Loomio

Feature request: Consensus Invite

SP
Steven Palmer Public Seen by 165

I find ongoing successful consensus requires participants to have consistently aligned values and goals in respect to the initial idea or aspiration. Else decisions can become corrupted by a reflection of cultural values and public opinion, which changes erratically over time due to real events, misleading propaganda, life circumstances, etc.

It could be a useful option to inoculate a consensus group from the toxicity and corruption of the public sphere by limiting the damaging effects of unwelcome changes to the participants core opinions and values, which effect decision making.

A group could still adapt to the public sphere by changing its statement, values and goals. But this would be done by consensus, making potential negative impacts more transparent, core changes to decision making, conscious.

What I mean in layman terms, is an optional feature, a consensus mechanism for invitations, that specifies in a steadfast manner a consensus about values and goals required for joining and remaining in the group. Perhaps a constitution to sign, test to pass or invite to be ratified by existing participants using consensus.

http://valuesandframes.org

AI

Alanna Irving Wed 8 Jan 2014

Hi @stevenpalmer - could this not be achieved simply by having a loomio discussion to agree your group description/purpose and then post that (or link to it) as your group description? I'm not sure I understand why this would need a special feature.

SP

Steven Palmer Wed 8 Jan 2014

I thought about this @alanna and it certainly is a semi and quick fix, but I believe there's potential in a more advanced feature, rather than winging it with a basic description. Here's some further thoughts;

Just like privacy statements shown before allowing access to software, not during, I think a consensus group would benefit from encouraging new members to process an agreement before granting them access to system. At the moment the description can be easily ignored, on purpose.

People may disagree with description, partly, in general or in full, but choose not to say anything, even if encouraged otherwise.

A checkbox to ratify a statement will provide stronger encouragement to review core principles and goals.

Wouldn't need to keep linking to statement/description post or reminding people, so can free up group description and/or invite message for more useful general and brief statements.

Could have radio button options in statement to provide feedback on specific parts of statement/declaration. For example, a choice of agree, undecided or disagree. A negative response could automatically respond with further information as to why a goal or value is important to the group. This would cut down on repetition of discussion, ratifying invites, moderation duties - a general freeing up of human resources.

Core principles and goals can be altered at any time via consensus, then all existing members can be forced to review before continuance.

The above benefits could make large numbers of invites and group sizes manageable and the entire process more streamlined. Bringing a greater peace of mind knowing that fellow group members have likely read core statement and you now share core principles, goals and interests with them.

SP

Steven Palmer Wed 8 Jan 2014

I think a groups mission; it's principles, values and goals, deserve more focus than a simple reminder to read them. The mission shouldn't simply be glanced at upon entering the room and then forgotten, but encouraged to spend specific attention to. Encouragement of interaction would help also.

It should not be legally binding like a privacy statement, but more like an online petition to sign specifically, integrated as part of the decision making system.

JG

John Graham Wed 8 Jan 2014

Just to build on that, I notice coursera.org courses now have a radio-button "survey" basically asking how actively you intend engaging with the course.

I don't really care how (or whether) they're using this information, I'm more interested in the fact that from a user perspective, it's making me pause and reflect, what is my intention upon "entering the room"?

(I've wondered about other subtle ways of encouraging intentionality...such as customising the 'say something' prompt to say something like "What do you want to say? To whom?")

RDB

Richard D. Bartlett Wed 8 Jan 2014

I like the sound of this. It's probably not a huge priority as a similar effect can be achieved with existing functionality, but I can see the usefulness of the feature. It's kind of like a 'terms of service' that you might agree to when you join any web service, but customisable by the group coordinators.

AI

Alanna Irving Wed 8 Jan 2014

OK I am becoming convinced... Yammer has a similar feature which I have actually found very useful, where you can put in content that is shown to all new users when they first join, and they have to click OK to continue to get in. I think Yammer implemented it for icky "terms of use" and "acceptable use policy" use cases in corporate settings, but as an online facilitator I used it as a way to share context setting info about the culture, What kind of info is meant to be posted where, expectations of confidentiality, where to find help info, and who to contact if you had questions. I found that very useful.

RT

rory tb Thu 9 Jan 2014

It kinda sounds like moving in the direction of a crowd sourced manifest or constitution. Do you mean one for every person who creates a Loomio account, as in an encompassing set of guide lines for all? Or for each group within Loomio? The implications are quite different for either context.

AI

Alanna Irving Fri 10 Jan 2014

I was imagining this to simply be text that would be set for each group by the group coordinator, different for each group, and optional to have at all. Maybe as simple as the group description pops up when you first join a group and you're asked to read it and click OK.

SR

STeve Ray Mon 27 Jan 2014

Being new to Loomio Im not sure that I understand exactly the circumstances you are talking about. However as Im part of an organisation that specialises in collaborative decision making (The Groupwork Institute of Australia www.groupwork.com.au ), Im intrigued by what it means to "inoculate a consensus group from the toxicity and corruption of the public sphere by limiting the damaging effects of unwelcome changes to the participants core opinions and values" (the opening comment by Steve Palmer). Consensus is really a process where through good facilitation, people are able to communicate across their differences including prejudices, blindspots and other limitations that we all have. In a sense, to achieve consensus, we have to put each other above the particular decision that needs to be made because its only from the foundation of good human to human connection that truly sustainable decision can be made in the first place. That's where people are really collaborating because everyone's trying to be in the shoes of "the other" so whats built by way of a decision is truly a group effort.

TA

Tracey Ambrose Mon 27 Jan 2014

If you make people agree to a certain set of words, you are closing off the discussion by placing an "agree" only button at the bottom of that statement. No matter how well intentioned it may be. On of the things I love about consensus, is the ongoing, evolving conversations that come from it. When new people, new thoughts and ideas are presented to me that I would otherwise never have considered, or considered and dismissed because they weren't explained. It seems odd to me that a software designed for this sort of process would have a single button to press that you must agree with before moving on. Perhaps it would be better to have an "Agree" and "Discuss" button?

JG

John Graham Tue 28 Jan 2014

Just FYI, here's the radio-button survey that Coursera.org is forcing participants to complete on entry:

Welcome, John!

There are just a couple things to do before we start the course.
1. Please tell us your goals

Your answers will help us to better serve students like you. This will not affect your grade.

How many of the lecture videos do you intend to watch?
* All
* Half or more
* Less than half
* None

How many of the assignments and quizzes do you intend to do?
* All
* Half or more
* Less than half
* None

2 Sign the Coursera Honor Code
....[followed by code of conduct, must agree to continue]

Again, I like that this kind of thing could be used for focusing intention and pausing for thought, rather than for data collection or permanent commitments.

AI

Alanna Irving started a proposal Tue 28 Jan 2014

Group Coordinator can set group joining agreement text Closed Mon 3 Feb 2014

Outcome
by Alanna Irving Mon 27 Feb 2017

This has passed unanimously. The dev team will put it in the backlog and prioritize it for the future. Thanks everyone!

Standard disclaimer: this is a feature idea, to be fed into the normal prioritization processes and put in the backlog accordingly by the product team if they deem it appropriate.

Proposed feature: group coordinators can set up a joining message that will appear to a user when they first join a group.

The user verifies that they have seen it by clicking "OK" or similar, or has the option to click "no" or "cancel" or similar and not join the group. This could be used by groups to simply give a general overview of the purpose of the group, share practical information (like where to find help documentation), or for groups where it's appropriate it can be a more structured "terms of use" to get agreement on important policies like confidentiality and clarify the moderation policy.

This would be an optional feature so only groups that wanted to have it would turn it on. The purpose would be to give a platform for setting shared understanding of a groups culture, purpose, limitations, and policies, and to make sure all users have the chance to see practical/housekeeping info to make coordination of the group more effective.

The information in the box would be updatable - but if it gets changed, that means all users would need to agree to it again upon their next login.

Agree - 18
Abstain - 0
Disagree - 0
Block - 0
18 people have voted (6%)
DU

[deactivated account]
Agree
Tue 28 Jan 2014

essential. Thanks for putting the proposal forward.

JG

John Graham
Agree
Tue 28 Jan 2014

Yes.
Probably useful as an option for individual discussions as well.
Could possibly add a radio-button thingy or other customisable stuff.

RG

Rob Guthrie
Agree
Tue 28 Jan 2014

Ohh yes! I do agree.

AI

Alanna Irving
Agree
Tue 28 Jan 2014

I have had good experiences no other platforms with similar features as a coordinator/moderator/facilitator and found it to be an essential feature for group cohesion and shared understanding

AI

Alanna Irving
Agree
Tue 28 Jan 2014

I have had good experiences on other platforms with similar features as a coordinator/moderator/facilitator, and found it to be an essential feature for group cohesion and shared understanding

A

AlexSBayley
Agree
Tue 28 Jan 2014

Love it; makes sure everyone's on the same page.

SR

STeve Ray
Agree
Tue 28 Jan 2014

A great idea... I particularly like the updatable aspect being something that would need all users to agree to again upon their next login... as it creates a sense of certainty/safety amongst members.

BK

Benjamin Knight
Agree
Tue 28 Jan 2014

sounds really useful!

JD

Jesse Doud
Agree
Sun 2 Feb 2014

This would be great for creating important early engagement.

B

Billy
Agree
Sun 2 Feb 2014

Totally. I think something like this was in my design notes stuff from way back when ;)

DS

Dean Satchell
Agree
Sun 2 Feb 2014

Could even be used for setting explicit group rules.

SP

Steven Palmer Sun 30 Mar 2014

@traceyambrose as I said earlier..

"Could have radio button options in statement to provide feedback on specific parts of statement/declaration. For example, a choice of agree, undecided or disagree. A negative response could automatically respond with further information as to why a goal or value is important to the group." - there can also be an option to contest.

SP

Steven Palmer Sun 30 Mar 2014

Perhaps not all of the Statement needs to be accepted either, there can even be a pass percentage for the parts of Statement that do require feedback.

For example, if someone only agrees with 30% of Statement, they are unlikely to add value to the consensus. So perhaps they won't be allowed in, or allowed in but not to participate, or have permitted participation limited to certain sub-groups, or certain priority discussions.

SP

Steven Palmer Sun 30 Mar 2014

@steveray what I mean is, if we're overly value-neutral in design - by restricting even the option to set moral/spiritual principles - we empower a powerful nihilistic wasteland of a culture to weaken the performance of the platform.

I guess a goal of Loomio is to a facilitative a constructive environment, one with a good combination of understanding, love and discipline. And so to discourage the creation of an antagonistic environment. So it should find the correct balance between design that enables conflict and design that enables constructive debate.

Science shows how negative commentary can destroy consensus, even if the commentary is agreed to be incorrect. So we should be pro-active about encouraging constructive debate in an intelligent manner - one that doesn't produce unwanted positive bias of outcome.

A relatively steadfast moral conviction over certain values and principles is a wonderful thing. Hence the beauty of "block". Without it we weaken ourselves and encourage detrimental compromise within crowds and culture. So should be supported.

DS

Danyl Strype Mon 31 Mar 2014

If I'm understanding @stevenpalmer correctly, what he's proposing is a way of introducing a potential new group member to the group culture, preparing them to work constructively with its members. This could include everything from basic ground rules of discussion, eg:
* criticize ideas but don't attack people
* no hate speech
* keep comments concise (comments longer than 5 sentences will be deleted to prevent ranting)

... to explanations of how the group uses Loomio features eg:
* a proposal is passed if it was open for at least a week, and has only 'yes' or 'abstain' positions
* a proposal is only passed if more than 2/3 of group members took a position
* if 2 or more people block, the proposal is abandoned and discussion continued
* blocks have no special function, and will be treated as a 'no'

If someone joins Loomio groups with the intention of trolling, rather than participating constructively, agreeing to a moderation/ engagement policy before joining might be enough to put them off. If not, it gives the coordinators a clear basis for taking action to prevent them disrupting the group.

SP

Steven Palmer Mon 31 Mar 2014

@strypey not quite, although your last paragraph is correct.

Not all rules need to be written and/or agreed to. General behaviours can be worked out as we go along through discussion, moderation and user learning. Some of the rules suggested above are such a strong given for some people that it's perhaps better not to pre-emptively question them about or ask them to read.

I'm more interested about highlighting and protecting the core values and principles of a group.

For example, if a person joins a group, it may be just to give their opinion against that group or against part of that groups foundation or core basis for existing. Not to actually support that group and contribute to conducive discussion and decision making.

A person may not like Animals and/or not believe in Animal Rights, but they may join Animals Rights group, fly under the radar through seemingly respectful or quiet interaction, or perhaps obvious but irreversible interaction, same effect, a group's mental environment and views are negatively influenced. This is just one example.

SP

Steven Palmer Mon 31 Mar 2014

Intelligently, guard against fracture points and support group cohesion.

SP

Steven Palmer Tue 8 Apr 2014

"Individuals subconsciously resist factual information that threatens their defining values." - link

SP

Steven Palmer Sat 12 Apr 2014

‘Tragedy of the Unmanaged Commons’ - this article may help. The commons in this case being both metaphysical and physical, our collective attention, consciousness, wisdom, momentum, mood, trust, time, energy and material resources.

WA

Wael Al-Saad Sat 11 Oct 2014

While reading here i had to ask: can loomio handle "Not creating similar group"-to prevent many groups talking about the same thing, by searching the existing groups once a new group is to set up?
Adding keywords (hashtags) to the description would help the search engine.

Does any one of loomio designer used to know weiserearth platform and their group taxonomy ? They did great work there as well as on the dashboard and many other features for huge communication environment ..

AI

Alanna Irving Sat 11 Oct 2014

Hi @waelalsaad - is this related to the rest of the discussion in this thread? If not, maybe it should be its own discussion?

WA

Wael Al-Saad Sat 11 Oct 2014

@alanna it was tough as new here to go through all the proposed features to figure out if this need new discussion.
But i think it makes sense to amend the proposal above to include "existing group check feature". if its not possible i would propose it.