GOSH Community Forum

CommunityRule - governance toolkit for communities

I came across CommunityRule, a toolkit designed by the Media Enterprise Design Lab to help online communities define their governance system.

I like the idea of a governance.md added to repositories, any experiences to share?

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I think making a governance document is an interesting idea.

If we do it one thing it has to capture is the openness of this community. We work together, we are conscious of each other, but we are all busy so things get done when they get done. GOSH is the most welcoming community I have ever experienced. I already felt I was part of the community on the first day of my first GOSH. If there is a way to formalise that structure without changing it I think that is great. It will let me know if I am overstepping my purview when I start announcing votes for logos!

I love the term “do-ocracy”, I don’t think that is exactly what we are, but it is a great word. There is a huge amount of information on their Democratic Mediums site. It is also great to see that all the work for both sites is all open source and on GitLab.

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  • That’s great Juli!

  • I mostly agree with @julianstirling.

  • I’ve been part of open, horizontal and autonomous groups from different areas (theater, education and science/tech), and in none of them this was close of easy. Mainly because all of them war dynamics, organics, and the members would come and go easily, with different levels of commitment and expertise about the community main subject. However, in all of them the decisions were made by the ones that were on the reunions, always aiming to respect the set of principals of the group, and autonomous actions (like the logo voting) were welcomed. Since we don’t have a regular reunion, I believe the forum sort of function as a continuous assembly/meeting.

  • What concerns me about a “do-ocracy” (I don’ know much about it) is how not to give more voice and power to the ones with more time to engage on the discussions (this can run into the reproduction of structural oppression, since more vulnerable groups would be less represented). I’ve seen “horizontal” reunions where who didn’t have to work had more voice, or when “all the voices were the same” led to basically the oppression of specific voices. Also, if doings get too much out of control, projects and actions that are not coherent with gosh principles may take de gosh logo/name (this happened with CTA once or twice, and may be just a soft collateral effect).

  • I think that the closer of it we have on CTA is our “CTA managing guide” and the “project managing guide” (the university server is down, so i can’t access the site, i’ll add it later). They materialize our principals and describe our protocols and bureaucracies, but they are never read buy begnnires. They learn about it, and feel the need of “studying” it through the discussions lead on the reunions - that’s way I continuous mention about it.

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Great discussion - In terms of do-ocracy (or ad-hocracy), my experience is similar to @marinappdf’s.

I’ve also been part of open/horizontal communities with different aims - running a community cultural centre, being part of a political organization/party, ‘co-operative’ research groups and finally more tech-related, hacklabs and online education initiatives. In tech-related spaces I found people tend to go to do-ocracy almost immediately.

For me, it had clear benefits in the beginning (action-focused, quick progress towards goals, less eternal meetings). It worked as long as everyone in the room was on the same page, because the only problem was finding slots of time to do things (and therefore do-ocracy is efficient!). As soon as disgressions emerged around how to do those things or around what to do, problems came (and it always happened).

The most common situation I found myself in (in do-ocratic groups) is that those with more time availabiity impose their vision through action, as @marinappdf says. Once someone has done something, discussing it is difficult, because we all tend to privilege work that already exists.

“If any community members hold serious concerns, they can start a proposal to halt what someone is doing” --> But now that something is in place, changing it radically is much more difficult than incrementally “improving it” in the same direction, most people resist it. In my experience it reinforced practices that are kind of ‘business as usual’. And maybe we needed something radically different…

I think this is a problem when you consider open-related spaces usually involve voluntary work, and it’s a fact that time availability to volunteer is different between members of groups, usually following certain patterns - If your economic situation demands you to have at least 2 jobs, or if you’re taking care of others besides your job (or you’re a woman and do both :P), you have less time. This usually ends up in people giving up (or deciding to work only in feminist spaces next time, as in my case and maaaaany others I’ve met). Or if you’re a newbie, and you take more time to do things, e.g., or you need more time to learn how everything works.

When I posted this I was thinking of it more as a tool for our own sub-projects, not for GOSH, but it’s a good exercise! I think GOSH is somehow a do-ocracy but it also has strong mechanisms in place (the values/manifesto, the equity-based approach) to avoid the situation I mentioned previously. I wouldn’t know how to call it, and there are people in GOSH with much more experience than I have, on community work and feminist spaces that can help with this. I also think the online and offline instances of GOSH are different in terms of work, accessibility and participation, so one isn’t just the online version of the other, IMHO.

I’m personally very interested in methods for overcoming these problems that don’t burn out women/minorities, avoiding if possible endless meetings that lead nowhere (can’t emphasize this enough), keeping a good rythm of work, recognizing not everyone starts participating from the same level, doing things to change that, etc. Though not perfect, I think GOSH is a nice experience towards that direction.

Some readings, more or less related to these topics, that I enjoyed:

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