LB and OGov Revisited

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This document is to assist in final decisions on how the governance on our platform could work and how they should be rolled out in our upcoming launch.

Below is outlined an updated approach to governance based on a review of prior documents (such as these on leadership board and open governance on the wiki, and google drive), insights from related literature (Davis, 2016), other organizations' methods (e.g., Loomio Cooperative Handbook), and discussion with members of the platform community.

Options

  1. Leadership Board Model (outlined at links above)
  2. Constitution Model (outlined below) more here

Defining Terms

  • Community: The workers and requesters who use the platform, this would also include external researchers who use the platform in the way we use MTurk (as requesters)
  • Platform: The people who build and maintain the platform.
  • Constitution: A set of high level rules that are used to govern the relationship between the platform and the community.
  • Resolution Committee: A small group of representatives from each of our stakeholders (workers, requesters, and platform) who will resolve disputes in interpreting the constitution.

Operation

The community sets the constitution through a democratic process and the platform implements it. In this way there is a loose connection between what the community wants and what the platform executes. The constitution is designed to evolve and to be as high level as possible, while satisfying all the stakeholders.

Updating the Constitution

  1. Idea Selection: A ranked stack of ideas which can be contributed to by anyone (community or platform) is prioritized by the community. In many ways this will work like Change.org in that the community can openly and freely raise ideas and those which are deemed valuable to a large enough portion of the population are given a chance at becoming reality. Operationally, this could work like Stack Exchange or Reddit, however an even simpler approach is plausible.
    1. Community members can 'sign' an idea, expressing interest in it.
    2. If some percentage of any stakeholder group, or a combined percentage across stakeholder groups is reached, the idea is considered important. For people who sit in more than one stakeholder group their weaker vote will be counted.
    3. Its hard to say what the right percentage to use for this would be. Perhaps something like 10%.
    4. Additional search and ranking features could be explored in the future to make this process more streamlined
  2. Idea Refinement and Amendment Development: Selected ideas are refined through a iterative process and end up as possible amendments to the constitution.
    1. A iterative writing and discussion interface, a bit like a wiki article is generated, allowing the community to develop an idea.
    2. Anyone can be involved but most likely just a few people will step up to take control.
    3. At several points, the page will be released for a check by stakeholders to ensure that the idea is both feasible (from the platform's perspective) and inline with the interests the idea initially reflected.
    4. Once suitably refined (at least 3 checks and no remaining major complaints) it can be presented for voting
    5. This might be seen as unpaid work and if that becomes a problem, we could fall back with something more like flash teams to master the writing and refinement aspects.
  3. Amendment Voting: A vote is conducted to determine if a new amendment should be adopted.
    1. Voting can be continuous in that all issues can always be voted upon and their public favor is easily visible to the community.
    2. Votes are conducted proportional to community sizes of each stakeholder group. For people in more than one group, their less influential vote will be counted.
    3. An amendment is adopted if it has a super majority.
    4. An amendment can also be rejected or removed it a simple majority turn against it.

Interpreting the Constitution

It is the job of the platform to interpret the constitution and to make sure everything keeps running. The platform can make as many and as frequent changes as it likes but is bound to uphold the interests of constitution, within technical and legal limits.

Decisions about what the platform does in response to the evolving constitution are internal to the platform and their preferred methods of orchestration.

In situations where there is disagreement between the platform and the community about what the constitution really means, the resolution committee will be evoked.

Dealing with Conflicts

The resolution committee steps in when there is a grey area in the constitution or when there are disagreements about wether an article of the constitution is being interpreted correctly by the platform.

The process for resolving such a conflict involves a lengthy discussion that is publicly available in which the motives and interests of all relevant parties are enumerated and a teleological imperative can be reached. It is hoped that this process will avoid single sided arguments or a perception by any of the stakeholder groups that the result was biased.

The resolution committee will have one vote each from workers, requesters and the platform and the votes will be anonymized.

The resolution committee could be formed by several possible methods such as voting by stakeholder group, voting by other stakeholder groups or random assignment (like jury duty).

Initial Setup

To facilitate this system, we will start with a prewritten basic constitution that we develop in coordination with requesters and workers we know from the community. This will set the ideological tone for the community and help us ensure that high level goals of our design are there from the start.

Goals:

  1. Set community standards
  2. Set expectations about how things will change when they need to
  3. Set expectations about longer term interests of the platform and community

Outline:

  1. Glossary
    1. Each stakeholder group
    2. Each key activity
  2. Organizational principle
    1. Community → Constitution → Platform → Resolution Committee
  3. Articles discussing the standard activities and expectations of each stakeholder group within the organizational principle
    1. Community
      1. Community goal
      2. Idea selection
      3. Idea refinement → Amendment development
      4. Amendment voting
    2. Platform
      1. Platform goal
      2. Implementing the constitution
    3. Resolution Committee
      1. Resolution Committee Goal
      2. When we use the resolution committee
      3. How they operate

Ongoing Questions

  1. Specifically which decision making tools should be used for each part of a system like this?
    1. What mechanism allows us to do an unbiased 3 party vote?
  2. Do we need strategic guidance to be explicitly isolated (e.g., Loomio's approach) or are we confident that it will emerge?
  3. What is the meaningful way for someone to 'own' a company like this if it does not become a cooperative? For example, how does the ownership model align with the interests of the community?