I'd like to share some information for people who might have missed previous threads or comments, and I'd like to offer a proposal.
Key Motions Passed in Council Meetings (all unanimous!):
Motion 1, v2: “To establish an independent organization with the purpose of owning and maintaining the online discussion forum.”
Motion 2 v2: “Move to establish and try to publish an online discussion forum based on the “NodeBB” forum software.”
Motion 3: “To do due diligence and apply best practices to protect and minimize the storage of PII of users, with these responsibilities explicitly delegated to specific responsible individuals trusted by the council/board.”
Motion 4: “Create a tech committee empowered to make non-controversial “technical decisions” on behalf of the group as needed, with the understanding that the council could revisit those decisions later if needed. The committee should consult the council on questions where the decision may be controversial.”
Motion 5: “Order of operations. 1. Pass bylaws. 2. Elect board. 3. Launch website.”
Motion 6: “Adopt categories list”
Motion 8: “Motion passed unanimously to coalition with Equal Vote and receive donations and pay expenses through Equal Vote account.”
Procedure Manual: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1TCRbEXuBqY8N1glKf7YHNWMVIWD7blgZQhwomfteigY/edit?usp=sharing
Terms of Service: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AlnP1gvvc986n0iiYYkA0Tc9L33erbxDftM7sX5ypz4/edit?usp=sharing
Code of Conduct: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ExGrryHIFOjSfPiTtHYBRPw7GQY8lRsCfWiWsLEsImc/edit?usp=sharing
Forum Council Members:
Sara Wolk, William "Jack" Waugh, David Hinds, Connor Frankston, Micah Fitch.
Sara Wolk. Connor Frankston, David Hinds, Connor Frankston, Micah Fitch, Gary Litke.
William Waugh, (Rob Brown was added by Jack and keys have been shared but that has not been officially authorized yet).
Key points: This forum already has a Council that governs it in terms of the big picture decisions. It also has a tech team and moderation team that can work on things and address issues as needed. They are also empowered to make non-controversial decisions without needing to call a Council meeting or jump through unnecessary hoops. The Forum Council can also approve decisions between meetings, as it has done in the past. The main barrier to progress as I see it is that we could use more volunteers to help. If you'd like to volunteer, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I don't think there is any benefit to rehashing our processes or decisions that have already been made with plenty of consideration and lots of input from Council Members (past and current) and with input gathered from Forum participants at large through the forum itself. To date all our votes since the forum launched have been unanimous.
I do think it's very problematic to make consequential or controversial decisions via forum posting. That opens the door to leadership who don't have the time to read all the posts missing a huge decision. Meetings also allow us to bring in perspectives from other spaces where relevant discussion takes place. Voting via forum post would make it next to impossible to ensure that people have read the relevant discussions and have the background needed before they vote. I love the idea about getting feedback from participants and taking polls to inform council decisions, as we have always done, but for bylaw level items, an actual meeting with real face to face discussion protects the longevity and integrity of the forum much better.
For those who don't know me, I've put in a lot of time and effort over the last 2 years to help build an inclusive, robust, and stable forum that will be an asset to our community for years to come. We included everyone in that process start to finish who wanted to contribute. All the work I've put in has been done in a volunteer capacity, (not as part of my job with Equal Vote). I was really excited and proud to have finished our long list of meta level set up tasks (see resource list above) and hope to not spend too much time revisiting them. The more fun work of making the forum better and bigger and discussing voting science is still ahead.
My Proposal for Forum Next Steps:
- We recruit some new volunteers to our Forum Council, Tech Committee, and Moderation Committee. Each of these requires a different time commitment and skill set so finding the right people for each task is important. Email email@example.com to volunteer.
- We don't waste time rehashing process and governance level conversations unless there is a specific need to do so.
- Jack finishes passing the keys for management and billing of the forum to Equal Vote so Equal Vote can pay for the Forum's hosting and URL with the new grant money we recently obtained for software dev. The Forum is still autonomous, this is just a coalition service that we've gotten agreement from both boards on. This ensures that our Forum assets will be protected and will be renewed and paid for and that keys can be passed easily if needed. (Right now it's under Jack's personal account, which is problematic.) This is all in accordance with what was decided already, and allows us to ensure that the council has recourse if any one person goes AWOL or if there is a problem with an individual admin. Everyone is in agreement that the Forum should be and stay autonomous to keep it welcoming for advocates of all types of reforms.
- We have our next Council Meeting soon. Everyone who would like to attend or volunteer, please put in your availability here.
- We keep the forum constructive and drama free. We resolve any issues or disputes that might come up (such as Rob's here) by reaching out to each other more directly so we can hopefully avoid stress and hurt feelings or unnecessary escalation. I think that keeping posts like this off the forum itself unless other avenues have been tried and failed will help recruit and retain volunteers and forum participants in general. It will certainly help me be more comfortable inviting new people to join us here.
In order to improve engagement on this forum we should double down on the commitments we've already made to make this a non-toxic space for new people and to keep our current volunteers motivated to complete the action items already on the list.