Mon 4 Dec 2017 10:09PM

Handling “block” votes

DS Darren Stebeleski Public Seen by 36

How do members want to handle votes to “block” resolutions from endorsement? There were three
blocks last I checked. On Loomio discussion groups what I have found basically boils down to two options:

1) a “block” is treated as the strongest negative opinion on the proposal and the member casting the block will not accept the groups decision, but it will not halt the group decision.

2) a “block” indicates a serious flaw in the resolution (and a lack of consensus) and if a member feels strongly enough to use a “block” then the group should honour it and not let the endorsement pass until the resolution meets the member’s satisfaction.

Curious what everyone thinks. We could easily vote on it!


Cheryl Mon 4 Dec 2017 11:58PM

Hi Darren:

I very much like # 2. If a group functions democratically, then when a member feels strongly enough to block a motion or resolution, a discussion should ensue. I think the logical conclusion is for the member to determine if they feel strongly enough to leave the group should the group decide to proceed after hearing and considering the member’s view point. If the group still wants to proceed, despite the member’s strongly held position, at least it would have been fully explored and all the members’ perspectives heard and considered in the ultimate decision.

I look forward to seeing how this plays out.

Thanks for all your work.



Darren Stebeleski Tue 5 Dec 2017 12:54AM

Thanks Cheryl—I’m very interested in building consensus, so number 2 is personally my favoured option as well, and I think you make an excellent case for it above. I’m curious to see what the rest of the members think, but to me blocks constitute an exciting chance for further discourse. This whole process has been really great—I’m a big fan of the user being able to vote at their leisure, as well as the transparency and open debate of this platform.


Kaitlin Wilmshurst Tue 5 Dec 2017 2:55AM

Hello all,
I very much liked this platform for voting- very convenient. I completely hear both of your points on option #2- I love the democracy of it. I think for people who are blocking in good faith, a group discussion and (hopefully) consensus is the way to go.

This may sound slightly paranoid, but as Courage grows and becomes less able to personally vet it's joining members, blocking would be a great mechanism for unfriendly individuals to use to snarl up the process. Also, as the group gets larger, there will inevitably be more and more blocks, each one triggering a larger group process which takes time, energy, and resources.

I'd maybe like to see some sort of check in place to discourage malicious blocking. For example, perhaps a block MUST be accompanied by a short (1-2 paragraphs) written argument to be considered for a group review (or it will be ignored). Clicking a button is just a little too easy if it is not accompanied by some accountability.


Darren Stebeleski Tue 5 Dec 2017 3:14AM

Excellent point Kaitlin! I worry about so-called "entryism" too. My hope was Loomio would alleviate this with its radical transparency, but yes, people can still join under aliases. Right now we're small enough to (mostly) know each other, but as we get larger, this could be a problem. Luckily we can only join with invites which will only ever go out to membership, but again, what's to stop a malicious actor from joining Courage? I know we try to have regional organizers look over names for glaring conflicts, but of course that's not foolproof. For now, I personally like your solution of having to provide a statement for review, which could be part of the discussion/debate Cheryl mentioned.


Tim Ellis Tue 5 Dec 2017 5:40AM

I would favour option 1, but will accept the decision of the group in either case.


Cheryl Tue 5 Dec 2017 3:51PM

For what it’s worth, direct democracy IS time consuming, inconvenient and potentially messy but more importantly, it is inclusive and equitable, meant for ALL voices being heard, not just those of a select few who ‘lead’ and present a few options from which the majority are to choose. That style of so-called democracy is neither equitable nor inclusive. That ‘blocks’ the full range of perspectives which more likely than not are not reflected in the small group who lead, but which may lead to a different outcome not previously considered.

DD also takes strong facilitation, which keeps discussions focused and moving forward but at the same time does not to cut off those who require more time and effort to make their point.

Perhaps ‘entryism’ can be explained as it is something I can only assume to understand.

It takes courage as well as patience and commitment to exercise direct democracy. Does Courage have what it takes?


Kirk Tue 5 Dec 2017 9:11PM

All interesting discussion; I would echo that I'd think option 2 is better, and a caveat that means it's a prompt for discussion (Thus accompanied by actual discussion). There can absolutely be misunderstandings and sorting them out is hard work... But important work, IMO


Dru Jay Wed 6 Dec 2017 8:23PM

I favour option #1, with some kind of proviso like "if there are or more 5 blocks, or if the number of blocks is more than 5% of the vote (whichever is greater), a debate and revote is triggered". That would minimize abuse by putting the onus on a member to find at least four other people to convince of the flaws or principled objections to the motion. For a third round of debate and voting, I would raise the required number of blocks to 10/10%, and by 10% thereafter. I absolutely do not support the idea that one person can derail a vote with a block.


Darren Stebeleski Wed 6 Dec 2017 8:35PM

Agree with both Cheryl and Kirk above—I am absolutely of the mind that just because the right thing to do is difficult, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. I will be putting together the results in the next few days and will move that we consider the resolutions blocked as not having been passed until the members that blocked are satisfied post-internal discussion and debate on the resolutions in question. I will also recommend that any members who blocked try to get on the Slack working group if not already on there, as that is generally the best venue to have these discussions.

Also, by “entryism” (per my response above) I mean the process of someone entering an organization with ill intent, to sabotage it; and I want to be very clear that I in no way think that this has ever happened with Courage. I think the member above was just pointing out it’s always a concern for orgs that this is a possibility, and that we remain vigilant by having the types of open discussion and debate we’re currently having and will continue to have in the coming days.


Dru Jay Wed 6 Dec 2017 8:38PM

I think we need to vote on whether a block can override a majority vote before it actually does.

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