• Kees
  • Serf
  • Michael Kubler
  • Cliff
  • Quinn
  • Mark


This meeting was about the co-initiative method I (Kees) started in December 2020. With this method I hope to solidify grassroot decisions in the movement but also improve the general culture and tooling we use to communicate and collaborate. At the moment the movement is divided up into small islands on the Internet that do not interact. I think we could really benefit in having a common forum (Discourse) to facilitate this as an addition to real-time chat platforms like Discord. When we're not working as one, we're not as effective in terms of mobilizing change and inspire each other with our activities. This meeting was intended to be small with just a few key people of TZM in order to straighten out any concerns and questions before moving forward with the rest of the community.


Firstly, your nearly singular focus seems to be on the technical structure of Discourse vs Discord.

I do indeed have concerns in how Discord can be used and is used. It's used as a singular solution to facilitate communication and collaboration in TZM. Discord is great for some things, but falls short for non-realtime activities. Which is discussed in more details here.

It seems that you have an interest in just getting the highlights every now and then, but we've already got that via the #news-and-updates channel which has any messages above 3 responses (E.g thumbs up) sent to the news feed on the site. An e-mail service could be developed if an e-mail form is really wanted.

This is indeed great. But it still requires people to login to Discord and vote. And also for people to take the time to write these summaries, while it's probably already posted somewhere else. This is by design consuming more time and energy. What Discourse allows is more intelligent, customizable and automated features to facilitate something like this. After users have activated their Discourse account (can be done with their Discord account), they will be able to stay in touch with the community and the content creators are also not burdened with this task. More information here.

I do think Discourse can be useful. The Discord Community itself isn't doing that well at the moment. But that's because the moderators are overwhelmed and that highlights lots of questions about the EQ side of things instead of IQ side.

Discord is hard to keep track of by design. There is a lot going on and there is no readable central overview of activities. This is because all kinds of subjects are poured into a flat hierarchy. I spend a fair amount of time on Discord, but I cannot keep track of what's going on. Conversations also move out of sight often and scrolling up to read the whole context consumes a lot of time. If these conversations were named threads, organized into categories, it would be easier already for people to know where to post things and to get an overview. Also a good title of these threads would already give a fair understanding of the subject, so a bunch of messages may be skipped if there is no interest. Or simply based on the title the thread can be moved to the correct category without going through the whole conversation.

Moderation is indeed hard on Discord, I don't see how to improve that. Conversations cannot be moved because they are not coupled to anything. The only thing we can do is ask people to take their conversation somewhere else. But once someone replies to the old conversation, the conversation will continue in the wrong channel again. On Discourse a topic as a whole can be moved and with that the whole conversation. Even with less channels on Discord, the problem of mixed subjects in a single thread simply makes it hard to keep track of and apply moderation everywhere. Especially if you don't logon to the platform on a daily basis.

What code of conduct are you going to use? The new TZM one, base one off the existing Discord server? Do you have your own?

The forum will be a community effort. At least, that's how I want it to be. This will be by no means a "Kees forum". If we as a community already arrived at a code of conduct and experience has proven that it meets its goal. Then I have no intention in reinventing that.

How inclusive is the Discourse meant to be? Will you have the registrations open to everyone or will you filter people out before they join?

The forum is meant to be open for all, only the pilot is at the moment invite based since we're just experimenting at this point. Once we really go live, it will be possible to sandbox new users based on their trust level. Trust levels increase automatically based on their activities such as reading the code of conduct (not just agreeing), searching for old topics, reading topics, etc. More information here. This gradually opens up the forum to new users. This limits spam and slowly opens up the forum to users that don't understand the working methods on the forum yet. These trust levels can be fully customized, or disabled, if it proved unhelpful.

You'll get a higher signal to noise ratio if you get quality people in there, but you'll be also stopping new members from being able to learn and grow. I also get the feeling that most people, like Juuso, Cliff, myself, Woody and the like are burnt out a bit and don't have the energy to look after another platform. So that leads me to moderation. How do you expect to deal with people causing issues?

The more moderators there are, the better, indeed. Not only because it lowers the time needed to moderate, but also creates a more balanced approach to it. I'm not familiar with the Discord moderation features. Here is an overview of the Discourse moderation features. As I already mentioned, I'm convinced that Discourse provides an easier way to get an overview of activities compared to Disord. This benefits in terms of spending time on moderating.

There's people of various kinds. Some just pollute the stream with lots of noise. Others poison the information stream. Others try to attack any controls on it. But some of those people also contribute to the movement in various ways. So where will you focus? On kicking and banning people. On rehab or quarantining them. On just letting people do what they want. Or do you want higher collective sense making?

These are the ones that create an ethical crossroad. These have to be evaluated case by case and if it's really not related to TZM, we should take action. The forum is set up by and for TZM. Subjects that cannot be mixed because they create confusion about our actual goal: the understanding of the Zeitgeist train of thought, should take place in their own respected forums. I also apply this type moderation in our TZM NL Facebook Group. There are already groups/forums about these off-topic subjects, no need to create a hybrid TZM forum composed of these off-topic subjects. If we e.g. had a forum about tennis, we would also not mix that with golf subjects either. But when and how we apply moderation must be done as a moderator group decision. That's to create a more balanced outcome. Some people might be too soft, while others might be too harsh about it. TZM is an educational movement, so we should take the initiative to make it clear what TZM is about.

Is it really a requirement to have 3 chapters to decide on co-initiative proposals? Considering the amount of active chapters might not account for that.

The reason I mention chapters in my proposal is because a chapter is a unit of local people that can come together more easily. It also makes sure that at least one person (preferably more) per chapter are reviewing the proposal. If there are not enough chapters to support this requirement, then we will have to look for alternatives. Like e.g. reduce it to core activists within the movement rather than whole chapters. My hope is to inspire the rebuilding of active chapters by inspiring participation as well. But that may indeed be something that's not possible at this point. We will have to go with what works and comes with the least resistance.

What's the general plan to get started with this co-initiative?

In my co-initiative proposal I mention the courses to get everyone on board with the same set of methods. This could start off with something simple. People watch this lecture of Jacque Fresco in their own free time. When people watch this lecture, they write down the 5 most interesting quotes they hear. We then discuss these in a long session in a group of max 8 people.

So in short, it will start off as something we have in The Netherlands already, orientation meetings. Which serve as an educational and social method to get better versed in the TZM train of thought. This will then also include the NVC workshop among other educational material such as certain essays from TZM Defined. This will make sure we all get (more) familiar with the Zeitgeist train of thought and convey this information also more clearly to others. In the context of the co-initiative, this will help us to improve proposals people submit and agree on a method of communication based on NVC and the scientific method.

Once that cultural baseline is established, we may experiment with some proposals at that point. Which is something we have to evaluate once we arrive at that stage.

What is the general plan to get started with Discourse?

Until February 1st I will continue to experiment with Discourse on the server-level. This means experimenting with disaster recovery, improving security and general automation of the server. In February I will move the Discourse instance to the permanent server. I will then share the login information of the VPS web interface with Michael Kubler and Juuso. They will also get root access on that server. This is to share the "keys to the kingdom". I don't want to give people the impression that I own this community platform in any way. From February onwards the registration for the forum will also be open, not invite based anymore. We will keep the forum a low-profile platform for now and let it mature. If people stumble upon it, they may use it. But it won't be published on the main TZM website until we feel ready. This is just a ballpark estimation and depends on how well it plays out. But generally it will come down to this.

Could you create a post in the TZM Global Facebook Group about the survey? We'll then see how people react to that and then a few days later we may publish it to the TZM Global Facebook page.

I will do that, thanks!

Are there some concrete examples of where we could use the co-initiative for?

The co-initiative is meant to arrive at decisions as a global community, for decisions that also affect the global community. As an example I gave the procedure to decide on where the global ZDay would take place. We could use the co-initiative as a "public tender" procedure to increase transparency. I think global ZDays are interesting ways to put chapters in the spotlights (like Cliff also mentioned), but also acts as an inspiration to improve ZDays. With that I mean: the global ZDays have in general high expectations and are organized in a way to meet that higher than average expectation. So I think global ZDays are beneficial, they raise the bar and show we are a global movement. It also makes it easier for outsiders to know which ZDay is "more relevant" to watch/attend.

Chapters submit their ZDay proposal and define some core requirements such as the venue location and accessibility in terms of public transportation, available seats, costs, food and drinks possibilities, and what the available time slot is. This can then be compared with other proposals, where we then select the one with the best offer. This also filters out some chapters that are not able to formalize these basic core requirements. Which could save us from last minute deadline rushes due to delays in organization.

Other examples would be e.g. the formulation of a code of conduct, chapters guide, and other things that affect the movement as a whole. It's not meant to decide on small local matters. It's meant to facilitate the grassroots nature of TZM while also showing that a participatory democracy (scientific method and evidence/statistical information based) can be an alternative to simply vote on people or ideas. Albeit on a small scale, but it's a start.

With these examples and use cases in mind, the amount of co-initiative proposals are probably not a whole lot. Perhaps 1 to 3 a year. But this is something we'll find out once we actually start.

Is the co-initiative meant for project management?

No. It's to facilitate the decision making process within the movement. However, we may use project management tools to facilitate this process. Discourse is not meant as project management. It may be organized as such. But is not specialized for that purpose. If the co-initiative proposals are really just 1 to 3 a year, then Discourse would be okay.

For IT related planning and implementing changes for, Gitlab would e.g. be a more logical choice.

If you have a good idea, and if you feel like this co-initiative and Discourse is your thing in TZM, then just do it. Don't wait for approval or for other people to get onboard. People will be drawn to meaningful activities.

I totally agree. The reason I'm building this up so slowly is because I want to have the idea attacked and improved by different insights (group mind approach). At this point I think we're good to go to move forward with the earlier suggested ballpark timetable.

The movement is more in need of new content creation rather than another platform to discuss things. Peter has been the soul content creator of the movement. Most people copy his content, but don't create original content. More original content is of great need. The movement is depending too much on Peter for this.

I totally agree. In about one month I'll start with my Zeit-Talks YouTube content, I also improved our website a lot to attract more people and make the content easier to find. But I think it's a 2 way approach. Create content, but also capitalize on the momentum the attention it draws. As an example, getting this co-initiative approach out there on all the Facebook Groups, subreddits, Discord and whatnot, is a huge undertaking. If we could agree on having Discord for real-time interactive communication and Discourse for long-lasting topics and attention. Then it would make life easier and we could more easily inspire each other. Creating content is one thing, but where do you reach the community? If we keep all these island communities, then we are creating a split-brain rather then a group mind.

It would be great to have a communication guide for the TZM community, don't you think?

This could indeed be very helpful. The Discourse blogpost could perhaps inspire it. And of course we need to include the existing processes already in place for Discord. But this may be done once we know what Discourse is good at. Let's review this idea later.

Is it possible to connect Discord and Discourse?

I have to check this out in more detail. There might be a plugin to publish updates between the two platforms. It would merge the two platforms greadly if this would be possible.

Try to see the benefits more in what we already have (Discord/Reddit) and see how that could work rather than reinventing it.

I'm all for simple solutions. Reddit is also a possibility. But we would be competing for attention with the meme subreddits and alike. When we have our own platform, we have all the attention and we're not dependent on some social-media algorithm that decides what to show to the users and what not. Also, the topic/thread structure of Discourse provides a better overview. Reddit is limited to post flairs and the search functionality, which only takes us there to a certain degree. In the end I'm fine with any platform that solves the problem I defined in my proposal. At the moment I see a Discord/Discourse combination as the most satisfying solution.

There are already some communities that have come up with distributed decision making processes. Nabu and Harvest Finance for example. They use a combination of (blockchain) tokens, Github and Reddit.

This looks very interesting! I will need to check this out in more detail. And I would appreciate some more information in the follow up meeting since I'm not sure if I'll find the time to check all these details.

I was thinking about the pre/trans fallacy and how it fits into each one of these pain points, and it got me thinking about a format we can interpret and evaluate people on for specific projects. That is too invasive and excessive as the level of the discord or any other primary group, but in a sense we do this subjectively when we figure out we end up working with more or invite to be mods or more generally just respect as part of the community. Stage 1 is basically the core thing everyone who shows up in these spaces has in common. It could mean they are true believers or they're at Stage 2, but basically recognizing that reality isn't working correctly at a basic level is where everyone starts and sees affinity in TZM Stage 2 people might still succumb to the Pre/Trans fallacy, but in general they are competent, reliable, and trustworthy to at least maintain critical thinking, can discern useful priorities, and maintain an open stance (the idea that if I'm wrong it's not a personal issue and they update on the fly, or can agree to disagree respectfully while maintaining a basis of standards that make future collaboration still possible even if there's an unfalsifiable disagreement (based on the need for future experimentation) currently) Stage 3 are those that move beyond just rhetoric and begin networking on the basis of seeking to create or facilitate

This is an interesting way of looking at it. In summary, as you also stated, these stages may indeed be facilitated by Discord and Discourse. Discord mostly for the 1st stage. Discord/Discourse for stage 2. The 3rd phase may be a dedicated project management tool of sorts.

When is the next meeting?

Let's discuss this further in the next general assembly meeting. I prefer the (last) Saturday for that, the Wednesday meeting is harder to schedule for me.

Follow up activities

  • Prepare the live Discourse server for general availability in February + provide admin/root access for other people.
  • Check plugins to enable cross-posting between Discord and Discourse.
  • Create a communication guide to define the flow of information and how Discord and Discourse fulfill their roles (may be done once we're more familiar with Discourse).
  • Checkout the already existing methods to enable distributed decision making (discuss further in general assembly meetings).
  • Write a post about the survey and co-initiative in the Global TZM Facebook Group.
  • After a few days the post in the Facebook Group will be shared on the Global TZM Facebook Page.

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