Fri 27 Jan 2023 5:29PM

How we use proposals

D Dynamic Public Seen by 84

In the recent long thread on changes to social.coop's moderation policies there were three different proposals, and I only found out about the thread when I received invitations to vote in the proposals. It was hard to find context on where the proposals were coming from, and it was only after I specifically asked for context that I learned what events had prompted the thread in the first place.

I'm not sure whether these proposals were put forward spontaneously by individuals, or if there had been some deliberative process behind each one, and I'd to know how the process currently works and how members of our community believe that the proposal process should work.


Dynamic Fri 27 Jan 2023 5:37PM

I'm really new to social.coop, and it's my first experience with Loomio, so there are really a lot of things that I am still figuring out (e.g. it's only yesterday that I signed up to receive daily summaries of Loomio activity).

I think it would be really helpful if proposals always started with a clear summary of the context that led to the proposal being formulated. For example, it would have been helpful if the proposal on disinformation had included a link to the recent conversation in which someone had expressed uncertainty over how flagged posts by a vaccine-skeptic should be moderated.

In this case, I know that at least one other participant had been missing that context.


Dynamic Fri 27 Jan 2023 5:42PM

As I noted above, I think that clear norms around the structure of proposals would be really helpful. I also feel that (if there isn't already) there should probably be some deliberative process before a proposal is put forward.

For example, when I lived in a largish (~8-person) cooperative house, we sometimes formed committees to research a particular issue or to have more in-depth conversations about it, and the committees would sometimes formulate proposals for to be put forward to the house as a whole. We would also sometimes work collaboratively as a house to formulate proposals before checking for consensus on them. I can't tell whether or not that is happening here.

If we don't already have a policy on this, I think it would make sense for the working groups to serve as the deliberative bodies for discussing any proposals and perhaps making changes to the wording.

If we do already have a process along those lines, I would like to know more about how it works.


Nathan Schneider Sat 28 Jan 2023 4:10PM

@Dynamic thanks for raising this. these are great questions and concerns. A bit ago I put together a document on the wiki to capture my best sense of how things work here. Does that help at all?


Dynamic Sat 28 Jan 2023 10:54PM

Thank you. That is extremely helpful. This part in particular seems clear and useful:

Before proceeding, explore the operations docs to see if there is a working group relevant to your idea. If there is, be sure to contact them to discuss it.

My next question is: do we know whether the recent proposals (including the ones in the thread on moderation policies, but not exclusively the ones in that discussion) went through this process?

If not, are there things we could do to make it clearer to people with proposal ideas what the recommended process is?


tanoujin Sun 29 Jan 2023 7:27AM

I have the same issues like @Dynamic, first of all thanks for formulating them and making constructive suggestions. Being new, i will give this some time, but my overall impression is, that the actively working members (thank you!) could work on transparency. I looked up some meeting minutes in an attempt to learn, but found them quite opaque. Could you please try to make the ongoing documentation a bit more educative? As it is now, I can not derive much info as an outsider. Thank you!


Dynamic Sun 29 Jan 2023 12:16PM

Hi @tanoujin. Thanks for chiming in. As I've noted, I'm also quite new to social.coop, and I'm still figuring a lot of things out. I do think, however, that we should be careful about requesting additional work from the working groups. They do a lot for us, and based on the very low membership fees, I can't imagine that they are well compensated (I'm glad we are able to afford to pay them any stipend at all).

I might be getting this wrong (and I would welcome correction from anyone from the working groups), but my sense is that a better role for newcomers like you and me is to think and talk about what we want, and maybe some of us will be motivated to take on some of the work of making it happen. My sense is that a big part of that would be starting to have someone who shares the goals we have identified start to attend the relevant working group meetings.

I teach during the school year but have my summers off, and I've been hoping to get involved on a seasonal basis. There might be others who have more time to give at this stage.

In any case, let's keep talking!


tanoujin Wed 1 Feb 2023 6:20PM

Half agreement here - it is less about adding more work than to have minutes that reflect 1. Time of meeting, Format of meeting (platform) 2. Persons attending, 3. Persons missing, 4. Agenda, 5. Motions, 6. Votes, 7. time/place of next meeting.

I know this touches the question of procedure, and I do not ask to default to Robert's rules out of the thin air. But transparency is important to me for several good reasons, one of them being to spare more work on the end of public discussions than you invest in the green salon.

Possibly we can get back to that at a later time, preferably under the condition of volunteering the authors of proposals in a general culture of participation ;)

Let me stress I do not say that to step anyone's toes. Just some observations and ideas. ;)



emi do Fri 3 Feb 2023 8:01PM

Thanks for starting this thread! I didn't know about the wiki @Nathan Schneider wrote about making proposals so I'm happy that was surfaced!

We trialled Integrative Consent for decision making back in 2021. It is a great process but does require some training and onboarding. https://www.loomio.com/d/lDiAVCsd/should-we-use-integrative-consent-for-decision-making-in-social-coop-

On-boarding in general has been on our list of "to-dos" for improvement for quite a while. I have this dream where one day we'll have this really great map of ways to navigate the web of things that make social.coop work. It's on my ever expanding list of projects...


Dynamic Fri 3 Feb 2023 9:45PM

Thanks for weighing in. There really does seem to be a lot to read and sift through to figure out how the decision-making process works.

One thing I've been wondering about is whether it would make sense to have some different tiers of onboarding, where everyone can vote and participate in discussions, but maybe there are special trainings we should go through before we can start polls... (or threads!... I'm still feeling tentative about whether I should have started this one, or given that I have started it whether there's anything different I should be doing to make sure that people actually see it).


tanoujin Fri 3 Feb 2023 10:10PM

Thank you, Emi. Looks like integrative consent was safe to try. I am ready to join and see how it goes. I believe this will prove useful elsewhere as well.


Ed Summers Sat 4 Feb 2023 1:18PM

While it is kind of sprawling I like how polls can come up in discussion threads, since the discussion itself provides context for why the poll exists. This happened when I asked a simple question about how we could manage shared calendars: https://www.loomio.com/d/U2Z6nYtR/calendars-on-loomio- When the deliberation moved to seeing if we should become a member of may First I decided to create it outside of the discussion. I wasn't quite sure whether this was the right thing to do or not, and kind of regretted having done that since it decontextualized the poll a bit.

When it comes to norms I think Loomio itself structures conversations in a particular way. I know that a lot of work and thinking went into the design of Loomio. I wonder if it would be helpful if we got some online guided training on how it is used, which included how we specifically use it in social.coop?


Dynamic Sat 4 Feb 2023 3:08PM

Thanks for your thoughts. I notice that that thread is from early October 2022, which is pretty recent, but before Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter was finalized and the subsequent really huge influx of new Mastodon users. Now I'm wondering how much social.coop in particular grew at that time.

I found the Moderation thread (which started on January 13, 2023) extremely uncomfortable, and at least one seasoned member of the community said that it felt like a bunch of people yelling at each other instead of listening. It sounded like part of the issue was the increase in size of social.coop, but I don't know how much of that has to do with the "Twitterpocalypse" as opposed to other recent trends. It's also entirely possible that it was just a more fraught topic.

In any case, I do believe there's some relationship between community size and the most appropriate tools for discussion and decision-making. Maybe I should read up on what community-size Loomio is designed for...


Eduardo Mercovich Wed 8 Feb 2023 8:05PM

I am almost afraid to ask this and have a positive reply, but social.coop seems a great organization to use sociocracy to collaborate (see https://www.sociocracyforall.org/). If anyone is interested, I will be glad to share our -very good- community experience with sociocracy.


Dynamic Wed 8 Feb 2023 9:43PM

Could you post a few sentences describing what Sociocracy is and does? I at first assumed it was a software platform, but having clicked through it looks like something else. What was the context in which you used it, and what did you like about it?


Alex Rodriguez Thu 9 Feb 2023 11:26AM

There are some great introductory resources (including basic descriptions and a short video explainer) here: https://www.sociocracyforall.org/start-here/


Eduardo Mercovich Fri 10 Feb 2023 7:18PM

Thanks @Dynamic for the question and @Alex Rodriguez for the support and help.

Sociocracy is a very practical system for taking decisions in a distributed, effective and efficient way, based on many of the same values of the Cooperative movement.

Alex reference is perfectly on point and Sociocracy for all a great organization to take as reference. They actually wrote a bit about the correspondences and complementation between Cooperativism and Sociocracy.

For those interested, it may be helpful to read

In our case, we are a group of families growing a semi-rural or semi-urban community and sociocracy really allows us to do things that are quite unusual to see both in very practical terms as ideologically.

I hope that is useful... :)


Alex Rodriguez Thu 9 Feb 2023 11:28AM

I also stan Sociocracy @Eduardo Mercovich :) happy to share resources and support however I can.


Stephanie Jo Kent Sat 11 Feb 2023 2:30PM

Hi all, I just started a "Sociocracy Academy" with Sociocracy For All (SoFA). I'm in two groups that have been using it very successfully, what I really like is how it upends implicit power structures (privilege, whiteness) in diverse groups. It can be an antidote for balancing insider/outsider relations too?

If I knew where/how to go to join a group tasked with one of the many dynamics under discussion... argh!

lol...originally (WayBack) I was a member of the CWG but/and the mystery of how all the platforms are interrelated has never been resolved for me: when are we in Loomio, where/how do I get to the Wiki, is there also convo about social.coop occurring on Mastodon, are there other platforms also in use somewhere? I need a visual map/diagram that illustrates the interconnections and what logins are required to access the various spheres of interaction.

Apologies as I am keenly aware that my scattered presence is the main culprit in my not knowing.


Dynamic Sun 12 Feb 2023 10:40AM

Hi Stephanie. I'm rellieved to hear that someone who used to be on the CWG also finds the multiple platforms of social.coop confusing to keep track of. I've been pinning a lot of my own confusion on being new, but it sounds like you've been around for a while and are still finding it all hard to navigate.

Absolutely no idea what the solution is, but I feel validated.


tanoujin Sun 12 Feb 2023 1:54PM

Finally took the time to look into that - it is dynamic governance! Very interested in that topic, please ping me if you are about to set something up. Deffo game to try ;)