Thu 11 Jul 2013

How the Loomio Community works

Richard D. Bartlett Public Seen by 388

The Loomio Community is a dynamic, ever-evolving place, with many different kinds of participants from all over the world. Welcome to it! We create this space collaboratively, so please comment here with any feedback.

This group is governed by the Loomio Community Moderation Policy

You can read it here. If you have feedback, or want to see the context in which it was adopted, participate in this Loomio discussion.

Loomio’s core purpose

Loomio exists to create a world where it’s easy for anyone to participate in decisions that affect them.

This informs everything we do, including our organisational structure and our development processes. You can see more about our purpose and guiding principles here.

Who is involved with Loomio?

There are lots of different stakeholders involved with the project, from the workers in the Cooperative to the wider community of contributors and Loomio users. Our decision-making follows the basic principle that participants should have a say in proportion to how much they are affected by a decision. People who are more closely involved in working on Loomio have a greater level of stakeholding, and are more closely involved in decision-making. At the same time, we try to be as transparent and inclusive as possible at every step.

Loomio Cooperative

The core Loomio team formed a workers’ cooperative in May 2012. Currently the co-op members are all based in Wellington in Aotearoa New Zealand. These people do the bulk of the day-to-day work of building Loomio, supported by a wider team of contributors. The co-op is a social enterprise, meaning that Loomio supports itself financially so that we can remain independent and deliver on our core social mission.

Loomio Contributors

In addition to the co-op members, who have made a long-term commitment to the project, Loomio is supported by a generous community of contributors, who engage at different levels. This includes contracted staff, professional support (legal, accounting), strategic advisors, interns, and translators and open-source developers internationally.

Loomio Community

Anyone is welcome to join the Loomio community - currently it’s a mixture of supporters, interested users, and everyone contributing to the project. This is a public group for people to keep up to date with what’s happening, to exchange advice and ideas, and to give input into the way Loomio develops.

Loomio Board

The Loomio co-op has a board made up of co-op members and experienced external board members. The board is like an accountability backstop, a group that’s tasked with long term strategic oversight, ensuring that the co-op behaves super responsibly and keeps heading in the right direction.

How do we operate?

We operate using pragmatic rough consensus, with a high degree of collaboration, specialisation and empowered delegation of work. To keep things as adaptive and flexible as possible, we only formalise processes when absolutely necessary.

We’re aiming to develop a sense of collective autonomy in the organisation: balancing personal autonomy with the shared purpose of the Cooperative. We strive for coordination without coercion.

We aim for our processes to be so fair that even if people don’t get the outcome they wanted, they understand that it was the right way to get there.

What is the Loomio Community for?

Loomio uses Loomio to build Loomio: The various aspects of the project are discussed in the Loomio Community group, which is divided into a number of sub-groups:

Main group

This group is for keeping people up to date with news, day-to-day discussion, and a place for people to introduce themselves to the community. We want this to be a space where anyone from the community feels free to participate, so the discussion here is about stuff that’s of interest to everyone, not just the people working on Loomio.


The Contributors’ subgroup is for the day-to-day operational decision-making of the co-op. To maximise transparency, discussions in this group are public by default. Discussions are only made private when there is a good reason for it, e.g. discussions involving an individual’s privacy, client information, etc. We do maintain a private contributors subgroup where we discuss confidential information like client details, employment issues, etc.


This group is for discussions about individual features and development priorities. In the process of designing a feature, developers often run ideas past the community for feedback, to make sure diverse perspectives are included in the collaborative process.

We take community input seriously. Feedback, concerns, and ideas from the community have a direct impact on the co-op’s decisions about how to maximise our scarce resources as we prioritise feature development.

While conversations in this group are often technical in nature, we want them to be accessible to the wider community so we try to avoid jargon where possible. We save the really technical discussions for the Code group.

If you want to report a bug without starting a whole new discussion, use the Github issues list.


The Translation subgroup is for a working group for people interested in translation of Loomio to different languages.

Design principles

Make it work, then make it better

Because we use an agile process, we aim for continuous improvement through frequent iterations. Features are often released in a ‘good enough’ state, with feedback from the community leading to improvements over time.

Let the humans do what the humans are good at

We want Loomio to work for all kinds of groups, all kinds of people, and all kinds of decision-making styles. This means we automate and formalise as little as possible. Humans do a far better job of facilitating good group decisions than computers can.

Collaborating in good faith

We’re building Loomio for groups that want to work well together - we’re providing an environment that brings out the best in people, rather than building constraints to stop people behaving unconstructively.

Each element is part of the whole

Each feature decision is made in context of the core purpose of Loomio - making participatory decision-making accessible to as many people as possible. This informs how we allocate development resources and how we prioritise features.

Keep it simple

A core point that differentiates Loomio from some other software tools out there is that its very simple. But it's deceptively simple because a lot of thought goes into every aspect of it, actually. So we tend to encourage people to find ways to achieve what they want to do without overcomplicating the software itself, and innovate cultural technology alongside digital technology.

Organisational thinking that inspires us:


vivien maidaborn Thu 11 Jul 2013

How incredible to see this written down, I enjoyed reading it, felt it was clear and easy to understand and could imagine it being very useful to new contributors, board members and the Loomio community.


Carl Scrase Thu 11 Jul 2013

Well done and thanks.


Danyl Strype Thu 11 Jul 2013

Great work @richarddbartlett and everyone else who worked on this. It seems to me your your structure fits the Open Enterprise Governance model (those who've checked out BetterMeans site will know what I mean):

Users = Users (everyone who uses Loomio for anything)
Contributors = Other contributors
Members = Co-op Workers
Core Team = Board

However, you have used the term Contributors to refer to the co-op workers. Just noting that, in case anyone who follows up your reference to BetterMeans comes back confused ;)


Benjamin Knight Thu 11 Jul 2013

I'm really stoked on the collaborative effort that went into producing this!

Thanks heaps for the positive feedback @strypey and @carlscrase. I'd be super keen to have this shared on the website too if people think it's a good idea.

Now we just need to design the Groups page so it has space for exactly this sort of thing!


Matthew Bartlett Thu 18 Jul 2013

It's great


Emma Hosking Fri 19 Jul 2013

This is really helpful for a great overview of everything important!


Alanna Irving Sun 9 Mar 2014

I just made some small updates to the context panel, and added a link to the moderation policy. I was really impressed by how much of this content was still right on 8 months later! Looks like you were on the ball @richarddbartlett


Jon Lemmon Sun 9 Mar 2014

Word. I'm thinking we should link to this page from our "About" page. It provides such a good overview of our structure.


Steven Palmer Mon 10 Mar 2014

So how can I follow a public group without joining?


Alanna Irving Mon 10 Mar 2014

Good question @stevenpalmer ! Why don't you bring this up in the feature ideas group? I'll invite you.