Holochain Forum

Contribution accounting in a platform coop

I’m writing this as a possible case for meet.coop, but which should be generally useable for multistakeholder cooperative platforms.

Intro: meet.coop is a cooperative online meeting service, with user members and operational members. The user members contribute monthly membership fees according to their service level; the operational members do work to run and improve the organisation and distribute compensations according to work done.

There are several things that we’d like to improve, and that we could see as valuable for many online platform collectives:

  1. keep track of individual contributions of work (realising tasks, staffing support desk and other ongoing work). It should be straight forward to compensate team members according to their work done. Our current compensation framework is a simplified form of Contribution accounting; we guestimate worked time and vote how each one prefers to see the distribution, and approve the outcome by consent.

  2. manage membership and user contributions. We use OpenCollective where people sign up and have a recurring credit card payment. Members can contribute donations, different membership level payments. In the future we’d like to recognise active user members more clearly (active in 4).

  3. governance. Although we aim to be a true multistakeholder cooperative, currently it’s the operational members who make decisions. We are working however to develop a full multistakeholder governance with different member classes (at least user and operational). Derived from the membership management people should have the ability to vote.

  4. community space to exchange ideas, knowledge, offers & wants, for peer learning and peer support. Peer contributions should feed into the membership list and be recognised as such.

We’re preparing work on mapping valueflows, with @bhaugen @lynnfoster and Ela Kagel. This should inform the redesign of our Contribution / Open Value accounting.

About our current systems, we are using:

  • Discourse for the https://forum.meet.coop
  • WordPress for https://meet.coop
  • NextCloud for our file management, and also task management
  • Kimai for the time tracker (but is not much used)
  • Twitter and fediverse (social.coop) for social networking

While things are working, there is lots of space for improvement. And the Holochain ecosystem is preparing very interesting components that could be helpful for that, like these works in progress:

I’m not sure whether we have already a membership happ in the works? Decisionmaking and voting is important for us and for any larger democratic collective…

It will be interesting to hear your thoughts on this. Mentioning @guillemcordoba as he has might share an interest in this.

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Hi,
I’m currently working on making the UI for a system such as what you are talking about. I’m getting input from Disco.coop and sensorica (which is a peer to peer organization in Montreal). I would love to get your input so we can fit what I am developing to your use case. I’m working off the valueflows vocabulary, wanting to develop something that could use any valueflows abiding backend (h-REA being one of them).
Let me know if that sounds interesting and would like to talk more.
Raphael

hi @happysalada that’s wonderful. Sensorica’s work is generally understood as the starting point for Contribution accounting / open value networks and AFAIK the valueflo.ws and holoREA somehow derive from that work. Tibi is great :grinning:

And DISCOcoop has brought together a set of resources to build a platform sustainability model that seeks to be cooperative and commons-oriented at the same time. With meet.coop we share the vision very much and are putting it in practice somehow. So I’d say that’s a good match.

Could you share a bit more about the case you’re working on?

hi,

Sorry for being a littlle vague! I’m working on making a UI for the valueflows framework. As you know, there are many backends for it (h-REA, bonfire), but there doesn’t seem to be a current UI implementation (that I know of). In order to make valueflows a reality, I’m trying to work with interested groups at seeing what UI would work best for them.
Specifically, I think the pillars of valueflows are threefold.

  • Enable an organization (peer to peer or cooperative) to record work. This is the goal that has been started so far and for which I am looking for feedback.
  • Visualize existing contributions (as an individual but also as an organization). This goal is a little more abstact and so it is still at the stage of ideas. I am curious to hear more ideas if there are some though.
  • Distribute created value amongst participants. Once work has been recorded, and if an organization / Project generated value, the software should enable creating rules to distribute this value. Traditionally this has been done in opaque spreadsheets that very few people understand let alone can modify. The idea is to make this process well understood by everybody to fit in a democratic process.

So at the moment, with interviews and requirements from Sensorica and Disco.coop, I have started doing some software development. I started on the “record work” goal, and I am exploring different possibilities to make this as painless and intuitive as possible for end users to record their work. I am looking for more interested participants to gather possible requirements. The valueflows framework is by design very generic, I would like to have a working UI for as many use case as possible. If you are interested, we could chat, I could share what I have so far and you could share your requirements.

Here are a couple more details in case you are interested. I am developing the software open source. I want to make it usable with any backends (holochain or any other that might come up, as long as it supports the valueflows spec). I don’t have any way to make this sustainable yet, I am mostly open for ideas on this.

if you have more quesions, feel free to let me know.

Raphael

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Hi @happysalada, I’m very interested to know more on how you imagine to “record work”. There are many ways of course. Maybe one could drill down from a mission → goals → tasks and record work in relation to these tasks. That would have the advantage to link compensations to tasks and possible bounties set for goals or tasks.

wrt 2) Visualise existing contributions. Collectives typically have a ledger of financial contributions (say in LiberaPay or OpenCollective), but have their time/work contributions elsewhere, like in a time tracker app, and maybe keep a list of material resource donations on their web. Yet other contributions are made in community spaces like an online forum, where participants may earn karma for their activate participation or help of other members. Visualising these in my mind depends very much on the “reputation framework” i.e. how we imagine to value these different sources. I guess @pospi and @sidsthalekar are also working on or at least interested in this.

wrt 3) the distribution of collectively generated value is a tough one. As you say, the typical incomprehensible spreadsheet where distribution is “decided” isn’t working very well in many collectives. So having a software module that allows to set rules on how to treat incoming streams of contributions and allowing a group of members to collectively set, vote and control this is very much needed.

We can have different classes of membership / contribution, some examples:

  • Imagine that active community members can be rewarded with a free service. That could derive from the reputation metrics in the community spaces.
  • Operational members, or coop workers would need to make a living. Depending on the collective some form of basic income or base salary could be put in place plus additional earnings for resolving tasks. Other collectives wants to compensate work by hours worked (how to measure that is generally challenging), or - in another extreme - pay everything as bounties and yet others combine several metrics (# of sales, tasks resolved, hours logged, …) and have the team vote about the final distribution. As the tech is never perfectly aligned with what the humans want, and far from that at the moment :wink: the latter is what we’re currently doing at meetcoop.

Is there a public space where you are documenting / developing?

wrt sustainability: I’m imagining that many collectives need some solution to these challenges. Possibly some can fund part of it because they want to use it, some make a donation because they are sympathetic to the idea, or others are willing to take part in a crowdfunding campaign and/or spread the word?

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wrt to recording work. The Valueflows vocabulary has things relatively well defined in that regards. It has plans (things that people plan to do in the future) with processes ( a process is more akin to a task, a particular step of a plan) and inputs and outputs (an input can be work, some materials…, and outputs are documents, things…). I have to say that I personally still have to see that framework applied to an organization, but I think it’s a good starting point for discussion.
Part of recording work is time tracking, and at the moment the discussion is to include a time tracking feature for particular processes (akin to tasks). I am a little cautious on that, since there are already so many time-tracking tools that are pretty much free. Trying to integrate with many of them might also be a challenge. So currently, the question of time-tracking is pending.
What I am hoping to do in the coming weeks is to try to get different answers from the early participants in this experiment.

wrt visualizing contributions. There has been some work done on using a graph to try to visualize contributions. However it’s something that I haven’t really seen anywhere else, so highly experimental. Not to mention the fact, like you said, that getting all those contributions from different places is also a challenge. Before resolving this question though, recording work (i.e. actually getting the relevant data) needs to be solved. Most probably figuring out how to import other data sources is going to have to be solved as well. So potentially this is waiting for step 1.

wrt distributing value. I think you are right, modularity is going to be key. Many different systems are going to be there in the wild and the ability to pick and choose from a set of primitives is necessary.
Currently I am developing the ui GitHub - happysalada/organize: a mockup of a valueflo.ws implementation and the toy backend that I just use for development purposes GitHub - happysalada/vf-sqlite-graphql
disco and sensorica both have their own instance at disco.union.rocks and sensorica.union.rocks
The data is still a little sparse and the functionality a little limited.
Regarding documentation, each of the organization is documenting their own process, but I don’t have a central document where I document everything. Bob and Lynn the creator of valueflows have a lot of the knowledge in their minds and are generous enough to share their experience and give feedback.

If you are interested, I could show you sometime the UI I have to record work and we could try to do one of those brainstorming sessions. Happy to take it any directions you are interested in.

(the union.rocks things are urls, I can’t put them as such, because discourse won’t let me)

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Hi @happysalada, great that you joined at the #commons.hour at meet.coop the other day! As you see we are in a process of redesign :slight_smile:

I just checked out your github and the union.rocks instances for DisCO and Sensorica. I could get an initial idea of the flows, of individuals having plans and relations; adding a process with inputs and outputs but saving it wasn’t possible (I got to define a test plan for Stacco ;-)).

It will be good to see how both orgs are or hope to be using it. If you have some time we could have an online coffee and discuss about it. Let me know if you’re up for that.

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Hi , Thank you for having that session, it was very informative!

I’m impressed that you could find all of this! At the moment things are not well documented to say the least!
Everything is in a very exploratory state at the moment, I’m mostly trying to gather requirements and figure out what would be the most useful things right now.

Online coffee sounds great. Lynn and Bob would probably like to join if you don’t mind. If I understand correctly, you’re in Europe. Perhaps something like late afternoon for you, around mid-day for us might work ? How about Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday for example ? (I’ll check with Lynn and Bob as well).

Let me know what works best for you.