Building foundations

Moderator note: discussion spun out from this thread.

This smells like a tech/cult to me, who knows what’s going on with this, my web searches pull up pages of fluff.

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Regardless of what it might smell like, in reality it’s neither tech nor cult, simply a well worked methodology for inclusive deliberation and decision-making.


Hey Hamish,

I’d be interested to hear from you what made it feel like a ‘cult’? As Graham says, Sociocracy is methodology that we use to make decisions in lieu of hierarchy. Ideally we’d like the language that we use in our workshop promo to be inclusive and not make it sound like we’re a cult! So any constructive feedback you have would be most welcome.



Hi folks, I’ve tried to stop making a mess of moderation. That post was marked as off-topic and a discussion has been had directly. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Can we get an idea of who is flagging and hiding the posts, thanks, need some #openprocess on this.

I was going from this project Sociocracy 3.0 Online Learning Community that some sent me a link to when asked me to look at sociocracy as a path for my activist “governance” project and how it differed from Sortition - Wikipedia

Then this one came up Why You Should Avoid Applying to Companies That Speak In 'Yogababble'

The is long-running divide between open/closed in activism, between NGO and grassroots that has a strong BLOCKING affect.

I touch on this here

Have recently spent a few week outreaching #activitypub to the EU which was an interesting expirence in this bridge building

And my thought at the end of this

Looking around here as it’s the same subject, different groups, same mess.

I flagged your comment as off-topic, as I don’t think discussion of whether something is a cult belongs in the events category.

I’ve moved @Hamishcampbell’s original post and the follow-ups to a new thread. It was hard to choose a category (which perhaps indicates that this discussion is a bit off-topic). Feel free to continue the discussion here, but be nice to each other - we will step in to moderate if things get out of hand. This is a community space for CoTech and friends around the world, there are other, better places to have certain kinds of discussion.

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Talking about an event is not off-topic, when invisible people hide this that is a little “cult” like and feeds the original comment…

Then moving this off the original tried starts to be a bit scary…

I don’t understand how this is “scary”.

This forum isn’t an open space, it’s a forum run by and for CoTech. We have some closed threads for private discussion and some open threads for our friends and fellow co-operators around the world to discuss and share knowledge. Ultimately the moderation team (who are unpaid volunteers with demanding day jobs) decide what goes. We’d like to keep general discussions away from the events threads because it makes it harder to find both the general discussions and the events if they’re mixed together. Moving the discussion here hasn’t hidden it from anyone who want to participate. And moreover, it allows people to mute the thread if the discussion isn’t relevant to them without also missing important updates to the original event.


I can vouch for the merits of sociocracy having worked with Outlandish and then implemented the approach in our co-op. In particular, having a non-hierarchical decision-making approach through proposals that actually works.

As I wrote in this post:

Rather than the politics of the playground, Sociocracy is an grown-up approach to organisational power-sharing based on consent.

And @Hamishcampbell I’d question what some might see as a combative approach to your engagement with this forum? You’ve used the term ‘cult’ and ‘fluff’ which seem to be used in a derogatory way? You seem to have become aware of this network through me, so let’s have a chat if there’s something to resolve here.


Am well aware of the groups and people in this forum, have been doing this stuff for way to long.

See my post on the “cult” comment on the context of this. Fluff was what I found when I did the search see the link for yogababble on this.

The stress I talk about is an issue.

OK, well I’m going to respectfully disengage from replying to you now @Hamishcampbell. If you’d like to have a conversation in future, you know where I am :slight_smile:


And, I didn’t quite get round to posting on the original thread (thank goodness!) I have read a bit about the origins of Sociocracy, and there is no question in my mind that is has a long and respectable history.

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That is clearly passive-aggressive.

You feeling discomfort… did you read the links and think about what I was expressing or did you stop at the “discomfort”?

Yep, talk about what people bring here, engage, think…

" A. I find it interesting, and revealing, that nobody here actually talked about what the thried was about Online governance – openwebgovernancebody – Gitea: Open Media Network "

Apologies Hamish no intention to upset you.

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We have been gradually implementing more elements of Sociocracy at my co-op (Unicorn Grocery) for the last few years. We have also discovered that quite a bit of our existing collective governance/decision-making process fit it well.

We’re obviously not a tech co-op, but as far as tools go for making decisions and organising in medium-sized organisations (70 people in our case) that are trying to avoid hierarchy, it is pretty decent. The focus on clear process, transparency and equal-voice is well in keeping with our democratic worker-coop values, and is sufficiently practical to not require endless open discussion which doesn’t really work when you’ve got a shop to run.

At the end of the day its a technology and whether it is useful for an organisation is dependent in its implementation and the willingness of people to use it in good faith. Other tools may be more appropriate for other organisations.

I should also add that I appreciate the pro-active splitting of discussion threads on this forum!


Good place to start from.

In the 1990’s anti-road moment that grew into the early 2000’s anti-capitalist/antiglobalisation movements. This time solved meany issues in activism/grassroots outcomes. One of these was a way of mediating the blocking of communication we have here. They called it the “fluffy/spiky debate”, note you will only find mentions of this as we are crap at keeping our own history, lets not start a conversation on “our” academics and the crap they feed :wink:

  • fluffy is what we have here - lets all get on and be nice to each other.

  • spiky is we have in meany affective activist groups, it’s a mess lets use the tools we have to make the mess less nasty, this will be messy.

The most important part is the “debate” which leads to a VERY HARD idea “diversity of tactics” on the ground and online. The quote above is a small step to this.

A fluffy view of governance Kees Boeke - Wikipedia

A spiky view of governance Online governance - openwebgovernancebody - Gitea: Open Media Network

Both have value, BUT one has more value for existing society than the other as it’s deigned to work in a mess. The other is fine for “calming” situations for small “inward” looking groups

In the era of #climatechaos and the #mainstreaming swing to the right-wing we need to build and maintain bridges that keep respect for the “fluffy/spiky debate” in place.

And most importantly these process need to work in mess.

What do you think?


Hi Hamish

You’ve said quite a lot. I want to make sure I am getting the most important bits right first:

  • You’re bringing in the idea of “fluffy” and “spiky”. And you think both have merit.
  • You’re also drawing attention to the very hard idea of “diversity of tactics” - using different tools in different settings.
  • You’re also saying that the “spiky” approach to governance has more value for our society.
  • And that given the #climatechaos and the swing to the right it’s really important to keep having the “debate" about which approach to use.
  • Also that whatever process people use, it needs to work in the mess.

You’re also curious about what people here think about these ideas?

Is that close enough?

I really support the importance of using different approaches at different times, in different organisations.

And keeping talking about which one to use, when. It sounds like we all agree on one thing - the need to get something done, and the need to change things.

I can also definitely agree about the need to work ‘in the mess’.

I also really like the words “spiky” and “fluffy”! I am not sure if they mean exactly the same to me as they do to you, but I do really like them.

To be a bit more controversial, I also think that there’s a big difference between reading about a tool, and using it. If I read a wikipedia entry on hammers, for me, it is nothing like the experience of actually hitting a nail with a hammer.

So I think we have to actually experience an approach or a tool before we can say if it is “fluffy” or “spiky”, or works in a mess.

Is that also true for what you’re calling the “spiky” approach? That unless people have actually experienced it they wouldn’t be able to judge it?


Have been working with bridging this often hostile divide for more than 30 years in hundreds of campaigns on the ground and online. The best outcome you can hope for is “diversity of tactics/strategy”

It’s a miracle when the two sides can hold this bridge in place, the effect of this miracle is more powerful outcome for both agenders BUT the longer this bridge is held in place the stronger the internal and outside forces push to demolish it - it falls, have never seen a bridge hold for the whole campaign.

The #mainstreaming agender always supports the #fluffy aproch and pushes down the #spiky aproch so its less a question of right/wrong more a question of holding the balance agenst this #mainstreaming pushing. The balance is where maximum power lies. So yes in this forum, and in general, the “spiky” aproch has more “power” than the fluffy aproch simple because its is repressed by the mainstream and meany of the “common sense” fluffy crew.

The “debate” is in this case is a metaphor for action, it’s important to keep both approaches working and hold a bridge in place, so people can cross and communicate between them.

In tech outreach work using the hashtag #geekproblem to highlight the “need for control” that is a clear block and not a solution to the very human mess we are in. We need to build structers/code where we “lose” control of our current #mainstreaming agenders and take “control” by building bridges and holding these human bridges in place, so we can choose different paths.

The project for “governance” i brought here in the first post is a “spiky” aproch to this outcome FAQ link

Yep, best to build tools/process from “lived expirence”. We are swimming in a river of social shit with the #mainstreaming of neo-liberalism and postmodernism that is the bases of “thinking”. Thou these ideology died years ago, the zombies of both are still eating our social brains.

You guys experienced it here, when I came to this well “fluffy” space I was met with a well “spiky” reception. The more dogmatic liberals can often be VERY spiky were the #fahernista radicals are generally kinda “fluffy” in their actual outcomes. Lifting the lid and look at the actions, don’t take what people say at face value, to see the fluffy/spiky debate in action, by lifting this lid you start to build a bridge…

Putting and holding this bridge in place is the start of power for social change/challenge.

I came here because you guys have useful skills to help build the tools we need Online governance - openwebgovernancebody - Gitea: Open Media Network

Diversity is always a good thing.

“Yesterday I saw a woman yanking her dog away from sniffing on their walk. I felt so sorry for him - people don’t understand that sniffing for a dog is enrichment, it’s like reading a newspaper and so enjoyable. Don’t yank, give them time and let them sniff!”


I hear that Hamish - and agree - diversity is always a good thing.

And I also think that “raising the lid” - starting to see and say what is going on - can sometimes start to build a bridge. Sometimes.

I also want to check - you’ve arrived here because you think there are people here who have useful skills to help build the tools you need?

And I am guessing, therefore, that your goal is to check that out, and see if anyone here would like to help you? Is that what you’re trying to achieve?