[Noisebridge-discuss] consensus process meeting project postmortem (worth reading)

Leif Ryge leif at synthesize.us
Sun Feb 13 22:47:34 UTC 2011

I'm sorry I didn't make it to this meetup. I will try to be at the next one.

I don't agree entirely or at all with a number of your points here, 
which I'd be happy to discuss with you in person sometime, but there are 
two in particular I want to reply to here.

On 02/12/2011 01:29 PM, Patrick Keys wrote:
> * some people at Noisebridge will block any consensus item based on
> their personal general opinion against consensus
Huh? Who are these people? The meeting notes from just last week 
indicated there was a consensus to spend Noisebridge funds on buying 
stickers, and we've successfully consensed on new members at more than 
half of the meetings I've been to recently.

Also, blocking isn't just saying "I block" - one needs to explain their 
objections, so that they can be addressed. I'm aware that there are NB 
members who would prefer that we used majoritarian voting instead of 
consensus, but afaik they realize that blocking random things to achieve 
that goal would be unexcellent and ineffective.

> * comparing bringing an item up for consensus versus just handling a
> matter do-ocracy style, there is absolutely no incentive at all for
> bringing an item up for consensus (quite the opposite!) because that
> could just result in a block of the item.
I think what you might be missing here is that the purpose of the 
consensus process is NOT to make decisions quickly, but rather to make 
decisions which are acceptable to all members. Proposing something for 
consensus has a necessary cost of many people's time and attention. 
Obviously, after that time has been spent and a consensus decision has 
been made to do a thing a certain way, any significant changes to the 
plan should also be consensed upon.

Human attention is a finite resource. This is why we use consensus for 
important official decisions which affect everyone and/or would be 
difficult or impossible to undo (for instance, spending Noisebridge 
funds) and use do-ocracy for less weighty actions (for instance, moving 
furniture around).  Being excellent to eachother is essential. Making 
major changes "by do-ocracy" which one knows or could reasonably expect 
people to be opposed to doesn't strike me as being excellent; talking to 
eachother and finding common understanding does.


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