Loomio: group decision-making (by consensus)

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Martin Dittus

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Mar 18, 2014, 5:32:29 PM3/18/14
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Both free and open source, it seems. Looks pretty.
https://www.loomio.org/

I made a group for us, would be interesting to see how well this works.
https://www.loomio.org/g/E6FAP3Mx/london-hackspace

Sarah just posted a first topic: “I wonder if hackspace rule 8 satisfies our needs with a growing member base. Do we need to revise the wording and review the process?"
https://www.loomio.org/d/CiQA1S7m/rule-8

(Simply create an account and request access to contribute, we’ll approve you.)

m.

Sarah Simmonds

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Mar 19, 2014, 5:51:29 AM3/19/14
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Thanks Martin. I'm liking it so far.

The main feature I'm fond of is it allows discussions to run simultaneously with proposals, a voting system. Decisions become clear, failed proposals can be rewritten and submitted again. I recommend all members jump in and have a try.

Mark Steward

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Mar 19, 2014, 6:04:50 AM3/19/14
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Not sure I like the focus on voting, but I like the principle of making consensus easier (I've thought for a long time about how to do this, so if an open source version turns up I'd jump).


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Adrian Godwin

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Mar 19, 2014, 6:13:18 AM3/19/14
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can you re-vote as you follow the discussion ?

Aden

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Mar 19, 2014, 6:14:28 AM3/19/14
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Looks like it is open source, so maybe we could tailor it to our needs https://github.com/loomio/loomio


On Wed, Mar 19, 2014 at 10:04 AM, Mark Steward <marks...@gmail.com> wrote:

Men tar

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Mar 19, 2014, 6:29:22 AM3/19/14
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I like the idea of it and I think it would be a great tool if it was linked (through OAUTH or similar) to our membership database so that only members could vote.

Jasper Wallace

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Mar 19, 2014, 6:29:29 AM3/19/14
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On Wed, 19 Mar 2014, Sarah Simmonds wrote:

> Thanks Martin. I'm liking it so far.
> The main feature I'm fond of is it allows discussions to run simultaneously with proposals, a voting
> system. Decisions become clear, failed proposals can be rewritten and submitted again. I recommend all
> members jump in and have a try.

How can we be sure that people signing up are members? Has someone written
some code to integrate it with the member db?

What happens when the site dies or is hacked, has someone written some
code the keeps a local copy of the data so we can re-create it if needed?

P.S. Anyone know what the status of one-click-orgs is?

> On Tuesday, March 18, 2014 9:32:29 PM UTC, Martin Dittus wrote:
> Both free and open source, it seems. Looks pretty.
> https://www.loomio.org/
>
> I made a group for us, would be interesting to see how well this works.
> https://www.loomio.org/g/E6FAP3Mx/london-hackspace
>
> Sarah just posted a first topic: “I wonder if hackspace rule 8 satisfies our needs with a
> growing member base. Do we need to revise the wording and review the process?"
> https://www.loomio.org/d/CiQA1S7m/rule-8
>
> (Simply create an account and request access to contribute, we’ll approve you.)
>
> m.
>
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Mark Steward

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Mar 19, 2014, 6:35:00 AM3/19/14
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Sold! It needs at least voting history, account integration and data export from their current site. Anyone fancy working on our own fork?

Sarah Simmonds

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Mar 19, 2014, 7:42:49 AM3/19/14
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> How can we be sure that people signing up are members? 
> What happens when the site dies or is hacked, has someone written some 
code the keeps a local copy of the data so we can re-create it if needed? 

We'd probably host it ourselves and we'd have to change the auth to use our db. This requires work, but is doable.

Chris Mear

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Mar 19, 2014, 7:44:50 AM3/19/14
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On 19 Mar 2014, at 10:29, Jasper Wallace <jas...@pointless.net> wrote:

P.S. Anyone know what the status of one-click-orgs is?

tl;dr: If you are a Ruby and/or PHP developer, you could help us integrate informal decision-making tools like Loomio!

One Click Orgs already has a working system for companies limited by guarantee (like London Hackspace Ltd) that allows the board of directors to do online voting for board resolutions.

We're working this year on adding in support for members to vote online, which would result in company resolutions following a successful vote. (We were fortunate enough to get some funding in the last couple of years to develop a similar system for use by co-operatives, which we are planning to port over for use by companies.)

The only thing is that this is a rather heavyweight method of decision-making. Not every decision the group wants to make is really worth making a company resolution for.

It seems like there is a whole class of informal decision-making that consensus-based tools like Loomio usefully fill. I'm not sure an organisation management system like One Click Orgs is the ideal place for this sort of interaction to live. But it would make sense for us to support some kind of login integration or membership API for the kind so you could use tools like Loomio within a closed membership like the LHS.

We've had a ticket open for a while now to integrate the LHS's online membership system with One Click Orgs:


This needs work on both the LHS side in PHP and the OCO side in Ruby, and would be a big step forward in getting One Click Orgs fully working for the Hackspace. So if you're a hacker interested in this group decision-making stuff we'd love your help!

Thanks,
Chris


chrisbob12

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Mar 19, 2014, 8:16:17 AM3/19/14
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I think that's potentially a rather deep hole. The membership is stratified into core power users, occasional visitors, and sleepers. Once you cross that with differing subscription rates, there's a whole mess of different levels of ownership and entitlement, emotionally, if not actually. And we all get equal voting rights?

Bunsen

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Mar 25, 2014, 5:07:03 PM3/25/14
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I reckon that hackerspaces, especially one as large as LHS, are uniquely placed to help test and develop projects like this. With some tweaking, this is the hacker ethic applied to social organisation (or at least that part of social organisation which is necessarily social and necessarily oraganised).

However, I was a kind of 'lets keep the ML pretty much the same' vote.
I think ChrisBob's worry exemplifies why.

But maybe it would be possible to hack the bejazzus out of this Loomio to reflect, for example, kudos, points for modding, etc.? Maybe such social organisation tactily relies on status remaining unspoken, but if there is a way to apply hacking to social processes, then we are the organisation to do it and this looks like a good tool to start with. (And I would like to participate - I'm really excited at the poossibilities this opens up!)

Stefan from Krakow

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Mar 27, 2014, 9:09:38 AM3/27/14
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Related:
- they also have even shorter, domain-hacky name: http://loom.io
- it's been adopted (with success) here: http://www.cambridge-k1.co.uk/

Experience from Cambridge K1: one vote per house-hold or per adult member?

core power users, occasional visitors, and sleepers

Yeah, welcome to 'democracy' where professor has the same amount of votes as street junkie :)

Cheers

Tom Hodder

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Mar 27, 2014, 3:48:04 PM3/27/14
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On 27 March 2014 13:09, Stefan from Krakow <mste...@gmail.com> wrote:
core power users, occasional visitors, and sleepers

Yeah, welcome to 'democracy' where professor has the same amount of votes as street junkie :)

Ah, the good old days of forced national service and floggings... before the Representation of the People act 1948, your professor friend may well have got 4 votes due to the plural voting system;

In the United Kingdom, for example, up to 1948, people affiliated with a university were allowed vote in both a university constituency and their home constituency, and property owners could vote both in the constituency where their property lay and that in which they lived, if the two were different.
 




Tom Hodder

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Mar 27, 2014, 3:56:53 PM3/27/14
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On 27 March 2014 19:48, Tom Hodder <t...@limepepper.co.uk> wrote:
On 27 March 2014 13:09, Stefan from Krakow <mste...@gmail.com> wrote:
core power users, occasional visitors, and sleepers

Yeah, welcome to 'democracy' where professor has the same amount of votes as street junkie :)

Even better,  before the Fourth reform act of 1918, our homeless friend with the drugs problem wouldn't have even got a vote at all.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representation_of_the_People_Act_1918

Society is really going downhill fast!!!

 

chrisbob12

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Mar 27, 2014, 6:43:36 PM3/27/14
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welcome to 'democracy'
I'm not at all clear  what you're getting at.

For the avoidance of doubt, my assumption was that LHS is a do-ocracy, so to my thinking, loomio appears to enforce something that would be a poor fit. Democracy can also be viewed as a tyranny of the majority. In the case of applying something like OMOV (one man one vote) to LHS, that opens the door to entryists and non-doing clowns such as myself, to vote on stuff which doesn't affect us particularly.
 

Russ Garrett

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Mar 27, 2014, 7:25:32 PM3/27/14
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On 27 March 2014 22:43, chrisbob12 <chris...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> For the avoidance of doubt, my assumption was that LHS is a do-ocracy, so to
> my thinking, loomio appears to enforce something that would be a poor fit.

"Do-ocracy" is one of those beloved phrases (a bit like "be excellent
to each other") which appeals to people on a superficial level, but
doesn't seem to have a whole lot of meaning. I wonder if it might
actually be a euphemism for "anarchy".

London Hackspace is a do-ocracy insofar as we do not meticulously plan
and manage every aspect of the space. If you're doing something
innocuous or easy to revert, you can probably go ahead and do it, but
if you're trying to make big changes, then you have to seek broad
consensus on the mailing list.

If broad consensus fails then the options are:

- Call an ad-hoc vote of whoever bothers to post on the mailing list.
- Have the trustees make the decision. The trustees are elected yearly
by the membership in a process which aims to be as close to democracy
as you can plausibly get.
- Call a vote of all members at a general meeting (which is a legal
requirement for an organisation like ours)

London Hackspace is at its heart a democratic organisation. As a
membership association limited by guarantee, a certain amount of
democracy is imposed on us: we have to have democratically-elected
directors, and our members have to have voting rights. But we're also
not anti-democratic, and we never have been.

What we are emphatically not is a *bureaucratic* organisation. Where
at all practical, we like to keep the ballot boxes to a minimum and
deal with issues as a discussion, rather than using vote-calling as a
blunt instrument.

> Democracy can also be viewed as a tyranny of the majority.

Do-ocracy -- if it is in fact a thing -- is the tyranny of those who
think they're right, and have the time and energy to change things
quick enough that nobody notices until it's too late. There are a lot
of people in London Hackspace who think they're right, and I'm not
sure they all are.

Cheers,

--
Russ Garrett
ru...@garrett.co.uk

chrisbob12

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Mar 27, 2014, 8:18:39 PM3/27/14
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@Russ A classy response, and nothing with which I'd take issue. None of it sounds like an advocation of loomio.

Tom Hodder

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Mar 28, 2014, 6:43:55 AM3/28/14
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On 28 March 2014 00:18, chrisbob12 <chris...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> @Russ A classy response, and nothing with which I'd take issue.
> None of it sounds like an advocation of loomio.

It's not like you are going to need to sign a 12 month contract, get a
tattoo on your face, or give up your first born child if we experiment
with this software.

Even if its not appropriate for what it was originally proposed (and I
probably wouldn't vote for it myself) I think it would be an
interesting experience, and also because we would be able to provide
feedback to the open source project behind the software.

Aden

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Mar 28, 2014, 7:01:28 AM3/28/14
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I agree it'd be good to experiment with, and see if we can find a way to weight things to make it fair...

Current problems with mailing list consensus are:-
We can't always verify that someone is a member as we allow people to use pseudonyms and allow non-members on the list.
The same few people go "yes that's fine" to everything, if we could limit the number of issues you could vote for then people would only use them on things they actually care about...
Long term members normally have a better idea of what is going on, so either have a number of votes for the number of years you've been a member, or don't allow people to vote until they've been a member for a year or so.
All the hippies hate the money debate, but I'll also say that anyone paying the minimum membership shouldn't get to vote either.
Trustees normally have the final say anyway, so why not make this official and make their vote worth more.


Tom Hodder

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Mar 28, 2014, 7:28:01 AM3/28/14
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On 28 March 2014 11:01, Aden <ad...@aden.org.uk> wrote:
I agree it'd be good to experiment with, and see if we can find a way to weight things to make it fair...
... 

> ... and make their vote worth more. 
that anyone paying the minimum membership shouldn't get to vote either. 

And of course female members don't get a vote, unless they are married to, or domiciled with a full member ... just like the good old days...

(this might not be a successful experiment, but at least it would provide some evidence against vote weighting and gerrymandering...)
 



tim_n

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Mar 28, 2014, 7:28:29 AM3/28/14
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If it's decided to go down this route I think it should be based on doorbot stats (ie use of the space) but they're not secure as has been discussed previously. 

Money is a poor indicator for voting.

Either which way, I don't see a huge problem with the system currently in place.  Lots of niggily ones, but nothing major.

Martin Dittus

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Mar 28, 2014, 7:29:45 AM3/28/14
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My reasons to originally suggest we try this:

- it creates a dedicated place for decision-making, separate from announcements, social banter, requests for clarification, etc.
- it creates a process around the iterative refinement of a proposal, this may make it easier to follow the current form of the argument as opposed to having to piece it together yourself. Particularly useful for longer/more complex discussions.
- maybe most importantly, it provides an official record of decisions. Atm it’s very hard to keep track.

I didn’t necessarily envision it as a place to make larger decisions around “policy”, but more as a means of negotiating all the little decisions required on a daily basis. E.g. this could be a good place to keep track of people’s storage requests.

It’s unfortunate that Loomio puts such weight on vote counting. I’m unsure how our current process of informal consensus could be formalised/proceduralised so that a piece of software can determine the outcome of a debate. Maybe someone here has suggestions about this?

m.

Mark Steward

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Mar 28, 2014, 8:20:10 AM3/28/14
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The problem with the word "democracy" is that in most people's experience, it comes down to questions proposed and framed by incumbents and where the result is simply a yes or no (and for some elections, try again). These votes are based on totals and with no nuance, and IMO massively disempowering.

I think that voting on Loomio, if we use it, should be used as a measure of consensus and no more. An online show of hands, perhaps.

If we end up with anything like a split vote, blockers on each side, or vetos against the majority, it's obvious consensus hasn't been reached. This allows us to follow our current system of waiting for objections and people changing positions based on new arguments. Loomio seems to work fairly well for that - I'd just like to see what happens when a discussion gets longer.

Mark

Nick Leaton

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Mar 28, 2014, 8:25:40 AM3/28/14
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You're missing the point. The critical point is that you think the election is about the issues, but you are only being asked the question about which representative. 

Until you get direct voting on the issues, its not a democracy.
Nick

Ninlilizi (MOBILE)

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Mar 28, 2014, 8:38:18 AM3/28/14
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That's a pretty immature response. Comparing womens suffrage to the spaces junk micromanagement is just plain mean to suffragettes who had the balls to fight an actual battle for social justice.
A hackspace is no place for political posturing or oppression olympic qualifying rounds.

The problem with enforcing any authoritarian framework over a peer to peer approach. And it is a struggle to empose a restrictive authoritarian framework that fits your arbitrary moral thing you are enacting here. Is that it makes things less about the people that comprise the community and more about statistics.

I think Peer 2 Peer better description of the operating model than do-ocracy. Because implies the social model that caters for all the individual and useful edge cases that make the space the haven it is for wierd and wonderful projects that can't be rendered down into a spreadsheet.

The hacker ethic transposed into a social model isn't about creating new types of restrictive framework. Thats just taking the standard model paradigm and painting it a new color. Hacker social ethic is about collaboration through self-discipline and getting shit done while completely avoiding the ideological differences entirely.
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Mr Ed

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Mar 28, 2014, 9:06:36 AM3/28/14
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On Friday, 28 March 2014 11:01:28 UTC, ad...@aden.org.uk wrote:
I agree it'd be good to experiment with, and see if we can find a way to weight things to make it fair...

Current problems with mailing list consensus are:-
We can't always verify that someone is a member as we allow people to use pseudonyms and allow non-members on the list.
The same few people go "yes that's fine" to everything, if we could limit the number of issues you could vote for then people would only use them on things they actually care about...
 
Long term members normally have a better idea of what is going on, so either have a number of votes for the number of years you've been a member, or don't allow people to vote until they've been a member for a year or so.

Yeah long term members know the space better. However apart from the apparently "hidden rules" which don't actually exist but some people seem to expect members to be magically imbued with via the mailing list, IRC, osmosis or by a divine vision, the space is actually quite straight forward and makes a good deal of sense if you read the rules.

All the hippies hate the money debate, but I'll also say that anyone paying the minimum membership shouldn't get to vote either.

How about we total up the membership money paid, the amount of pledge money paid, the amount donated extra (do we include money put in the laser cutter and/or 3D printer box, tuck box, etc?) and have everyone vote in proportion to the amount of money they've put in.

I like the way you preemptively try to insult everyone who disagrees with you by calling them a hippie before they even get a chance to reply. I've been called worse things before, in fact it's not even an insult. I'm just glad you didn't tell me my father smelled of elderberries. That would really sting and I'd totally change my mind on letting the the seething masses of the proletariat vote.

 
Trustees normally have the final say anyway, so why not make this official and make their vote worth more.

According to the Wiki, that's not really the role of the trustees. However, people tend to listen to them because they also tend to be very active, visible members of the community who we've trusted enough to elect as trustees.

-Ed

 

Mark Steward

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Mar 28, 2014, 9:15:13 AM3/28/14
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On Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 12:25 PM, Nick Leaton <nic...@gmail.com> wrote:
You're missing the point. The critical point is that you think the election is about the issues, but you are only being asked the question about which representative. 

I was including everything that's labelled democratic in life, like referenda and organisational votes. As an aside, I'd argue a general election for most of the electorate is "do you want the current government to stay? (Yes/No)".
 
Until you get direct voting on the issues, its not a democracy.


I agree, but it's all still called democracy. That's why you have to be careful when labelling the Hackspace as "democratic", because its implementation is quite different to others.


Mark

Martin (Crypt)

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Mar 28, 2014, 10:09:30 AM3/28/14
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I'm not sure exactly the point on this.  I did have a think about doing something similar a little while back, but when I actually got to go through the list, the amount of issues where a vote would've been any use at all is minimal.  Most of the time on this list we actually come to a decent consensus between ourselves, and the issues change as the list goes on.  

For example, in an issue about painting our new shed in the car park, it would be usual on the list to start the discussion about if we should paint the shed or not, to move on to how we should paint it, what color and then what type of paint etc.  So for this one issue, would require 4 separate votes? or one incredibly complex vote.  For issues such as this voting makes no sense, as we usually reach consensus on the list.

Which leads to the question of what exactly would need to be voted on.  Would it be for every storage request? because a lot of the time that would be pointless, as most are uncontroversial and (shock horror!!!) the majority of members who follow the rules over storage also follow the rules over its removal, so having a vote on every request would very fast become very boring and massively unproductive.

I'd be struggling to find more than a handful of occasions on this list where a vote would've been more useful than the consensus that was eventually reached, and to echo Marks point that having a simple yes/no vote on most issues would be massively less empowering than a productive discussion on the list.


Adrian Godwin

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Mar 28, 2014, 10:16:07 AM3/28/14
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Why not just try it and see if it's helpful ? What is there to lose?

David LHS

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Mar 28, 2014, 10:38:19 AM3/28/14
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On 28/03/2014 14:16, Adrian Godwin wrote:
> Why not just try it and see if it's helpful ? What is there to lose?

We could start with a vote on whether or not to use loomio.

David.

Mark Steward

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Mar 28, 2014, 10:47:33 AM3/28/14
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So if we can use some discipline, making sure not to use voting as a way to drown out differing views, and only putting a question to vote once the basic discussion has been worked out, do you think this would work? It seemed to work OK with the first proposal that Sarah raised, but we never got to the stage of a counter proposal.

Can anyone suggest another test proposal to try?


Mark

Adrian Godwin

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Mar 28, 2014, 10:50:26 AM3/28/14
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Tuck shop products

Ninlilizi (MOBILE)

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Mar 28, 2014, 10:59:06 AM3/28/14
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Or just set it up and wait to see if anybody actually cares enough to use it 6+ weeks later.

David Murphy

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Mar 28, 2014, 2:11:16 PM3/28/14
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I'd take the view that there's no point having major votes for minor issues. 

"Do we want to expand the kitchen into the store room" might be a good voting issue. 

"What color should we paint it afterwards" seems better left to the person is actually willing to put in the time and effort. 

To me that's what Doocracy means, like with many open source projects organised over mailing lists you can vote all you want but ultimately someone has to actually be willing to do the work so they have to be happy with the choice because nobody can make them do the work at all if they don't want to.

If you can find someone who's both willing to do the work and is happy with the results of the vote, good on you. 

But a larger portion of power rests with people who are willing to do the work consistently.

If, for example, the flying monkeys who maintain the laser cutter all wanted one thing with the laser cutter and twice as many people who never maintain it of put effort or resources into it want different then the majority of power still rests with the people who are actually doing the work because they can say "I don't feel like working on that today". 

In theory someone could try something similar with cash rather than effort, "I'll pledge £1000 towards this if" or "I'll double by membership if" to try to get a similar resulting increase in personal power but I don't get the impression that money impresses the majority in the space in the same way that personal effort does as it's not a financial collective. 

which is why things like the bit in an earlier mail "anyone paying the minimum membership shouldn't get to vote either. " kinda falls flat on it's face. 

The space is not a plutocracy. saying "I have piles of money" gains you about as much respect as "I had a chocolate muffin for breakfast" and is dwarfed by "Hey, look, I made a cool thing".



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