Governance Model

2 posts were merged into an existing topic: Marketing Meet.coop

On the co-op of co-ops wiki page I drafted yesterday the suggestion was a multi-stakeholder co-operative made up of producer and consumer co-operatives — I think we could omit individuals and still be a multi-stakeholder co-operative, with individuals having the option to join the producer and / or consumer co-operatives who offer membership to individuals — at least three of them do allow individuals to join, CommonsCloud, May First and Webarchitects and perhaps some others do as well?

I’m not convinced that we should have individual customers at a meet.coop level, it would mean duplicating of a lot of existing infrastructure (legal structures, invoicing systems, accounting procedures etc) and this would add complexity but I’m not sure that this would be a benefit. I think this might be best left to be managed by the existing co-ops in their respective countries as is currently the case, for example CommonsCloud in Spain, Collective.Tools in Sweden and Webarchitects in the UK and so on…

All of these co-ops already offer services to individual consumers and organisatons, albeit not BigBlueButton services:

I think that for the above organisations it might make sense for them to have branded Greenlight containers, for example Webarchitects could have at meet.webarch.coop and May First might want one at bbb.mayfirst.coop and so on, if they want them, with accounts on these containers provided / sold / managed directly by these co-ops for their clients and members. Some or all of these co-ops would probably also want to sell branded Greenlight containers to their clients (who might not be co-operatives) and in these cases their clients would manage their own accounts.

I think the following co-operatives might sell hosted services to clients, or perhaps they only provide services to clients other than hosting (please correct me here!)?

I’m less clear on how exactly these co-operatives fit into a producer / consumer co-operative model, however if any of these co-operative wanted to start selling branded Greenlight containers or to be provided with branded containers on which they can sell or give away accounts directly to consumers then this is an option, for example you could have a meet.open.coop Greenlight container and manage and sell accounts for this service.

I’ve moved some posts to this thread that were originally on the Marketing Meet.coop and I have added added an event to the top post so it appears in the forum calendar and I have enabled RSVPs for it so you can tick a box to indicate if you attending.

Both good points! I would agree with leaving it the coop level but then again, I imagine that will totally confuse new customers. They’ll come to the meet.coop site and then when they get to the sign-up page, they’ll be confronted by the fact that they need to investigate and find a co-op that works for them and re-sells the meet.coop BBB service.

One attempt to solve this that I have seen is the https://chatons.org/en/ “find a service provider” form: https://chatons.org/en/find (unfortunately in FR but you’ll get the idea). CHATONS is a platform for a whole bunch of service providers and users can find the right one that works for them from there. I can imagine we could emulate this type of form with a few simple buttons which then selects a provider and takes them directly to their sign up page? That would take some coordination but might work…

Another approach is the “pick a mastodon instance” site for https://instances.social. Not very fancy but you can also get the idea here. Guide the user through some basic questions and get straight into sign-up.

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this is the KEY point… if it is not SUPER easy people will not do it…
making joining meet.coop as easy as possible (i.e. even easier thena joining Zoom) should be a TOP priority imho

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I’m afraid it isn’t going to be super easy in the near future and I think this is unavoidable.

For it to be super easy we would need automated account creation and account deletion and account migration between Greenlight containers when service levels change and also account cancellation. None of this is in place and it would be a significant amount of work to write the software to enable this to be fully automated — it doesn’t currently exist…

I have floated the idea that this might be something we could work on together with ColloCall on to @hng in our IRC channel, but it would be complicated software project and with the best will in the world it would probably be months of work before we had something that we were able to deploy for production use even if we start on a specification for it today.

All my suggestions are based on what we can do in the next few weeks with the hardware, software, knowledge and skills that we currently have.

We will soon have the potential to spin up multiple Greenlight containers with different branding and different service levels. These containers will require manual account maintenance unless they are linked to to external authentication systems, however we haven’t yet had the time or resources to experiment with external authentication systems.

This means that when someone fills in a form and provides payment for an account we will then need somebody to manually login into the correct container and create the account and then send the user an email to inform them that their account has been created and that they can now reset their password and then login and start using the service (there is a CLI command for account creation however the corresponding commands for listing accounts, updating accounts and removing accounts are missing so we don’t have the underlying tools to start building from).

The work of account creation and maintenance is going to be tedious and laborious — I’m speaking from experience of having to do this for several systems already, this is why I’m of the view that we should delegate as much of this work as possible, the more organisations who are in charge of the account creation and maintenance the better, we will need to spread this load as much as we can.

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I’m interested in attending this meeting, but the time is too early for me here near Toronto. I’m a member of Digital Life Collective, and I’m interested in how it is currently relating to meet.coop. Does it need to do like it seems webarchitects has done and create a special class of shares that distinguishes who are meet.coop members?

Also, living in Canada, I am interested in what options I will have to contribute to meet.coop with Canadian dollars.

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I don’t think meet.coop should be led by the technology - or what software already exists…

I think we should aspire to being great and providing a great service… for anyone who wants to ditch Zoom and become part of a cooperative future. To me that means we set our sights high and work around any tech issues… I completely understand that we need to be pragmatic about

what we can do in the next few weeks with the hardware, software, knowledge and skills that we currently have.

But I don’t think that (i.e. what we can do in the next few weeks) should have anything to do with our “governance model” (which is now the title of this thread…) in fact, I don’t think governance should be conflated with marketing at all (which is why i started a separate thread about Marketing specifically).

A lot of potential customers will want the services that meet.coop is providing - but will not want anything to do with governance.

I agree with the governance strategy proposed by Benedict (via an email thread):

I’d like us to strike a balance, where we make sign-up really easy, but at the same time allow for paths for anyone to meaningfully participate in decision-making if they want .

me too!

RE enabling people to sign up quickly and easily for meet.coop services (i.e. Marketing!) as @decentral1se said:

I would agree with leaving it the coop level but then again, I imagine that will totally confuse new customers.

Avoiding confusion and making signing up super easy is our KEY goal - if we want customers!??!

And there seems to be some disagreement about this… as @chris said:

I’m not convinced that we should have individual customers at a meet.coop level

So this seems like the first thing we need to agree on … because unless we have some agreement on that we can not design a governance model or any marketing plans…

So maybe that should be a key decision for the meeting tomorrow? - NB what time and where is this meeting?!

Just for clarity (and in case I can not join the meeting) - I’m 100% behind the idea that meet.coop should be able to accept individual customers as I know there is significant interest in such a service - and if it meet.coop does not cater for that need then I think it will miss out on significant revenues and the potential to do many more exciting this once we have developed a strong customer base… but if meet.coop doesn’t want to fill that need then that’s OK too i guess… although I can’t see why meet.coop would pass up on such an amazing opportunity to become a leader in cooperation and collaboration!?

I disagree, I think we can only use (and develop to some degree) the existing technology and tools that exist in the commons, in other words existing Free software programs.

The reason for this is simple — we have very limited resources in terms of time and we have no capital.

I would suggest that these customers should have their services provided by members of meet.coop.

But we can’t automate this in the near future so we can’t scale it — what you are asking for can’t be done.

11:30am CEST / 10:30am BST https://ca.meet.coop/b/wou-cyy-wpt

Hey @robert.best I saw your message but I cannot make it at later times tmr. I have scheduled a medical soon after the meeting hour since @wouter confirmed the time 3 days ago. So if no one objects I’d like to stick with:

11:30am CEST / 10:30am BST https://ca.meet.coop/b/wou-cyy-wpt

I agree with @osb that Governance != Marketing/Sales/Strategy. On the latter, I feel I am mostly in-line with @decentral1se and the resources he shared, but that should not be the focus of tomorrow’s meeting.

For tomorrow, I propose that we start with a modest goal, to come up with one or more options about the following, which we can try to adopt at our weekly meeting:

There have been some email threads going around, sharing resources and early thoughts ahead of the meeting. I feel those conversations are better had on here, so I am sharing some of my thoughts:

I agree that while figuring out Meet.coop service offerings is important as it is something concrete and core to our sustainability, but we more urgently need to codify how our multistakeholder group makes decisions, share work and profits, and the level of transparency we want to commit to.

There is a lot of potential for small local organizations, cooperatives or otherwise, to collectively maintain digital services that otherwise would be hard to provide reliably as a single small org. BBB is one example, community networks as ISP is another (Guifi.net as a multistakeholder example), and I look forward to drawing from previous practices and lessons to build our own commons governance for Meet.coop.

Some thoughts on organizational values and how they may be expressed through our organizational structure, internal processes, and external communications:

[…] how Meet.coop expresses our approach to technology, as a practice vs. as a consumption. Are users participants or consumers?

If we directly copy from what collocall offers to their users, then we aren’t signaling our intentions to engage users as participants. On the other hand, as in the case where "traditional leftist background found it hard to simply change their ways of practicing politics overnight”, it is hard for those who want alternatives to Zoom to all of a sudden learn about cooperative membership in order to hop on a reliable videoconference call. I’d like us to strike a balance, where we make sign-up really easy, but at the same time allow for paths for anyone to meaningfully participate in decision-making if they want.

What Luke says here seems like a good starting point: Governance Model

I think if we can formally codify and socialize how decisions are made by this week’s “everyone meeting”, we have made a huge step forward. We can then set up recurring meetings for the Governance group to work on the other problems, at a more Toronto friendly time :smiley:

I had thought that tomorrow’s meeting was a small group - Wouter, Ben, me - to hack something to bring to Thursday. But, if numbers are piling in to
11:30am CEST / 10:30am BST https://ca.meet.coop/b/wou-cyy-wpt
then here is the rough hack that I made for tomorrow.

It contains some numbers (eg fair use) that are just illustrative, not yet synched with @chris posting above. And there are too many elements posted above to have been able to check whether all are implied in this draft. Thus, view the draft as an attempt to scope the range of governance matters, rather than to focus down on or synthesise a specific proposal yet.

The draft ranges wider than classes of accounts and convenience of the front end for sign-up - which are urgent matters but far from the end of the story. Much of this rough hack derives from the Open2020 conference, including the 12jun session on governance of tool infrastructure, which @wouter ,@petter , @osb and I contributed to.

In the rough hack on governance matters there are some thoughts on individual as well as organisational membership of meet.coop, and the possibility of a ‘crowdfunding’ solidarity relationship for individuals with meet.coop, as ‘funder-contributors’ in a multi-stakeholder assembly.

Notes from our June 23 meeting. @wouter will draft up membership conditions (join, leave, rights, etc.) and current member list on wiki, and @mikemh will make visual representation of it, that we hope to bring to Thursday meeting to discuss.

We are also leaning towards having a dedicated thread where important “official decisions” can be made asynchronously, with sufficient lead time to discuss, and reflect voting rights of the federation’s membership. Also to be discussed on Thursday.

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Hi, after our thematic meeting on a possible Governance model, I have started to draft such model for our current “consortium”. Taking this as an agreement between members organisations who wish to produce and use the services of The Online Meeting Cooperative. Over time we might convert this as a basis for the constitution of a new legal entity.

Please have a look and contribute to it: https://wiki.meet.coop/wiki/Governance_model

There’s still a lot of doubts, and I have tried to leave out things too specific to be regulated outside the agreement. You will also see that I have kept individual members inside, although we will need to see how we can manage that in practice, especially due to the current lack of a smooth onboarding procedure where people and organisations can sign up to get a SSO user account and access one of the various GL containers. But that’s a short term hurdle I’d hope. Our governance model could still include individuals, for when and how we get a clear solution to these issues. (open for discussion as everything of course).

Also today I have grouped the forum threads about topics that are very much part of the design of our Sustainability Model under this new category. Hopefully this helps us to organise our information somewhat :wink:

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For discussion at our meeting today, here https://cloud.owncube.com/s/P9Bn4fSNBAz4DKm is a deck of slides proposing a map of principles for governance.

Following our discussion on Tuesday and @wouter 's draft https://wiki.meet.coop/wiki/Governance_model the basic problem seemed to me to be the relationship between the operational reality of managing Greenlight containers and payments for various kinds of digital service, and on the other hand, the purpose of meet.coop - which is stewarding digital commons and developing a commons-cooperative economy.

So . . in the attached slide deck, the first is on the left, the second is on the right, and the schemas propose relationships between them, which need to be specified in the governance.

The slide deck ends up with a sort of ‘ontology for meet.coop’. Anything in this map needs to be named in a governance agreement?

copy and pasting from email to keep all threads together:

Oli said:

Just a quick note on the nomenclature for the governance - I think the words “producer” and “consumer” are wrong for the kind of organisation we hope to build… we don’t really “produce” anything and we don’t want “members” of our co-op that might like to pool resources to build shared infrastructure too think of themselves as “consumers” - that’s OLD SKOOL capitalist language!

Please can we change those names - even if the rest of the governance has to stay the same!?

I would maybe suggest “founders” and “members” instead…

But really I think the whole governance set up is wrong… and needs VERY careful consideration before we move forward with it…. Because (as mentioned on our call - and as others have pointed out) what we do now WILL stick.

I think we should be WAY more focussed on who is in the ‘core team’ i.e. who will be doing THE WORK - and by this I don’t mean co-ops, I mean which people. Without these key people Meet.coop will not work - so I think they (the ‘core team’ or whatever we like to call them) should get MOST of the voting rights…

And other members classes should still be part of the coop but with less voting rights

Thanks for your comments, @osb

That must be from the Spanish cooperative culture where we have worker coops and consumer coops, as two of the various types of cooperatives. We also call consumer members: “user members”, maybe that’s a more suitable term? In any case, what we want to get away from is the term “customers”: we want people to be members and contribute both with work and with consumption. Do you agree?

About that: “Founders”: do you think it useful to create a specific group of founder members inside the governance? Maybe we could do so to somehow protect the project from “hostile” takeover and/or to assure the project follows the initial ideas and principles as we are laying down together? I mean when we have 100 o 1000 members, the governance and power may change. Or when Zoom (for example) would have a bunch of their friends join us to change and possibly kill the project? Is that a scenario we should include, of are we confident that when we grow, it will be increasingly hard to do such takeovers anyway?

How can we make sure the current governance model is just for the transition phase to get to a level where we can take the next steps as a maturing community in a maturing governance model?

Yeap, I also think we should design more carefully such core team inside the organisational structure. Not sure yet how we’d best do it, any ideas?

When and where was this established?

It’s unclear to me if this is shared among all members. Perhaps some members have a more modest goals of “reliable videoconferencing through a cooperative”.

I think what’s described in the deck is abstract and complex, and I would expect that to emerge over longer time-scale than mid-July or even September. It also needs to be discussed among members before saying “that’s what we’ll do” and that discussion I expect will happen over months.

This establishes a class of “Founders” that exclude future participation. It’s also doesn’t differentiate a “member” who uses the service vs. a “member” who stewards the service. For example:

  1. If Hypha members help build the ansibles / maintain the BBB backend, we are a Producer
  2. If Hypha runs a Greenlight front-end and sell to clients, we are a Consumer
  3. If Hypha does bothm we are a Producer-Consumer

That is very clear to me. I don’t know how to meaningfully classify our involvement into the Founder vs. Member framing.

yes :slight_smile: A frame for the discussion needs to be being put in place though - or as @osb has noted, what is being currently done, pagramtically, short-term, will set a frame for what can be done, long term.

developing a commons-cooperative economy

I find this here https://wiki.meet.coop/wiki/Governance_model#Art_2.3._Rights_and_obligations_per_membership_class

some members have a more modest goals of “reliable videoconferencing through a cooperative”.

yes. This divergence of perception or ambition does need to be addressed. Short term, medium term.

what’s described in the deck is abstract and complex

Complex, yes. It’s a distributed social and technical system that is under development, going way beyond ‘code that runs’ on load-sharing servers. Abstract . . it could be presented concretely, and would take a lot of space. The slide deck is an attempt at some organisational design principles, not a design. And as above . . discussion over months. Pictures, in lieu of 1,000 words, at this point :wink:

I’m a little bit behind on progress in this fast-moving project (exciting!), but …

It also raises the problem of what a new customer would do if they are in Aotearoa (for example), and there isn’t yet a member co-op active in the country. Would they be directed to the geographically nearest co-op (eg one in Oz)? Something else?

This raises a deeper question (which may have been asked elsewhere), is meet.coop;

a) a service for groups looking for a Zoom replacement for more serious meetings

b) a service for individuals looking for a Zoom replacement for casual chats

BBB can be used just as easily for one or the other. But as a business, I think meet.coop needs to pick one type of customer to design for, accepting of course that users who pay for a) might also end up doing a bit of b) or vice-versa.

It would be hard to convince casual chatters to pay, especially considering there are already a bunch of options for them, eg meet.jit.si and other more ephemeral Jitsi Meet and BBB instances. Besides, from the discussions I’ve seen so far, it seems like most of us envision meet.coop as serving groups (like Loomio) b), which means customers will be negotiating on behalf of more formal groups, and won’t mind going to a bit more effort to establish a relationship.

Just some things to keep in mind. Keep up the good work!

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