Suggest an alternative

Joshua Vial Public Seen by 123

I find the single proposal per discussion pretty limiting and it would be so much easier to facilitate a group if there was an easy way to suggest alternatives to a proposal.

I'm imagining something like a 'suggest alternative' link on a proposal which lets anyone create a counter proposal. There would need to be a fair bit of UI work to figure out how to display multiple proposals in a condensed form and ideally it would be some javascript to expand them and state your position on the various ones.

I realise it's a big feature but I think it would be a significant step forward.


Richard D. Bartlett Fri 8 Mar 2013

Interesting. I have been thinking of the problem from a different point in the time-line. Like, an easy way of throwing up a handful of proto-proposals that the group can temperature check on, one of which would then be selected to become a proper proposal.

The proposal is a great way to get engagement and a clear outcome, but it is often too weighty for a nuanced conversation among high-trust or high-autonomy groups.

'Suggest an alternative' is a very cool way to make forward progress though. I can't wait to start sketching up these new ideas (once we've done the boring stuff like making it easy to get into Loomio and figure out what the hell is going on...)


Joshua Vial Fri 8 Mar 2013

I like the idea of proto-proposals more - then I think you can control the notification settings so only 'engaged' people who opt in get notified about new proto-proposals which is sort of like a drafting stage.

Once drafted you fire up a formal proposal which sends out the heavy notifications. I think the suggest alternative feature then just becomes making another proto-proposal after the fact.

Put all this in javascript with real time updating interfaces and you could imagine a group of people working on something in real time and dramatically increasing the speed of collaboration on loomio.


vivien maidaborn Sat 9 Mar 2013

I love both ideas, they arent necessarily mutually exclusive. I can imagine in some situations prototyping proposals at an early stage, and in other situations creating an alternative, this would be a cool response when a proposal is clearly not getting there and an improvement can be launched quickly.


Alanna Irving Sat 9 Mar 2013

Some interesting ideas... but I also want to to keep in mind the value of really sticking to a proposal and thinking it all the way through. For me the true value of our type of decision making shines when you see someone state their position, then later through talking to others revisit their position and change it. The evolution toward consensus. If you give up on a proposal too early or have distracting counter proposals this won't happen. Group collaboration takes a bit of patience and hearing people out. Often time everyone can be trending toward "no" but then someone says something new and lots of people change their minds. Or simply thinking through a bad proposal is what leads people to think of the idea that comes up next and gets consensus.


Jon Lemmon Sat 9 Mar 2013

Alanna raises some legitimate concerns, though I think we might be able to minimize them if we design the feature well enough. Also, we could try limiting the feature to only a few groups to start with and see what happens.

It's been clear to me that Loomio has been wanting this feature for a long time. It's just a matter of when we decide to start directing resources at it.


iacocoba Fri 15 Mar 2013

Imagine this happening: i open a proposal and discussion starts (as the email notifications discussion) First proposal is not clear and some people disagree. I take the new ideas and create a next one searching the consensus. I dont close the old proposal but it goes into the background. Discussion continues and this time more people participate Rob give and new vision that is supported by some people and is ok to me so I can create a new one with Rob idea and leave the second proposal into the background. And etc. Just to reach a considerable consensus. the difference is that new people going into the discussion can follow the old proposals and vote to confirm that we are moving in the right direction and new proposals are always in the right direction (or if not you are going to discover it).


iacocoba started a proposal Sat 16 Mar 2013

Old proposals do not close when open a new one Closed Sat 23 Mar 2013

Old proposals do not close when open a new one, they just go down...

Agree - 1
Abstain - 1
Disagree - 1
Block - 1
5 people have voted (1%)

Sat 16 Mar 2013

Its clear new proposal try to reach consensus but old proposal could be still alive given more information about new discussion users


Benjamin Knight Sat 16 Mar 2013

I think this is an interesting idea that warrants some more discussion and development @yago.

My immediate thoughts are that this might fall into the trap that @alannakrause mentioned below - taking attention away from an initial proposal, meaning that it may be harder to come to a clearly defined collectively understood outcome.

Rather than a linear flow of proposals in a vertical stream, I think @joshuavial's idea of parallel alternative suggestions might avoid this pitfall if it was implemented in the right way.

Another idea we've talked about in the past is some way of suggesting updates or amendments to current proposals - the tricky thing about this is that needing to get collective agreement about each update could get messy.

On balance, I think parallel suggestions might be the cleanest to implement, but whichever path we go down it's gonna take some very careful planning and user testing


vivien maidaborn
Sun 17 Mar 2013

I am concerned this would be difficult to understand what was being decided if previous proposals are still open


Alanna Irving
Mon 18 Mar 2013

For now I think being slow is preferable to being confusing. We need to do a lot fo design work to get the right system for concurrent proposals.


Nicolas Wormser
Tue 19 Mar 2013

I don't like when people are speaking at the same time


Nicolas Wormser
Tue 19 Mar 2013

I don't like when several people are speaking at the same time


Nicolas Wormser Tue 19 Mar 2013

I think concerns raised by @alannakrause are very important. Having different people making different proposals to the group at the same time feels a bit like having different people speaking at the same time. It all becomes suddenly very noisy and it's hard to focus on any of the alternatives.

So I think the two new tools presented before make sense and have different use

  1. Proto-proposals − What @richarddbartlett said. Someone makes a "proto-proposal" that is basically saying "hey here is a bunch of options we have, which one do you think we should vote on?". So I guess that would mean that the option with the "hottest" temperature check would become a proposal. I think these two steps are important because someone may be willing to discuss a specific option not because they agree on it, but because they think it's the option that is the most relevant to discuss (they could possibly vote "no" on it).

  2. Forks / Alternative proposal − Person A started a proposal and person B want to propose an alternative to it. I think in this case it is important not to allow people to start alternatives before the initial proposal has attracted sufficient attention (cf @alannakrause's concerns). So it would make sense to allow forks/alternatives only after the proposal closes. But maybe person A could be notified that person B want to create an alternative to their proposal, and may choose to close their proposal if they think the alternative is better. When the initial proposal is closed, either because it expired or person A closed it manually, we see the fork/alternative that person B wrote.


Alanna Irving Tue 19 Mar 2013

How about a fork is allowed only after a certain % has participated? That way it's assured people have considered the current proposal before moving on to the next one.


Benjamin Knight Fri 22 Mar 2013

Interesting concept @alannakrause! One challenge might be that different groups and types of decisions often have very different proportions of engagement, which could make this tricky.

@nicolaswormser, I like the concise articulation of the two main ideas that have been considered up til now! Would be great to A-B test them to see which people found more effective (and ideally to C test an option with both - if we somehow find a way to generate more minutes in the day)


Benjamin Knight
Fri 22 Mar 2013

I think it's great to be engaging with this challenge! Not totally sold on this particular solution, but excellent starting point for more discussion :)


Richard D. Bartlett Fri 22 Mar 2013

That's a good articulation @nicolaswormser but I'm thinking both cases you're describing could be handled by the same feature.