Meeting Highlights – January 12, 2012

  • Discussed terminology choices around “abstain” vs “indifferent” and what the terms we chose imply.
  • Decided to make the voting process just one click but bringing the options right onto the motion page. Previously you had to click “vote” and then pick your position. Our goal is to enable engagement even on the smallest level – if you can engage extensively, great, if you can only spare time for a single click, that’s OK too.
  • Loomio is currently focusing on building for the needs of our first user group, Enspiral. We think this will help us focus on iterating effectively with constant user feedback, with the idea that we will expand and add features for other types of groups in the future.

A Discussion of Icons

There are many visual ways of representing the tools of consensus.


Our goal in Loomio is to have simple, effective symbols that are also agnostic – this means we want to empower groups to be able to set up their decision making process in the way that works best for them. If we can have a powerful but flexible set of visual symbols in Loomio, groups can define them for themselves, and experiment with the power of conscious process design in their decision making.

The difference between offline and online communication

One of the things I’ve been considering is the difference between offline and online communications. To me the people’s mic (or even one person speaks at a time) is al limitation of offline environments that we shouldn’t be emulating to replicate. Instead I would suggest a philosophy of harvesting lots of content simultaneously and providing mechanisms to filter the noise and promote the group sentiment – similar to the reddit approach.
Joshua, pointing out the benefits of an “everyone talks at once, everyone is heard” internet-style communication model, versus the “one person talks at once” model of in-person meetings.

eDemocracy and civic engagement

I have been thinking in the eDemocracy and general civic engagement space for many years now, but in the light of OWS, the Arab Spring, and the increasing tensions between the haves and have-nots around the world, which are only likely to accelerate as the financial excrement seriously begins to hit the reality fan in 2012, I have more recently started putting thoughts into actions.
Seth, describing why he’s interested in helping the Loomio project

Why Limit the “Statement” Length

In Loomio, you assert your stance (yes, no, block, abstain, or whatever terms the group administrator decides to define), and you also have the option to make a statement about why you feel that way. We decided to limit the length of this statement. 

By design, the discussion about the motion will take place on the discussion platform. This is a space for people to express themselves freely, respond to other people’s concerns and ideas, and hash out disagreements. The intent is for people to participate and/or read over the discussion, and then vote only when they are very clear about their final stance. For this reason, the statement length is quite limited, as we feel if you are clear about your stance and you’ve already discussed any concerns or issues in the discussion space, you should be able to state your case simply and briefly. 

This also has the benefit of making the final Loomio results very clear and succinct – it’s easy to see what people think and why.

A Short History and Introduction

The Loomio project began in late 2011 when some members of the Occupy Wellington movement met up with some people at Enspiral and we realized we had a common need for a better decision making tool.

As non-hierarchical groups that aim to give all members a voice in the process, traditional top-down decision making wasn’t an option, but traditional consensus decision making requiring everyone to sit in a circle and talk each point through was too slow and inefficient.

Loomio was conceived to take the best of participatory processes and make it efficient and straightforward for use in groups where people might be in different locations and time zones, and have busy members who don’t have too much time to spare. 

Our goal as a team is to create a simple, effective tool that helps groups move together. We believe in the power of giving each person affected by a decision a voice – it encourages people to feel ownership of outcomes, and takes advantage of the good ideas anyone in the group, regardless of their status, may come up with.

We committed from the outset to create a free and open source tool, and it is our aim to build a community of Loomio contributors who will help make this tool as great as it can be.