Working as a community

Several people have observed this: in the last few months there has been less visible action in the forum, and people are worried about that, they what’s going on in meet.coop?

Meet.coop is much alive, as you can see at the OpenCollective site, with new members joining almost every day now. And there’s much work going on behind the screens. So maybe it’s good to reflect a bit about the changes that are going on in meet.coop and see how we can do this best together. I’ll open with a summary and then reflect on some of the things I think we need to work on, as a community.

The first 3 months: May - July.
we started with the idea to share a BBB server and allow interested people and org’s to join as members. We worked in the open, through wiki + forum + open All hands meetings on Thursday’s. We set up the minimum viable service to host the Open 2020 with OpenCoop mid June and in July we adopted with consent the key foundational decisions: 1) about membership and 2) about service and contribution levels. We were aware then that it would cost a serious effort to operationalise all that, without funding, but with an excellent group of operational members and people in the 3 circles of work.

the last 4 months
we have been focusing on internal processes,org building and sales. There’s much work being done to define the marketing strategy and new website, to define and run the compensation framework, to operationalise payments, to improve our services and member support. It’s only less visible. Some of it can be seen on the forum, some on the website and linked documents. But the process is obviously less transparent for the community, for all but the operational members.

While we still meet every Thursday in the All hands meeting, we don’t announce it any longer, as for efficiency reasons we are fine if only the ops members - i.e. those actively involved in the day to day work in the circles - are participating and we discuss the key tasks and issues that are presented by the circles of work. Every now and then user members join us, like @garyalex joined us in the last few sessions, and that’s much appreciated! The circles have their biweekly meetings, while the tasks and documents are shared through the NextCloud server. Moving away from the wiki to the NextCloud has been both very practical and keeps information shared not with the whole world but only with the directly involved, i.e. the ops members. There’s much sensitive info on potential members willing to join, that cannot be shared until they make that decision to join. It does however affect our relationship and info shared with the community.

Some reflections
All this work on organisational building and sales is key. So far we have passed the 1000 GBP recurring monthly revenue, with 66 members now (see OpenCollective). That’s a great milestone. And while it doesn’t do much to pay fair wages yet, we hope to be there in a year from now. So we should become much better still!

We run however the risk that meetcoop turns into a SaaS selling (still imperfect) services to people called “customers”. Well, organised as a kind of worker coop. But that’s not what we wanted, right? We wanted a cooperative SaaS platform where the users are co-owning members, who can have a say in the community and in the governance. A combination between a cooperative and a commons, i.e. community is part and parcel of what meetcoop is.

I think it is time that we work more closely between ops members and user members. One way is to discuss more over the forum (and I’m the first to blame, as I haven’t said much here lately). Possibly we could do periodic meetups where interested people can join to know and discuss about meet.coop? Or people throwing parties, workshops or game sessions that the community can join? Or other more creative ideas? We have the opportunity to gather for a small Xmas party, if people want to engage here :wink:

I feel we do need to do an effort to keep building our userbase as a community of co-owning members, that feel part of the shared mission and want to engage more than a typical customer would do. Only then do we have a chance of realising the mission.

my two cents. Happy to know yours :wink:

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@wouter I have been having some similar and overlapping thoughts in the past few days.
Firstly, I’m pleased to hear that there is a lot more happening than is reflected in the Discourse Forum.
Secondly, I’m rapidly becoming more familiar with BBB, and I’m actively using it for family and various community groups. I am learning a lot. However, I still need mentoring, with issues like problems with sound, joining, and more.
Thirdly, on wider issues for Meet.coop, (as SaaS issues) I would like to be part of a mutual support peer group of other Meet.coop members who are actively using BBB, so we can have occasional meetings to learn about each other’s ideas and difficulties. I think it is that feeling of support that can distinguish Meet.coop from Zoom for example. I would be happy to help organise that. I can’t see from Open Collective who is actively using BBB in a similar way to me.
Fourthly, longer term, I would like to be able to expand my community offerings. I see a great potential for synergy between BBB and Discourse, as synchronous and asynchronous communication channels for a community. Would love to discuss this with anyone interested. This too, would be a big step up from Zoom, for communities and coops.
Who wants to discuss these issues? A little video chat soon perhaps?

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I had time to browse the Strategy session’s Miro workspace after today’s meeting was over (I was a bystander during the meeting, great meeting @georgiamoon ). I saw one note that wasn’t integrated into the roadmap, don’t know why, but imo is crucial to the mission (see @wouter above). This is

Work with the community vs treating them as customers.

Something much more than ‘social events’ I think . . Agree with @garyalex that it’s important now, to convene . .

a mutual support peer group of other Meet.coop members who are actively using BBB

Indeed, I believe this should be not just ‘a peer group’ but a circle, with sociocratic parity alongside Tech, Org and Product circles. Otherwise, how is meet.coop different from AN Other consumer coop/telecoms utility? Or any old FLOSS Producer coop? imo, this active community of skilful, mutually collaborating users is the commons that most needs to be created, once the platform tech is in good working shape and ops wages get paid. Those are on the roadmap. So should this be?

Yes Gary, a video chat soon?

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@mikemh, @wouter Well said MIke! Actually, my vision is to see if we can turn the Meet.coop community into a viable system, which I think is broader and more general than a sociocracy circle, but basically, going in the same direction.
" imo, this active community of skilful, mutually collaborating users is the commons that most needs to be created" Yes, exactly! Let’s see who else is interested then arrange a video chat.

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Thanks Wouter, perhaps one potential partial solution would be to open up more of the Nextcloud to users? (although I understand there may also be some sensitive stuff on there that needs to remain a bit more locked down). Sometimes I click on links here in this forum which end up being Nextcloud links that I don’t have access to.

Does the Deck have sensitive info? If not, perhpas users members could request access to access that? Perhaps they’d even pick up some of the tasks!

Thanks for starting this thread @wouter I also feel the same about this. I also hope we can agree on being more open communicating financials and labour. @osb and I will be talking about that at our DigLife talk :slight_smile:

I think we shouldn’t expect user members to dig thru our Nextcloud as it contains in-transit stuff that’s hard to parse without full context. It’s the job of Operational Members to translate our internal work to clear public messages that reflect status and plans. The roadmap that our new member @georgiamoon helped us develop at yesterday’s design session is a good start and we will sharing that here.

How do ppl feel about Operational Members being more proactive putting out messages like:

So User Members get more digestable updates about what to expect? If User Members want to be more involved, they can then come to our All Hands meetings to dive deeper.

I think this is a really good idea, and I wonder how we can best facilitate the formation of this group, as a Circle or otherwise. I think this group should have input on roadmap, and some user member support and social events can be in the domain of this group to organize.

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I think the first step is just to identify who are our active users. Do we know? How many are there? I suspect that many of our members joined because they support our goals, but aren’t active. Then we can make individual contacts to find out about them and see what would be useful to them. We might set up just one support group, or several with common interests if there are enough of them. I am willing to help with this, but I need to work with someone who has access to the needed information.

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I’d be happy with more comms like this - and the example text.

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see - https://opencollective.com/meet-coop/#section-contributors
although some of these may be inactive now… the more accurate list is a locked doc as it contains customer details

Yes, I did look at that before I wrote yesterday, but it didn’t really help. Do we have any sense of how heavily the servers are being used? Are there lots of meetings at any one time? Big meetings? Small meeting? Are there groups using it regularly? Or just trying it out once in a while? Are there members who are taking BBB seriously as a main communication tool?

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good day, good to see this conversation evolving!
Several ideas could be combined, as long as we have - in particular - some active user members, and in a lesser degree also some ops members, who have an interest and commitment to run this. We could create a group, a “circle of user support”?
Possible functions:

  • a mutual support peer group of other Meet.coop members
  • get to know other meet.coop members and learn of their experience (with meet.coop)
  • possibly organise a regular meetup session where one member presents themselves and their meetcoop experience + a specific user experience topic.
  • provide more structural inputs for the ops members to work on

The regular meetups idea could be organised light weight: start with some more active members (who we see here in the forum) and agree a regular day and time. It would be great for getting to know each other and get more involvement. I suppose that with a little organisation and decent hosting skills, we could pull this off together. We already have over 60 members each of us with great stories to tell. The challenge will be to keep it short :laughing:

@benhylau’s suggestion of ops members being more communicative is also very valuable, and we should oblige ourselves to that. At the same time I think there’s so much value in the users taking more active involvement, so we get to truly “work as a community”: that’s the commons, as @mikemh reminds us.

+1 to @garyalex about studying the usage of our servers. There are around 325 conference rooms created at the ca.meet.coop server Right now, on Monday morning in Europe. I can see in the admin interface that there are three, smaller meetings going on. Later in the day there are often more and bigger meetings. We’ll need to see how our monitoring systems are set up (and what’s missing) to get into more detail.

Below a picture of our membership dated some 10 days ago. We can engage with some of them to get the ball rolling… Personally I’d like to contribute to kick this off, but I shouldn’t get too involved myself. I’m happy to meet any of these days, Tues, Wed or Thursday, preferably in the morning.

Meet.coop_membership_20112020

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I’m happy to meet any of these days, Tues, Wed or Thursday, preferably in the morning.

:slight_smile: Out of these three, Thursday works for me - morning is fine. Maybe 10:00 GMT? Your room @wouter? Participating: @garyalex and any Product Strategy ops members @osb @benhylau @Graham etc? And others who are reading this, interested in developing the global civil society user commons.

Q: How do I @mention an entire circle - ie product circle?

Not too large a meeting for starters? But for a second round meeting, among user orgs on Wouter’s map, I myself would want to try to engage Agaric @freescholar @mlncn MayFirst @jamie collective.tools @petter TWT and social.coop (who will join soon).

The room/account stats produced by Greenlight (the BBB front end) are minimal, and the interface is poor to what it does produce (eg lists of accounts). This needs a lot of improvement - our tech circle needs a good presence in the Greenlight devs community? How is it currently @benhylau @hng @Yurko ?

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Thursday morning at 10 am is ok for me, although I have a still unconfirmed meeting at 11 am afterwards. Yes, a small first meeting, looking at what we want to accomplish and perhaps first steps towards that.

ok, we meet this Thursday at 10h GMT for max 1 hour. That should be sufficient to get us started. Let’s convene in the Main Meet.coop Room. CU then.

From today’s meet.coop session at the DigLife monthly chat . .

  1. We should discuss the issue of participation by women in meet.coop. The DigLife session had the usual meet.coop/FLOSS massively male presence. I think the way to approach this may be thro connections with user member orgs?

  2. The issue of federation between meet.coop and other coops came up. @oli responded with enthusiasm. I think that federating between meet.coop and user member-coops (as distinct from producer coop ops members) could be important? So, consider federation as a user policy?

See you tomorrow :slightly_smiling_face:

Hope someone takes notes. The time is 5am for me, so unless I pull an all-nighter - I be sleepin:0
Maybe next time I will stay up… but I have a full day tomorrow and cannot do it tonight.
Thanks for starting this discussion.

I would love to help plan some events that we could invite our networks to. Perhaps @garyalex might be interested in the plans? We could define goals and outcomes for each party/gathering - *awareness of the meet.coop community being built * cooperative principles in software ownership *building our own future away from the Corporations * building a space together. brainstorming features together. * how to do outreach for meet.coop - etc. etc.
I know there is concern with progressive groups being banned from Zoom for organizing things like protests, so reaching these groups would be good.
How about approaching the Mutual Aid communities to come to the meet community? If well planned it could be a big win for intentional communities and free software.

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hi there, @garyalex, @mikemh and myself have just had the meeting. the notes are stored here. We discussed various ideas that we think are strategic for meet.coop and the wider ecosystem to build the community and work on mutually supporting each other. As @freescholar mentions it starts with awareness of the self, of the community and who we are. Possibly a cycle of weekly (or at least: regular) meetups would be valuable where members present themselves, their usecase, challenges and how we can get better, and other members question and contribute. @camille told me she’d be happy to present their case from FoEI. Also the network mapping exercise that @georgiamoon has suggested would be valuable.

We have as concrete objective to organise a next meeting with a small group of people in January. Hopefully @freescholar and others can join as well?

Meanwhile we also suggest a small but important amendment to the roadmap as it is emerging from the workshop last Thursday: there should be a continued focus on “community development”.

Next community session will be on Friday 11th at 16h GMT, make sure you sign up here :wink: and bring some friends!

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Glad you’re in this loop Micky @freescholar. Yes we’ll schedule social hours next gathering, this one was ad hoc, sorry. I believe Agaric/MayFirst can be important contributors in what might emerge here (in all those ‘spare moments’ you have, of course :expressionless: ). We’ll do some planning and networking over the next month - largely here in the Forum - and hopefully have a proper discussion among more folks in January.

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