Language + style guide for translators
Loomio is part of a movement towards new forms of organisation, new social relationships, and new experiences. We don't necessarily have the language for these new forms yet.
As Marina Sitrin says in the translator's note at the start of Horizontalism "old words cannot define new things - a new language is necessary [...] We must try to listen to the experience before attempting to translate it into the language of our own experience."
"So, today we're constructing something different. And, in the process, a whole new language and new forms of expression come into being. Horizontalidad, direct democracy, sharing and effecting one another's movements, contamination, articulation, organizing in networks: these expressions are not often heard from the traditional left. There are many words from the past that could define today's situation, but since they're old words used to define new things, they create confusion."
It has been a significant challenge to translate some of these new organisational concepts into English words; I expect the challenge will deepen as we expand into other languages.
Word choices and tone/style
Overall, we aim for an informal, conversational tone throughout the app. Think about how people talk when they meet as equals in a friendly collaborative meeting. Clarity is the highest priority.
We've deliberately avoided language with strong connotations of traditional formalised majority-rules political decision-making. Rather than talking about elections or parliament or voting or quorum or any of that political jargon, we talk about people having discussions, building shared understanding and making collaborative decisions together. Loomio is motivated by the concept of everyday democracy - the idea that participating in decisions that affect you should be a part of daily life.
Here's a few key words in the app and the reasoning behind them. All these choices are up for discussion :)
A proposal is a suggested course of action, made by an individual to a group. In the codebase this is known as a 'motion', so you may see references to that word occasionally. We chose 'proposal' over 'motion' because it is slightly less formal and more flexible.
Individuals state their position on a proposal. There are times in English where 'vote' is a more convenient word (as it can function as a noun and a verb), but we've explicitly avoided using it. 'Vote' carries connotations of majority-rules adversarial decision-making, where-as a 'position' is more deliberative and collaborative.
A proposal with a collection of positions together make up a 'decision'.
A group (occasionally referred to as a 'parent group') contains all the individuals for a given organisation. A sub-group is a smaller collection of individuals. There is no hierarchy or superiority built into the group/sub-group model, it is simply a way of dividing up an organisation into smaller parts.
This concept is ugly to explain in English, so I expect a better choice will emerge eventually :) It's easy to explain in mathematics: the 'group' is a superset and the 'subgroup' is a subset