Evolution of meet.coop - Background and framework

Major changes in meet.coop are announced in Changes coming to meet.coop – discussion. Initial responses to that announcement appear in that thread. This present thread offers accounts of the background to the change, and a framework for the actions that the coop (Ops members, the Board of Stewards) is now embarking on. This is an evolutionary strategy thread (including editable wiki posts), framing a time-limited project of migration and evolution.

The strategy has four dimensions, each with a thread of its own, containing wiki posts: framings that can evolve as members of our coop and wider community reflect on strategic options and outcomes, and find additional or complementary options or resources to contribute.

For all topics under the evolution tag, see: https://forum.meet.coop/tags/c/org-circle/strategy/38/evolution



Over the past quarter it’s become apparent that meet. coop is struggling to develop as a sustainable and coherent organisation, and that things now are critical. The platform operates well and the Tech circle at the core is able to maintain operations. In 2022 good steps were taken to define a strategy for growing the membership (and hence, income) and achieve sustainability. But it now is clear that capacity is drastically limited, for maintaining and cultivating the necessary depth and richness of working relationship and ‘conversation’ across the coop’s membership. This includes relationship both individually and as groups, both inside the coop (across Ops members) and outside (with User members and the wider community).

Sustainability discussion 2022 https://forum.meet.coop/t/sustainability-discussion/970
‘Slim’ core roles strategy July 2022 https://forum.meet.coop/t/core-team-wages-finance-update/1210

In July 2022 a ‘slim’ regime of core operations was agreed, working paid hours at a modest wage, but since October this has not been met and in January it became clear that basic challenges in internal practice exist which cannot be met under this ‘slim’ regime. A pivotal element in this emergent situation is a failure to fill the position of Product circle lead which was defined in September.

Business planning https://forum.meet.coop/t/business-plan/1031
Marketing (Product circle) lead role The Online Meeting Cooperative – Vacancy: Marketing Lead (8 hours/week)

A woman with excellent experience and capabilities was recruited for this role, began work (under a ‘slim’ allocation of hours: one day per week) in November, and decided to resign in December. They found the operating regime inadequate to support them (in ‘learnable’, communicable, coherent operating protocols) and uniclusive or uncomfortable (insufficient capacity for personal care work, day to day).

On February 2nd a special meeting of All-hands (ops members) and the Board of Stewards reached a conclusion that bootstrapping the coop is not viable, and that the BigBlueButton platform and the coop’s User membership should be migrated to another multistakeholder coop, to be identified. Meeting notes are here Nextcloud, summary of decisions is below. The aim is to find a coop home within three months (mid April), and to complete a migration in six-to-eight months (mid September, latest). If a coop able to take up the platform operation isn’t found, the fallback will be to direct members to appropriate alternatives: either community-oriented multistakeholder coops offering similar free-software tools (but not BBB), or hosting services operated by workers’ coops that provide a BBB platform.

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Summary of decisions, special All-hands & Board meeting, 02feb2023

  • Decision: no participant is against the rationale of folding meet.coop as it is.
  • Decision: accumulate some explicit learning. Many people have an interest in what our project has been, and what has worked.
  • Decision: Collocal absorbing our members and taking over platform ops is a fallback option, not the preferred option. We should notify @hng .
  • Migrate platform ops and member base to another multi-stakeholder co-op with its own strong community, member-facing front-end and subscription machinery: Commonscloud/femProcomuns, MayFirst, social.coop. Decision: This is the option we prefer. Much of the discussion was around social.coop, as a new home for the platform operation and for our members.
  • We have a decision on freezing our service commitments, providing plain vanilla rooms from now onwards, no more event servers or other ‘special’ services. @dvdjaco @Yurko
  • Also decision to create 1-page documentation of the tech operations aspect, to share with social.coop tech team (and publicly, thro the forum). @andia @dvdjaco
  • Also decision by @mnoyes , to raise within social.coop the matter of platform-transfer and member-transfer to social.coop (when the documentation above is to-hand).
  • 6 months should be the max time to complete a transition, 2-3 months max to decide. We should start with the tech team at the host organisation, which will be faster, and if they give a green light then we would be looking at a 6-8 month decision time after that. Meanwhile we could include the social.coop tech team as meet.coop volunteers. Agreed.
  • We can meet again in march and see how things are going. March review - run a vote @ forum. Go/no-go with social.coop (Collocall as fallback).
  • What about the money we have now in the bank, can we use that to pay a decent salary for the time remaining? We can postpone that decision until the next meeting in march, there has been a lot of unpaid work in meetcoop, let’s all think about this.
  • Timing Decisions:
    • not running on for months indefinitely. Six months OUTSIDE to complete the transition. Tech transition itself takes some time. so - the decision/negotiation should be three months max
    • the ‘social’ timeline in a recipient coop could be 6-8 months?
    • minimal service now, and thro transition
    • invite tech team @ social.coop as voluntreers in meet.coop tech circle
  • timeline more decisions:
    • Month 1 - communicate statement to all users, invite them for a short process of discussion in the forum with a decision about the path forward
    • write 1 pager
    • approach SC Tech WG- social.coop tech team will be YES/NO pretty fast
    • publish @ OpenCollective
    • open thread(s) @ forum
  • Crash team, to see this through - who? Decision: @mikemh @mnoyes (social.coop) @dvdjaco (SHORT discussions, tech style :wink:), @Graham (work w members), @andia (comms incl 1-pager). Action mh: open a DM thread in forum
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The project

It’s proposed that the project to evolve meet. coop has four dimensions:

Each of these has a thread in the Forum, linked above. Each thread starts with Write a brief for this thread, open a job list and logbook. Brief and job list are in each forum thread. Below is an initial spreadsheet that summarises threads and tasks at 06feb2023. Read-only public link: Nextcloud

Each project thread also has an item: Publish & discuss @ forum. As far as possible, actions, plans and reasoning will be published in these forum threads, so that all members of the community can contribute and respond. In this way we mean to arrive at an outcome that:

  • meets the needs of user members
  • is workable and sustainable for the operational members in the new host coop, and
  • furnishes some resources for the wider community of coop-commons, solidarity-economy and civil-society organisers, regarding what was well framed and executed in the meet.coop project, and what wasn’t, so that other initiatives in digital infrastructuring in the commons might evolve a stronger, clearer, richer and more sustainable and resilient collective frame.

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