Suggestions to have productive discussions about governance?

(Note: I’ve added this to the ‘Co-ops’ topic but not sure if it should go somewhere else)

Hey all, I recently came across this long discussion thread. It’s an example of something I don’t enjoy so much (middle-aged white guys talking endlessly about governance).

So my question is whether anyone’s come across an approach that works reasonably well at scale for this kind of thing? In my experience, this stuff can put people off co-operatives and non-hierarchical organising :thinking:

At what scale, Doug? I think scale matters. And I’m with you in wanting to avoid another long discussion thread contributed to by only one particular demographic (speaking as a member of that very demographic). Related: how can we have dialogue rather than discussion (terms as used by e.g. Bohm and Isaacs) about this?

I guess what I’m saying is, change the format, change the practice, change the medium, until it naturally attracts the diversity that is needed. If there is a preponderance of one particular demographic, could it be that the medium and practice used is itself structurally biassed towards privilege in some way? E.g. practices based on the Circle Way (including Collective Presencing) seem naturally to attract more diversity (and that I count as beneficial in several ways)


What is wrong with the existing systems like Requests for Comments? Why does the fediverse need governance and not just standards in the manner that email has?

EDIT: When I wrote the above I didn’t realise that ActivityPub is a W3C Recommendation, therefore agreed standards already exist, that aspect is already sorted out.

Sorry - don’t understand the question. what does “at scale” mean (you’ve put it in bold type so it must be important to you). What is “this kind of thing”? What is the problem that you are looking to solve?

Why does the fediverse need governance and not just standards in the manner that email has?

A lot of the thread Doug linked was people having back-and-forth around that. I think that the idea was or became about how to govern a body to help further the movement around the protocol. In some ways how to organise SocialHub. ActivityPub being the protocol and decentralising the web being what we use it for

On the linked SocialHub thread I suggested that (in my opinion) this could be organised into a co-operative. There’s another thread on this forum which I opened up about that - maybe this part of the discussion is better had there


Well, without wanting to replicate the problem I’m pointing at, I think we all know how to make non-hierarchical decisions within our own co-ops of (say) <30 people. But how do you do that with hundreds of instances and thousands of users?

(I will just point out that much as I love you all, it’s again us white guys talking about this stuff - is it just inherently interesting to a particular demographic? do some people feel excluded? what’s going on?)

1 Like

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

If you can look outside your world view… We are doing a funding proposal to do the simple well tested project/workflow (which we know dues not scale) and roll it out trying federation to scale. We know this works to extent , look at the “Fediverse ” as a living example of this approach working to scale small to bigger.

Yes there will be lots of “smoke” and we could do with some help keeping the project clear of this.

This might help? About / CommunityRule

1 Like

Apologies, I hope this didn’t seem like a personal attack. As a middle-aged white guy, I was using it as an example of something I see a lot and am trying to figure out how to solve, that’s all :slight_smile:

Hi Hamish I responded on our thread about the Fediverse so we don’t hijack this one

Nothing personal, more am talking about a systematic problem of a class/groups of people, as you say likely “middle-aged white men” who find it impossible to see things have value, even though the is a deep and long history they likely no little about. It’s a kinda poverty in thinking and care that is endemic in late era #deathcult

" Distilled, grassroots, radical governance is a good fit for the fediverse.

This working practice comes from 30 years of building from The Tyranny of Structureless tick box list.

Social change groups have worked in this way to challenge and change power structures on the ground. Some examples of Social change groups: from squats, protest camps, climate camps; to indymedia, Reclaim the Streets; to XR and even Occupy.
Rainbow Gatherings are a working example of this grassroots governance. They have been going on for 50 years and the core is still based on the founding traditions which came from the Vietnam War - not the hippy dippy origins that people talk about.

From the perspective of a radical, grassroots, social technologist this is distilled into a codebase, as a “permissionless” roll-out of frameworks for social groups to form and see/govern themselves."

A different world view is “hijack” a thread is the same issue…

Hope this helps.

EXACTLY sums up the issue am talking about :slight_smile:


This is an automated message from Cooperative Technologists Community Discourse Forum to let you know that your post was hidden.

Your post was flagged as spam: the community feels it is an advertisement, something that is overly promotional in nature instead of being useful or relevant to the topic as expected.

@dajbelshaw I split my response up into the two parts of the original post

[long threads of] middle-aged white guys talking endlessly about governance

firstly I think that we would benefit from being clear about what we want to achieve - e.g. we want to improve the representation of the non-white-male people who already exist in CoTech, or we want to improve the membership of non-white-male people, maybe also meaning that we want to help deal with the white-male dominance of the tech scene outside

If people wanted to be in it, could we try setting up a sociocracy-type circle to help direct some CoTech organisation around this? It might help to make this a circle exclusively organised by non-white-men, which means nobody in this thread :grin: the rest of us can probably help and have a dialogue without moving in and dominating that space. My experience is limited though with this kind of organising, as is that within our particular co-op, so I might be highlighting a need there

So my question is whether anyone’s come across an approach that works reasonably well at scale for this kind of thing?

I don’t know that much about it but I know that in Rojava people have organised a form of decentralised governance at a national scale. I’ve heard that it has good representation in terms of gender, race and religion, but I’d like to stress again that I don’t know much more about it :sweat_smile:

I know that there are people in the UK co-ops scene who are working for supporting Rojava and their co-ops, and trying to establish more mutual aid between our countries. It sounds like this could be the kind of thing which we can most valuably learn from them

I find myself doing the thread thing haha, but I think that I’m suggesting a few ways to move it into a different space so maybe it’s okay :grin:

I can see who but I don’t know if I want to name and shame, can I just mark them as not spam for now?

@Hamishcampbell I did find your last post confusing though, I didn’t really understand what you were saying to be honest sorry. I think this thread is about how to inclusively govern at scale within CoTech

1 Like

Strange. I can see the importance in some places of anonymous flagging, but in cases where there is no personal threat or offence, I wonder whether it would be better for people to state what they think is amiss, and we can have dialogue around it? One of the problems with anonymous flagging is that it is liable to raise tension and suspicion. I personally can’t imagine any of the participants in this conversation as doing this flagging, so I’m very curious about who it was and what their motivation was.

I’d like to add that anonymous flagging with no explanation of inappropriateness and no warning does not seem to me like a good way to run constructive inclusive governance conversations.

Could we move to some scoping of anonymous flagging, then? Surely there should be guidelines in the code of conduct for when it is acceptable to flag something as inappropriate. If someone inappropriately flags something, could their flagging privileges be withdrawn, for instance?

I don’t think there is anything wrong, as such, with systems like RfCs. Just that we’re dealing with a highly complex social system here, as in any forum. If we are all happy with the outcome, fine – but Doug isn’t, and I tend to agree that more diversity would be a real advantage. If some system, good as it may be in theory, isn’t resulting in the diversity (or other good quality) that we agree we want, then surely it’s a good idea to try something different. When I say “complex” I’m following in the footsteps of such as Dave Snowden and his Cynefin framework – if a problem is complex, you can’t solve it analytically, rather you have to try and see what works. If ActivityPub works well in practice, then sure, let’s keep it. Though why there is a rival – xAPI – I never quite fathomed.

It doesn’t really, you are a new user who has posted a lot, very quickly and this triggered the anti-abuse features, I’ve let your post through, it wasn’t held for review by a human.

You appear to be making a lot of presumptions, I was one of the founders of Sheffield Indymedia and Occupy Sheffield.


I view the fediverse as a system rather like email, if there isn’t a email host you are happy to use you can run your own service and you can accept or reject messages from other users of email as you wish — is my understanding incorrect?

1 Like