Wed 12 Jul 2023 3:07PM

Could we be two instances / communities?

D Dynamic Public Seen by 241

I've been turning this thought over in my head for a couple days, and I'm curious what others think. I don't know that this is something that would ever turn into a proposal, possibly just an idea to contemplate.

Some observations:

1) I'm pretty new to social.coop, but from things various more senior members have said, I have the impression that decision-making and community-building were easier when the community was smaller.

2) It also seems from a couple of recent conversations (e.g., the one about deferation from / moderation of Threads.net if they ever implemented ActivityPub, but the one about putting together an Organizing Circle, and one about how to moderate misinformation) that there is quite a bit of divergence among our members in visions for how the instance should be run.

3) Meanwhile, it seems that there are a shortage of democratically run Fediverse instances out there.

All of this has me wondering whether if we are too big for comfortable discussion of many decisions, might we be large enough to split off into two or more instances?

I do think there would be more value in having a larger ecosystem of democratically run cooperatively owned instances out there, and this could be one strategy to bringing this about. I know we've also had members give presentations on this kind of thing, but I'm wondering if kicking off new instances from the inside might be easier than mentoring new instances on the outside.



Matt S - @matts Wed 12 Jul 2023 4:03PM

Interesting question. I'm not very active here, but in general, to your first observation, I think growing panes are healthy. I think there's value in members wrestling with the question of how do we go from small to medium to large and maintain our democratic values? How do we adjust our democratic governance methods or implement new ones to fit our circumstances? To answer these questions, I'd start with the question of where/how are people feeling unheard/misunderstood in the current processes here? That can be a discuss that leads to new ideas and improvements and perhaps the creation of a new instance if it turns out that people have incompatible values and methods. To your second observation, I'd ask if a subgroup consistently formed on the same side of all of these topics? If so, it might make sense for that sub group to create an instance that operates in the way that reflects their values. If not, I'm not sure a new instance is the appropriate response. To your third point, I would like to see more democratic Fediverse, but I'm not sure this is a reason on it's own to make a new instance. With that said, if a sub group has a vision for a different model for an instance, I'd encourage them to share their ideas here in this group (maybe not in this thread lol) and get feedback from others. If the ideas are received well, they could be implemented here. If they are not received well, the discuss could serve as an ad for others who agree and a new instance could be formed with all the useful feedback collected. So, yeah, I'd loop back to the question of how are people not feeling heard/understood in our current processes and is it a function of our method or of differing values? (Meta-question, is it recommended here for people to split what would be a long comment in a few comments to help with threading the conversation? If so, I might do that.)


Scott McGerik Thu 13 Jul 2023 12:18AM

@Matt S - matts I believe breaking your comment into multiple paragraphs would help with readability. Breaking it into multiple comments may help with threading.


Scott Jenson Wed 12 Jul 2023 4:09PM

I would agree with @Matt S - @matts this is an interesting experience for us to grow through. For my part, I don't want the solution to be "every time we have a big issue, split the instance". That doesn't feel like Democracy, that just feels like fragmentation. One of the huge values of a bigger instance is that so much of the overhead can be shared. I too felt the sting of the last discussion around Threads, some members of the community were pretty harsh towards me, but honestly, we'll grow through that. Just because tempers rose doesn't mean we should take our ball and go home.


Dynamic Wed 12 Jul 2023 5:35PM

@Scott Jenson

I think the relative anonymity is a problem---in more than one context I have seen people on here accuse others of arguing in bad faith, or not saying what they obviously really mean, and that make me really not feel good about engaging on these topics. At some point someone suggested that part of the problem is that we don't really know each other, which I think was related to the community size, although I suppose might also be related to turnover.


Dynamic Wed 12 Jul 2023 5:45PM

@Scott Jenson

Right now, I think we have a huge problem with comment threads being too long, complicated, and repetitive, which I think is a natural side-effect of using Loomio for a group this size. Like, I really can't keep track of these threads, it's hard to tell where the exact transition point is between read and unread comments, and things get toggled from "unread" to "read" whether or not I've actually seen them with my eyes.

I think Loomio utilizes "infinite scroll" functionality, which makes it hard to use keyword searches to find relevant content.

I don't know whether this is related to the fact that at least once someone has published a "summary of main issues" on a question that didn't really seem like a complete summary of the relevant information.


Dynamic Wed 12 Jul 2023 5:45PM

@Scott Jenson

I'd like to hear more about what you see as valuable about going from a small instance to a medium instance to a large instance. I've heard a lot of voices arguing that smaller instances are better in general.


Scott Jenson Wed 12 Jul 2023 6:06PM

@Dynamic I'm not against smaller instances, it's just the basic mechanics, from funding to moderation are a bit easier with a larger instance, that's all.


Joshua Thu 13 Jul 2023 2:58PM

@Scott Jenson I hear you on the fragmentation bit, but one of the many great things about co-ops is that we can achieve economies of scale even as separate organizations. I can imagine a scenario where we split off an instance (or instances) and still share common resources under principle 6: cooperation among cooperatives. Imagine having a corner of the fediverse that is our own co-opiverse.

Consensus is important, but it's sometimes healthy to amicably split into separate groups when major differences arise. In fact, I think splitting would be preferable to remaining a single large group, yet feeling resentful about the outcome of a major decision.


Eamon Caddigan Tue 18 Jul 2023 2:36AM

@Joshua I would love to see more "amicable splits" in online (and real life) organizations; I've never been part of one, but I've been through enough of the contentious kind that I would like to avoid them.


Danyl Strype Thu 20 Jul 2023 3:50AM

@Eamon Caddigan

I would love to see more "amicable splits" in online (and real life) organizations

If you keep Dunbar's number in mind, cell division is a sensible way to handle organisational growth. A number of advice manuals on democratic organisations suggest it, including SwarmWise by Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge, and Maverick by Ricardo Semler.

I've been through enough of the contentious kind that I would like to avoid them.

I think one of the main causes of this (along with a lack of willingness to stick with awkward 'face it and fix it' communication), is leaving the decision to perform a cell division far too long. To the point where relationships have already broken down in factional conflict. Which is a shame, because by that point, it's usually too late for the post-split groups to work well together, and some people will never repair their interpersonal relationships.

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