Tue 14 Feb 2017

Remote collaboration on documents

James Mead (Go Free Range) Public Seen by 539

It's not a big deal, but I thought it was worthwhile pointing out a minor flaw in the process we've been using to collaborate on approving the manifesto, etc. When people agree to that proposal, they are presumably agreeing the copy they see on the wiki at that point in time. However, given that people are free to change that copy, it may not be safe to assume they agree with the final version.

Given that we might want to continue to evolve these and other documents, it might be worth coming up with a better way to collaborate remotely on stuff like this. What do people think?


olizilla Tue 14 Feb 2017

I'm partial to git all the things. All TABLEFLIP docs live in a repo, and edits are made via pull requests against specific versions.

We'd need to work on reducing the overhead for people not familiar with markdown and version control, but I think something like that is the way to go.


Harry "Outlandish" Robbins Tue 14 Feb 2017

Agree - I guess that everyone can edit their vote to 'block' if they're not happy with the final copy.

Since it was always being edited I took it that I was voting for "being fine with whatever this process comes up with, at least as a first draft"

I'd agree with @olizilla that Git is probably the best place/way to store these documents, with some sort of agreement on who can deal with merge requests.

Only thing is we need to find a half decent UI that non-technical people can use or it will exclude a lot of people.


Simon Grant Mon 20 Feb 2017

@jamesmead I appreciate your original point. If it would be possible to have two categories of approval, that might help: (1) "yes, this is completely fine, the exact wording doesn't matter" and (2) I approve of this as formulated now, but my approval depends on the exact wording. Then if the wording is changed, (1) votes would stay, and (2) votes would be automatically cancelled, with an e-mail notification to the voter to vote again. I don't imagine that would be hard to do technically, but of course the issue is whether the extra complexity introduced would be a problem.

Could we fork Loomio to try this out?


Harry "Outlandish" Robbins Mon 20 Feb 2017

@asimong completely agree about the need for different levels of sign off. New people at Outlandish often get confused about the difference between operational decisions and policy ones as the distinction's not immediately obvious.

However, I'm not convinced Loomio is the right platform for this sort of thing - there will end up being loads of proposals and there's no easy way to suggest and alternative. It's also not easy to adapt or host, even with their Docker version.


Simon Grant Mon 20 Feb 2017

Which brings on an awkward feeling. Everyone seems to agree that Loomio is "A Good Thing" even if it's not the best tool for everything. But if it isn't easy to host or modify, what are they, or Enspiral even, thinking? That's not terribly ... well ... Open, is it? No doubt they want to capture their revenue stream, and good on them for that, but...

Surely we do have the need for an even more Open collaboration system? Back to another thread. (That's another thing that would be a really handy enhancement: the ability to generate links to other threads or posts without leaving the input window. And if those links had semantics, well, awesome...)


Harry "Outlandish" Robbins Mon 20 Feb 2017

I believe it's just an issue that making stable, consumer facing software is hard and expensive.

Loomio has cost somewhere over $1m I believe. I guess they're focussing on sales rather than making it easy to host so that they can stay alive.



Chris Lowis (Go Free Range) Mon 20 Feb 2017

Using github and pull requests sounds like a useful way to work on certain types of document. We can use the github organisation to host these if they are public: https://github.com/cooperative-technologists


Simon Grant Wed 22 Feb 2017

I can see the benefits. I've never used GitHub seriously. Is there a way for people like me to learn the ropes and become proficient, and then pass on that knowledge in turn? Principle 5, and a bit of Principle 7 (looking at our own community)



Chris Roos Thu 23 Feb 2017

I've never used GitHub seriously. Is there a way for people like me to learn the ropes and become proficient, and then pass on that knowledge in turn?

Have you seen the GitHub Guides? I haven't read them all but the ones I have seem pretty good. Maybe go through those and then ask on the mailing list, in here or in Slack if you have any questions?


Simon Grant Mon 27 Feb 2017

The Guides look really useful. What would interest me greatly is some peer learning -- anyone else want to learn Git soon? -- and some focus on our examples for practice.


Doug Belshaw Tue 28 Feb 2017

Happy to help with any peer assists for those wanting to get the hang of the basics of Git.

However, you probably just need to:

  1. Broadly understand what Git is and how it works (use GitHub guides / YouTube videos / Wikipedia)
  2. Use the desktop apps (Mac/Windows)
  3. Refer to the following if using the command line: http://ibrokegit.com

I'm not using GitHub in an advanced way, but once you get your keys set up and understand the concept, it's pretty straightforward..


I opened this ticket on GitHub to follow up how to implement versioning of pages like the manifesto.