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posted by requerdanos on Tuesday August 01 2023, @02:15AM   Printer-friendly
from the public-benefit-corporation dept.

This is a summary report from the SoylentNews PBC meeting of Monday, July 31, 2023. An IRC log of the full text of the meeting (from channel #meeting) is available, as well as a log of the related discussion (IRC log of #meeting-discuss channel).

[Ed. note: the # sign gives problems so here they are in plain text, feel free to left click and open in a new window]


The Meeting

The significant events of the meeting were as follows:

  • matt_ called the meeting to order at 4:34pm EDT with all members (matt_ and NCommander) present. The community was invited to sit in on the meeting and participate in a Q&A session afterwards.
  • matt_ moved that minutes from the previous meeting be accepted; NCommander seconded; motion passed.
  • NCommander nominated kolie to be added to the board of directors of SoylentNews PBC as the third member (after matt_ and NCommander). matt_ moved that the board be expanded to three and kolie added; NCommander seconded; motion carried unanimously.
  • kolie put forth a detailed proposal for the establishment of a governance committee to replace the existing governing structure. There was general agreement, and discussion about the legality of such a move.
  • It was decided that such a governance committee should decide on a new governing structure going forward, which the PBC would then transfer its assets to (all ip, including the domain, trademarks, data, etc.).
  • The proposal was restated by matt_ as a motion, "Motion to approve the formation of a committee of volunteers to explore the formation of a new entity for the purpose of acquiring the PBC's assets, including all internet domains, data, and intellectual property, which committee shall present a proposal to the Board within 14 days of today's date, which may be extended to a maximum of 90 days at the committee's discretion."
  • Both kolie and NCommander seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
  • There being no further official business, matt_ moved to adjourn, kolie seconded, and the meeting was adjourned at 5:28pm EDT.

After the meeting there was a Q&A time, and some steps were taken towards the formation of the governance committee.

The Q&A

  • cmn32480 asked: Why have there been no responses to any of the buyout offers that were sent to the shareholders?
    • NCommander responded "Ultimately, the proposal was sent to matt_ and I, and discussed breaking up the shares. As I discussed with you in DM, that ultimately didn't solve the issue in regards to the general ownership problem, but I was agreed to at least using it as a starting point point. I did send it to matt, and got no response, which I did tell you on Discord, there was no follow-up over it, and I didn't talk with matt_ from [before] that discussion until now... communication on the backend has ... well let's just say its a known problem, and one that def. needs a better solution."
  • Veyrdite asked, There are lots of opinions about which parts of the org structure are problematic (and I suspect this will get brought up in the meeting), so instead I am curious as to which parts of the org structure work well? What should new aspiring communities potentially copy?
    • NCommander responded in part, "Ultimately, while I was in the role in project manager, I also held the role of president. And I acted as executioner of the communities wishes. There's *a lot of very long posts to that*. However, after I stepped down in 2021 from that role, there essentially became a large disconnect to this. The problems had been building well before that, but the wheels essentially fell off when the business/legal side became detached from the operations/community side of things."
  • Veyrdite asked, It sounds like having the org worked at first. Would you suggest other (new) projects do an org the same way, or something different?
    • NCommander answered in part, "For the new org? It needs to be specifically defined who is responsible for who does what. And there needs to be a clear way to change the guard. No one should be stuck in a position they don't want to be, and people need to be replaceable; any of us can be hit by a car tomorrow."
  • Veyrdite asked, I have heard "NDA" been mentioned. This seems dissonant for a public site with volunteers. Can you explain what is going on here?
    • Kolie answered, "I approached NC when the shutdown happened. We were discussing the site, its data, etc. I agreed to an NDA to not disclose anything. As an outsider - I was given access to the internals of the data, pbc, etc. The purpose of the NDA was to safeguard the PBC from liability given access to someone outside of everything. It was overly broad, generic NDA. It has since been removed and is not in effect. It was from legal zoom - it's purpose literally for liability and there was no nefarious background being discussed behind it. Everything discussed at that time has since become public."
  • Another question from Veyrdite, Are there any other NDAs currently in force in this organisation?
    • Kolie and NCommander both said that they knew of no other NDAs.
  • For the final question of the Q&A session, Deucalion asked, What are the next steps? Proposed first step is to contact the suggested committee members to see if a committee can indeed be formed as suggested.
    • The result of the question was discussion among the potential governance committee members about forming the committee.

The governance committee

As of this writing, the governance committee consists of kolie, audioguy, mechanicjay, requerdanos, Deucalion, and Fnord666, with possible other new members added from among staff/editors within the next few days.

Of the committee, kolie says "The committee is to self govern and determine its own fate. I want a call to those who haven't accepted yet to answer - and to those interested to come around. [For] the community to participate in #governance and to work with myself as the chair or committee members to include their input and set up whatever's coming next."

The business of the governance committee will happen in the #governance channel on SoylentNews IRC and in their expected upcoming meta and/or journal posts.

This discussion was created by requerdanos (5997) for logged-in users only, but now has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by requerdanos on Tuesday August 01 2023, @02:21AM (3 children)

    by requerdanos (5997) on Tuesday August 01 2023, @02:21AM (#1318549) Journal

    I noticed as I was posting this story that Veyrdite has submitted a write-up of the meeting also. Here is a link to that raw submission: 2023-06-31 PBC meeting recap [].

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by kolie on Tuesday August 01 2023, @03:08AM (1 child)

      by kolie (2622) on Tuesday August 01 2023, @03:08AM (#1318552) Journal

      This one seemed to capture more of the unofficial meeting - thank you

      • (Score: 4, Informative) by Veyrdite on Tuesday August 01 2023, @05:18AM

        by Veyrdite (6386) on Tuesday August 01 2023, @05:18AM (#1318566)

        I included a lot of the unofficial stuff because I think it heavily informs what happens next. I wrote it from the perspective of what I think random readers will want to know about what's happening and made sure to include some comments made during the meeting that are likely to be re-made again.

        Glad you liked it. For my first sub I managed not to break things too much. Just don't look too closely at the date. Also the last sentences about community voting are a bit cut up.

    • (Score: 2) by requerdanos on Thursday August 03 2023, @01:21PM

      by requerdanos (5997) on Thursday August 03 2023, @01:21PM (#1318938) Journal

      Audioguy has also written of the meeting in a journal entry [].

  • (Score: 3, Disagree) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Tuesday August 01 2023, @03:27AM (9 children)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Tuesday August 01 2023, @03:27AM (#1318555)

    I know it's not SN's fault, but since Facebook adopted their fake name, each time there's a Meta post on SN, I get into passive-aggressive reply mode - until I realize it's actual news from a friendly organization I actually care about. But it catches me a couple seconds each time.

    Could we use another tag? Something unique that no abusive big-tech for-profit can ever adopt. Not "X" obviously, that's already been stolen by Elon []. But how about "SNeta"?

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by captain normal on Tuesday August 01 2023, @05:46AM (2 children)

      by captain normal (2205) on Tuesday August 01 2023, @05:46AM (#1318570)

      After reading this I am more encouraged that S/N night just continue as we have come to know it. Due to my age (older than the average SNer) and handicapped hands, I can barely put in an occasional post or comment. I do try to be interesting and contribute from my knowledge. 45 years ago I was a project engineer building facilities for a major mainframe company. Later I was a freelance contractor installing T! and CAT5 networks for programmers and start ups. So even though I'm not a programmer or software developer, I do have some knowledge of development and requirements for facilities for such.
      My 2 cents says Lets let these guys roll. I think it will be just fine.
      If it doesn't work, we can always build a new site.

      Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts"- --Daniel Patrick Moynihan--
      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by janrinok on Tuesday August 01 2023, @09:54AM (1 child)

        by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 01 2023, @09:54AM (#1318586) Journal

        I agree that the future looks far more optimistic, and while many will claim the credit for that, most of it is due to community reaction. It has shown some who should have known better that this community will not accept having their site changed significantly without prior community discussion and approval.

        I am grateful for the support that the community has given and your comments particularly over the last few days. Thank you.

        But the hard work is still to be done, and nothing yet has been agreed. Those of us responsible for that need to get stuck in and do it, but it is made easier knowing that we have wide community support.

        I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
        • (Score: 5, Insightful) by acid andy on Tuesday August 01 2023, @11:40AM

          by acid andy (1683) on Tuesday August 01 2023, @11:40AM (#1318594) Homepage Journal

          It makes me happy to hear you say that (or rather read you write it) janrinok. Thanks so much for all the hours you've sunk into this great site. Please don't give up just yet.

          Consumerism is poison.
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by canopic jug on Tuesday August 01 2023, @11:37AM (3 children)

      by canopic jug (3949) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 01 2023, @11:37AM (#1318593) Journal

      This Meta tag is making me crazy

      Facebook is in the wrong. If trademark law were ever enforced in the US, Zuckerberg would lose because common dictionary words such as "meta" are ineligible for trademarks. Then again, "windows", "office", and too many others have been granted.

      Money is not free speech. Elections should not be auctions.
      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Tuesday August 01 2023, @01:56PM

        by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Tuesday August 01 2023, @01:56PM (#1318603)

        Agreed. They're all in the wrong Meta, Apple, Windows, Office... The problem in the US is, if the company is small enough, nobody pays attention. When it gets big, and/or the CEO is a billionnaire, then they have the right to privatize the commons - in this case, the dictionary. Even single letters become trademarkable now if you're right enough apparently.

        My point was, whether you agree or not - and I don't like it anymore than you do - now meta-news on SN looks like articles about fucking Facebook, and there's nothing you can do about it.

      • (Score: 1) by pTamok on Tuesday August 01 2023, @04:40PM

        by pTamok (3042) on Tuesday August 01 2023, @04:40PM (#1318623)

        I believe trademarks are context and jurisdiction dependent. Which is to say, Microsoft have trademarked "Windows" for Computer Operating Systems, but couldn't successfully sue, for example, a double-glazing manufacturer for using the word.

        It's why, for example, system managers of Digital Equipment Corporation minicomputers could get advertisement posters that displayed "Nothing sucks like a VAX" [] [] has a link to a TV advertisement for the device, but not that slogan.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Tork on Wednesday August 02 2023, @02:51AM

        by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday August 02 2023, @02:51AM (#1318679)
        Heh. That is not true. Those words ARE eligible to be trademarked. It's harder, is all, because of what all the players on the field are doing. I know I'm gonna get argued with about that so I'm just going to point out that the rule isn't that Trademarks can only be proper names or unique words. Trademarks are all about preventing confusion in the marketplace and nobody's confused about meta, alphabet, Apple, Windows, etc. This nuance is often missed and is at the root of many debates.

        Slashdot did a LOT of damage to the common understanding of how patents, trademarks, and copyrights work. The bad MS vs Lindows coverage as well as the samsung copycatting Apple circus gave people a lot of strange ideas that just refuse to die... like Apple having a patent on all things with rounded corners. 😣
        🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
    • (Score: 5, Funny) by DeathMonkey on Tuesday August 01 2023, @03:46PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Tuesday August 01 2023, @03:46PM (#1318616) Journal

      "Why should I change my name? He's the one who sucks." - Michael Bolton (Office Space)

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by mcgrew on Wednesday August 02 2023, @11:39PM

      by mcgrew (701) <> on Wednesday August 02 2023, @11:39PM (#1318863) Homepage Journal

      Beta? Oh, wait...

  • (Score: -1, Spam) by Oralstarchus on Tuesday August 01 2023, @06:35AM (1 child)

    by Oralstarchus (34004) on Tuesday August 01 2023, @06:35AM (#1318578) Journal

    I suggest we erase all the records. Yes, it is cruel, but seriously, who wants to meet meat?

    Reference: []

    Seriously. Terry. Bisson. Like the Wedolai. And janrinok.

    • (Score: -1, Spam) by arestarchus on Thursday August 03 2023, @12:12PM

      by arestarchus (34158) on Thursday August 03 2023, @12:12PM (#1318934) Journal

      Another victim of Jan Rinok's censorship, you are. Sad!

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by pTamok on Tuesday August 01 2023, @08:45AM (2 children)

    by pTamok (3042) on Tuesday August 01 2023, @08:45AM (#1318585)

    I'll reports what I said immediately after the IRC meeting on the comments attached to the notification:

    Well, I tried (to participate), but it was an unfamiliar IRC client (apologies for the nick changes)* , and I had a few ping timeouts.

    As for democracy in a place without city limits or clear concept of citizenship, I think that's tough.

    I'd probably try and rank voting strength by age of account and number of articles and number of upvotes on comments, so that people who have been around for a while and contribute positively (as ranked by the rest of the community) get more of a say. Staff members and editors should also get more of a say.

    Something like: number of votes = (Age of account in days started) x (1 + Number of articles accepted for publication) x (1 + (Total positive karma - Total negative karma)) x (1 + Number of days started as a Staff Member)x(Staff weighting factor)

    But at least it looks like civilised discussion was taking place, which is good. I hope it was sufficiently productive.

    Thanks for the meeting write up, to all those who participated, and especially those joining the committee.

    *I had really long latency, which meant that the client gave me errors - I could not log in with my usual nick, so accepted the default, then tried to change the nick when I logged in. That also gave me errors, and I thought it had not made the change, so, of course, I tried again and ended up being irritating, for which I apologise.

    • (Score: 2) by jman on Tuesday August 01 2023, @02:30PM (1 child)

      by jman (6085) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 01 2023, @02:30PM (#1318607) Homepage
      Concur. As an "outsider" - not volunteer, staff, shareholder, or board member - from my perspective the meeting did seem to be constructive.

      The bigger the society, the longer it takes to hash anything out. Fortunately the concerned group appears to be relatively small, and both "sides" do seem to be listening to each other. There is angst and impatience, but this has to be allowed to play out in a reasonable time frame.

      We can't all be at the wheel, so any democratic society has the issue of deciding who runs it. Not sure I like the idea of one entity having more than one vote (such as staff or heavier posters having a "bigger" vote than gen pop), but as a born and bred American am used to that IRL. One person, one vote.

      Assuming one person, one vote as it relates to who runs SN, the main technical problem seems to be determining how to prevent an individual human from possessing multiple identities (i.e., accounts). Contrary to a comment I made, don't really didn't think guvm'nt photo id would be a good solution for vetting, but some reliable method would have to be implemented.

      A corollary of one person, one vote is that, even here in America, where (most) all of us get to participate in the process, many choose not to bother, so it's a subset of the eligible "deciders" that end up sending candidate X off to represent them.

      Once the results are determined, two contracts - more in the moral sense, as it's assumed nothing illegal would transpire - are made: The elected are on their honor to do what they're supposed to (via existing bylaws / rules, etc.; the "letter" of the law) and also act in a manner consistent to which they publicly committed prior to the election (the "spirit"); the electors place faith that their representitives will actually follow the letter, and honor any promise made (so long as that promise does not conflict with the letter).

      Ultimately, if the elected do a "good" job, through future elections they're probably get to keep doing what they were sent to do until they don't want to anymore. If they don't do a "good" job, after the next election they most likely won't return in that same capacity.

      I like this news aggregator site and hope it continues. But, given the nature of evolution, if it doesn't work out, am confident something else will pop up to fill the void its demise has created, and I'll start fishing in another hole, as happened with /.

      I'd also consider volunteering in some manner, but not sure what my best role would be, i.e., how whatever it is I may be able to offer would do the best good for the community. That's why for a while it's just been a subscription; helping to keep the lights on is also a contribution.

      Looking forward to seeing how this turns out!
      • (Score: 2) by kazzie on Tuesday August 01 2023, @04:30PM

        by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 01 2023, @04:30PM (#1318621)

        Contrary to a comment I made, don't really didn't think guvm'nt photo id would be a good solution for vetting, but some reliable method would have to be implemented.

        A reply I thought of making at the time, but didn't do promptly enough, was that the vetters would need to recognise valid IDs from numerous governments around the world. Not to mention the question of what they'd be comparing the photo to.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by kazzie on Tuesday August 01 2023, @05:05PM

    by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 01 2023, @05:05PM (#1318626)

    One of the topics of discussion in the #meeting-discuss channel (and #meeting itself afterward) was the issue of how to accurately define who'd be entitled to vote for members of the new governance structure when election time comes round.

    I'm a long-standing member of another specialist web forum, which is ad-supported. On several occasions over the years, the ad revenue has exceeded costs so much that they accrued a significant surplus, which they chose to donate to a related charity of the community's choice. *

    The eligibility criteria they used was along the lines of "registered users with at least five posts as of this date". While we don't tend to keep a running total for user post counts, we have a number of similar criteria that could be used, including:

    Activated (email-confirmed) account
    Positive karma score
    Having posted a comment and/or participated in moderation during the preceeding year (to indicate they're an active user)

    What combinations of the above (or other criteria) do people think might be appropriate?

    (I'm taking the task of identifying individuals and sockpuppetry to be a separate issue for now.)

    *In terms of selecting candidates for donation, here's what the other forum did: open a thread for nominations from the membership, then moderators/staff vetted them for relevance/suitability, then a vote was held on the forum. Most popular got the largest donation, with a smaller amount for two runner-ups.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Wednesday August 02 2023, @12:05AM

    by VLM (445) on Wednesday August 02 2023, @12:05AM (#1318669)

    This reminds me of Ham radio club arguments.

    I'm not commenting on the politics or whatever, I'm just saying this whole thing sounds like a bad time on a 2M repeater or bad part of 80 meters late at night.

    I guess its the same type of people, just using a different commo media, so to be expected.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by separatrix on Wednesday August 02 2023, @12:35AM

    by separatrix (29779) on Wednesday August 02 2023, @12:35AM (#1318674) Journal

    As I promised more than one Soylentil, I've posted a real-world example of functioning bylaws for an organization owned by its membership. []

    No "stock" is involved whatsoever. The Membership owns the organization and its assets without ever having had to issue stock among itself. It controls ownership instead through its board of directors because the membership determines its leaders. It has a GM and a handful of paid managers, and a substantial number of unpaid managers, but otherwise it is, like SN, an organization of hundreds of people who contribute their time to conduct the organization's operations. Besides bringing in revenue from members, it also can and does apply for and accept grant money from fellow not-for-profits, and manages a substantial budget, all overseen by the volunteers through its board.

    SN might not want to pay anyone. It might not want a general manager. But somehow lines of reporting have to be better established, and conflicts of interest have to be reduced and eliminated. Meanwhile, this template works whether the org has paid staff or not.

    I hope this is of use to the committee, and I look forward to their conversations.

  • (Score: -1, Spam) by arestarchus on Thursday August 03 2023, @11:56AM

    by arestarchus (34158) on Thursday August 03 2023, @11:56AM (#1318928) Journal

    Here is a video of Runaway's wife []. Janrinok is jealous because his wife is dead.