:08AM

altruism: I was actually making a joke.


altruism Thu 13 Sep 2012 12:14AM

Brent, I thought so, but I'm not. You do have a point.


tortoise Thu 13 Sep 2012 12:23AM

@Brent: At first I thought you were joking, but that is actually what is done on RROP, when I considered it (after I stopped laughing of course!) :D


Flaburgan Thu 13 Sep 2012 8:13AM

I think only one thing : We have a lot of things to do which are really more important than this discussion.

Please guys, lets it like it is, if someone create a group which is a duplicate or totally useless, we will say to him, and if he doesn't agree that his group is useless, then, we can vote if we create the group or not.

Else, it's only a waste of time.


Jason Robinson Thu 13 Sep 2012 8:44AM

Flaburgan, you my man, totally agree.


tortoise Thu 13 Sep 2012 5:56PM

So do we also raise a vote if we should allow someone to speak? That is how I am interpreting this proposal. It is censorship.


Jonne Haß Thu 13 Sep 2012 6:06PM

Seriously cool down.

A group is for grouping discussions around the same topic, if you have a non fitting topic nobody stops you from open a new discussion at top level. A group should only be considered if we experience (not expect!) a lot of discussions around the same topic.


tortoise Thu 13 Sep 2012 6:40PM

@Jonne: I am not upset. I interpreted groups as you did. I have tried to raise the topic of defining the New Community, and also asking what are the objectives for it? I'm still waiting to hear it. I don't think I'm alone in this.

My questions seem to get muffled out, so I created a new group specifically to discuss it. This is what I think you mean groups should be used for, yes?

As far as expectations? I'm not sure I agree. Everyone possesses expectations to start a discussion!

But sometimes expectations fall. So let them fall. :)


Jonne Haß Thu 13 Sep 2012 6:55PM

I think you've got a misconception here.

The most basic level is a discussion. It is method to group comments or opinions of a specific issue/topic. Like, should dogs be painted red.

Out of such a discussion grow proposals that the participants can utilize to come to a decision. In our example "Dogs shouldn't be painted at all", or "Dogs should be painted green".

Groups are a way to group discussions of similar issues. Our example could be in a group "Dog styling" which is in a subgroup "Pet styling". "Dog painting" would be bad choice for a group, there's hardly anything you can split in different discussions there. I might be proven wrong on this and many discussion on dog painting evolve, but I wouldn't expect it and have a group with a single discussion inside it, creating it later if it's needed is easy, removing clutter isn't.

I never saw a discussion started by you for your question before you started the group, just comments on other discussion which might be the reason it didn't got answered properly, simply being OT.


tortoise Thu 13 Sep 2012 7:10PM

@Jonne: Well for Dog Painters, there may very well be a lot of branches. Like Dog painters who favor polka dots. Or one's who like glitter. Then maybe ones who prefer acrylic over oils.

My point is only that I think it is silly to get in arguments on taxonomies and to make starting a new group controversial. I don't think I'm under any misconception.

I understand your point. When someone has a party, they invite people to come over. People are free not to show up. But there is nothing bad in expecting people to show up.

That we should have telepathy to know we are all about to spontaneously combust into discussion on dog painting at the same time and we better create a group quickly is funny to me.

That we must create a formal vote to start a group seems like censorship. Given the nature of our community, I don't think many people would like that as a convention. That's my take, though I could be incorrect.


Sean Tilley Thu 13 Sep 2012 7:12PM

No, if it were censorship, we'd just flat-out require it without taking a vote.


Jonne Haß Thu 13 Sep 2012 7:18PM

"There may" is the point here, you don't know upfront. Creating lots of groups is just clutter a newcomer has to go trough, causes duplicates and overlappings in topics etc. that has all been explained and argued here already.

Can you explain me how preventing you from creating arbitrary groups disallows you to express an opinion or a question? Cause I don't get it. Again the top groups only topic restriction is that has to relate Diaspora in any way. Subgroups are just for avoiding clutter and organizing, not for expression.


Brent Bartlett Thu 13 Sep 2012 7:39PM

Allowing groups to form naturally is best, I think, because the group structure is organization. It's not arbitrary. This reflects common practices. For instance, there is no forum that I know of that allows the average user to create sub-forums, because A) there's no good reason to allow it, and B) it invites abuse.

One forum I go to has a sub-forum for "card games". Originally, that sub-forum did not exist. They didn't just put it there at the start, hoping that people would want to talk about card games. As time went on, though, users began to talk about card games more and more, so the admins decided to create a sub-forum dedicated to the topic.

This isn't censorship, though. Censorship would've been saying "No, sorry, you can't talk about card games here." What they did was say "Okay, these topics are starting to clutter things up. We need someplace to move them to. Let's create a new category!"


tortoise Thu 13 Sep 2012 8:08PM

@Jonne: I think there is a lot of controversy I unintentionally stirred up from starting a "What is Community at Diaspora?" group. Maybe I am misinterpreting the chronology of events. Because there was only one top tier, the "Diaspora Community," I thought everything below that was considered a group. But I'm seeing that what I started was a subgroup, is that correct?

From my POV, moving to vote whether someone can create a new group is approaching censorship. If the vote is no. It means you can't have that group. There is no room then for minority voices. There is nothing in the tool that forces pre-approval of groups, unless the admin wants to be heavy handed. All of this is going in the direction of exclusion.

I'm not sure why it's important to be exclusive here. I can understand that over on Github, or even a wiki. Why not just let people float a group/subgroup/discussion/proposal and if it doesn't catch fire it doesn't catch fire.

If it creates cruft, then we advocate to Loom.io that we want to have a way to move or delete cruft. It's a little bit of housekeeping, but it also promotes freedom for people to speak up and for them not to feel afraid to. We should be welcoming in our community not intimidating.


tortoise Thu 13 Sep 2012 8:16PM

@Brent: I guess I don't know the differences between starting a group naturally and starting a group unnaturally? :)

Don't all groups form naturally?


Jonne Haß Thu 13 Sep 2012 8:26PM

@Everybody This block is unresolvable, madamephilo can't or don't want to get the point, no one is on her side. Continuing is just wasting time. I'd say ignore it.

@madamephilo don't take it personally, we're getting into a loop here because I can't answer to what you've said without repeating what has been said. The difference between a group has been explained, that a not existing group doesn't prevent talk about a topic has been explained.


altruism Thu 13 Sep 2012 8:46PM

First "madamephilo can't or don't want to get the point", followed by "don't take it personally" :)


tortoise Thu 13 Sep 2012 9:47PM

@Jonne, I thought we were just discussing? I am not taking opening up discussion personally? Are you? :)

I don't think discussion happens like a computer algorithm. I'm sorry you feel your time is wasted. Personally... I don't think you understand my point. But that is OK with me! :)

@Everybody: I did not get the impression you were "against me." I thought we were just talking this over.

During the time we have discussed this further, I see that what people may have had different ideas about what is a group vs what is a subgroup. I'm not sure.

Regardless, I remain with my vote of block. I don't want that to be interpreted as a nuclear vote, but to say I feel strongly that we should not REQUIRE a proposal (and therefore a vote) to start a new group. I want to register that as my vote.

No one has persuaded me (yet) why we need to do that. Sorry.

I suppose though, if such a convention is adopted here and it makes people unhappy enough, then there is nothing stopping anyone from starting another Diaspora-related Loom.io presence that doesn't make that requirement and just lets people say what they want.


Richard D. Bartlett Thu 13 Sep 2012 10:02PM

Wow interesting thread. I just wanted to throw a couple of points into the mix from a Loomio perspective:

The way we use the tool in the groups I'm in, is as a dynamic flexible system for building shared understanding, as opposed to a majority rules voting system. It's like a face-to-face conversation instead of a polling booth: the graph indicates the general feeling of the group instead of being completely black-and-white.

The most important thing about the graph is that it gives the group an indication of any concerns that need to be addressed, which focusses the conversation on resolving those concerns.

In my experience participating in a couple hundred proposals, we've never seen a single one that had an unresolvable block. It can take a lot of deliberation and a few iterations on the proposal, but it is an effort worth going to if you want to make decisions that leave no one alienated.

From an outsider's perspective, it seems to me that everyone in this group has the same intent: for the community to organised and inclusive. The only divergence is on the interpretation of how to achieve that vision, of how formalised or organic to make that process.

Loomio is probably set up better for organic as opposed to formal processes. If you want to be formal, you could certainly use the tool to get shared understanding and establish each point of process one by one, but you should expect this to take a fair amount of time if you want the outcome to balance the need for inclusion with the need to get things done.

There's no easy answer, but I've found it useful to focus on identifying shared understanding, and moving forward together to expand it. Personally, I prefer to avoid formalising anything unless it is absolutely necessary. The alternative is to make decisions on a case by case basis, and identify patterns over time.

It seems to me the reason you're all giving so much energy to these conversations is because you all agree on the shared vision of the Diaspora project, and it is a genuinely inspiring vision. The priority as I see it is to collaboratively figure out a strategy for moving towards that vision together.

Expect it to take some time! :)


Jonne Haß Thu 13 Sep 2012 10:24PM

Guess I've to explain myself: I see no point in continuing a discussion if you're about to rephrase what have been said a third or fourth time, it just adds noise and takes a lot of time for new participants to join and understand and add to it.

As a developer I rather spend the time on the code instead of arguing with someone with who I can't even agree on the definition between what's a group and what's a discussion. Or who throws in the censorship argument because he has no better one. Without even making a good point on why that prevents anyone from saying anything. That's insane. I don't want to spend 5 hours of a 10 hour time frame to reading through tons of repetitive arguing just to get a sense what I should develop in the other 5 hours. I rather spend the time making what I should more awesome and stable.


altruism Thu 13 Sep 2012 10:28PM

Jonne, then my question is, what are you doing in this group? And, why are you explaining yourself?


altruism Thu 13 Sep 2012 10:30PM

Did you read anything of what Rich wrote? Or is it to long and time consuming for you?


Jonne Haß Thu 13 Sep 2012 10:33PM

Because I want to encourage you to not create the noise I would've to go through ;)

And of course I want to be able to influence the directions Diaspora is going to take, being a unheard workhorse is what made me stop actively contributing to Diaspora.


Jonne Haß Thu 13 Sep 2012 10:35PM

Sure I did, that was largely in response to it. Long texts are okay as long as they aren't repetitive in any way or the points couldn't be made shorter. Nothing against clarifications btw.


tortoise Thu 13 Sep 2012 10:36PM

@Jonne: But did you read what Richard wrote?


altruism Thu 13 Sep 2012 10:36PM

Oh, sorry to hear that. Then you know how it feels like when people do not listen.


altruism Thu 13 Sep 2012 10:38PM

I love when people care to "encourage" others, but maybe you should think about what that word really means and how you are trying to achive it.


tortoise Thu 13 Sep 2012 10:39PM

Sorry, we cross posted.

Clearly you feel strongly that I am creating noise. I'm not sure what the point of stating that over and over again is?

What is happening is that this is getting away from the content of the proposal. It is not really productive.


tortoise Thu 13 Sep 2012 11:16PM

Perhaps this entire proposal is just noise? But at least I have engaged with it honestly and sincerely.

I don't understand the desire to control what people say, where they say it, and how they say it. It feels to me like censorship.

For example: look here:

Emmett C. Burns Jr., a Maryland state delegate, wrote the owner of the Ravens, an American football team to "inhibit such expressions from your employee and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions.” He did this clearly using his position as a delegate to influence the speech of Brendon Ayanbadejo, someone Burns clearly does not agree with about same-sex marriage. This act caused another football player from another team to write his own entertaining screed against the censorial nature of Emmet's request. It is an interesting story and I am grateful that here people are free to say what they want and how they want to say it.

For me, the point is not whether Ayanbadejo was actually censored. It's that it marches in that direction. Certainly Mr. Burns is free to say what he likes. We all are. But it may also not make him look too favorably in the big picture.

If that is what this "community" is really all about, then that is what it is about.

I apologize for the pointed nature of my comments here. But I'm just trying to understand what this is all about. :)


goob Sat 15 Sep 2012 7:54PM

This has nothing to do with censorship. This is purely a practical proposal to make this forum workable for a large group of people, helping it to focus on what really matters, so that people's time isn't wasted, rather than allowing it to be side-tracked into the niche concerns of one or two people, as happened to a previous Diaspora working group last year.

I want to be involved, I want to help create good things for Diaspora, but I can't afford to have to wade through lots of irrelevant junk.

Anyone who feels the need to discuss things which aren't actually relevant to developing and improving Diaspora is welcome to discuss them in a forum which isn't geared to developing and improving Diaspora - so no one can possibly be censored by this motion.

(It's this sort of argument which also got so annoying last year, when a couple of people simply insisted on shouting the loudest...)


goob Sat 15 Sep 2012 7:56PM

ps my comment is not directed at anyone in Loomio, in case anyone takes it that way - it's explaining a bit further why I voted the way I did.


altruism Sat 15 Sep 2012 9:06PM

Goob, in this case your vote was more than enough. The rest is just "irrelevant junk", IMO. Specially when the proposal was already closed.


goob Sun 16 Sep 2012 12:40PM

The vote has closed; the discussion hasn't. I can't monitor every discussion every day, so I'll comment on discussions whenever I get chance to pop in and do so.