Author Topic: Topic 5: Real Member-Management  (Read 8255 times)

Offline pj

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Topic 5: Real Member-Management
« on: September 22, 2011, 10:27:16 AM »
5)  How could we (if we even want to) move from our current form of management to something closer to the ideal of being a member-managed as well as member-owned community?

Topics 2 and 3 concisely delineate what is absolutely required to keep Mortal Mist on the web.  Topic 4 is a look at how the concept of leadership is, (or, more accurately, isn't,) approached.  An understanding of all that is necessary in order to convey what is really on my mind.

There is an opportunity here for any and all who wish to take advantage of it.  We have, together, established an online community that has survived several trials.  Having an online entity involving the public survive at all is quite rare.  Add to that the precept of member-ownership and our focus on Lucid Dreaming and you have something utterly unique.  Being this unique and having so much potential, it seems a shame to just be idling along.

Yes, we have a wonderful and diverse core community here.  (You know who you are, because you are the ones reading this!)  And yes, the needs and desires of the core community are being met - otherwise you wouldn't be hanging around.  But if we are here just to serve our own needs and meet our own expectations, we should say so outright and quit pretending to be trying to serve some higher purpose.

What is the real potential here?  What could a "higher purpose" include?

- We have the potential to become a hotbed of experimentation and exploration of most aspects of lucid dreaming and surrounding phenomena - all able to be conducted with full knowledge that the results will not be co-opted or exploited by us.  We are, after all, not for profit and utterly devoid of commercial interests.  We also have some of the most prolific and experienced lucid dreamers in the world among us.

- We have the potential to be a truly significant and unique online resource for LDS.  Some of the greatest minds with the deepest knowledge of the subject are either active here or at least drop in from time to time.  What we already have to offer is wide and deep, lacking only organization and presentation.

- We have the potential to be a truly excellent place to learn lucid dreaming.  Among our core here are proven teachers and communicators.  We lack organization and the ability to hold on to those new to lucid dreaming long enough to teach them anything.  (Yes, there are a few exceptions.)

- We have the potential to present "master classes" - short presentations and classes by those with vast experience and unique approaches to lucid dreaming.  Again, we have some of the most prolific and experienced lucid dreamers in the world here.

There are surely more; these are the ones most apparent to me.  Not doing any of these things is fine too, if that is what the member-owners really want.  If it IS what you want, let's get it said once and for all and be done with this.  I'll put it out of my mind and won't bother anybody with it again.


The Management "Problem"

It has been established and explained that while we are member-owned, the management really is a benevolent dictatorship.  This is, for me, an uncomfortable paradox when considering the founding ideal of being a fully member-owned community.  My discomfort does not result from a desire to stop doing what I do here, but from recognizing that the management style is inconsistent with what we set out to be.  It is also my position that this management style is in no small part responsible for the mediocre ability to serve our stated purpose, which is to explore and promote lucid dreaming.  The management works when it comes to the essentials of staying online and functional, but does not fulfill the role of leadership.  The proven results of this arrangement are there for all to see; when measured against our stated purpose and mission, we are a failure.

I would like to put an end to the benevolent dictatorship.  While I am willing to continue in my role here so long as I am able, I would much rather be doing so at the expressed desire of a community which knows full well that I can be dismissed at will should the need ever arise.  This is what I see as required to achieve complete member-ownership.  There is, after all, nothing other than my word and present state of mind preventing me from selling all this off, shutting it down, starting to run ads - or worse.  That reality may not be the subject of discussion or expectation, but it undermines every potential we have.  (This is where an understanding of all that was laid out in the previous topics is essential.  It needs to be understood that we can and would survive if I were removed from management.  Without that understanding, there is no real choice for the community other than to live or die when it comes to firing me, which isn't much of a choice.)


So. . what would it take to be genuinely Member-managed?

I can envision something simple and functional. . . which it would have to be for a community with our low level of activity and attention.  Our existing "government" is the Guild system, which may be elegant and philosophically pleasing, but it is clearly not accomplishing anything for us and completely lacks any sort of decision making functionality.  The missing element here is the ability to ascertain the will of the member-owners.  While democracy does have its limitations, it is a functional method of determining not only the will of the majority, but of showing how dominating the popular desire is.  We have to start somewhere - if we are going to start at all.

Using a voting arrangement, we can discuss and then decide exactly what our management and leadership structure should look like, the division of power and responsibilities, and any other matter that requires an executive decision - including, perhaps, the appointment of an executive.  We may not want a leader or group of leaders - but let's expressly say so if that is the case.  We may want to keep the existing management structure, but again we need to expressly say so.  In that way, it will truly be the will of the member-owners and it will in the same manner be revokable.

This isn't the only option, but it is the quickest and easiest one I can come up with that would address the issues at hand.  The flow would be something like this:

A proposal is presented and discussed.  If it reaches a point where some pre-determined number of member-owners second it, then it is put to a vote.  The results of the vote carry the full authority of the member-owners.  This methodology doesn't need to devolve into a system of rules, which I would argue against. . . but if it was the will of the member-owners to go to a system of rules, that wouldn't be the decision of any one individual who stands opposed to them.  We would vote on it.


Conclusion

Here are our options, as I see them:

1.  Do nothing.  Carry on as we are.
If this is the outcome of these discussions, I will still rest easy knowing that all pretenses are set aside and all cards are on the table.  I'm not going anywhere and I'm not threatening anything.  This is not a crisis - it is an opportunity.  Doing nothing at this point doesn't prevent us from doing something in the future either - it just won't be me who brings it up again.

2.  Implement a democratic methodology for determining the will of the member-owners, and begin operating as a truly member-owned AND member-managed community.

3.  Do something else that may be presented in the course of these discussions.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2011, 01:34:37 PM by pj »
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Offline pj

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Re: Topic 5: Real Member-Management
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2011, 10:39:27 AM »
Aside from all above, I want to thank those of you who invested the time and attention to get through all the topics.  Even if nothing whatsoever comes of this effort, just having laid all this out assuages my discomfort with the inconsistency I perceive and am really at the core of.  That is important to me, and your role in dealing with it even if only by reading has made it possible.

So again - thank you.

pj. . .
What truly matters is not built of right and wrong; but of grace, and of love.

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Offline StarSeeker

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Re: Topic 5: Real Member-Management
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2011, 05:09:26 PM »
We do have some shortages on organisation. I wouldn't call it a lack of leadership, but a lack of organisation.

Our existing Government, which is, as you say it, the Guild system (maybe even the dead Strategists' guild), does nothing. Could we have a voting method, and election to management, so to say?
One questions arises for me: do we have enough active people? The way I see, if we were to elect one person per Guild (imagining we use the Guild system as base), how many people would be left unelected?
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Offline pj

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Re: Topic 5: Real Member-Management
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2011, 05:43:33 PM »
I wouldn't suggest electing people to guild positions, but it is certainly an idea to consider.  There are too many guilds, too few truly active members, and even fewer willing and able to make a commitment.

Personally, I think the Guilds would be a great arrangement for a larger and more active community - perhaps something for us to revisit in the future.  For now, however, they really seem to dilute and spread out what little activity there is, making it seem even thinner.

But no matter which direction we go, I am suggesting some kind of voting system to give the member-owners a real voice in what goes on here.  An analogy that occurred to me after writing this topic is this:

Our current state of member-ownership is akin to making a deposit in a bank.  What I am trying to encourage is for the depositors to also have a seat on the Board Of Directors.
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Offline StarSeeker

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Re: Topic 5: Real Member-Management
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2011, 06:00:02 PM »
I wouldn't suggest electing people to guild positions, but it is certainly an idea to consider.  There are too many guilds, too few truly active members, and even fewer willing and able to make a commitment.
When you talked about voting an government, I assumed you meant some system of government, like electing the guild leaders and they would work as government, each one in its own area, or electing a single person.

Quote
Personally, I think the Guilds would be a great arrangement for a larger and more active community - perhaps something for us to revisit in the future.  For now, however, they really seem to dilute and spread out what little activity there is, making it seem even thinner.
We can cut their number or scrap them all entirely. If we want to just cut the numbers, it is very simple, Research and Teacher's Guild fused together, Ambassador and Strategy guild merged as well (which is the evolution of one suggestion I proposed earlier). Maybe even Creator's and Technical guild.

Quote
But no matter which direction we go, I am suggesting some kind of voting system to give the member-owners a real voice in what goes on here.  An analogy that occurred to me after writing this topic is this:
Like people proposing and people approving? We need some accurate stats of active members.
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Offline pj

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Re: Topic 5: Real Member-Management
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2011, 06:10:29 PM »
When you talked about voting an government, I assumed you meant some system of government, like electing the guild leaders and they would work as government, each one in its own area, or electing a single person.

Yes - some system of government.  I proposed one very simple way to start it - how it would grow from there would depend on the will of the membership.  The government structure itself would become a matter of discussion and decision, I would think.

Quote
We can cut their number or scrap them all entirely. If we want to just cut the numbers, it is very simple, Research and Teacher's Guild fused together, Ambassador and Strategy guild merged as well (which is the evolution of one suggestion I proposed earlier). Maybe even Creator's and Technical guild.

Certainly possible.  With our present arrangement, though, consider how this or any other suggestion might be implemented.  Any of us with the access to create, delete and merge boards could just decide to do it.  Or we could let it get discussed some and then maybe one of us might do it.

What I want to see change is how the voice of the members makes things happen.  Once that voice becomes real, the change, I think, will follow naturally - or, perhaps not at all. . . but then it will be the voice of the members speaking, not the attention (or lack thereof) of somebody with managerial authority.

Quote
Like people proposing and people approving? We need some accurate stats of active members.

The stats are certainly available.  But what difference would that make?  Those who have an interest will be involved and vote.  Those who don't, won't. 

Once a couple decisions are made, I suspect more members will gain an interest in having a voice in what goes on.
What truly matters is not built of right and wrong; but of grace, and of love.

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Offline iadr

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Re: Topic 5: Real Member-Management
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2011, 06:19:03 PM »
Here are our options, as I see them:

1.  Do nothing.  Carry on as we are.
If this is the outcome of these discussions, I will still rest easy knowing that all pretenses are set aside and all cards are on the table.  I'm not going anywhere and I'm not threatening anything.  This is not a crisis - it is an opportunity.  Doing nothing at this point doesn't prevent us from doing something in the future either - it just won't be me who brings it up again.

2.  Implement a democratic methodology for determining the will of the member-owners, and begin operating as a truly member-owned AND member-managed community.

3.  Do something else that may be presented in the course of these discussions.
Iadr appreciates the fact that this site is member owned in the respect that the posts made by each member belong the them and can be changed or modified at any time, as opposed to sites that do not allow changes to made to posts after they are posted.

As for the other points, it is clear that this site would not exist if it were not for the inspiration, hard work and efforts of both pj and mu, and would no longer continue to exist if pj were ever to decide not to run it.

For these reasons, iadr feels that pj and mu should be compensated for the work that they do in running this site, in order to make it worth their while to continue running it.

Iadr would have no problem with ads being placed on the site advertising products like supplements, sleep aids, etc, or any other product, as long as the ads were voluntary and could be clicked on if a person was interested in them instead of being forced to watch them like some sites do. As it costs money to run a website, maybe the ads could help with some of these expenses, and provide some compensation for those involved in running the site.

As for managment, maybe something could be set up similar to other sites that have dream guides, etc, although these should be voluntary positions with no pay, as any money made from the site should go to pay for legal expenses, and the costs of running the website, in addition to compensating those in charge of running the site and doing the programming.

Iadr has no problem with pj being the site dictator, because as he mentioned earlier, this site would not even be here if it were not for pj. Someone has to be in charge, so it may as well be the person who is responsible for bringing this site into existence. He'd just like to see pj and mu compensated for the work they do for this site.
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Offline StarSeeker

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Re: Topic 5: Real Member-Management
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2011, 06:23:38 PM »
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Offline StarSeeker

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Re: Topic 5: Real Member-Management
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2011, 06:34:44 PM »
Iadr would have no problem with ads being placed on the site advertising products like supplements, sleep aids, etc, or any other product, as long as the ads were voluntary and could be clicked on if a person was interested in them instead of being forced to watch them like some sites do. As it costs money to run a website, maybe the ads could help with some of these expenses, and provide some compensation for those involved in running the site.
As far as I am concerned, we could have a separate page of the site where people would be able to access links to dream-related equipment. You know, if members are seeking for something in particular, we could act as a facilitator and they would help the maintenance costs (I don't know if pj and mu want to be rewarded, but a small revenue is never bad and in the future we could run our own ads or projects like conferences). But nothing that could get you (us) into legal trouble.
In fact, I hardly doubt this could even be classified as advertising.
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Offline The Littlest Leaf Dragon

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Re: Topic 5: Real Member-Management
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2011, 06:45:35 PM »
As far as I am concerned, we could have a separate page of the site where people would be able to access links to dream-related equipment. You know, if members are seeking for something in particular, we could act as a facilitator and they would help the maintenance costs (I don't know if pj and mu want to be rewarded, but a small revenue is never bad and in the future we could run our own ads or projects like conferences). But nothing that could get you (us) into legal trouble.
In fact, I hardly doubt this could even be classified as advertising.

I believe that would be classified as affiliate marketing.  I'm not sure how some of the other members would take it, though.  I'm pretty sure any sort of potential profit would greatly upset some members due to us historically standing against any sort of money-making (well, it wouldn't technically be profit if it went entirely towards maintenance, but nevertheless).

The only thing in the way of ads I would ever want to see here is ads for community related things, such as perhaps a banner advertising the Monthly Meeting Place or something along those lines.  I would rather pay any costs out of pocket than run off-site ads.

Offline pj

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Re: Topic 5: Real Member-Management
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2011, 06:46:56 PM »
pj is more than adequately rewarded for his work here.

I really appreciate that thoughts and comments in that direction, but I would not accept compensation for anything here.  It would change my relationship with Mortal Mist in a way that would probably ruin it for me.

I can't begin to express the satisfaction I feel every morning when I log in here and we're still going.  While there are aspects of our history that sadden me, most of what I do is a joy and a privilege.  Being trusted by the likes of those who make up the core of this place is something that money can't buy.

Many of you here know me better than just about anybody in my life other than my wife and a handful of very long-time friends.  There are people among you I know would come to my aid if it was ever needed - and I would do the same for them.

I am richly rewarded already.  Even if a governing structure was established and a decision made to compensate me, It would be refused.
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Offline Sunshine

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Re: Topic 5: Real Member-Management
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2011, 07:13:30 PM »
(content removed by user request)
« Last Edit: February 10, 2014, 07:04:01 PM by pj »

Offline pj

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Re: Topic 5: Real Member-Management
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2011, 07:21:00 PM »
Voting people to do things isn't the point - it is creating a real voice and granting real control to the member-owners of Mortal Mist.  What they would do with that voice remains to be seen.  Maybe nothing.  Maybe amazing things.

And maybe they don't want a voice.  Having finally put into words those things that bother me about this arrangement, even that would now be OK with me.
What truly matters is not built of right and wrong; but of grace, and of love.

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Offline AspirationRealized

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Re: Topic 5: Real Member-Management
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2011, 11:32:14 PM »
You could throw money at Pete and he'd just hand it back to you. This is one very important part of why MM exists in the first place - someone like him made it.

But I know he doesn't like to be doted on too much, hehe...

Anyway what I've gathered from all these threads took me a while and a few PM discussions. At first, I thought what many of you are assuming, that this is a call to change. Thats not what this is though. Its more like "facilitating change" (although there is the paradox to not changing, but changing to facilitate change). My new interpretation is, Pete isn't trying to change things, so much as provide an avenue for change that either wasn't there before, or wasn't stated plainly enough.

He doesn't mind running the site and obviously seems to enjoy it. He just wants our EXPLICIT blessing.

Sorry for putting words in your mouth :bigsmile:
« Last Edit: September 23, 2011, 12:44:07 AM by AspirationRealized »
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Offline mu

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Re: Topic 5: Real Member-Management
« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2011, 12:13:14 AM »
You could throw money at Pete and he'd just hand it back to you. This is one very important part of why MM exists in the first place - someone like him made it.
AspiR, that may be true of pj, but it's certainly not true of Jimmy..  He's waiting man. :derby:

Alright, kidding aside.

iadr, I think it's awesome of iadr to feel the way he does about it, but I wouldn't accept any money either.  iadr loves animals and has a heart of gold; his being around is enough payment for me.

I think AspiR's onto something..