Fri 1 Nov 2019

Discussion and Development of an Elected Social.coop Governing Board

Matthew Cropp Public Seen by 274

During the recent strategy call (Notes), one significant reform that was discussed was the creation of an elected board-like body with responsibility for, among other possible things, meeting on a regular basis to help set our organization's strategy, develop and review budgets, and set goals and help coordinate the operations teams.

This has come up discussions among the Community Working Group Operations Team, which has felt like we've been functionally taking on some of those roles by necessity, but only formally have a mandate to be responsible for a portion of the organization.

So, let's use this thread to discuss whether the creation of an elected body whose purview is the entirety of social.coop is desirable and what the scope of such a body should be.

I've created a document here with an outline of some initial elements that might ultimately be massaged into a proposed bylaws amendment to create this body. Please feel free to add ideas and comments to it, and, once we've had some input, we can aim to convene a conversation to workshop an actionable proposal.


Dave V. ND9JR Sun 16 Feb 2020

I'd defer to others, but if there are more seats that interested candidates, I'd consider stepping up

Given the OS I use setting things up for video calls may be difficult, but not impossible. Honestly I wish I'd voted on whether or not to form this group in the first place as I share Darren's concerns, but I missed that vote and it wouldn't have mattered anyway.


mike_hales Fri 14 Feb 2020

Not interested at this time

@Darren are you up for it?


Jonathan Bean Thu 13 Feb 2020

I'd defer to others, but if there are more seats that interested candidates, I'd consider stepping up

I would like to increase my participation, and I enjoy setting goals and strategies. I also would find it interesting to be creating and organizing partnerships with other entities, and I have some experience with these things. 🙂👍


Leo Sammallahti Thu 13 Feb 2020

I'd defer to others, but if there are more seats that interested candidates, I'd consider stepping up

I did a terrible job last time with attendance but would improve this time.


Nathan Schneider Wed 12 Feb 2020

Not interested at this time

I don't have capacity, but I nominate @Manuela Bosch!


Creature Of The Hill Tue 11 Feb 2020

Not interested at this time

Would like to be active and help to contribute to general interactions, improve user involvement. Mental health means a distinct lack of spoons at times, but will endeavour to ensure those in the various groups are supported as best as possible.


Matthew Cropp Mon 10 Feb 2020

I'd defer to others, but if there are more seats that interested candidates, I'd consider stepping up

As I'm involved in the CWG Ops Team, I would plan to attend these meeting as a representative of the team anyway, but think it would be ideal for me to focus on my role with that Ops team. I am willing to step up if needed, though.


Matthew Cropp started a poll Mon 10 Feb 2020

Call for candidates for the Coordination Working Group! Closed Mon 17 Feb 2020

Now that the vote for authorization of the Coordination Working Group has passed, now we're looking for folks to step up into that role. The full description is here. The group will start with 7 seats for voting members who will meet either monthly or bi-monthly, depending on the need, and will get a $5 solidarity payment from the co-op for each meeting attended.

Please use this form to indicate your interest in serving our co-op in this capacity, and once we've got a sense of who's interested, we'll do an election.

0 - I am interested in running
5 - I'd defer to others, but if there are more seats that interested candidates, I'd consider stepping up
7 - Not interested at this time

Darren Thu 20 Feb 2020

Thanks @mike_hales and @emi do for the pings. I don't want to be on a coordination group that does most of its organising via video call, in part, because I'm generally on a poor, metered, internet connection which can make my participation difficult / frustrating (for others attending as well as myself) I gave more details previously in this thread.

I am however happy to engage in other coop organising activities.

I wonder where the recent poll leaves us. As with previous calls for participants in the community operation team enthusiasm for participation in a closed group isnt high (not sure of levels of participation, but in my experiences of similar group organising folks often dont turn up) . My personal preference would be to create a new open coordination subgroup here on Loomio and try out organising coordination work there - also posting about stuff on Mastodon to widen out those conversations.


Nathan Schneider Tue 11 Feb 2020

I strongly support the proposed approach. I think precisely because organic participation is limited, we need to create more focused space for getting essential work done, with appropriate transparency and opportunities for anyone to participate.


Nick Sellen Tue 11 Feb 2020

regarding member engagement and information dissemination

in our last tech meeting minutes we discussed the installing the towncrier bot that was created by someone on sunbeam.city to announce loomio activity to mastodon. currently it can only access fully public content (which for our loomio group means many of the discussions, but not the polls).


mike_hales Tue 11 Feb 2020

Like emi, I think it would be good if you felt willing to be involved in the group Darren. I seem to remember you don't always have online access? If so, do does that make things difficult? I hope not. Cheers.


emi do Tue 11 Feb 2020

Thanks for your input Darren. I think your concerns strike at something that we've been trying to address in the CWGOT regarding member engagement and information dissemination. I like your proposal about using #social.coop to get the word out about proposals etc, this seems like a practical and definitely easy to implement solution to getting greater engagement from the members.

I think your perspective and ideas would be GREAT to have on the coordination working group! I know there is a lot that can changed and with additional perspectives, I think maybe we can talk about how these groups can change/morph to better suit the community.


Darren Tue 4 Feb 2020

While there is much I can get behind within this coordination working group formation proposal I worry about the direction this may take the coop. It feels like for the last year and a half much of the organising has been happening in a manner where the membership cannot easily engage (or dont want to?). I worry this trend would continue as this working group begins its work.

My experience of this vote illuminates another worry. I read the proposal and felt I wanted to carefully consider & discuss it's many and potentially significant contents but I've had a whole lot on and havent have the time or headspace to engage. All the while agree votes have been landing (which means the proposal is almost certain to carry?) with ever reducing time for discussion and re-consideration.

I think much of the functions of this proposed working group & the discussions around the decisions it makes are likely to benefit from wider member participation. I'd also hope that the ability for members to participate would drive greater engagement. I'm happy this proposal suggests that is a primary goal (hoping a new Loomio sub group would be open)

I'd like for all working groups and ops groups to try, as much as is practical, to seek opinions about their ideas (and requests for help in their tasks) via Loomio and Mastodon, as well as by any video call meetings, (maybe in our matrix room also? Any toot containing #socialcoop in its body, not in a content warning, ends up there) giving membership more of a chance for discussion and consideration of issues before proposals land.

I'm not totally sure why this working group needs to have limited empowered participants, its not like we are currently being crippled by over participation in working/ops groups. Also why some of its proposed functions couldnt happen elsewhere (eg. budgeting tasks could happen within the existing finance working group)

I just read my earlier comment in this thread and see I'm covering a fair bit of the same ground as I did there - probably a good indication I should finish here and go to bed.


Matt Noyes Fri 31 Jan 2020

Realistically, we now function with two working groups (with most work being done by the Ops Teams - two people for TWG, four people for CWG). I think of it the way Nick does: co-ordination WG picking up the ops functions of the other groups. But this does not mean that members can't make proposals to the whole group, as I understand it. 6 months seems short to me, it takes time to get these working groups on a steady footing, maybe one year?


Nick Sellen Fri 31 Jan 2020

I agree, would like a bigger picture on how this relates, I see 4 working groups as @Noah Hall mentions in my loomio sidebar. Seems a bit much tbh...

It also feels a little bit hierarchically focused to me in that it seems things need to be approved by this new group before it can go to the membership vote, how to encourage the wider membership to participate in discussions and processes if they would have to wait for so long to actually join.

And agree with @Leo Sammallahti that 2 years seems too long, maybe 6 months is better.

So, perhaps just 3 working groups is sufficient:

  • co-ordination (this one being discussed, kind of admin stuff... with whatever financial and governance working groups did before rolled into it)

  • community (moderation, and whatever else it does)

  • tech


Noah Thu 30 Jan 2020

Is my impression accurate, that this proposed committee would be subsuming a large portion of what is currently the responsibility of the Finance WG (edit: also the apparently-defunct governance WG, and to a lesser extent, the tech and community WGs as well)? In general terms I think there is useful work to be done by a body of this type but ideally I'd like a bit more clarity on how it fits within our existing structure - such as it is - before voting.


Sun 2 Feb 2020

I see it pretty much as @Matt Noyes does, responding to Nick & Noah, Jan 31st.


Leo Sammallahti
Wed 29 Jan 2020

Imo the 2 year term is too long - find enthusiastic new members should have regular opportunities to participate. Would suggest at least one position opening every 3-4 months.

Hope that the working group will create principle 6 cooperation between WeCo and Social Coop, perhaps on the basis of the (imo generous) offer here.


Wed 29 Jan 2020

In my view the main problem to overcome organisationally is just providing a maximally useful service in a way that reflects commonly-shared values.


Wed 29 Jan 2020

It's unclear to me what problems this is solving


Matthew Cropp started a proposal Wed 29 Jan 2020

Proposal for the formation of a social.coop "Coordination Working Group" Closed Mon 3 Feb 2020

Taking into account the feedback and discussion of the past few months, the members of the Community Working Group Operations team have developed and ratified the following proposal for the formation of a "Coordination Working Group" for social.coop. The vote on the creation of this working group will be open for six days. Proposal:

Proposal for the creation of an elected Coordination Working Group

(Endorsed by a vote of the members of the Community Working Group Operations Team: Matt Noyes, Emi Do, Mica Fisher, and Matt Cropp)

  • Purpose: In the last few months, one significant reform that’s been discussed is the creation of an elected body with responsibility for coordinating the work of other working groups and carrying out basic administrative duties necessary to the functioning of Social.Coop. This group is tasked with stepping back and seeing Social.Coop as a whole, as well as helping develop our organization's strategy, drafting and proposing budgets, and setting goals for, and helping coordinate, the operations teams.

  • Scope of Responsibilities

    • Help build a culture of inclusivity and open participation by encouraging and supporting member participation in working groups

    • Assist in the creation and assure the ongoing functioning of working groups

      • Approve the addition and possible compensation of new operations team members, subject to membership vote

    • Maintain communication among working groups and with Social.Coop members

      • All working group minutes posted or linked on Loomio, accessible to all members

    • Develop and propose budgets, subject to membership ratification.

    • Nominate and coordinate with the elected Treasurer(s) to approve Open Collective reimbursements

    • Approve contractual relationships between Social.Coop and outside organizations, subject to membership vote

  • Logistics

    • 7 Seats

    • Loomio sub-group for coordination

    • Meet monthly or bi-monthly via video call

    • Agendas, meeting notes, and recorded video calls posted or linked on Loomio, available to all Social.Coop members

    • All Coordination Working Group meetings be open to members to sit in on, with voice but no vote.

    • Compensation:

      • Solidarity payment of $5 per video meeting for Coordination Working Group members.

  • Election

    • 2 year terms with ~½ coming up for election each time. Balance between maintaining institutional knowledge and rotation.

    • Anonymous approval vote, weighted for gender diversity

    • If a member resigns, election of new member by the membership ASAP.

Agree - 15
Abstain - 1
Disagree - 0
Block - 0
14 people have voted (14%)

Matt Noyes Sun 3 Nov 2019

PS -- this chart from @georgecheney poses useful problems for us:


Matt Noyes Sun 10 Nov 2019

I drafted a new version, at the top of the same doc you posted above.


Matthew Cropp Fri 8 Nov 2019

On reflection, I think @mattnoyes' idea of a coordinating committee that would need to have decisions ratified by the membership seems like it's worth trying, and it sounds like it would be doable within the boundaries of the concerns raised by @darren4 and @davevnd9jr. That would be something that we could set (token) comp for elected members' attendence, and we would not need to do a bylaws change. Matt, you able to massage your idea into a draft proposal for feedback?


Matt Noyes Sun 3 Nov 2019

@darren4 Thanks for recovering those threads! (I see that I repeat myself. :astonished: ) I wonder if I should propose three things:
1) the creation of an elected Admin. Working Group that is tasked to coordinate the work of other working groups and do other admin duties (like finding an alternative for tech work, then putting it up for a membership vote).
2) that the minutes of working groups be posted (or linked) on Loomio so members can easily see what we are doing. Storage could be an issue, but, if possible, it would be great to record and share Zoom (or Jitsi) calls in the same way.
3) all working group meetings be open to members to sit in on, if they like, voice/no vote.
If we later decide to form an official cooperative, we will have to adjust our structures accordingly, but for now maybe this would be enough structure.


Dave V. ND9JR Sun 3 Nov 2019

I pretty much agree with Darren, though I want to add that before the summer of 2018 we were a pretty open co-op with member participation. After that summer we went the other way and now a lot of the operation of this co-op is very opaque, to the point where I'm questioning whether I want to stay in this co-op (and continue to support it financially) for that very reason.

I think any BoD must ultimately be accountable to the members themselves, otherwise you get a situation with another org I'm involved in where the members can petition the BoD but the BoD can pretty much do whatever they want. And not just through BoD elections; that's how how my credit union (Veridian Credit Union in Waterloo, Iowa for the curious) operates and it hardly feels like a co-op at all. We the members will still need to vote on motions the BoD wants to implement if you want me to accept this.

I'm skeptical of any small team inside an organization like this as too often the members represent either only their own interests or the interests of a few people, and that corrupts the democracy aspect of an organization. But I also see how such teams can be beneficial. As long as they truly are accountable to all members of the co-op and we still get to vote on policies they want to implement, I can accept this.


Darren Sun 3 Nov 2019

Hey Matt,

I'd like to start by saying I'm genuinely appreciative of the energy you put into organising social coop. I know from long experience that it can be hard to find the time and energy to dedicate to moving projects forward, especially when its voluntary work.

It does however feel a bit like we've been here before (a number of times) e.g. https://www.loomio.org/d/Ve0NtQsT/board-steering-committee-high-council-for-social-coop-



As I, and others, suggested during the call I think we are suffering from low levels of member participation in the organisation and running of social coop, and that we are heavily dependant on a few folks in key positions - which gives us a little resilience if they were to become unavailable.

I think that moving things into closed groups, with largely opaque operations (as I feel the community working group ops team (CWGOT) has become, and I fear an elected board would follow) acts as a barrier to greater member participation. Its difficult for folks to understand what's happening and why. It creates a pretty large barrier to participation as its necessary to commit to being part of the group, before you can see clearly what work the group actually does, and what you are committing to do.

I appreciate that some of the CWGOT work around moderation, or members concerns, is best handled privately. But I also dont see why CWGOT cant make basic minutes of its meetings available (I'm thankful that the minutes of the April meeting were made available after my request - but was sad to see that this didn't become a regular occurrence). I understand that this is a bit of extra work, but feel it would be a nice way of keeping the membership abreast of ideas and activities.

Finally I would like to suggest that we try to increase use of other modes of social coop organising. As I mentioned in the call video/audio calls dont always work so well for everyone.. eg. I often have poor internet (I lost audio a few times and missed parts of the call) and I'm aware I'm not the best speaker, or always easy to understand, when I'm sitting next to someone, let alone over an internet call. Also there can be timing issues, when trying to bring together international groups.

Trying to do more in the open on Mastodon and Loomio feels like it could draw in more membership participation. I'm happy to report Loomio has been under heavy development and theres a new beta web front end that runs much more smoothly. You can switch from the old to new interface (and back again if you wish) by going to



Nathan Schneider Sun 3 Nov 2019

Tried and true. Certainly one of the lessons I think we've been learning over the years is that the apparently boring governance structures that nearly all established co-ops use are not so unnecessary after all.


Matt Noyes Fri 1 Nov 2019

Thanks Matt C! I commented and added one line.