Loomio
Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:14PM

We have room in our budget to do more—what should we do?

NS Nathan Schneider Public Seen by 143

Your friends in the Finance Working Group have been reviewing Social.coop's cash flow and have determined that we as a co-op could increase our budget. For instance, on Open Collective, our current balance is £9,253.27 GBP. Our estimated annual income is £5,845.01 GBP, while we are spending about £3k. That means, even allowing for some extra savings, we could consider increasing our budget, perhaps starting with another £1,000 per year.

That's exciting! What should we do with it? This is a thread to begin the discussion of what more we could be doing to make our little club more wonderful.

G

Giacomo Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:22PM

A fediverse dating app?

NS

Poll Created Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:31PM

Poll: What should Social.coop invest extra funds in? Closed Mon 10 Oct 2022 3:01PM

Outcome
by Nathan Schneider Mon 10 Oct 2022 5:06PM

Thank you to all who participated! The Finance Working Group will develop proposals for how to move forward based on this input.

The Finance Working Group has found that we can afford to raise our co-op's budget. This is an informal poll to explore things that people might be interested in spending more money on. We will use results from this discussion to facilitate new proposals for co-op investments.

Results

Results Option Rank % of points Points Mean
Pay members of the working groups more 1 20.5% 184 5.8
Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.) 2 15.8% 142 4.4
Donate to Mastodon development 3 15.7% 141 4.4
Donate to co-op development 4 15.2% 136 4.3
Lower the suggested costs of membership 5 12.5% 112 3.5
Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.) 6 12.2% 109 3.4
Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field) 7 8.0% 72 2.3
Undecided 0% 0 0

32 of 171 people have voted (18%)

DB

Doug Belshaw Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:31PM

 
1 - Lower the suggested costs of membership
 
2 - Donate to Mastodon development
 
3 - Donate to co-op development
 
4 - Pay members of the working groups more
 
5 - Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.)
 
6 - Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.)
 
7 - Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field)

I'm not sure how much the working groups are paid, but I always think that removing money as a barrier to participation (as much as possible) is a good thing. Then, my opinion is that we should donate surplus, especially to the platform that underpins what we're doing here (which could also include Hometown in future?) and then to co-operative development.

Personally, I'm not interested in other services. I didn't come here for that. Nor, again personally, am I here for the working groups.

MB

Moon Baron Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:31PM

 
1 - Pay members of the working groups more
 
2 - Lower the suggested costs of membership
 
3 - Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.)
 
4 - Donate to Mastodon development
 
5 - Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.)
 
6 - Donate to co-op development
 
7 - Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field)

If lowering the suggested costs of membership, I think the lower cost should be re-evaluated in X months according to budget projections.

I worry that creating new workgroups and adding services can make things less sustainable if not done thoughtfully.

If not paying our existing working groups more, funding WGs that specifically involve growing the community and public outreach seem to me to be the best way to sustainably grow imho :)

NS

Nathan Schneider Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:47PM

 
1 - Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.)
 
2 - Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.)
 
3 - Pay members of the working groups more
 
4 - Donate to co-op development
 
5 - Donate to Mastodon development
 
6 - Lower the suggested costs of membership
 
7 - Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field)

The only reason that I do not rank "Lower the suggested costs of membership" higher is that that many users don't pay, and membership is potentially as low as a member feels comfortable paying. Correct me if I'm wrong but my perception is that our current income level is based on what people want to contribute voluntarily.

JD

Josh Davis Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:31PM

 
1 - Pay members of the working groups more
 
2 - Donate to co-op development
 
3 - Donate to Mastodon development
 
4 - Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.)
 
5 - Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field)
 
6 - Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.)
 
7 - Lower the suggested costs of membership

As of now we don't pay members of most working group and I know from experience how fragile depending on volunteer labor can make an organization, and how much stability a little money to pay for work can bring. I also like the idea of us sharing the wealth by making contributions to other aligned groups/projects.

F

freescholar Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:31PM

 
1 - Lower the suggested costs of membership
 
2 - Donate to Mastodon development
 
3 - Pay members of the working groups more
 
4 - Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.)
 
5 - Donate to co-op development
 
6 - Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.)
 
7 - Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field)

access for people with less funds is a way to grow

SW

Sam Whited Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:31PM

 
1 - Pay members of the working groups more
 
2 - Donate to co-op development
 
3 - Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.)
 
4 - Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.)
 
5 - Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field)
 
6 - Donate to Mastodon development
 
7 - Lower the suggested costs of membership

Other: give small grants to newly formed co-ops to help them get started

AW

Aaron Wolf Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:31PM

 
1 - Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.)
 
2 - Lower the suggested costs of membership
 
3 - Donate to Mastodon development
 
4 - Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field)
 
5 - Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.)
 
6 - Pay members of the working groups more
 
7 - Donate to co-op development

I'm not sure because I haven't been involved enough in the inside details, but I think we have a huge need for lots more co-op services for online, that is my top priority. Get people freed from corporate-advertising platforms!!!

I do have another concern which is that I'd like to see if there are ways to reduce the financial fees taken by banks and credit card processors. So, if we reduce membership to lower levels, which I support, I'd like to see emphasize on minimizing fees. Maybe annual payments instead of monthly in order to avoid per-payment fees.

A

andia Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:31PM

 
1 - Donate to co-op development
 
2 - Pay members of the working groups more
 
3 - Donate to Mastodon development
 
4 - Lower the suggested costs of membership
 
5 - Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.)
 
6 - Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.)
 
7 - Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field)

I think directing funds to build out the co-op makes sense (though 'development' is a bit vague); also feel that people working on the project should be compensated for their time so their continues to be a project to work on :)

WM

Will Murphy Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:31PM

 
1 - Donate to Mastodon development
 
2 - Pay members of the working groups more
 
3 - Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.)
 
4 - Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.)
 
5 - Donate to co-op development
 
6 - Lower the suggested costs of membership
 
7 - Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field)

As one of the few instances with a healthy budget (from what I gather, at least), we really should feel an obligation to give significant support to Mastodon development.

I would really like to explore adding other services (my proposal would be to focus on social and add other fedi apps like peertube, for example), but I know that's not remotely feasible from the tech side until we build capacity, so I've rated paying working groups above that.

MN

Matt Noyes Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:31PM

 
1 - Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field)
 
2 - Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.)
 
3 - Donate to Mastodon development
 
4 - Donate to co-op development
 
5 - Pay members of the working groups more
 
6 - Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.)
 
7 - Lower the suggested costs of membership

Why not do a participatory budgeting-type thing? People can propose a specific use of funds that they will be responsible for spending (via Open Collective, so transparency) and we vote for what we'd like to support? I would like to see more services or partnering with existing services, e.g. MayFirst.coop.

AU

Ana Ulin Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:31PM

 
1 - Pay members of the working groups more
 
2 - Lower the suggested costs of membership
 
3 - Donate to Mastodon development
 
4 - Donate to co-op development
 
5 - Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.)
 
6 - Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.)
 
7 - Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field)

I think the continued sustainability of social.coop is a top priority, and that means (1) making sure that there are folks to keep things running (aka the working groups) and they are treated fairly, and (2) the barriers for new users joining social.coop are as low as possible.

A

alain Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:31PM

 
1 - Pay members of the working groups more
 
2 - Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.)
 
3 - Donate to co-op development
 
4 - Donate to Mastodon development
 
5 - Lower the suggested costs of membership
 
6 - Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field)
 
7 - Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.)

Working groups are the core of the co-op without whom nothing is possible. They deserve rewards and aknowledgement, and relying on volunteering is precarious. So I'm for raising their payment.

Hosting a Nextcloud instance would be nice too so we, as a coop, could provide integrated services to all members. Write Freely could maybe also be on the table according to a recent discussion here on Loomio.

I'm less into the other suggestions (helping other projects development is nice, but I already donate personnally to interesting projects).

G

Graham Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:31PM

 
1 - Pay members of the working groups more
 
2 - Donate to co-op development
 
3 - Donate to Mastodon development
 
4 - Lower the suggested costs of membership
 
5 - Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field)
 
6 - Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.)
 
7 - Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.)

A timely poll. With my Platform6.coop hat on (we provide the fiscal hosting service through Open Collective to social.coop, free of charge thus far, I've been meaning to get in touch for some time to suggest that social.coop might like to consider making a contribution. This could be by becoming a member of Platform 6, enabling social.coop to take an active role in the stuff we're doing there, and by so doing helping to boost international cooperation, or if that isn't appropriate we'd be open to a straight donation 🙂. Having said all of that, my top suggestion is to ensure that the people doing work for social.coop are fairly compensated for their labour.

LM

L Murphy Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:31PM

 
1 - Donate to co-op development
 
2 - Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.)
 
3 - Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field)
 
4 - Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.)
 
5 - Pay members of the working groups more
 
6 - Lower the suggested costs of membership
 
7 - Donate to Mastodon development

I suggest more emphasis on face-to-face meetings. Geographically local outreach groups. Education about what coops are and how they help build communities and their strengths. Education on the history of how coops, labor unions, consumer boycotts, and the people's press have lost so much power in the last 50 years, and how to make them strong again. Re Mastodon: it's too much like twitter and other single-platform corporate owned social networks. It encourages bad behavior.

ZS

Zee Spencer Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:31PM

 
1 - Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.)
 
2 - Pay members of the working groups more
 
3 - Donate to co-op development
 
4 - Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.)
 
5 - Donate to Mastodon development
 
6 - Lower the suggested costs of membership
 
7 - Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field)

I think a working group for community development and marketing would be A++. Weaving the different people and cooperative endeavours together in a more intentional, supportive way would be good leverage.

EM

Eduardo Mercovich Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:31PM

 
1 - Pay members of the working groups more
 
2 - Donate to co-op development
 
3 - Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.)
 
4 - Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.)
 
5 - Lower the suggested costs of membership
 
6 - Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field)
 
7 - Donate to Mastodon development

Making our infrastructure more solid and resilient is important, that's why I put 1st paying a bit more to our current people in the WGs. From there, collaborate with the Commons movement follows. Adding a new service as creating a new WG -from my POV- depends on our needs, not so much on available resources and that is why I put them after.

Cost of membership is already low (again, from my POV) so I wouldn't lower it more. If someone can't pay that is another issue and can be accommodated (as we did it always in the school cooperative with some families that couldn't pay).

Last but not least, if we donate to development, Mastodon is not the 1st or more valuable project that may need some help. Hometown or Bonfire may be more interesting for reasons related to diversity of functions, higher community participation and Fediverse potentialities added... :)

C

Clayton (clayton@social.coop) Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:31PM

 
1 - Pay members of the working groups more
 
2 - Donate to Mastodon development
 
3 - Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field)
 
4 - Donate to co-op development
 
5 - Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.)
 
6 - Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.)
 
7 - Lower the suggested costs of membership

Great to hear we've got some money to work with! I'm not sure how working group members are doing, but one of the most common challenges I've experienced with community tech projects is overworked, underpaid folks. So that's my top priority.

I looked at the Mastodon sponsor levels and there is one spot remaining for the Gold Tier at $200 a month. It sounds like we're not there but it might be a stretch goal we could reach if we did a bit of outreach to current members. I'd help with that if we decided it was worth pursuing. The next tier down is silver at $40 a month, which seems doable.

For my "Something not listed here" vote I was inspired by this post about community entrepreneurs. I think our community would benefit from some more attention and support for this kind of social work with the platform.

The rest of the options are much lower priority to me.

MP

Michael Potter Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:31PM

 
1 - Donate to Mastodon development
 
2 - Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.)
 
3 - Lower the suggested costs of membership
 
4 - Pay members of the working groups more
 
5 - Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.)
 
6 - Donate to co-op development
 
7 - Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field)

With Twitter in flux, I think Mastodon and other other open means of communication, like chat, are priorities.

F

Flancian Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:31PM

 
1 - Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.)
 
2 - Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field)
 
3 - Donate to Mastodon development
 
4 - Lower the suggested costs of membership
 
5 - Donate to co-op development
 
6 - Pay members of the working groups more
 
7 - Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.)

Hi there! Thank you so much for starting this poll!

I'm currently a member of the Tech and Community Working Groups. I chose 1. Add a new service and 2. Something not listed here as this seems to align best to a topic we discussed in the last meeting for both working groups (minutes: anagora.org/go/twg/minutes, anagora.org/go/cwg/minutes). This is: we believe it could make sense to invest a bit more monthly in a secondary/experimental server which we could then use for the following:

  1. To test restores (from backup) in an isolated environment. This would have the side effect of letting [[twg]] new members ramp up in a relatively safe environment. Also, it is a hidden "top priority" in my opinion; we need to keep our setups reproducible by existing tech group members to do the right thing for the community.

  2. To run possible improvements to existing services so that the community can try them in an 'alpha' environment and optionally express an opinion on whether they are worth investing on long term. For example, some people are interested in trying [[Hometown]] instead of 'core' Mastodon.

  3. To install and run new services, like hosted chat.

  4. To potentially set up a stable primary/secondary layout with the existing server, Runko, so that any service we provide can be failed over with high certainty in minimum amount of time should one of our servers give up the ghost :)

To further analyze and develop the plans that could be unlocked by dedicating some monthly sum to an extra server, please refer currently to https://anagora.org/mastodon-upgrade (edit link in the Hedgedoc interface: https://doc.anagora.org/mastodon-upgrade; we will likely move this plan to https://anagora.org/go/twg/wiki once it stabilizes.)

The estimated cost of an extra dedicated server should be in the ~40 EUR / month recurring range.

Thoughts? Happy to start a new thread if that helps. And thank you again for putting this to a vote!

J

jonny Mon 3 Oct 2022 3:31PM

 
1 - Pay members of the working groups more
 
2 - Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.)
 
3 - Donate to Mastodon development
 
4 - Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.)
 
5 - Donate to co-op development
 
6 - Lower the suggested costs of membership
 
7 - Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field)

Hell ya, having too much money is the best problem to have. I'm always in favor of compensating ppl who do the work of maintaining the coop as much as is feasible, within the bounds of operating costs and balanced against reasonable fees. I'd also like to see us try and expand capacity to accommodate more ppl given any new influxes from the boidz0ne.

I am with flancian, having an extra dev server to try and expand operations seems like the next best use to me. chat sounds great, like running a matrix node, or running some public service like a signal proxy, tor relay. it might also be nice to have a gitea instance of we dont already have one, and another public service use there could be to use codeberg's static site hosting tools to provide a non-platform host with however large of a public sign up we can manage.

I wasn't really sure what co-op development meant, so that's why it's so low, but I'd be interested in this if it meant setting aside some startup funds to help new co-ops to get off the ground.

Re: lowering fees- I also am a big proponent of this, but it's low here because I think we should talk about a sliding scale system: I don't want fees to be a barrier to cooperation, and I know there are some of us that could pay more to offset allowing some people to not pay fees that can't. there are lots of different ways that could look, but I would prefer that to a flat reduction in fees.

JG

Jamie Gaehring Sun 9 Oct 2022 9:36PM

 
1 - Pay members of the working groups more
 
2 - Something not listed here (specify in the Reason comment field)
 
3 - Donate to Mastodon development
 
4 - Lower the suggested costs of membership
 
5 - Donate to co-op development
 
6 - Create a new working group (e.g., newsletter, outreach, etc.)
 
7 - Add a new service (e.g., hosted chat, email, file-sharing, etc.)

My instinct was to lower the membership cost, first and foremost, but many have made compelling reasons here why that's maybe not as much a priority. I'm new-ish here, so paying working groups more does seem to make sense, as a trade-off. As I become more familiar w/ Mastodon, that also seems like such a critical resource to contribute to. A new service def seems hard to justify, in my mind, since I'm a little unsure of the current service line-up as is, and feel like that could just further mystify newer users like myself, so that's why I put it last.

The "Something not listed" is Matt's (and perhaps others') idea of participatory budgeting. It's great to have the freedom, when you stumble on an idea that just needs a lil $ to make it go, to be empowered to propose it while the momentum is still moving forward.

MN

Matt Noyes Tue 4 Oct 2022 2:25AM

N

Nic Fri 4 Nov 2022 10:30AM

Am a bit late to this one, but definitely support donating something regular to Mastodon GMbH.

Personally I'd also welcome some legal clarification around liability following this thread – https://social.coop/web/statuses/109276555296340952. Perhaps that means appointing a counsel, if there isn't already one? ie picturing the worst, if the instance was hit with a GDPR/etc fine/libel suit/DCMA claim, who would have to pay it / who would defend it?

JD

Josh Davis Fri 4 Nov 2022 2:39PM

Or we might want to look into insurance options. And there's still the question of how our relationship with Open Collective effects all this. Definitely merits some more research. Thanks for starting that conversation.

MN

Matt Noyes Fri 4 Nov 2022 3:29PM

In the meantime, seems wise to add a disclaimer to our code of conduct. Anyone have a good example we can adapt?

N

Nic Fri 4 Nov 2022 5:49PM

Not legal advice, but a pretty thorough one I was involved, written by Silvia Schmidt is here… limitation of liability, and no warranties (aka use at your own risk).

TR

Tom Resing Tue 8 Nov 2022 8:33PM

Sorry I'm late to this thread (recently joined). I wonder if membership has increased a lot in the last week or so and we might reconsider how to apply excess funds. I've noticed that other servers have been a lot less reliable and performant. And, I saw in a working group's notes that another server instance had been considered in October. Not sure how much that costs, but if it would help ensure future stability and performance, I'd be in favor of investing in more infrastructure support for the mastodon server.

LS

Leo Sammallahti Fri 30 Dec 2022 12:07AM

Regarding lowering membership fees, might be worth mentioning (esp. for non-UK members who might not be aware) that the British pound has lost 22% its value since 2019, the year we first started collecting membership fees in pounds. Higher inflation means our minimum membership fees are de facto reduced each year, more so now with high inflation. Also suggests that we should maybe be more bold in spending our reserves, as they are losing spending power at a record pace as well.

LF

Lynn Foster Sat 21 Jan 2023 9:47PM

Late to the party, but it occurs to me with the discussions going on about moderation, and the general challenges in the fediverse community right now with growth, maybe we should consider allocating extra funds to moderation. It seems very likely to increase in time commitment, perhaps drastically.