Loomio
Fri 25 Nov 2022 2:59PM

Regular contributions to upstream software

NS Nathan Schneider Public Seen by 195

Our primary service is Mastodon, a piece of free, open-source software. We do not yet contribute to its development financially. In a recent poll, members expressed strong interest in doing this. I am advancing this thread on the basis of that signal.

Thanks @Nic Wistreich for reminding me here that we need to do this.

Update: I have changed the name of this to reflect the many voices here that express interest in contributing not just to Mastodon but to other fediverse software projects.

NS

Poll Created Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

How much should we contribute monthly to Mastodon development? Closed Mon 28 Nov 2022 2:01PM

Outcome
by Nathan Schneider Mon 28 Nov 2022 7:00PM

It is clear that we need to broaden this conversation!

This is a poll to get a sense of what members think would be a reasonable contribution to Mastodon development. For context, members have expressed strong interest in doing this. Our current monthly income is about 1k GBP, and we are now budgeting about 500 GBP to the Tech and Community Working Groups, total.

Based on the outcome of this poll, I (or someone else!) can make a formal proposal.

The contribution can be made automatically through Open Collective.

Results

Results Option Rank % of points Points Mean
25 GBP 1 24.4% 161 3.7
50 GBP 2 22.7% 150 3.4
10 GBP 3 20.6% 136 3.1
100 GBP 4 16.5% 109 2.5
5 GBP 5 15.8% 104 2.4
Undecided 0% 0 0

44 of 274 people have voted (16%)

SL

Sky Leite Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 50 GBP
 
2 - 100 GBP
 
3 - 25 GBP
 
4 - 10 GBP
 
5 - 5 GBP

My inclination would be to contribute 100 GBP, since 10% of our income to the group that maintains our core piece of software makes sense. I went with 50 GBP as #1 because I would like for that 100 to be split between Mastodon and Loomio, in the event that we're not also contributing to the latter.

N

Nic Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 100 GBP
 
2 - 50 GBP
 
3 - 25 GBP
 
4 - 10 GBP
 
5 - 5 GBP

I don't know how much capacity there is in the budget, and think paying the moderators & admins for their time should be a priority – so if it was a choice would put that ahead of this. I also back the support of Loomio mentioned by Sky Leite. But on the assumption there is capacity, then 50-100 sounds reasonable. Could obvs be reviewed if, say, Github/community issues are being ignored by Mastodon maintainers. Thanks for responding so fast btw,

GF

Geraldo Fernandez (@yerald@social.coop Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 100 GBP
 
2 - 50 GBP
 
3 - 25 GBP
 
4 - 10 GBP
 
5 - 5 GBP

I’m a bit loathe to suggest £100 since it’s a bit big & I don’t want us to have to cut back if budget changes, but it does seem a good amount while £50 seems a bit small. Maybe £75 just to reassure my fiscally anxious self? Or be bold & go £100 if enough others agree. Giving to Loomio also seems like a good idea, but it’s not as actively in development, so the priorities seem a bit different. Do we already pay for loomio?

N

Neil - @neil@social.coop Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 25 GBP
 
2 - 5 GBP
 
3 - 10 GBP
 
4 - 50 GBP
 
5 - 100 GBP

Definitely a good practice to contribute upstream to projects we depend on. Though I've seen a recent post suggesting that Eugen/Mastodon is already very adequately funded (can't find it right now, will try to dig out), so maybe we can support other projects. Echoing what others have said, I'd like to prioritise TWG first; then split e.g. 100 GBP p/m between various upstream projects we rely on. That said, for now, good with £25 p/m to Mastodon as a starting point to our upstream donations.

W

Wade (@ghostsofbush) Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 25 GBP
 
2 - 10 GBP
 
3 - 5 GBP
 
4 - 50 GBP
 
5 - 100 GBP

In all, a pretty uninformed vote, but to me £25 seems it wouldn't hit the budget too bad and is a meaningful enough contribution so as not to be "freeloading" off Mastodon development.

F

Flancian Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 50 GBP
 
2 - 25 GBP
 
3 - 10 GBP
 
4 - 5 GBP
 
5 - 100 GBP

I voted 'middle of the road' here (50 GBP) because, although I appreciate the ways in which Mastodon development has enabled the growth of the Fediverse and will likely continue to do so, I am personally worried about some of the focus of the project feeling like it is about Mastodon instead of about the greater Fediverse.

There are many up-and-coming other ActivityPub servers that I'd rather support instead of only supporting the incumbent (after testing them, discussing them as a community).

JP

Joeri Poesen Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 100 GBP
 
2 - 50 GBP
 
3 - 25 GBP
 
4 - 10 GBP
 
5 - 5 GBP

My general preference is 10% of income, which at current budget is 100 GBP/month.

But it doesn't all have to go directly to mastodon development every month. I could see us sponsor (in-house) development of plugins or fixes (at predetermined rate) which we then opensource and contribute.

@sky makes a good point though about other contributions. Maybe we could/should maintain a list of orgs/causes to donate to, and how much, and review that quarterly or something...

MP

Michael Potter Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 100 GBP
 
2 - 50 GBP
 
3 - 25 GBP
 
4 - 10 GBP
 
5 - 5 GBP

I'd like to contribute to the the mastodon devs for providing us with the bird app alternative just when the community needed it.

CA

Chad Adams Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 100 GBP
 
2 - 50 GBP
 
3 - 25 GBP
 
4 - 10 GBP
 
5 - 5 GBP

Supporting the software we depend on is important!

K

Kévin Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 100 GBP
 
2 - 50 GBP
 
3 - 25 GBP
 
4 - 10 GBP
 
5 - 5 GBP

I think considering that social.coop's "main" existence is using Mastodon I put 10% as the choice. But similar to other people I wouldn't tie this entirely to the main mastodon project but also include other development projects towards the greater Mastodon / fediverse sphere

AS

Arnold Schrijver Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 5 GBP
 
2 - 10 GBP
 
3 - 25 GBP
 
4 - 50 GBP
 
5 - 100 GBP

With the Fediverse going mainstream and Mastodon now about 95% of the 'installed base' they are of few, maybe only project with good sustainability outlook already. Meanwhile Fediverse has languished, unable to evolve its protocols and with lotsa Protocol Decay. Mastodon is the 'Gmail' in the room around which the fedi has become shaped. Their focus, on their own app, is justified. But its open standards and other apps that explore potential of the fedi beyond Microblogging where money should go

BM

Boris Mann Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 100 GBP
 
2 - 50 GBP
 
3 - 25 GBP
 
4 - 10 GBP
 
5 - 5 GBP

Ideally we can fund all of our upstream software in some way - Mastodon, Loomio, anything else we use.

Does Meet.Coop fund BigBlueButton? Can we ask them to?

This should be something we lead by example. OpenCollective showing flows of funds to other OSS and groups would be great.

EL

Eliot Lash Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 10 GBP
 
2 - 25 GBP
 
3 - 5 GBP
 
4 - 50 GBP
 
5 - 100 GBP

I think this is a good thought but I honestly think contributing to mastodon project should be lower priority than paying our own workers and maintaining our own infrastructure. Especially if we are considering moving to a fork like hometown, they probably need financial support more than mastodon. In addition I am beginning to observe some undesirable behavior from Eugen and how he chooses to run the project. I am still directly contributing to Mastodon but I would just advise prudence.

D

Django Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 5 GBP
 
2 - 10 GBP
 
3 - 25 GBP
 
4 - 50 GBP
 
5 - 100 GBP

I agree we should send Mastodon some funds but the project seems well funded at this point (29k/month last I saw).

I’d like to see SocialCoop fund other Fediverse projects, specifically those that share some of the cooperative structure, values, or have planned advanced governance features such as Bonfire, or the Hometown mastodon fork.

SG

Shauna Gordon-McKeon Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 10 GBP
 
2 - 5 GBP
 
3 - 25 GBP
 
4 - 50 GBP
 
5 - 100 GBP

I love the idea of setting aside 100 GBP to support upstream projects, if we can afford it, but I don't know about funding Mastodon particularly. A lot depends on how they choose to respond to the surge in interest. They've got hundreds of new issues and PRs in their Github. Are they going to grow so they can address them? Then we should help fund that. But if they don't, and development is largely happening elsewhere, and we rely on a fork or on plugins, we should focus on funding that.

I

Isabel Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 5 GBP
 
2 - 10 GBP
 
3 - 25 GBP
 
4 - 50 GBP
 
5 - 100 GBP

I disagree with contributing. (1) We should not contribute if we would be supporting mastodon.social and mastodon.online. The Mastodon Patreon is for both, and the OpenCollective page has debits for "moderation" which I figure is also for those instances. These are huge instances with a not-so-great reputation. Is there even a way to support just the open source development? (2) Our money can go farther elsewhere, like mods/admins on our instance. Mastodon has received grants.

ES

Ed Summers Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 50 GBP
 
2 - 25 GBP
 
3 - 100 GBP
 
4 - 10 GBP
 
5 - 5 GBP

I'm strongly in favor of supporting the Mastodon software development, but like Isabel I'm not excited about us supporting the massive mastodon.social instance (or other super massive flagship instances). I don't know if there's a way to distinguish between the two when donating.

MAS

Michel Alexandre Salim Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 50 GBP
 
2 - 25 GBP
 
3 - 10 GBP
 
4 - 5 GBP
 
5 - 100 GBP

I think 25-50 is reasonable (basically roughly 10% of the tech budget). That being said I agree with the others who raise concerns that this sponsors large instances that are not necessarily well-moderated, and that there's a conflict of interest with Gargron both developing the core software and promoting his instance. If the money can be earmarked only for developing the software, I would be more comfortable. Or maybe we can sponsor one of those third party Fediverse instance pickers

SJ

Scott Jenson Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 5 GBP
 
2 - 10 GBP
 
3 - 25 GBP
 
4 - 50 GBP
 
5 - 100 GBP

Given what I've been learning about how poorly Mastodon is spending it's money (apparently spending $175/hr on an iOS app devs) I think we should a) have a better understanding of how they are spending their money and b) consider spending it on other projects that are doing more to advance the broader federation goals.

NS

Nick Sellen Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 5 GBP
 
2 - 10 GBP
 
3 - 25 GBP
 
4 - 50 GBP
 
5 - 100 GBP

.... I wrote too much for a "vote" comment, so will comment below. in summary, not in favour of donating to mastodon as things stand now.

FM

Fenn Martyn Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 100 GBP
 
2 - 50 GBP
 
3 - 25 GBP
 
4 - 10 GBP
 
5 - 5 GBP

I agree with many of the others here that 10% of our income is a good amount to shoot for. I love FOSS applications and would be glad to see us support Mastodon in a big way.

AU

Ana Ulin Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 50 GBP
 
2 - 25 GBP
 
3 - 10 GBP
 
4 - 5 GBP
 
5 - 100 GBP

If we set the TWG monthly budget to 250 EUR (~215 GBP right now), it seems disproportionate to be spending more than an additional 20% of that on sponsoring Mastodon development. I would also like to prioritize paying *WG members for their work.

TR

Tom Resing Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 100 GBP
 
2 - 50 GBP
 
3 - 25 GBP
 
4 - 10 GBP
 
5 - 5 GBP

Agree with @sky

A

Alex Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 25 GBP
 
2 - 50 GBP
 
3 - 10 GBP
 
4 - 100 GBP
 
5 - 5 GBP

Sustaining the tech working group (etc) and our other infrastructure is a priority but we should definitely be contributing upstream. So definitely support this. Thanks for initiating.

AB

Andreas Bastias Fri 25 Nov 2022 3:05PM

 
1 - 10 GBP
 
2 - 5 GBP
 
3 - 25 GBP
 
4 - 50 GBP
 
5 - 100 GBP

As a new member, I really enjoy reading through the discussion. It’s illuminating. That said, my vote is fairly uninformed, relying on the arguments in this thread. It seems to me that we want to (and should) contribute to the open source dev that undergirds our own project. At the same time, we do not want to subsidize other instances that do not share our co-op values. As Mastadon grows, it seems like they’re directing resources toward their own instances. I’m for $100, but not all to Mast.

DB

Doug Belshaw Sun 27 Nov 2022 4:50PM

I'm not voting on this, because I'm torn. On the one hand, I would argue that it's not unreasonable for the amount to donate to Mastodon to be 10% of surplus. On the other hand, I echo what others have said about the direction the project is going, the way it's run, and the alternatives that might actually suit social.coop better.

NS

Nick Sellen Sun 27 Nov 2022 10:06PM

I think

a) mastodon is adequately funded for now

b) I think donations go to mastodon dev AND running the big instances, without being able to distinguish

c) we should support the broader ecosystems of co-operativism and fediverse stuff (as @Arnold Schrijver explains well)

... so when it comes to vote for actually donating to mastodon, I will vote against, but would love to send that money to other aligned/related causes, such as:

a) alternative fediverse software (e.g. Bonfire), it's in our interest to keep the ecosystem from capture by one tool/org/person/etc

b) wider co-operative development aims, which could involve donating more to Platform6 (our fiscal host on opencollective), or other co-operative social media instances

c) other instances which struggle for money, but play important roles in making the fediverse a nourishing space

d) people within social.coop, who might be able to participant more deeply with some money (so far, I think most of the people contributing have enough other money... which is usually the case in these kind of volunteer-y things, and that is not very fair participation) (I did a very unscientific "mini poll" recently in tech chat, and a good number of the people were currently being paid, by someone else..)

e) anything/person/org/etc that provides a decent counterbalance to the power/domination of mastodon as an all encompassing entity for the fediverse.... that could look very varied in practise.

BM

Boris Mann Sun 27 Nov 2022 10:17PM

I think it's important to lead by example and fund upstream open source dependencies, even if it is just a token. Same goes for Loomio. So rather than zero or the upper bound -- even token funds flowing to our upstreams would be good.

I also don't think we should send funds to things we don't actually use (for starters). I'm open to revisiting this but also might be best for outside social coop. Eg if there are particular features we'd like to see, then an Open Collective for that feature could be something to fund if aligned with our needs.

ES

Ed Summers Sun 27 Nov 2022 10:24PM

I definitely agree about helping fund software that we actually use in social.coop and try to steer clear of funding software (e.g. Bonfire) simply because it is a good idea, or we use it elsewhere.

NS

Nick Sellen Sun 27 Nov 2022 10:29PM

my thinking is along the lines of we use "The Fediverse", and as with co-opertivism (and many other things) is part of an ecosystem, and funding the ecosystem is super important. being able to direct funds in solidarity, which has a long history in co-operativism (I guess...:) )

ES

Ed Summers Sun 27 Nov 2022 10:37PM

I'm definitely a fan of the Fediverse as a concept and an ecosystem, but it feels like it's going to get pretty big? Having our own use as a measuring stick still seems like a good idea to me. Also, hasn't the focus of social.coop been more on platform cooperatives than the fediverse per se?

NS

Nick Sellen Sun 27 Nov 2022 10:44PM

I think the success of the fediverse is not at all clear right now, it might be we end up with a mastodon-verse, and a recentralization with that, around eugen.

already we can notice that mastodon makes feature decisions that are not best for social.coop (e.g. the registration stuff that now wants to send people to join mastodon website if it can).

there's where I see supporting the wider fediverse as important.

that's in addition to supporting co-operativism, not instead (I also make the subtle different of referring to the general principles of co-operatativism, platform co-ops being a related, but narrower concept).

MN

Matt Noyes Sun 27 Nov 2022 10:19PM

I feel like we are being unstrategic at the moment, throwing up proposals for how to spend money without discussing our larger organizing strategy. The question of how to distribute surplus in a cooperative is a key question that reflects its goals and economic objectives. I think we need to have a more organized discussion of those goals and objectives before making specific proposals.

ES

Ed Summers Sun 27 Nov 2022 10:26PM

Thanks for saying this Matt. For what it's worth I'm also feeling this tension when it comes to discussing options for technical work. Maybe it's time to organize another co-op wide members meeting? But as Nathan said above, the idea for this did come from a poll, but I think it was pre-seeded with some ideas?

NS

Nick Sellen Sun 27 Nov 2022 10:34PM

maybe a messy chaotic bit of throwing ideas around is a good bit to start with.

and would be great to also then put that into a larger organizing strategy. esp. given there is a bazillion new people, and could get quite chaotic really quickly.

in general maybe more open discussion about "how to manage surplus" than "which of a list of things do you want" is good, as we can tease out underlying principles we might want to be operating by.

NS

Nathan Schneider Mon 28 Nov 2022 4:05PM

Agreed on the need for strategic discussions. But just as a reminder, the recent funding proposals (that I've proposed at least) are downstream from this process, going on for several months: https://www.loomio.com/p/oVgO1MNU/poll-what-should-social-coop-invest-extra-funds-in-

BM

Boris Mann Sun 27 Nov 2022 10:26PM

Yes, hence my point about leading by example. “Co-ops should fund the upstream software and services they rely on, lest they have to shoulder the full burden of software maintenance”. Extremely strategic!

MN

Matt Noyes Sun 27 Nov 2022 10:32PM

How about we hold another Social.Coop strategy session(s) in late January? We can ask for volunteers to organize the session and facilitate a preliminary discussion here on Loomio so that the great energy and engagement we are seeing now is not dissipated.

MN

Matt Noyes Mon 28 Nov 2022 2:09AM

This mind map, made after our last strategy session (in 2021?), is a start. Since I have been involved Social.Coop has been feeling its way, without anything like a strategy or plan. (Which has been positive in many ways.) We refer to the ICA principles, but most cooperatives adapt and improve them to reflect their particular situation, values, and aspirations (Mondragon, Cooperation Jackson, and DisCO are examples. Then there are the Solidarity Economy Principles, and, perhaps most radical, the practice of CECOSESOLA in Venezuela, where constant conversation is the key.)

JG

Jamie G Mon 28 Nov 2022 6:41AM

As a new user, this is a great mind map. "Experiment in user controlled social media" and "social network of the future" stand out to me for consideration in the larger strategy for the org and in the allocation of funds. If there is a vision to contribute to or conceive the "social network of the future", that should be part of any larger strategy.

AS

Andrew Shead Mon 28 Nov 2022 5:17PM

I am new here too, and strongly favour mind maps (mm) as a way to keep the big picture in view. Matt's mm is excellent. The above points of view are all good. My sense is that we should support cooperative values and projects as well as technical diversity and openness.

Once the Silly Season is behind us, a strategy session in late January seems like a good idea, one in which we use the mm as a starting point, amending it and adding more detail where necessary. Once that is done, we can then decide how best to deploy our resources in keeping with our community values.

I also like good documentation. The wiki seems like best place to do that where we have all our stuff in one place and have traceable history of our evolution.

NS

Poll Created Mon 28 Nov 2022 7:11PM

Do you have a proposal for how we should contribute to fediverse software projects? Closed Thu 1 Dec 2022 7:02PM

This thread has seen lots of interest in contributing to a broader array of fediverse software projects than Mastodon. But how should we do that? The purpose of this poll is to invite people with specific proposals for how best to do this can suggest them for later consideration and evaluation.

After this poll, we can assess which patterns seem to be rising to the surface.

Results

Results Option Voters
I have an idea! 8 NS D BS I AS ZS GF
I support another person's idea 12 C SJK N N D SG G JA JG A SL FM
Undecided 255 DS KF ST JD CZ BH LF JC JNM F BM SH KT ZS DH G AM MSC CCC L

20 of 275 people have voted (7%)

NS

Nathan Schneider
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing: en.poll_count_options.I have an idea!">I Have An Idea!</span>
Mon 28 Nov 2022 7:12PM

I propose that we allocate a budget (say 50 GBP/month) to the Tech Working Group to distribute to fediverse projects that they think would be strategic and values-aligned to support.

I

Isabel
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing: en.poll_count_options.I have an idea!">I Have An Idea!</span>
Mon 28 Nov 2022 7:12PM

Honestly this conversation feels a little rushed. Delegating to the Tech Working Group feels premature and out of scope, especially if we're not giving them more specific guidance. As an alternative, we could start by developing a scoring rubric for what we're looking for from outside projects: alignment with values, technical benefits...

AS

Andrew Shead
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing: en.poll_count_options.I have an idea!">I Have An Idea!</span>
Mon 28 Nov 2022 7:12PM

I recommend that we list the hardware and software on which we depend then decide how much money we would like to allocate to each item.

Ideally, we should be supporting hardware and software that is developed and maintained in a co-operative manner. So, perhaps the list should include items that would move us toward a fully co-operative environment.

SG

Shauna Gordon-McKeon
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing: en.poll_count_options.I support another person&#39;s idea">I Support Another Person&#39;s Idea</span>
Mon 28 Nov 2022 7:12PM

I agree with Isabel that we should develop priorities & guidelines before choosing specific recipients (unless there is urgent need). There are many things we could focus on: how much we use an upstream project, how much unmet need they have, how their values align with ours, whether they are potential future partners, etc. I would love to hear from the wider community in what seems most important. Then, perhaps volunteers could form a temporary group to research answers?

ZS

Zee Spencer
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing: en.poll_count_options.I have an idea!">I Have An Idea!</span>
Mon 28 Nov 2022 7:12PM

I prefer to fund folks doing the non-engineering work first; rather than engineering projects; as coders frequenlty get higher priority due to how white supremacist imperial patriarchy. prioritizes technocratic solutioning.

Some community membersworking on trust & safety of the Fediverse we could fund:

In particular:

  1. Ro: https://social.coop/@Are0h@ubiqueros.com

  2. Marcia: https://social.coop/@CaribenxMarciaX@scholar.social

  3. Ginger: https://social.coop/@gingerrroot@kitty.town

@Literally@social.coop
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing: en.poll_count_options.I have an idea!">I Have An Idea!</span>
Mon 28 Nov 2022 7:12PM

(1) Agree with @Nathan Schneider - Tech Working Group should have a small monthly fund for things that might pop up ALSO

(2) Agree with @Zee Spencer that tech solutionism is a trap, but that there are items with deliverables we could buy (as in, not charity but exchange money for pre-agreed upon products and services) like explanatory art pieces, emojos, et cetera that would make our experience on this platform better and to share how socialcoop works with our fedi neighbors

G

Giacomo
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing: en.poll_count_options.I support another person&#39;s idea">I Support Another Person&#39;s Idea</span>
Mon 28 Nov 2022 7:12PM

I agree with Isabel

D

Darren
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing: en.poll_count_options.I have an idea!">I Have An Idea!</span>
Mon 28 Nov 2022 7:12PM

We could try a participatory budgeting process to distribute a (monthly?) budget

Something like-

Could include more than just software projects (eg. moderation coop efforts?) so preferences can be expressed

BS

Billy Smith
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing: en.poll_count_options.I have an idea!">I Have An Idea!</span>
Mon 28 Nov 2022 7:12PM

We should be willing to fund the development work of the tools that we use.

We'll be using them in future, so we should chip in now. :D

This shouldn't just be applied to the software tools, but also the hardware tools. :D

While i do have more to say on the second point, that's a larger conversation that requires a thread elsewhere. :D

GF

Geraldo Fernandez (@yerald@social.coop
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing: en.poll_count_options.I have an idea!">I Have An Idea!</span>
Mon 28 Nov 2022 7:12PM

I support giving directly to the Mastodon project. I understand concerns about .social & .online, but feel its more important to support the development of the project we use. Supporting the growth of alternatives is a seperate issue that I would support exploring further, but as of now I think it's good for our coop to provide development funds. We could also write to Eugen on behalf of our coop requesting that he introduce a way to give to the development project separately from the instances.

SJK

Stephanie Jo Kent
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing: en.poll_count_options.I support another person&#39;s idea">I Support Another Person&#39;s Idea</span>
Mon 28 Nov 2022 7:12PM

Seems there are some very important considerations and several good ideas, some of which appear to be in contradiction to each other :) I saw a mention of sociocracy somewhere and wonder if this is a task for a circle? They can generate a proposal and bring it back to everyone?

SL

Sky Leite
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing: en.poll_count_options.I support another person&#39;s idea">I Support Another Person&#39;s Idea</span>
Mon 28 Nov 2022 7:12PM

I support @Isabel's proposal. Once we know what we expect from each project that we use, as well as how we're already contributing to them, we'll be able to make an informed decision.

C

Clayton (clayton@social.coop)
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing: en.poll_count_options.I support another person&#39;s idea">I Support Another Person&#39;s Idea</span>
Mon 28 Nov 2022 7:12PM

I agree with @Zee Spencer 's suggestion to fund the community care that goes into maintaining the Fediverse, but would rather support instances.

Possible candidates:

FM

Fenn Martyn
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing: en.poll_count_options.I support another person&#39;s idea">I Support Another Person&#39;s Idea</span>
Mon 28 Nov 2022 7:12PM

Admittedly, I'm rather out of the loop with everything that's going on - been doing my best to read and participate, but there's an awful lot to take it. Perhaps we should instead invest in ways to increase engagement or simplify how information is disseminated?

I think Zee has a good idea with investments in non-programming initiatives.

N

Neil - @neil@social.coop
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing: en.poll_count_options.I support another person&#39;s idea">I Support Another Person&#39;s Idea</span>
Mon 28 Nov 2022 7:12PM

I like Darren's suggestion of participatory budgeting. The initial steps of determining the amount and determining the potential projects would address the points made by Isabel and Zee too I think.

N

Nic
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing: en.poll_count_options.I support another person&#39;s idea">I Support Another Person&#39;s Idea</span>
Mon 28 Nov 2022 7:12PM

As others have said, as a first step, supporting the tools we depend on to function (Mastodon, Loomio, maybe others) seems a minimum. Supporting a wider ecosystem, following more discussions, can grow from that. Open Source is a form of cooperatively built software, which depends on paying those who do the work. Given social.coop isn't formally a coop, it would seem odd to not to donate to Mastodon, which we depend on, and is actively maintained, because they are not a coop.

JG

Jamie G
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing: en.poll_count_options.I support another person&#39;s idea">I Support Another Person&#39;s Idea</span>
Mon 28 Nov 2022 7:12PM

I also like Darren's proposal.

Determining the recipients seems the most critical part, and may need to keep in mind the budget would probably not be large enough to meaningfully contribute to very many.

D

Django
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing: en.poll_count_options.I support another person&#39;s idea">I Support Another Person&#39;s Idea</span>
Mon 28 Nov 2022 7:12PM

I Agree with @Zee Spencer

JNM

J. Nathan Matias Mon 28 Nov 2022 11:21PM

Hi all, I'm new here and still getting to know the community here; it's been great to see the thoughtful discussion! I'm supportive of distributing funds to strategic/values aligned initiatives, especially ones that are focused on diversity/inclusion and online safety, which seem to be two areas of significant need.

AS

Andrew Shead Tue 29 Nov 2022 2:13AM

We may find the direction of Mastodon itself troubling yet support it because we use it while also supporting a wholly co-operative collective that is developing an alternative that we can see ourselves transitioning to using in future.

SJ

Scott Jenson Tue 29 Nov 2022 2:22PM

The conversation this last week on how best to do moderation has been very instructive. There are clearly strong needs in our quickly growing Fediverse. Moderation is the issue of the day but other issues will crop up as well. It really boils down to a clear articulation of "Our Values". This clearly needs to be debated, but I'd vote for a core value statement that we want a long term, sustainable ecosystem based on federated hosting, effective moderation, member safety, and fair compensation for both projects and people doing key tasks like moderation. Once we agree on this higher level statement, teams can be tasked with finding and supporting projects and people that do this in an effective (e.g. not wasteful) and ethical way.

NS

Nathan Schneider Tue 29 Nov 2022 8:11PM

@Isabel Thanks for your comment here—I really like your proposal.

Just for context, though, the purpose of that poll is NOT to rush into making a decision; it was to provide a structured venue for surfacing possible ideas that we could craft into a more sophisticated proposal. I started the poll precisely because I wasn't sure how to proceed and wanted to encourage constructive proposals like the one you offered!

cc: @Shauna Gordon-McKeon

Item removed

MP

M. Page-Lieberman - @jotaemei@social.coop Tue 29 Nov 2022 11:50PM

Hi all. OK. Here is my blogpost length answer.

TLDR. Let’s get this out of the way with a 6-month donation as a form of prepayment. And while Eugen may say he wants to democratize social media, he does not want to democratize the workplace.

I believe we have 2 concerns here. One is the desire to support projects that we rely on, and IMO (perhaps in our aggregate opinion too), it's good form to do so - assuming one has the means. The other concern is how to be mindful to support the projects that align with our values, and as @Matt Noyes pointed out, align with our strategy. I believe we can do both by untethering our contributions to the platform we depend on from our budget proportions and by changing the period in which we make this payment.

For the amount that we should pay, I think rather than looking at our monthly disposable income, we should ask instead what is a reasonable amount for using the software for a server, and perhaps as well, consider that there are apparently thousands of servers. I see this more as contractual or as an unwritten few perks leasing plan than support. Given that this is free software, we would not be, for instance, receiving technical support in turn for these proposed monthly payments. When we require that support, it’s up to the volunteers of the TWG to resolve our technical issues, as well as via any help they can get from other volunteers. Most notably, there is https://social.coop/tags/mastoadmin, and I don’t know if there is any pay arrangement for that, or if the Mastodon org provides any resources to the initiative.

My fear is that it’s mostly volunteers. If that’s the case, then the org should see to it that people are compensated for the work they do volunteering to help others. And we too may want to see how we might be able to help on that solution. If there is generally little help that does get provided there, then that’s even more of a reason that we should be a part of that solution of compensation - to ensure that more help is provided.

Those who write the code get to play with it and use it for themselves, as well as sharing it with others.Those, however, who volunteer to help at https://social.coop/tags/mastoadmin, are giving time to helping on others' server issues, which the helpers themselves do not necessarily directly benefit from. Further, those IMO, who help others with their server issues play more significant roles for the community than those who just share their code.

Back to making payment to the organization itself though. If we do not know what is reasonable, then perhaps we can see if there is any place where there is a suggested donation, and then pay say 150% or 200%. But I think the payment should be made more by what we think is reasonable for a very limited unwritten contract rather than how much we believe should come out of our budget, as if it were a monthly tithe to assuage our conscience.

On this second part, I do not believe we should be on the hook monthly. We could perhaps make lump payments prepaid every 6 months and then review them at the end of each period - or pick a different period, or not review them but just repeat them. But, it should be for as long as we intend to keep using the software, as this project is not one that we - AFAICT - see as one that we should prioritize building, independently of our use of it.

I do not like the idea of our payments being conceptually based on our income. I’m not betting on this, but let’s say our income significantly increases. We would gladly have more financial resources for the projects and services and compensation to those who we do believe in and with whom we would like to build based on a shared vision, but this would also be cut into by a growing amount of money going to an org that at least presently, does not share our vision. This model works against our being able to provide yet more resources to those we wish to build with, and which continues to use the model that we’re trying to build an alternative to. Both expenditures should not grow, as our budget increases. 

The reason that I say that the Mastodon org has a model that we’re trying to provide an alternative to is not because, to my understanding, Eugen is neutral on these questions, but that because - and this is just as much as I’ve been able to pick up - that though the org is technically a nonprofit LLC in Germany, I cannot find any information about its board of directors or how it is governed in practice. It appears only, that when it comes to how the project is governed, that it uses the BDFL (benevolent dictator for life) model.

Reportedly, while many people may spend endless hours volunteering with code fixes and new features, none of them get a vote. It is ultimately Eugen who has the final word about what is allowed into the code base. Any money that we provide should be done while being cognizant that there are many people who may give ideas and labor, all contributing to the project that we all use, but which do not have their proposals voted on, and whose inclusion into the project is at the whims of one authority figure who can just say “no.”

I think we should reach out to the other cooperative instances and even non-cooperatives and get a sense about how people feel about this and at least let our sentiments be known. The man may run his project however he feels (and find end runs around NGO law in Germany. It would at least be an issue in the US), and that’s meh, OK.

I’m not asking that we try to force him to change, but I don’t think we should be encouraging that behavior every month through our limited resources. Instead, we should be looking towards building alternatives and supporting others who do so. We can send some lump sum to the org every 6 months or whenever. Mathematically, we may wind up spending the same amount every period, but conceptually, the rest of the months, we should not have our budget constrained by this obligation.

For those too who are fans of Sociocracy, we can go ahead on some lump amount provisionally for the period and then revisit this again in the future, without having this task be unresolved as we go through the work of attempting to explore and determine what we instead would like to contribute our resources to building and supporting.

L

LibreEquity Sun 11 Dec 2022 8:39PM

I'm new to Mastodon but one thing I noticed is that its license is AGPL 3.0, which if I understand correctly is the most copyleft of the well-known license types; I like that. But that isn't to say one way or another about the governance of Mastodon development outside of the terms on which they are providing its source code.

BM

benjamin melançon Wed 30 Nov 2022 11:20PM

Support we offer should be for cooperatively-governed projects. For the future of the fediverse, cooperative software development and cooperative instances are both absolutely crucial. By having money set aside for this purpose, we can help nurture those that have started down this path and perhaps encourage cooperative forms to come into being. No one else will do this— we must.

NS

Nathan Schneider Fri 2 Dec 2022 3:56PM

Thanks for the incredible contributions here! So much wisdom. But I have some concerns about the accumulating complexity of the proposals on the table, which I've shared on Social.coop for discussion:

https://social.coop/@ntnsndr/109444870370800595

I would love ideas about how to synthesize the beauty of what is here on display with something that does not significantly add to our organizational load!

EM

Erik Moeller Fri 2 Dec 2022 4:20PM

I think it would be good to get consensus on the envelope of funding per month that we want to redistribute, as you suggested, but without delegating it to the TWG. If that's, say, 100 USD/month, then we can decide on a participatory budgeting process by which that could be allocated to upstream and mission-aligned initiatives.

In other words, separate the "Do we want to set aside money for this (and if so, how much)" question from the "How do we want to spend the money we set aside" question.

As to the "How do we want to spend the money", I'm in favor of allowing for lightweight proposals to be floated while the process matures. So once the envelope is set, it should IMO be OK for a proposal like "Let's at least give a small amount of money to the primary software project that we rely on," to be floated.

NS

Nathan Schneider Fri 2 Dec 2022 4:31PM

Thanks for this. I like the idea of identifying a minimalistic starting point and developing from there. A concern is: Will the community be willing to write a blank check? And who would steward this, according to what criteria? I suspect asking for community-level approval for every contribution will soon become a large burden. I think we'll need to answer those basic questions before promising funding.

DB

Doug Belshaw Fri 2 Dec 2022 4:21PM

@Erik Moeller how do you suggest those proposals are put forward? In text form in the thread, or as a new discussion?

EM

Erik Moeller Fri 2 Dec 2022 4:28PM

It might be good to start drafting the broad proposal language in something like an Etherpad or a Hedgedoc before a vote, just so we don't all suffer from proposal fatigue. But the gist of it for proposal 1 for me would be: Do we want to set aside some of our funds for investment in mission-aligned technical or non-technical initiatives.

We could enumerate examples that have been cited in this thread. The options would include "No, I think we need to focus on our core operations for now", and a range of funding scales similar to the initial vote here (perhaps with a slightly higher ceiling).

NS

Nathan Schneider Fri 2 Dec 2022 4:32PM

To me, there has already been strong support for funding upstream work that we rely on. (See top of the thread.) The question is more one of how.

NS

Nathan Schneider Fri 2 Dec 2022 4:33PM

@Leo Sammallahti:

an easy option could be to allow projects to apply for funding for us, instead of us looking for projects to fund?

People could apply for $100, $200 or $500 grants from Social Coop. They write an application, its discussed on Loomio and then put on a vote.

That would seem like something that would require relatively little effort from Social Coops behalf?

https://social.coop/@LeoSammallahti/109444987076475110

NS

Nathan Schneider Fri 2 Dec 2022 4:39PM

I should say I do not necessarily think that running a grants program is "easy," and it raises the question of who would be the decision-makers. At minimum, I recommend entrusting that to a willing working group, rather than the community at large.

LS

Leo Sammallahti Sat 3 Dec 2022 5:01PM

When you have the time, would be interested to hear why you think entrusting handling the grant applications to a working group rather than the Social Coop community at large would be better? Notification spam?

NS

Nathan Schneider Sun 4 Dec 2022 6:48PM

Making good allocation decisions requires time and energy. Say there are 10 applications/month for 5 grants, and it takes 5 minutes to review each app fairly. So that's 50 minutes/month per person. Multiplying that by 300 members is a much much larger demand on our collective energy than multiplying that by 5 WG members.

And thatdiesnt include the time for deliberation if there is any disagreement at all, which also becomes more complex (potentially exponentially) with the number of people involved.

LS

Leo Sammallahti Sun 4 Dec 2022 8:20PM

Can see where you are coming from, and you might turn out to be totally correct. My guess would be that the process would be mostly a rubber-stamp with rare occasions where a grant application is rejected. Especially if the grant sums are small ($100 grants with little opportunity costs, etc.) I do not think occasionally giving a grant to a "bad group" would be a big deal.

Another option could be to set up simple minimum requirements and use a lottery to decide between the projects. That could minimise effort required, although it lacks a democratic element; think participatory budgeting similar to what @Josh Levy proposed would fit a coop well.

That being said, I do not have strong feelings for or against any of the options. They all seem good.

DS

Danyl Strype Thu 15 Dec 2022 1:51AM

Having been involved in a number of community groups and social enterprises that applied for grants, I want to point out a few of the downsides of this micro-grant proposal.

  • Writing grant applications takes time and energy that could be going directly into the activity the grant would be funding. As does correspondence with the grant org (and reporting on how the grant was spent, if required).

  • Reading grant applications, corresponding with applications, and deciding who gets the money takes time and energy.

  • Realistically, 100 funds no more than one hour of a skilled technologist's labour at market rates

Keeping all this in mind, a donation of 100 is much more helpful to a software project than a grant for 100. A 100 grant wouldn't even fund the time spend on the application and associated admin. If you want to set up a grant scheme, handing out grants of 1000 a year gives you and grant receivers much better bang for buck in terms of admin overhead, than giving out 100 a month does.

Even better, just donate the money you want to hand out in grants to an existing org with a grant program. For example, if you want to help fund development of fediverse software, and decentralized and user-respecting software in general, you could contribute to the funds that feed the NlNet grants.

FWIW Another way anyone could help with funding for software projects is to write a grant application for them, and handle the correspondence and reporting. Obviously you'd need to start by getting active agreement from the project that they want grant money and have the capacity to deliver on the strings attached, which isn't a given.

JL

Josh Levy Fri 2 Dec 2022 6:23PM

I would be pretty wary of a grants program; having run them in the past, they take up a lot of resources and would require a lot of buy-in from this community.

One thought is to invite the community to vote, on a monthly basis, for who to distribute funds to. The working group could come up with ~5-10 groups (some tech/infrastructure, some more community oriented), facilitate a vote, then distribute funds to the top 2 or 3 (an even split). I think this is similar to how CREDO distributes funds.

LS

Leo Sammallahti Sat 3 Dec 2022 4:59PM

@Josh Levy I do not think the grants program would require lot of resources or buy-in from the community; it could work like your idea for a monthly participatory budgeting but without requiring a Working Group(s) to find projects to fund.

D

Darren Mon 5 Dec 2022 9:31AM

To expand on the ideas for participatory budgeting (some of these points could also be relevant to the proposal for us handing out grants)

As has been alluded to a number of times in this thread spending deliberation processes may well benefit from bring run every few (3?, 6?, 12?) months rather than monthly.

As we iron out the process, if we chose, participatory budgeting could be expanded to provide members with direct democratic control over how we spend the majority of our funds.

Members dont need to participate but a periodic budget preference [dot vote](https://help.loomio.com/en/user_manual/polls/proposal_types/index.html#dot-vote) provides a relatively quick and easy way for a member to meaningfully participate. The open deliberations leading to these budget dot votes gives the opportunity for deeper participation

To avoid notification fatigue we could create a new Loomio subgroup/working group which is open for any member to join. Ongoing deliberation related to how we organise the budgeting (or other spending) process & what projects to fund could happen there.

NS

Nathan Schneider Mon 5 Dec 2022 10:11PM

I think this is a worthy experiment, especially it is opt-in. I still worry about the drag on people's attention, but I would be open to seeing the approach tried. Would you (or anyone here) be interested in anchoring/facilitating this idea?

D

Darren Wed 7 Dec 2022 10:59AM

Yes, Id be very happy to begin organising this.

Im not totally clear, but get the impression it may be best to avoid using the Finance Working Group Loomio as it now has all the metagov stuff set up on it

Thinking it would likely be good to create a separate Budgeting Working Group on Loomio to contain the conversations

Who has suitable privileges in Loomio to do that?

NS

Nathan Schneider Wed 7 Dec 2022 1:07PM

You can use the Finance Working Group area. Only one thread is affected by the Metagov Gateway, the Expense Submissions.

I have the Loomio permissions, but I recommend not starting a new working group without first passing a an at-large proposal. Ideally, you would first pass a proposal here to authorize a budget and a provisional plan.

Please don't use the name "budgeting," as that creates confusion with finance (which is perhaps poorly named). Perhaps something like "mutual aid" or "upstream support." And perhaps it shouldn't be a working group per se but a "participatory budgeting space" open to anyone.

DS

Danyl Strype Thu 15 Dec 2022 2:03AM

Adding another piece of software to support may be more of a hindrance than a help, but there is a software tool called CoBudget for managing decisions on disbursing surplus funds. The linked page has a collection of case studies on how various orgs currently use it, including Enspiral (of which Loomio is a member) and Outlandish, a member of CoTech (the collective of UK tech co-ops). The current stewards of the software are GreaterThan, who are also an Enspiral member company.

DB

Doug Belshaw Thu 15 Dec 2022 6:27AM

+1 to Strypey's points. Our co-op has pretty much given up applying for grants, not because they haven't been successful, but because they're soul-destroying. Even more so for small amounts that could be donations.