Thu 26 Feb 2015 1:28PM

Why can coordinators see email addresses of group members?

D Denjello Public Seen by 249

This is something that is not made clear to users and flies in the face of all accepted rules of privacy. I never gave this permission.



Olover Thu 26 Feb 2015 2:42PM

Perhaps it's a side-issue, but if emails are not visible to coordinators, someone should check that the function to send an email to all group members work. I tried to send an email to all members recently (I am a group coordinator) and it didn't work.

Another related desirable feature is messaging one or certain group members directly. Right now one can only @mention people publicly within a certain discussion.

Otherwise I agree with @denjello in principle.


Greg Cassel Thu 26 Feb 2015 7:24PM

This is something I never noticed; thanks @denjello for bringing it up. If I understand it correctly: basically, any time we join any group, we're giving our email address (from our Loomio "Edit Profile" page) to all of that group's coordinators?


Denjello Thu 26 Feb 2015 7:32PM

That's sure what it looks like to me.


Denjello Thu 26 Feb 2015 7:37PM

Sure. Visit a group where you are coordinator:


Here is the relevant file from the github repo

See line 20 & 31


Denjello Thu 26 Feb 2015 7:39PM

This is one of those moments for me where I wish there was an "Anti-Like" button link in these posts. Just like back then when someone shared something depressing on F***BOOK.


Richard D. Bartlett Thu 26 Feb 2015 8:29PM

Good point @denjello - so you're proposing a per-group opt-in for sharing your email with the group coordinator?

Do you want to mock up how that would work as part of the group joining process?


Denjello Thu 26 Feb 2015 9:13PM

@richarddbartlett no, actually I meant a set of profile switches that inform you that you can share your email address with:

  1. No one [DEFAULT]
  2. Coordinators of Groups [TRUSTED]
  3. Anyone with whom you share Group affiliation [SOCIAL]
  4. Anyone who finds your profile [GLOBAL]

Richard D. Bartlett Thu 26 Feb 2015 9:21PM

Oh ok cool, I get it.

To answer your original question 'why can coordinators see email addresses of group members?', it's so they can contact them outside of the platform. I know some group coordinators use this as a kind of directory of their group membership, so they really value having a complete list of all their members' emails.

Of course there's also the case where you're in a less trusted group, in which case it makes perfect sense to hide the email from the coordinator.

So my question is what to set as default. The majority use case on Loomio is amongst trusted groups, so to my mind most of the time option 2 would be totally appropriate. So how to draw attention to the more private option? Maybe when you're joining an open-to-join group (which implies it is a lower trust environment), you could be notified "hey your profile is currently configured to share your email address with coordinators - do you want to switch this off?"


Presley Thu 26 Feb 2015 10:26PM

@richarddbartlett, your example shows that sometimes you want different privacy levels for different groups. Maybe your original idea is the way to go.


Denjello Thu 26 Feb 2015 10:30PM

I think that the logic behind asking this question hey your profile is currently configured to share your email address with coordinators - do you want to switch this off? is spot on and although the solution will be complex in terms of logic, presentation and translation, it treats the issue well.


Olover Thu 26 Feb 2015 10:36PM

Or you could just have the 4 options visible every time you sign up for a group, with the default option pre-checked, so it's clear that you can change it for that group. This would mean different email visibility preferences for different groups. And I also think that the default should be group coordinators.

But, again, I think it would be important to have an internal Loomio messaging system to communicate directly and privately with one or more other groups members. If this is not available, I would suggest having the default be emails visible to other groups members (of course with the possibility to change preference to another level of visibility).


Denjello Thu 26 Feb 2015 10:48PM

To your second point @olover - I agree wholeheartedly. I have several times been "sent" private email addresses in comments here on loomio. For me another issue is inviting people if you don't know their email (or which email they used to register).

Maybe the role of the coordinator needs to be looked at more closely... The coordinator can message the whole group. Why can't I if I am not a coordinator???


Olover Thu 26 Feb 2015 11:06PM

(I did try to message everyone in my group and it didn't work - would love to have more clarity on that from anyone who might know what's going on with that.)

I understand the concern of equal opportunities for users. I do think there is a spamming concern, and it's just about betting that coordinators are less likely to send unwanted messages to group members.

However, we could also envision users having an option to decide whether they want to receive messages as a group from any member of the group, or if they want to just leave that prerogative to the coordinator.

This is making me think of something else, which is not directly related to email address visibility but is more of a process idea:

It seems there are many questions about what should be the functionalities or defaults of groups, and I'm imagining that perhaps every Loomio group can go through an induction phase in which it will start to take decisions collectively through Loomio about the way it wants Loomio to function. Thus there could be pre-made proposals on email visibility, as well as several other issues that may be standard variable questions for groups. I am mindful of the intention of Loomio to be as flexible as possible to accommodate for different groups and individuals, and this process would only relate to features that everyone in the group needs to agree on. For individual options (such as sharing my private email address with anyone), individuals can change those preferences autonomously.

The induction phase could be started at any point by decision of the group, though encouraged by Loomio to do so soon after starting a group - so the decision on when to start this phase could be the first decision of the group.

There are all kinds of issues with this, including what a quorum is for starting the induction phase, but I think it would be a cool way to use Loomio to customize Loomio in its collective aspects.


Denjello Thu 26 Feb 2015 11:10PM

The induction phase idea is brilliant.


Denjello Thu 26 Feb 2015 11:22PM

I just thought of a hack.

hey @olover - come join my cool new group.

If you join the group I'll make you a coordinator and we can see each other's email addresses. Dirty!!!


naught101 Thu 26 Feb 2015 11:55PM

I don't see any reason for needing to give anyone your email, admins or not. Especially if there is a user contact form. Surely this software is about public organising? So why encourage background contact at all? (see also https://www.loomio.org/d/0Mr85YhU/backchannels)

If users want their email address made available, they could put it in their profile if https://trello.com/c/qlqkI6vS/6-user-profile-text-field happens.


Greg Cassel Fri 27 Feb 2015 12:04AM

I see @naught101 you found that one thread regarding Loomio's currently limited user profiles. On a related note, this trello card needs like a million upvotes IMO :)


Richard D. Bartlett Fri 27 Feb 2015 12:21AM

@naught101 can you expand a bit more on this: "Surely this software is about public organising?"

There are lots of different use cases for Loomio. Currently about 38% of Loomio groups are visible to public, which is what I had in mind when I said "the majority use case is a trusted group."


Denjello Fri 27 Feb 2015 12:23AM

@naught101 - I agree. And as a matter of fact I was quite surprised to hear about the integration of backchannel communication avenues from coordinator -> participant.


naught101 Fri 27 Feb 2015 12:54AM

Richard: yes, ok, I guess I mean "public within a group" e.g. - collective organising, where everyone is privy to all of the relevant information. e.g. trying to avoid caucusing, and backroom deals. Yes, information sharing within the group should not be publically accessible to the whole world, but there also shouldn't be much individual-individual communication, that the members of the group can't access.


Greg Cassel Fri 27 Feb 2015 1:26AM

regarding your concerns, @naught101 : I've dealt more than I'd like with issues of corruption, and I think lots about stuff such as backroom deals. One of the things I like about genuinely inclusive decision-making, including (where desirable and practical) full formal consensus, is that it can radically disincentivize the backroom deal.

I think the only problem with private brainstorming and negotiations is when people use it to work against other people. Which does happen a lot, and sometimes a little, in society at large. With that in mind, I've felt that Loomio should neither discourage nor particularly encourage private messaging. I.e., I haven't suggested or supported a private messaging functionality for Loomio itself. Obviously, people already have all sorts of tools for that.


naught101 Fri 27 Feb 2015 1:40AM

Yeah, of course you can't stop it. I just don't think it needs to be encouraged :)


Alanna Irving Fri 27 Feb 2015 4:13AM

Well for now one step in the right direction would be to add a little text tip letting users know that their email address will be visible to group coordinators. Then at least users know what they are opting in to.

As someone who coordinates a lot of groups, I've definitely used the email directory and most groups I am part of are happy to share emails with the coordinators.


Denjello Fri 27 Feb 2015 10:22AM

That's a start @alanna


Olover Fri 27 Feb 2015 10:35AM

@denjello I am not sure what you'd like to do with your hack at this point? I do think that's a way for everyone to see everyone else's email - but so does everyone also gain other privileges over the administration of the group.


Denjello Fri 27 Feb 2015 10:50AM

It is just a that I'll archive once this discussion is over.


Carlos Gallo Garavano Wed 4 Mar 2015 7:53PM

A number of concepts that I have clear about the groups: (at least until this moment)
1- The issue may be more important than email
2- Nobody is forced to join groups.
3- The groups have the right to admission
4- Hide email is to avoid responsibility ?
5- Should exist and be visible performance standards group, to make the decision to join or not.


Presley Wed 4 Mar 2015 9:50PM

An email address is more than a means of communication; it can be linked to other online identities. Privacy is important if you want to join a group where you agree with their goal but don't know for sure that none of the coordinators are crazy. There's a lot of doxxing and harassment on the internet lately.


Carlos Gallo Garavano Thu 5 Mar 2015 9:23AM

I agree that a group has the option to hide the email and do not allow to be visible later

Nobody is forced to use an email that has a great importance of identity, and you can use a new email.

I have a pseudonym and more emails. I use them depending on the context and purpose.

If privacy is of great importance, I do not participate in the group, because currently, operating rules of the group, are not visible.

Personally, the goal of a group is not above my privacy.

Must exist and be visible the rules governing the functioning of a group


jacopo Sun 12 Jun 2016 7:16AM

Just implement a loomio users contact notification protocol
In the user page i can send a message to the user.
There is no need to see the email address but there is the need to be able to contact eachother.
In Airesis we have implemented and is very useful. Also in the user administration we implement a mass message available to the administrators