Decentralization and Free Access
I’m new to the community, hi!
So before I jump in with annoying newbie criticisms, I just want to say that I think what you guys have built here is incredible. There are a lot of features I’d still like to see, but this thing is so close to the sort of platform I’ve been dreaming about for years, and I think it has the potential to be world-changing. I am impressed and grateful.
That said, I wanted to start some discussion about my number one concern with the platform. I believe the world desperately needs a platform like this, not for trivial (sorry) purposes like facilitating corporate decisions and teamwork but for allowing worker cooperatives, unions, non-profits, whole communities to govern themselves effectively, equitably, and efficiently. Right now, what seems to me to be the biggest barrier to Loomio being used for such lofty aspirations is its centralized and subscription-based nature.
I understand the need to charge monthly fees if Loomio is maintaining its own servers, but I’m wondering if the org ever intends to move the platform to a Fediverse standard, a la Mastodon, Diaspora, etc. Allowing volunteer servers to host the platform could not only make access free but establish trust by eliminating any single point of failure or control. Free access is important so that even the poorest can participate, but just as importantly, any subscription fee at all (even if its affordable) increases sign-up friction, which make it difficult to achieve the network effect that would make a platform like this useful on a mass scale. It’s very difficult for me to imagine Loomio gaining ubiquity on the order of a Facebook or Twitter or Google app if use isn’t free. Because I assume we’re all in agreement against the use of data collection and targeted advertising, the only real alternative I’m aware of is decentralized Fediverse hosting.
If the team is concerned about continuing to make an income from the project, you could always start a Patreon or similar and continue providing value to the community by maintaining and improving the code and by providing one of the many servers for hosting.
I hope these concerns aren’t taken personally, but I would really love to see this platform achieve its full potential.