Amendment to a proposal

Dean Satchell Public Seen by 59

There is much to be said for formal meeting protocols.
For Loomio users a single proposal per discussion is limiting, but multiple proposals would be confusing and counter-productive - as discussed in "Suggest an alternative".

Formal meetings get around this as follows: An alternative or separate motion is not allowed until the current one is carried and becomes a resolution (or is lost). However, an amendment to the motion can be "put" by a participant during discussion of the original motion. This needs to be seconded. The important bit is that from this point only the amendment may be discussed. The amendment is discussed, and is then either carried or lost (i.e. voted on). If the amendment is carried, the original motion is amended and discussion continues on this. If the amendment is lost the original motion stands. Passing the amendment ONLY passes the amendment, not the amended motion. The process was to amend the motion, not to create a new one. For a nice flow chart on this go to
http://www.community.net.nz/NR/rdonlyres/F37C7CDC-1A86-479C-A576-EFD3ADEC994C/37030/crk10meetings.pdf (pg 3 of "formal meetings")


Dean Satchell Tue 2 Apr 2013

In effect Loomio could replicate the formal meeting process in an intuitive and user friendly way. The flow should not "fork", but keep to only one discussion "on the table" at any one point in time, for good reason. My suggestion is that an amendment could be added to a proposal as a "layer" or "card" over the top of the proposal, effectively masking the original proposal until the amendment is dealt with. The original discussion would also need be masked to ensure discussion is focussed on just the amendment. Resolution then removes this layer to expose the layer below, with the proposal amended as per the resolution. Amendments could even be "stacked" as layered cards with the original motion at the bottom (just as in formal meetings where amendments can be added to amendments). Of course each participant must be able to scroll through the cards and each amendment must have its own discussion. Thus even in complex discussions the group would get back to the original discussion from the top down, suitably amended to then be able to achieve consensus.


Alanna Irving Tue 2 Apr 2013

I think this is a really interesting solution to this tricky problem! I could see it giving us the best of both worlds in a sense - flexibility to amend proposals without losing focus in the conversation. I think just seconding is a limited way of bringing an amendment to the table though... we could do some interesting things like a certain % has to like a comment suggesting an amendment.


Jon Lemmon Wed 3 Apr 2013

I appreciate that this conversation is looking at how we can incorporate existing cultural technology around decision-making into Loomio. =)


Alanna Irving Wed 3 Apr 2013

I like that phrase - cultural technology :)


Dean Satchell Thu 4 Apr 2013

The process of a "static" proposal failing, then reworded and reintroduced by an individual participant is not an efficient way of consensus decision making. This is why formal meetings allow amendments to motions.

A "dynamic" proposal, one refined through a process of discussion that leads to improved wording is more likely to result in a favourable decision.


Josef Davies-Coates Mon 8 Jul 2013

I like this idea, and think the ability to make/ suggest amendments is important, but think it would only work with a group that is already dedicated to actively using loomio and is familiar with this process. At present I'm struggling to even get people to participate at all! :-/


Danyl Strype Thu 8 Aug 2013

@deansatchell I understand your frustration with the lack of a mechanism to amend a proposal. I think this could be fixed more simply by just allowing proposals to be ammended on the fly by any group member. I've suggested a few ways to avoid the 'say "yes" to one thing, end up agreeing to another' problem here:

I'd also suggest having a numbered edit history for the proposal, and an indication of which version number was current when each person took their latest position.


Dean Satchell Sat 17 Aug 2013

Thanks for your comments @strypey and @josefdaviescoates . I'd suggest that amending a proposal is the single most important feature required for loomio. If one is not familiar with formal meeting protocols they probably seem confusing, but having experienced them and how they aid collaboration I'm pretty disappointed that this discussion has had so little attention. And the issue remains unsolved. I've given your comments some thought. In my view the flow has to remain linear, you can't reverse and expect participants to go back and revise their position on a proposal that has been changed. The meeting can get all tangled and out of control. If I have already voted on the proposal this is because I believe that the proposal is worth voting on as it stands. What right does somebody else have to override me and amend it? This is where conflict begins and we are after collaboration and consensus.
Next, the whole purpose of "seconding" is to ensure that there is support beyond the "proposer", to counteract what you have described as "ego-attachment" to either ones own proposals, or amendments. Also, by seconding, the amendment is validated as appropriate to take place. Now, keep in mind that in formal meetings the "chair" calls for discussion and then calls for votes. Maybe there needs to be two versions of loomio, a basic one for knitting clubs etc (which is effectively just a forum with the ability to propose and vote on decisions), and one where order needs to be maintained, where real meetings can take place with the aim of reaching consensus on difficult matters, with participants that have strongly opposing views. This meeting would require a "chair" that makes the decision, after the proposal has been created, discussed, perhaps amended and discussed again, when voting commences. This is because once voting has begun, a proposal should never be amended.


Danyl Strype Thu 22 Aug 2013


If I have already voted on the proposal this is because I believe that the proposal is worth voting on as it stands. What right does somebody else have to override me and amend it?

I guess that depends somewhat of your concept of the kind of decision-making Loomio is facilitating. I don't see it as a 'set and forget' voting engine. I see it as a tool for iteratively finding consensus. In consensus, a decision is never binding in any legalistic sense. Either broad agreement has been achieved, and the group can move on that matter with a unified intention, or it hasn't and either:

  • those who agree move forward while other stand aside
  • discussion goes on until consensus is reached

Imagine making a decision by crafting a proposal in the Context Box, and using realtime chat to discuss it (ideally voice/video), while being able to thumbs up/ down etc with each iteration. I'd really like that to be possibel in Loomio.

Next, the whole purpose of “seconding” is to ensure that there is support beyond the “proposer”, to counteract what you have described as “ego-attachment” to either ones own proposals, or amendments.

Now this is an interesting suggestion. How about this. Somebody creates a Proposal as usual, but it remains editable, and is not open for positions until somebody else 'seconds it'. Once that happens, the text becomes locked, people can take positions, and the person who 'seconded' is responsible for 'facilitating' the discussion on it (kind of like a chair just for that proposal). That means the proposer can argue strongly for their proposal, while the facilitator can focus on mood-minding and moderation.


Dean Satchell Thu 22 Aug 2013

@strypey I think your idea about seconding a proposal is very good.


Matthew Bartlett Thu 22 Aug 2013

Hi @deansatchell — have you seen the 'ideas' feature mockups? I wonder if it helps address your concerns?


Dean Satchell Thu 22 Aug 2013

Thanks @matthewbartlett you have indeed provided a potential solution. Maybe one that does not require a chair or moderator, and which would completely transform this tool.


Danyl Strype Fri 23 Aug 2013

It just occurred to me that the statements we enter when we indicate our position ('yes', 'abstain'...) could be used for amendments! Now the group would have to be conscious of this usage for it to work, because if someone proposed as amendment which would make the proposal unacceptable to someone who has already said 'yes', there would need to be a discussion in the comments about whether that amendment can get consensus, and if not, either it would have to be withdrawn, or some people might change their position to 'no'.

Now with some minor modification to the position statement feature, like a tick box indicating an amendment rather than a general comment, and a requirement for a seconder, the process @deansatchell describes would be implemented.


Dean Satchell Sat 24 Aug 2013

@strypey , agreed.

So, thinking through the process, one could make a position statement "Proposed amendment:..." and then someone else could make a position statement "I second the amendment". However, "Your position" needs to be selected from the options, so maybe the "block" option should only available for amendments. However, even if a block (amendment) were seconded, it might require more than consensus to pass... so will need voting on. Once a proposal is blocked and an amendment proposed, the amendment shouldn't yet be the proposal because support from the group for the amendment is yet to be ascertained. Thus only acceptance of the amendment can be voted on. If accepted, the decision is made that the amendment is now the proposal. If the amendment is not accepted the proposal reverts to the original proposal. If the original proposal is subsequently voted down then it simply becomes a previous decision and anyone is free to make a new proposal.

Some questions though. What happens when somebody changes their position? Does their original position statement remain or is it replaced? What about the timeline for a decision, how is this currently set?

However, all that said, in my view @matthewbartlett has maybe come up with a more collaborative approach. By having "ideas" between "comments" and "positions" the flow might be more linear and consensus-friendly. Ideas receive group support before they become a proposal and so an amendment is maybe less "forced"?