Loomio
Wed 25 Jun 2014

Request for Input: Participation Permissions

AI
Alanna Irving Public Seen by 373

In response to the feedback here, we've now added a tab to the group setup process called "permissions", which gives you options about participation in your group.

Coordinators can now determine whether group members can invite new members, create subgroups, start discussions, edit the context panel, edit their comments (even after activity has occurred), raise proposals, and vote on proposals.

We hope this offers a range of options to suit the various use cases you shared with us!


original post

We recently updated group privacy settings, which is about who can see what. Then we released an update to options for editing content, which is about who can change what. Now we’d like to discuss participation permissions settings, which is about who can do what.

We’ve received requests for more fine-grained control over:

  • who can start proposals
  • who can start discussions
  • who can state positions (vote on proposals)
  • who can comment

There’s a lot of potential here to empower groups who want to use Loomio for consultation and engagement with levels of decision-making stakeholding that are right for their situation. The magic of the Loomio process lies in nudging groups toward more distribution of that stakeholding in decision-making. But sometimes the real power of collaboration is as much about great delegation as it is about inclusion. We want to go for the best of all worlds here and create a featureset to support that.

Right now, you can accomplish various combinations using subgroups and privacy settings. For example, you can have a subgroup including the decision-makers for a certain subject matter, and have their discussions visible to everyone in the main group. People not in the subgroup can see what’s happening, but they won’t be notified of new discussions and proposals, and they can’t comment without being given full membership. We think we can do better.

Here are some examples of permissions people might want:

  • All group members can start discussions, but only certain people can start proposals
  • All group members can start proposals, but only certain people can state their position (vote) on them
  • All group members can make comments and state positions on proposals, but only certain people can start discussions and proposals
  • comment-only mode, so people could have input but not start discussions or participate in proposals

So… lots of possibilities here, but also a fair amount of complexity.

If you're in a group that would benefit from more control over the participation permissions, tell us about it. What kind of decisions are you making? What kind of input are you seeking? Who are the decision-makers?

CS

Carl Scrase Wed 25 Jun 2014

I think it is a great idea to have as much flexibility as possible with permissions.

AI

Alanna Irving Wed 25 Jun 2014

@carlscrase I agree... the thing is though that "flexibility" and "simplicity" can be tricky to balance. What would the options look like in your view that would be flexible but also clear and easy to use?

IJ

Ian James Wed 25 Jun 2014

I like the idea of keeping as many of the rules as possible in a group's written "bylaws" and as few of them as possible in the code because I'd like to encourage the practice of reading and writing the rules together. Why not allow anyone to do all but a core set of admin/facilitator functions. Let us make mistakes and test the rules as we come up with them organically. It keeps with Loomio's principles of both 1) letting people to do what they do best, and 2) keeping it simple.

PP

Pirate Praveen Wed 25 Jun 2014

We at Pirate Movement of India would benefit. Only permanent members can vote on proposals, but we want everyone to start proposals or comment on it.

CZ

Chris Zumbrunn Wed 25 Jun 2014

One thing that would be useful in the kind of organisations and decision making structures I work in, would be to differentiate between binding votes and non-binding votes. We wouldn't want to keep people from participating and stating their position, but we would maybe want to have some members votes be included in a count of "Binding Votes" in addition to the count of "Total Votes".

CZ

Chris Zumbrunn Wed 25 Jun 2014

...and as things stand right now, I do not mind having to divvi all that up offline in our heads instead of having it built into the software. Doing it in real live offline has its advantages. Having to configure it in the software might be to rigorous.

AI

Alanna Irving Wed 25 Jun 2014

Thanks for all the comments so far - really useful! Keep them coming. We'd love to hear a variety of use cases.

RG

Ryan Gillespie Wed 25 Jun 2014

The group I coordinate could definitely use the comment-only type membership. We have members that are voting members and those that are not. So some way that we could differentiate would be great. Another thing that could be nice, is if you could invite that comment-only member only to a discussion (or specific discussions), so they can only see discussions appropriate for their input.

AI

Alanna Irving Wed 25 Jun 2014

Hey @ryangillespie - check out the "invite people" link in the top right corner of a discussion. This allows you to invite people on a per-discussion basis. Right now this gives them full participation permissions, but I thought you'd want to know this is an option.

RB

Robert Beck Wed 25 Jun 2014

The group I am considering has two types of members. Both groups could vote, but only one group could block.

RB

Robert Beck Wed 25 Jun 2014

I hope that we will be able to give names to groups, such that everyone in the group has the same voting rights

RG

Ryan Gillespie Wed 25 Jun 2014

@alanna but doesn't that also grant them full group membership (that's how I read the next screen after clicking the invite people button)? I'm thinking only having access to that specific discussion.

AI

Alanna Irving Wed 25 Jun 2014

Good question @ryangillespie - maybe @richarddbartlett could clarify?

@robertbeck - interesting! Can you tell me more about how it works in your group where only some people are allowed to block? Is that the only difference between those users and others?

RDB

Richard D. Bartlett Wed 25 Jun 2014

@alanna yeah that is unclear at the moment. @ryangillespie has it right, currently the 'Invite people' feature on the discussion page adds people to the group. The aspiration is definitely to enable per-discussion membership though.

RB

Robert Beck Wed 25 Jun 2014

@alanna We have a group of siblings that share the ownership of a vacation property. The siblings would have the right to block a proposal.
Each of the siblings has adult children that occasionally use the property. They would have the right to vote on proposals.
Each family can block, but only with the consent of the parent owner.

AI

Alanna Irving Wed 25 Jun 2014

Thanks! That's a really interesting use case @robertbeck

JV

Joshua Vial Wed 25 Jun 2014

For me making proposals and voting on them is the same in all the groups I'm part of.

I would be happy with
- everyone can comment
- only this group can start a discussion, proposal or vote on a proposal

A slightly more flexible option of "and this group of people can start a discussion" would be an improvement that I wouldn't mind but could live without.

J

Joum Thu 26 Jun 2014

In our small group I made everyone coordinators. We had a lot of sub-groups created and it made things confusing.

I have since limited the number of coordinators, but wonder is it still possible for any member to make a sub-group?

** I would like to permissions to make sub-groups.

** Another wish would be the ability to make sub-groups of sub-groups (with restrictions on the ability to create them).

JL

Jon Lemmon Sat 28 Jun 2014

Great discussion! Awesome context you've given @alanna.

My take on participation permissions is:

Participation permissions

Who can start discussions?
- Members
- Admins only

Who can start proposals?
- Members
- Admins only

Who can vote on proposals?
- Members
- Admins only

Are there really any scenarios where you want people to be part of a group but unable to comment? Not sure this is a strong enough use-case to cater for.

Also, ideally you'd be able to specify certain "subgroups" as able to do the above actions (instead of just admins). However, I think for now just starting with "Admins only" and "Members" is a less-expensive but still super-useful way to go.

AI

Alanna Irving Sat 28 Jun 2014

Thanks @jonlemmon that's a good clear description. I agree that in the future we'll probably want more categories of users, but for now different options for all members and coordinators is a good starting point.

@lbjoumcommonlyknow brought up the interesting idea of another option around the ability to create subgroups as well....

RG

Rob Guthrie Sat 28 Jun 2014

Thanks @jonlemmon and @alanna. I just want to chime in and say that this discussion should not be directed by imagined development costs.

This discussion should be high level and about ideals, to discover the use cases. That's all - Thanks for the great discussion so far. It's super to read.

AI

Alanna Irving Wed 2 Jul 2014

@richarddbartlett and @robertguthrie are taking all this feedback on board and will be coming back with next steps soon. Thanks again to everyone who's contributed so far. We'll definitely be coming back to the community here for testing/feedback on this.

VM

vivien maidaborn Thu 3 Jul 2014

@jonlemmon that is so clear, it covers off anything I was trying to articulate:)

MD

Mathew Danaher Thu 3 Jul 2014

On the technical side I agree with @jonlemmon but would also have to agree with whoever it was up-thread who suggested that it's good to have group rules and procedures pick up the slack as much as possible and keep the technical side as simple as possible

AI

Alanna Irving Tue 22 Jul 2014

In response to the feedback here, we've now added a tab to the group setup process called "permissions", which gives you options about participation in your group.

Coordinators can now determine whether group members can invite new members, create subgroups, start discussions, edit the context panel, edit their comments (even after activity has occurred), raise proposals, and vote on proposals.

We hope this offers a range of options to suit the various use cases you shared with us!

Thanks for your input @carlscrase @ianjames @praveenarimbrathod @chriszumbrunn @ryangillespie @robertbeck @joshuavial @lbjoum @jonlemmon @vivienmaidaborn @mathewdanaher

J

Joum Tue 22 Jul 2014

Awesome. Thanks loomio team.

RG

Ryan Gillespie Tue 22 Jul 2014

This is a great first step. I'd still like to see at least one more user role in groups. In addition to the current roles of coordinator and member, something like a guest member. I want to be able to give a specific set of members certain permissions (like ability to start proposals & voting privileges) while allowing others to still participate in the discussion.

RDB

Richard D. Bartlett Tue 22 Jul 2014

Yep @george2 I was thinking the same thing.

From an architecture perspective, we're thinking of implementing this with 'give that group these permissions in this other group' rather than creating another user role. Not certain of that though :)

RG

Rob Guthrie Wed 23 Jul 2014

Expanding on richards point: We're currently pondering if subgroups could identify people for roles, rather than expanding on the 'coordinator, members' selection.

MD

Mathew Danaher Thu 24 Jul 2014

That's great it's really nice to see such rapid response to our input!

SC

Steve Coffman Sat 26 Jul 2014

Yes....love it. Thank you!

RG

Ryan Gillespie Thu 31 Jul 2014

@richarddbartlett @robertguthrie I'm not sure about how difficult the architecture part of creating a third user role is, I'm mainly thinking in terms of the end user experience. I want to make it as easy as possible for my group members to interact with the software. While I might easily understand that a certain subgroup is for voting only and the main group is for larger discussions, it may be difficult for others to easily navigate that scenario. As a coordinator, I'd rather be able to set a user role if necessary. While for general membership voting, two roles is sufficient, for boards or smaller voting groups that would like guest input, 3 roles would be ideal. Something like Coordinator, Member, Guest. These three roles would also be beneficial if/when the invite to discussion (only) is added to the product.

AI

Alanna Irving Thu 31 Jul 2014

I personally feel a big need for 3 levels of user permissions as well. That will be the next step when we iterate on this, I expect.

RDB

Richard D. Bartlett Thu 31 Jul 2014

Thanks @ryangillespie, really appreciate your perspective. From an architecture perspective a group is a list of people, but you're absolutely right from a user perspective it is much more than that. Beginning to be convinced that 3 roles could go a long way. Eg now we have open groups that anyone can join, it would be nice if people joined as Guest and were promoted to Member after they'd demonstrated some good behaviour.

RG

Rob Guthrie Fri 1 Aug 2014

So I'm really curious about this. Do you think members would always just have one role in a group, or should they have possibly many roles?

RG

Ryan Gillespie Sat 2 Aug 2014

@robertguthrie While I can envision situations where members would have many roles, most user roles roll up into each other. Like in wordpress, the admin can do pretty much everything, but there are more restrictive rolls underneath. My idea for three roles is trying to balance simplicity and inclusiveness for groups while still allowing some flexibility in the hierarchy of groups. IMO, there are two main pieces in the loomio world, discussion and voting. Since the coordinator role functions like an admin role, in my mind there is a need for roles that separate the discussion and voting roles.

In this context, I think that members only need one role assigned. Guest members would be allowed to participate in discussions (at least as much as the coordinators permit), Members (or Voting Members) would be allowed to participate in proposals and discussions, and of course coordinators have full rights to the group.

AI

Alanna Irving Sat 2 Aug 2014

I think I'd rather see us creating a simple way for coordinators to create user lists and assign them permissions, rather than us trying to guess what the needs would be and pre-define and name them.

AI

Alanna Irving Sat 2 Aug 2014

@philippeponge I am moving your other discussion here since it's the same topic....

I would like to accept peoples in a group without giving them the possibility to vote. For examples : - in a local area, the local people only vote, but they want to open the discutions to others - a person want to follow a group and so need to see what she had red or not… Then should it be possible to accept guests with specials rights.

@matthewmcnatt was also supporting this.

PP

Philippe Ponge Sun 3 Aug 2014

Thanks @alanna