Scaling Community Decision-making

by Benjamin Melançon | at MinneBar 14 | 1:55 – 2:40 in Nevada | View Schedule

Any libre software, volunteer, or even startup project will have elements of do-ocracy (rule of those who do the work) but not all decisions should devolve to implementors. Rather, a basic principle is that decisions should be made by the people who are most affected.

Particularly when a decision strongly affects more than those who carry it out, therefore, we need better ways of making decisions that give everyone their say. This starts by letting people by heard by everyone else. Fortunately, we can scale conversations and decisions in a fair and truly democratic way.

  • Learn why meritocracy ("rule of those with merit") is a completely bogus and harmful concept.
  • Gain a passing familiarity with various ways decisions are or have been made in Drupal.
  • Add sociocracy and sortition to your vocabulary and understand how these esoteric concepts can help our community scale.
  • See how Visions Unite is putting more democratic decision-making approaches into practice.

The most important things we have to do need to be done together. Giving more power to our communities can help avoid failure also. And our work together is most powerful when we make decisions about it together.


Benjamin Melançon

A co-founder of Agaric, a web development and strategy consultancy which helps people create and use powerful Internet technology, Benjamin lives and works to connect ideas, resources, and people.

Benjamin is a programmer and web application developer specializing in Drupal, an libre software content management system. As a worker-owner of the Agaric cooperative he has worked on web sites for higher education institutions (Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), renowned for-profit companies (Studio Daniel Libeskind and Zeit Online), innovative social enterprises (MASS Design Group, and not-for-profit health organizations (Partners In Health and the National Institute for Children's Health Quality. He attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst on a Commonwealth Scholarship and studied journalism, economics, political science, and information technology. He was awarded a grant in the inaugural round of the News Challenge of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for 2008.

A founding elected director of the Amazing Things Arts Center in Framingham, Massachusetts, Benjamin has supported numerous artistic, journalistic, and social ventures. In 2010-2011, he led 34 authors in writing of the 1,100 page Definitive Guide to Drupal 7. More recently, he has been helping build the Drutopia platform.