Experience implementing a DisCO (distributed cooperative organisation)?

Hi folks, I am reading Distributed Cooperative Organization (DisCO) Governance Model V 3.0 - Guerrilla Media Collective Wiki and some other DisCO related stuff and wondering if anyone else has experience on this organisational form and would be up for having a chat?

I am wondering if this model can be applied to running democratically governed libre software projects with a potentially diverse public of contributors.

If anyone could point me in a direction of someone to speak to, it’d be much appreciated.


Wow! Fascinating stuff! Thanks for sharing.


I’ve looked at this stuff. Incredibly well thought through, and quite complicated to implement (at least that’s what I thought). Consequently I thought that it could work well in a worker co-op context, where all of the people involved are pretty deeply invested and putting in significant effort. In a looser arrangement, where you might have people that are more infrequent contributors, my sense was that it would be hard for them to fully engage with the model, but that’s just my glib take from a skim read.


Nice @Graham!

For more context, I was thinking this model would be useful in the context of a project which is say, started by a co-op but lives somewhat “outside” the co-op in the sense that people who might join in, might not want to join that co-op.

Then I was looking for a more loose (legally) way of maintaining co-op principles but in a broader project with yeah, potentially very varying levels of participation/commitment/enagement. This page seems to speak of how to try to think about this. This one too.

I’m still reading around for people who are trying to bring cooperativist principles into the land of libre software practies like https://commonstransition.org/open-cooperativism/.

If anyone has leads / thoughts / etc., please let me know :slight_smile:

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With my hat on as a director of platform6.coop we’re working with opencollective.com, which hosts a lot of open source projects’ finances. We’re talking to them about the idea of ‘cooperation as a service’ with the idea of providing stuff to projects as part of their open collective account, which sort of assumes cooperative by default. One of the drivers for me for starting Platform 6 was Bauwens’ and others thinking behind the open cooperative development agency.


I started looking at the DisCO model, and it didn’t quite make sense until i read this article,


as it gives a practical example of how the finances operate.

It’s an interesting approach towards maintaining a group of people that are working on multiple projects.

I like the way that they try to balance between work for Livelihood and work for Love. :smiley:

It’s an explicit approach that i haven’t seen before.

It should be effective in maintaining transparency and maintaining a balance between fee-paying work and Pro-Bono work. :smiley:

This is something I spend quite some time thinking about in my karrot context, both the project itself and the groups that use it. A more “radial” (or “fluid continuum”) model of organising seems very appropriate for those (as opposed to the binary of being either in or out of the project).

I read a bunch of the disco.coop material, and joined a call with stacco and others (as part of social.coop). To me it seems a bit too specific to a certain model of organising, and a lot of focus on time tracking (although I think they have model where that is optional). So far I didn’t find any way to just use that model. Interesting stuff though, and I would benefit from digging deeper again I’m sure.

I suspect that any project/network/ecosystem has to go through it’s own process of building structures, principles, and organising methods. Currently have been exploring Cybernetics/Beer/Viable System Model (VSM) (via Anarchist Cybnetics book). I like the VSM perspective of being an analytical tool rather than an organisation structure, seems to have a lot of power from that.


Not familiar with that book - thanks for the link. In exchange, I don’t know whether you’ve seen The Viable Systems Model Guide 3e


And curiously I’m just in the process of arranging a time to meet with Thomas Swann!?!!

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Ah cool! We (karrot) are having a call with him next week :slight_smile: He said he also had had some connection with one of the groups that use karrot, so seemed quite interested.

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Another approach towards the initial financing,

Nondominium - Google Docs :smiley: