Loomio’s core mission is watered down somewhat if it becomes just a voting tool. I know that it’s never claimed that it would be “just for consensus”, but I think that if it was just for consensus, that might encourage people to use consensus who otherwise might not have done so.
Craig, on whether Loomio should be built for majority rules in addition to consensus
We had a really interesting discussion today about how to create a sustainable economic engine for the Loomio project to thrive, while still maintaining our collaborative, participatory culture, and not getting distracted from our mission by trying to make Loomio about revenue.
We discussed several of the models that other Enspiral companies work on, such as a zero-dividend shareholder model, where being a shareholder means you have a vote, not that you can take value out of the company, a social enterprise with an intentional company constitution specifying that a portion of all profits goes toward our social aims, but leaves dividends and investments as options.
We have discussed several possibilities for how to sustain Loomio financially while still giving the tool itself away for free and keeping it open source (a must for us). Some ideas are hosting plans for private groups, custom installations, support contracts, training and facilitation around consensus processes, and custom version fo Loomio with special features. Wouldn’t it be cool to see a successful business running in Loomio and exemplifying the potential of participatory decision making?
A lot of interesting potential here, but nothing’s been decided yet. We’re committed to helping Loomio thrive without compromising the values that motivated us to do this work in the first place.
Explain Loomio – Quick!
Four of us attempted to explain Loomio – what it is, why we need it, and how it works. Rough and off the cuff!
Hoping some of these ideas will be inspiration for our upcoming video explaining the Loomio concept.
A block traditionally means that someone feels so strongly about a decision that if it goes through they will leave the group. This is distinct from a “no” vote, which means they have concerns and don’t think consensus has been reached. If after more discussion they still have concerns but the rest of the group wants to approve something, they will live with it. If this distinction is not made, then there’s really no point in having “no” and “block” since they’d overlap. “No” means “I don’t think consensus has been reached let’s keep talking”… more or less. I think each group will have to define these terms for themselves
Alanna, on the difference between “no” and “block”
Another company in the Enspiral ecosystem, Bucky Box, has started using Loomio for internal decisions.
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Jon and Rich came up with this in February. This is an evolving document, but it’s a good start.
Loomio – “Helping groups move together”
Loomio is a web app that helps groups of individuals make decisions together.
As groups get larger they tend to become less efficient, and often individuals start to feel that the group is no longer accomplishing what it set out to do. This happens with companies, political entities, universities… pretty much any large collective. However, while groups can often become very inefficient, they can also become very powerful when engaged together with common purpose and intent.
Loomio aims to leverage the power of groups by using the Internet to facilitate consensus-based decision-making. It provides a platform where group members can discuss issues, propose ideas and solutions, and then vote on decisions together. The end result is that better decisions are made, and the group has a greater understanding of itself and it’s direction forward.
Loomio is being collaboratively developed as an open source project. We are seeking input from a diverse range of people, from activists to business people.
We’ve heard these requests a few times, and have put them on our development wish list:
- sub group (I want to have an Enspiral Members group as a subset of enspiral as a whole)
- anonymous motion : you can see the counts but not who voted on an issue. I want to use this for voting in new members
- better inviting : I want to be able add user accounts for people that they can activate and then vote straight away without me having to approve in the middle
There are many visual ways of representing the tools of consensus.
Our goal in Loomio is to have simple, effective symbols that are also agnostic – this means we want to empower groups to be able to set up their decision making process in the way that works best for them. If we can have a powerful but flexible set of visual symbols in Loomio, groups can define them for themselves, and experiment with the power of conscious process design in their decision making.
One of the things I’ve been considering is the difference between offline and online communications. To me the people’s mic (or even one person speaks at a time) is al limitation of offline environments that we shouldn’t be emulating to replicate. Instead I would suggest a philosophy of harvesting lots of content simultaneously and providing mechanisms to filter the noise and promote the group sentiment – similar to the reddit approach.
Joshua, pointing out the benefits of an “everyone talks at once, everyone is heard” internet-style communication model, versus the “one person talks at once” model of in-person meetings.
I have been thinking in the eDemocracy and general civic engagement space for many years now, but in the light of OWS, the Arab Spring, and the increasing tensions between the haves and have-nots around the world, which are only likely to accelerate as the financial excrement seriously begins to hit the reality fan in 2012, I have more recently started putting thoughts into actions.
Seth, describing why he’s interested in helping the Loomio project
In Loomio, you assert your stance (yes, no, block, abstain, or whatever terms the group administrator decides to define), and you also have the option to make a statement about why you feel that way. We decided to limit the length of this statement.
By design, the discussion about the motion will take place on the discussion platform. This is a space for people to express themselves freely, respond to other people’s concerns and ideas, and hash out disagreements. The intent is for people to participate and/or read over the discussion, and then vote only when they are very clear about their final stance. For this reason, the statement length is quite limited, as we feel if you are clear about your stance and you’ve already discussed any concerns or issues in the discussion space, you should be able to state your case simply and briefly.
This also has the benefit of making the final Loomio results very clear and succinct – it’s easy to see what people think and why.
Several programmers working on Loomio are new to Ruby on Rails, and with the guidance of some experienced developers at Enspiral, they are using Loomio as a chance to practice and improve their skills. With Loomio as the inspiration, regular “learn rails” meetups were held at the Enspiral offices throughout late 2011.
The Loomio project began in late 2011 when some members of the Occupy Wellington movement met up with some people at Enspiral and we realized we had a common need for a better decision making tool.
As non-hierarchical groups that aim to give all members a voice in the process, traditional top-down decision making wasn’t an option, but traditional consensus decision making requiring everyone to sit in a circle and talk each point through was too slow and inefficient.
Loomio was conceived to take the best of participatory processes and make it efficient and straightforward for use in groups where people might be in different locations and time zones, and have busy members who don’t have too much time to spare.
Our goal as a team is to create a simple, effective tool that helps groups move together. We believe in the power of giving each person affected by a decision a voice – it encourages people to feel ownership of outcomes, and takes advantage of the good ideas anyone in the group, regardless of their status, may come up with.
We committed from the outset to create a free and open source tool, and it is our aim to build a community of Loomio contributors who will help make this tool as great as it can be.