Chatlog of conversation that happened on that details the community management and governance behind funkwhale 
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I wanted to reach out to you and talk about the Anti-abuse work Ginny did with y'all to see what we could reuse here (after checking in with and / or crediting Ginny too) 
Wed, May 22, 2019

9:37 AM
Sure! Do you want to have this discussion here? I'm going to ask her if she want to join too 

7:12 PM
So I'm following the progress you are doing on #Florence for a few months, and I'm quite curious of how you are organizing and structuring the contributions, the roadmap, etc.
7:14 PM
Somehow, we're facing similar questions with Funkwhale (, which is a personnal project I started a few years ago, and which I'd like to see growing beyond myself.
7:16 PM
For little more than a year now, I've been lookin for ways to open the governance of the project to the community. 
And not only open it passively, but actively integrate potential contributors.
7:17 PM
Your initial attempt with #ForkTogether, last july, reminded me it was a critical to work on this, sooner than later, and the longer we'll wait the harder it'll be.
7:19 PM
One of our first moves was to have discussions on a public forum (cf and not only on semi-public, hard to follow chat rooms
7:20 PM
In parallel, we also started to organize monthly meetings with other community members. We called those meetings "Funkwhale Sync". Cf our first announcement:
7:22 PM
We commited to document everything (I mean, as much as possible), to ensure newcomers would actually be able to join discussions, but also browse the project history and understand the motivations between past decisions.
7:23 PM
From my experience, having those discussions on a public forum, and not only in text chats really, really improved the quality of our communication

7:31 PM
In January 2019, we started to realize our lack of commitment regarding diversity and inclusivity was hurting the project and pushing potential contributors away.
Initially we wanted to launch our association (the legal entity that is supposed to back the project) as soon as possible, but we decided to wait until we had more confidence in our ability to offer a safe space to the community.

7:31 PM
At this point, we hired Ginny to help us.
7:35 PMPinned
Her work with us focuses on two aspects:
  1. the safety and inclusivity of the community
  2. the safety and inclusivity of the software
We improved #1 through various measures. Mainly, by writing a code of conduct and appointing dedicated moderators to enforce it.
In itself, Funkwale's #CoC is built on top of the contributor covenant, the post-meritocracy manifesto, and also custom content.
7:37 PM
Here again, one of the challenge was to have an open discussion about it. To some extent we did, and we left as much time as possible to integrate feedback between our first draft and the publication of the final version
7:38 PM
Of course not everyone agreed with the idea of a #CoC, or its content, and people left. Sometimes by telling us, but also silently.
7:40 PM
We're not done working on the the safety and inclusivity of the community though. There is a big challenge in ensuring our discussions are accessible and inclusive.
For exemple, up until recently, our meetings were audio based. And some people reported that this was de facto excluding trans women, as it could trigger disphoria.
7:42 PM
So we switched to text-based meeting, which are working quite good so far.
I expect we'll have similar changes to make on a regular basis, and we've yet to come with a solution to detect such issues up front.
7:44 PMPinned
Now, in terms of safety and inclusivity of the software itself, Ginny conducted a big audit of Funkwhale to find potential issues and loopholes.
7:45 PM
That wasn't really a surprise for me, but we have a lot of things to work on.
After the audit, we opened a poll to the community to find what were the priorities in the issues we discovered.
Based on the feedback, we prioritized items and put those on our roadmp.
7:47 PM
We had a similar process to build our general roadmpd:
  1. Open a discussion to gather ideas
  2. Follow with a poll to prioritize items
  3. Add items ranked by priority on the roadmap
7:47 PM
Our plan for next releases it to take a few items from each pool of features (general features and anti-harassment features), and develop them.
And do that for each release.
7:48 PM
We're still figuring out how to maintain the roadmap, because building an initial roadmap like we did isn't the same as integrating feature requests and ideas on a regular basis.
7:51 PM
Recently, we decided that our efforts paid off and that we could proceed to the launch of the association.
In fact, even if we agreed in January not to launch the collective, we continued to work on it, and especially to find candidates and write the statutes.
7:52 PM
The final statutes (including an english version) can be found here, and should be published on our website soon.
7:53 PM
It's worth noting that our CoC and moderation team is considered as a dedicated, separated power in the collective.
We designed it that way to ensure project managers (what we name the Steering Commitee) don't hold all the power.
7:54 PM
The moderation team is also elected by the collective members during our general assemblies.
7:55 PM
We had our first general assembly last Sunday, which was basically about finding a name for the collective, approving our statutes and elect our candidates.
7:56 PM
So, it's still pretty recent and we will need some time before we can share feedback regarding how well our statutes are actually working
7:58 PM
One unusual bit in the statutes is our custom voting system. Someone came with the idea during a sync meeting a few months ago, and we decided to give it a try.
Basically, it's built to reduce the weight of cisgendered white men in the votes.

7:59 PM
Fair warning -- moderator elections tend to be very messy and tend to select moderators who are popular contributors in the community rather than people who have the appropriate skillset to be a moderator -- people tend to think of moderation as unskilled labor so they aren't as concerned about just picking people who are well-liked rather than skilled at community management, just be aware that you're probably going to see that become volatile eventually 

7:59 PM
Thank you @melody indeed, we didn't consider that
8:00 PM
however, there is a strict separation between moderation work and project management/development work in our statutes
8:00 PM
It's likely popular contributors would apply for the Steering Commitee and not the Moderation Commitee

8:01 PM
Yeah, I haven't read all your links yet, I just saw the words "moderator elections" and thought to raise it. 

8:01 PM
Yep that makes sense
8:02 PM
That's pretty much it, sorry for the noise on the channel. I'm not sure how helpful it is for you, if you have some questions or feedback regarding what I shared, just let me know 

8:03 PM
(And I have LOTS of questions regarding Florence too!)

8:10 PM
I remember #Florence (or ForkTogether maybe) had a wiki or something with interesting content, is it still available somewhere?

8:11 PM
Voting system feels...I get the spirit, I don't know that I trust its soundness.

8:16 PM
I'm not sure either how it will work for us, that's kind of an experiment.
8:17 PM
The rationale was that, especially in the steering commitee, we didn't want a majority of cis white male to have a majority on important decisions that could have impact regarding the development of anti-harassement features (or the inclusion of potentially dangerous features)

8:26 PM
Yeah, I understand the logic, I think identity is a poor proxy for this and a form of modified consensus with a strong block option might have been better
8:27 PM
If a large supermajority or your entire steering committee is unconcerned about the risks of harassment or abuse, at that point you have a larger problem 

8:33 PM
Wouln't a strong block option allow problematic situations (e.g someone using it to block anything they don't like) ?
8:38 PM
If a large supermajority or your entire steering committee is unconcerned about the risks of harassment or abuse, at that point you have a larger problem 
I agree with that and we want everyone to feel concerned about those issues.
8:39 PM
When it comes to deciding on those matters, I tend to think people who are experiencing it should have a stronger voice (hence the proxy on identity you mention, I really like that terminology btw!)

8:55 PM
In practice, not really. There's strong social pressure around when it's appropriate to use a block in a full consensus model, with guidelines that tend to strongly suggest they should only be used in cases where the decision is an existential threat to the group or an important violation of its values, and unless the steering committee is something like full public no-barriers membership you kind of assume that a small group of people all acting in good faith are not going to abuse blocks to break things. Blocks can usually be overridden somehow, if necessary, though, and somebody abusing them to prevent important votes on sketchy grounds and who will not participate in efforts to create a more acceptable proposal should probably be removed from the committee 
8:56 PM
That would be a separate process but the ability to remove bad faith participants from committees and working groups is important for consensus to work 
8:59 PM
In very large groups, or groups where minority voices are dramatically crowded out, even a fairly strong block can sometimes not be enough to overcome a normal vote
For instance, had a simple majority on a vote, but a 90% threshold to overcome a block. I blocked a vote on a version of their code of conduct because it was hostile to reporters and tried to force people into mediation with their harassers, and it nearly passed anyway just on the momentum of the prior voting history and the overwhelming demographics. 
9:02 PM
So even with a relatively strong block, overcoming it isn't always hard enough, and when you combine that with guidelines on when it's appropriate to block and the shared purpose and values of the group, you mostly just have to trust that the right people will be in the room putting it into practice, and will do so in good faith. 
9:05 PM
I guess the other thing about it is that a block doesn't mean "I block this, and we won't talk about it anymore" a block is the start of a new conversation and a prompt to revisit the proposal, not an end to the conversation. Sometimes the concern motivating the block is severe enough that nobody brings a similar proposal again -- that could realistically be the case for some features with an initially unrecognized dangerous flaw or like, a proposal to start doing deep tracking or malicious advertisements, but in most cases a block should be starting a conversation on how to achieve the shared goals with a proposal that presents a more acceptable means
9:07 PM
"block" is confusing in that way I guess in the concept of a social media platform where a block tends to mean "get this away from me forever and i never want to see it again" but it's more like warning people to stop before they drive off a cliff 
9:08 PM
it's a mechanism that can be used to allow a minority (mathematical) vote to prevent major catastrophes 
Thu, May 23, 2019

8:41 AM
Thank you for the detailed explanation. I wish we'd have this discussion before we voted our statutes, this could indeed have been a better alternative to what we were trying to achieve!

8:45 AM
It happens  

8:46 AM
We'll do better next time