This is a tutorial on how to effectively make a proposal to change a policy for Social.coop. A proposal process is used for instituting any policy or budgetary change that affects the cooperative as a whole.

First of all, read the "Governance" section of the bylaws, which is what officially governs this process.

Then, review the following steps for some best practices!

Is a proposal necessary?

First, consider whether you really need to make a proposal in the first place to achieve your goal. Does your goal just affect you, or does it affect the whole community? Does it require a policy change or resources, or is it something that you and some others could do on your own?

As a community committed to self-governance and autonomy, we encourage members to take initiative on things they are passionate about. The rules and policies should be a minimal framework to support that. As much as possible, we should strive to foster a co-op that operates without having to establish specific policies.

Sometimes, what starts out as a proposal can really be handled through a discussion, which sprouts collaboration and action. Consider that a victory!

Is there a relevant working group?

Before proceeding, explore the operations docs to see if there is a working group relevant to your idea. If there is, be sure to contact them to discuss it. Perhaps it is something they can implement on their own, without a further proposal. But even if you do proceed, make sure you've at least consulted with the relevant working group.

One way to do this is to start a thread on the working group's subgroup on Loomio. You can also reach out to working group members in chat at the Social.coop Matrix space.

Generally, you want to be sure to have strong buy-in from any relevant working groups before bringing a proposal to the whole community.

Start an open thread

Once you feel you have buy-in from relevant working groups (or are challenging something a working group is doing), the next step is to start a thread in the main Social.coop space on Loomio.

In the Social.coop space, press the "New Thread" button, then:

  • "Notify": Choose "All members of Social.coop"
  • "Title": Give it a specific name that invites an open-ended conversation. Such as: "Should we change paragraph 3 of the bylaws?"
  • "Context": Explain in a couple of paragraphs why you are starting this discussion, what the broader context is, and any inclinations you have about a resolution. Also raise any open questions in your mind.

Then "Start Thread"! Also, make a post on Mastodon linking to your thread, using the #Socialcoop hashtag.

Hopefully other members will get involved in the discussion. If not, maybe the idea is not something lots of other people in the community will get behind, and that's a good learning, too.

Test out ideas in polls

As the discussion takes off, you're the default facilitator. Help guide it with an open mind. Try to avoid letting it spiral off into endless debate, and use Loomio's tools to help steer people toward consensus.

Use the "Start Poll" tool at the bottom of the thread to create polls that test people's thinking. For instance, you could use a Ranked Choice poll to see what priorities matter most to people. Or an "Opt In" poll to see who would actually step up to implement something. These tools are really helpful for translating what people say into more actionable information to inform your proposal.

The process might actually end here. Maybe your thread has given you or a working group enough information to act on, and you don't really need a formal proposal. This is great! If so, post updates on the thread about how you and other members are acting on the ideas that have surfaced there.

Make your formal proposal

When you feel there is some clear consensus forming, consider formulating your proposal. To do this, in that thread you started, use the "Start Poll" tool, and choose "Proposal." This time, preface the title with "Proposal:" to make very clear what you are doing. Once again, choose to notify "All members of Social.coop."

In "Context," break down very clearly what you are proposing should be changed and why. Also, specify who will implement this—ideally, you, or you plus some people who have already volunteered to help. This is important. Policy-making should not be about telling others what to do.

Be sure to follow the process in the bylaws to ensure the proposal is structured correctly. For instance:

  • Allow 6 days for participation. If a proposal is urgent and needs to be passed sooner, mark the title as "URGENT" and explain why in the "Context." But 6 days is preferred in almost all cases.
  • In addition to the default Agree/Abstain/Disagree options, add a Block option.

Amendments

Sometimes members will make suggestions when voting on a proposal that hadn't been considered earlier but should be and are important. The proposer may update the proposal text with small revisions during voting but should clearly mark what changed and when.

If amendments would meaningfully transform the proposal, so that people who voted for the original might object to the amended version, an entirely new proposal should be created and the previous one closed.

Resolution

After the duration is passed, Loomio will ask you to announce an outcome. Please do so, following the bylaws' standards for what counts as a passed proposal:

More Agree votes than Disagree votes

or:

Proposals with Block require at least 9 times more Agree votes than Disagree and Block votes in order to pass.

In the outcome text, explain how the proposal will be implemented.

Implement it

Get it done, and keep people in the thread on the topic updated on your progress! Good work:)