Introducing the realNEO/coop technology committee - open to all members of realNEO/coop

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 05/10/2010 - 01:49.

Dear realNEO Members and so Real Coop owners,

realNEO was founded October 7, 2004, making this our 6th year providing a free, open source content management system and social computing platform to the citizens of Northeast Ohio and the world... for the past few years as a cooperative. In this 6th year, we have reached a stage of ad hoc organizational maturity whereby we have a large, real, engaged community of members who have been active with realNEO for years, who share foundational commitments to openness, truth and freedom, and who are working in concert for the sustainability of our communities... both our virtual realNEO/coop community and our real NEO neighborhoods, around the world.

With maturation comes the opportunity to evolve, with the knowledge we have gained in our lives, now including over 5 years of realNEO. We are wiser and better each day, for the experience, making us now able to grow a wiser and better realNEO and real coop. To accomplish this - build a better internet community - we must organize for internal change. Members must come together to decide how we shall govern ourselves in the future, and how we shall develop our technology platform.

Last Friday, May 7, a large number of ad hoc realNEO members and friends shared a few hours of email brainstorming on organizational issues and determined we needed to take the discussion live, to realNEO, and we needed to make our planning as open as possible, while pursuing actionable outcomes. I proposed we form two committees - one for technology planning and one for governance planning - and the emails leading to that recommendation are included below.

I offered to form the realNEO/coop technology committee and make that open to all members of realNEO/coop today. Comment below or email me at norm [at] realneo [dot] us if you are interested to help with technology planning for the realNEO virtual community and the coop.

Issues the IT committee will address include site hosting, content management system, configuration, user authentication, taxonomy, themes, modules, versions, search engine optimization, statistics and performance management. That said, you do not at all need a technical background to serve on this committee, and I think most realNEO members will find our discussions fascinating.

It appears a Governance Committee is forming ad hoc on realNEO, with the posting and comments at "Real Coop Members" - several people volunteered to join that committee below - those discussions should be formalized.

Future planning discussions should happen here on realNEO, until we chose another technology for such brainstorming. For now, here are the highlights of how we brainstormed through some growing pains last Friday to get to where we are today.

We've had a productive discussion and I suggest we stop this thread
with a job well done and thanks.

I will send a thread to all of you later this weekend suggesting
anyone who is interested may join a real coop technology discussion
thread and I will put that invitation on realneo. I will welcome each
of you to opt in, even if just to see what develops.

If one or some of you would start something similar for planning
governance, and send a message about that to this whole list, and post
it to realNEO, anyone on this thread or realNEO will have the
opportunity to opt in.

I'm not trying to close down this conversation, but would like to set
in motion these two tracks - I also suggest we lock in to a meeting
time and date about 2 weeks out, so people may plan their schedules.

Norm
 

>
>
> On Fri, May 7, 2010 at 11:57 AM, Norm Roulet <norm [at] realneo [dot] us" rel="nofollow">norm [at] realneo [dot] us> wrote:
>
> Great feedback as always Angel. I'll add some other thoughts and suggested next steps:
>
> I believe we should pull a complete member list with email addresses from the realNEO membership directory and contact all the members who have not been identified and blocked as spam and offer them the opportunity to participate in any member discussions and votes, or opt out of such discussions.
>
> I want my daughter Grace included, and Eternity, and anyone else real who cares about real NEO. Time to learn who that is among the real members of realneo.
>
> Jeff S. should be able to pull this list and there are no terms saying this should not be done or that members should not have access to this information, that I know of.
>
> We used to keep all members in a Mailman email server and update them frequently, so this is a
>  practice that was established and was eliminated along the way, without real cause.
>
> Any feedback - no cost or real effort to doing this - if Jeff S doesn't have time I can assemble the list...
>
> Jeff S, do we have anything like that set up? Mailman was what we used in the past.
>
>
>
> On Fri, May 7, 2010 at 11:50 AM, <> wrote:
>
>
> 1) Recommend not less than 19 board members.
> 2) Recommend CALENDAR and EVENT option to be added which allows poster to add events that are listed such as "FIRST Tuesday of the month or third Wednesday of the month or every Thursday or everyother month on the 2nd saturday...thus creating a way for uncountable community events to be added "1" time vs every single time....our world is running too fast-no one has time to keep updating significant calendars on here....if you update the events calendar to be able to post recurring events-then you are making a tracking system for hundreds of daily, weekly, monthly, and even ANNUAL events to be tracked and posted, particularly block club meetings/community forums.... Then, when these agencies are "offbeat" their followers can be on their hind ends!
> 3) I agree with Deb Web about keeping things simple. When we had this problem with Tim Russo before-we all collectively reacted... the more complicated the rules get, the less people will desire being here. As a member of an organization for over 22 years of my life...I have watched the affects of transitional leadership while actively engaged non leadership members sustained things.....I believe that the actively engaged members of realneo are smart enough to sustain their transparency online and in these open forums..everytime there's a meeting about an issue---the folks react collectively.
> 4) Without having enough time to even think about catching up on these issues...I am out of time on the computer for now....will work to respond in another day or so if possible. Keep me posted.
> Must send before logs me off. Gotta run.
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Norm Roulet
> Sent: Fri, May 7, 2010 11:28 am
> Subject: Re: RealNEO Control Issues E-Conversation (please read from bottom up)
>
>
> I believe this is all good but we need to open the vote to all members on realNEO - I can think of dozens of others who should at least be offered the opportunity to become involved at this early stage - John Eckerle and Angel come to immediate mind and are included here... Angel just posted a related comment to realNEO and is obviously wondering what is going on behind the scenes... time to be public
>
> There are dozens of important contributors besides ourselves, all over the world, and they need to have these communications too.
>
> I'll be glad to post all this or someone else may but it needs to go online before anyone votes on anything...
>
>
> On Fri, May 7, 2010 at 10:54 AM, Bill MacDermott
>
>
> Dear Friends,
>
> I am new to this thread. I think that all of this has merit. To me, I see that there are a number of issues that need to be addressed, and hopefully resolved.
>
> In many groups there is a board that manages how  when and where these sort of issues are (hopefully) discussed and resolved.
>
> I believe that Norm is wanting to put together such a board.
>
> I am promoting that this assortment of RealNEO friends & fans address this topic first.
>
> Therefore, I am promoting that this  "constitutional congress" as it were, all get one vote each, and that we all vote on this issue by using this ballot:
>
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> I ___________________________ as a caring friend/fan of the RealNeo community hereby vote that we officially forn a committee, with the standard assortment of officers - President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Officer #5 ( duties to be named later - to make an odd number on the board) and other committee members to be determined later as needed.
>
> _______________ Yes - To Form A Real Neo Board
>
> _______________ No - We don't need a Board - I think we are doing well as things are
>
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> If anyone is willing to vote in this fashion, please do so. I am attaching a Word document with our 28 current members  to this note.
>
> I will offer to act as the temporary secretary-type person on this vote, and will report back to all the results of the voting as time progresses.
>
> If indeed we agree to form an official board, then we can go about the process of asking for people to volunteer/nominate others to run for the various offices and/or suggest committee chairs.
>
> This  is all my 2 cents....   ...act on it as you see fit.
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> I promote that voting can be done as follows:
>
> cut & paste the "ballot" (above) into a new e-mail, and e-mail it directly to me at billmacd99 [at] yahoo [dot] com" rel="nofollow">billmacd99 [at] yahoo [dot] com.
>
> I will collect, archive, and tally them. I will report back to all 28 of us members the results, and I will make a tally sheet up from our "Continental Congress" list to tally the votes on.
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> 'later,
>
> Bill MacD
>
> --- On Fri, 5/7/10, <> wrote:
>
> Date: Friday, May 7, 2010, 7:07 AM
>
> Could we slow down a little so that 1) we can read all of this 2) define the issues 3) decide if we want to undertake any or all of this individually?  Slow down for a few hours or a couple of days? This is a lot to take in.
>
>
> Part of me thinks that realneo is fine the way that it is as a platform of free thought and changing this changes that uniqueness. It is important that varying perspectives have this platform. We do need to moderate out of the site those that disrupt, those whom repeatedly attack other members shutting down dialogue, and those that repeatedly repost materials from other sites and are basically non-contributory? I also believe that there should be basic terms of agreement that all members e-sign. Moderators need to be held to a policy that is set by a board, editorial-type committee, etc.
>
>
> I can not digest the technical issues at this moment but I can say that we do not need another facebook-type site which comes to mind with the filtering aspect.
>
>
> I do not think that realneo needs to go down to be "reborn" (so to speak). realneo is just too way out there, and needs some management that keeps us unique, but also leashes in some of the behaviors that are destructive.
> D
>
> --- On Fri, 5/7/10, Norm Roulet <norm [at] realneo [dot] us" rel="nofollow">norm [at] realneo [dot] us> wrote:
>
>
> From: Norm Roulet <norm [at] realneo [dot] us" rel="nofollow">norm [at] realneo [dot] us>
> Subject: Re: RealNEO Control Issues E-Conversation (please read from bottom up)
> Date: Friday, May 7, 2010, 9:25 AM
>
>
> Thank you Karen the educator for drilling down through this mess and to Bill the engineer for creating a cleaner working draft. I've added a few more people to the thread, at this stage, as they have been in offline discussions about this as well, and they are well positioned to help with technical issues - Jon, Ramzi, Darryl and Russell...
>
> I add to the discussion:
>
> Hi Karen -
>
> Thanks for jumping in (we can always count on your directness) and providing a good recap. You cover the important bases well.
>
> I agree the issues are largely technical, and related to governance.
>
> The next steps involve moving from discussing governance as this closed private group and having governance meetings as a formal board. I hope many or all of you will remain involved in that process.
>
> I believe a committee should work out any preliminary paperwork issues, like tracking down current corporate documents, and we should schedule a
>  board/member meeting to discuss and vote on any issues we may isolate to that level.
>
> If nobody else wants to take the lead on organizing this material and meeting, I will. I suggest we set a time and place for a meeting as soon as possible - perhaps for next week - so members may place that on their schedules.
>
> We will need to have a proper meeting, with proper rules, as some members may attempt to be physically disruptive, as they have been virtually disruptive.
>
> Unless their are broad scheduling conflicts, I'll throw out the date of next Thursday at 6 PM for such a meeting - perhaps at a library if that may be arranged (are they open past 6 these days)?
>
> Norm
>
>
> On Fri, May 7, 2010 at 8:58 AM, <> wrote:
>
> Dear RealNEO Friends,
>
> Thanks for including me in this  good and important conversation. I will comment some later, but I quickly cleaned up the common text that had become too cumbersome. I also put it in a word document that I am attaching here. I am also re-posting it below , somewhat cleaner...
>
> Bill
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> Re: Control issues
> Friday, May 7, 2010 1:40 AM
> "Karen"
> Norm and the RealNEO crew,
>
> I'm not sure if I'm following this well enough, but it appears that RealNEO the web / blog site is under attack.  It has been invaded by a bunch of disruptive types.  Is that the problem?  I haven't been on the site in a real long time simply because I've just been to busy.  So I'm not sure what has caused the problem(s).
>
> Reading through the list of various e-mails below, as best as I can follow or make sense of it, it appears that in order to resolve the site/blogs problem, what ever that is, you are needing to first figure out what is the actual governance structure of RealNEO.  Is that correct?
>
> It seems also, that one of the issues of RealNeo is determining what levels of input or "authority" (I couldn't think of a more appropriate word) general members
>  have.  Even what constitutes membership.  Is that correct?
>
> I guess the last thing, if I'm making sense of all of these e-mails in a host of different formats (makes it physically hard to read and follow) is once all of that is determined, then you can put to a vote to the legitimate membership the actions you are proposing to protect RealNEO.  Is that correct?
>
> Following this discourse has been a challenge, ...
>
> But it sounds like RealNEO has to figure out how to do its good work - most definitely RealNEO needs to continue - while getting rid of, locking out a collection of hate mongers that have infested the site / blog.  And how to put some protocols as safeguards to know who your dealing with and screen out the nut cases.  If this is what the problem is, sounds like its more a technical one.  Depending how tech savvy the invaders are, seems some screens, "firewalls" (I'm no computer / web site geek)
>  can be put into place to block certain computer signatures, sign-ins, what have you.  But know that if these clowns are real tech savvy, they are probably already employing means of covering their tracks.  RealNEO may have to go down for awhile and then come back as something else and those tried and true members will be the only ones advised of the change.  And even that has some loop holes.
>
> Hope I'm getting this right.
>
> Karen
>
>
>
> From: Norm Roulet
> Subject: Re: Control issues
>
> Dear acting realNEO board members here + Bill, Henry, Connie, John, Karen, Gary, Dan, Councilman Cummins, Secretary of State Brunner and Commissioner Jones,
>
> We are in the process of resolving realNEO growing pains and an ad hoc group of members is sorting through next steps - as you have each been active members or shown interest in the future of realNEO I wanted to personally add you to this discussion and invite your input.... I'm sure I'm forgetting to add others... this list will become comprehensive...
>
> This discussion will be moved to the broader membership as soon as we determine the best way how. In the mean time, you are in the
>  loop, and your feedback is welcome.
>
> You'll catch up if you read this string - this raises important new economy issues for us all.
>
> Norm
>
>
>
> On Fri, May 7, 2010 at 1:11 AM, Norm wrote:
> Thank you Lee - will you and Kevin and anyone else interested in real coop governance please drive that process - be a committee and invite others and get this resolved.
>
> On Fri, May 7, 2010 at 1:09 AM, Lee wrote:
> Indeed we are a Co-op, unless the governing docs say something else. Where
> are the governing docs? The interested need to go over them and determine
> exactly what we are and what we can do.
>
> On Fri, May 7, 2010 12:27 am, <> wrote:
>  I am coming into this late tonight, To sum up, I agree that this needs to
>  be aired on the site, but be moderated so that if people decide to weigh
>  in, they may do so without being attacked. Moderated to allow all thoughts
>  and ideas, just moderate out the hate.A concern that I have had for a long
>  time it that realneo is owned by Realcoop. My signing up to have an
>  account and to post make me automatically a member of the cooperative. Am
>  I correct on this? If so, any poster is a member with an equal say.If
>  realcoop is indeed a cooperative, this forces the collective process upon
>  us.I believe
>  that this best way to proceed is a legal review on the
>  working of a collective while we prepare a palate of proposed changes  for
>  the members to consider. I see this as a very preliminary step as we may
>  find that while we are om the same pages on many things, we may not be so
>  on others,
>
>  --- On Fri, 5/7/10, <> wrote:
>
>   Date: Friday, May 7, 2010, 12:07 AM
>
>  I agree with what you say below. RealNEO.us has a good thing going, except
>  for some crazy posts that has driven some people away. Ideas for
>   change
>  need to be aired on the blog as well reasons for making the changes. If
>  most people are for the changes then they are adopted. If most people are
>  against
>  changes, then some more people will leave. If this verbal fighting
>  and crazy illiterate posts about guns and knocking people off, etc., by
>  the unnamed keeps up, I may have to leave.
>
>  XXX
>
>
>  On Thu, May 6, 2010 11:44 pm, <Kevin> wrote:
>  Norm, thanks for the compliment, but at this stage, in terms of reform,
>  I  think the group needs some thoughtful insight from everyone and then we
>  can think about law and structure.  I may be a bit behind the curve -- which
>  may be good ormay be bad, in terms of getting a fresh look. The first issue
>  seems to be what are the problems (I heard something about standards and openness on
>  posting) and the second seems to be what are the impediments that
>   prevent you scaling up in a way you want or feel you can. That oversimplifies
>  things, but if we can flesh out the
>  problems to fix and the long-term
>  goals to pursue, the structures tend to fall into place.
>
>  I think it's pretty amazing what you have helped to achieve. Far before
>  others, this was a place for social media, creativity, arts coverage
>  beyond the aspiration and interest of local, traditional media, occasionally
>  eye-opening disclosure and local productive reform.  That's something to
>  be proud of and build on.
>
>  Kevin
>
>
>  On Thu, May 6, 2010 at 5:16 PM, Norm wrote:
>
>  Kevin has more background knowledge of realNEO than anyone else, as a
>  lawyer, and had been there  since the beginning, as a member - always
>  appreciate the involvement and help.
>  We need to add more people to this list if we are keeping this
>  discussion
>  off-site - e.g. McDermott, Angel, Cummins and even Eternity and Guy if
>  they ware to be treated as members..
>  Not sure how we communicate that to all but we must.
>
>
>
>
>  On Thu, May 6, 2010 at 3:58 PM, Laura
>
>  Thanks Kevin--I agree, too.
>
>
>
>
>  --- On *Thu, 5/6/10, debra  wrote:
>
>  From: debra
>  Date: Thursday, May 6, 2010, 3:28 PM
>
>     I second Kevin's observation: "It sounds like someone was out to
>  exploit the openness of REALNEO." with the exception of making the
>  statement
>  present tense.
>
>
>
>  --- On *Thu, 5/6/10, Kevin
>  wrote:
>
>  Date: Thursday, May 6, 2010, 3:11 PM
>
>  Gosh, I miss all the exciting developments.
>  I just want to be clear that I am happy to continue with REALNEO and
>  can continue if you want to create a formal board, recalling that I sent
>  along
>  some ideas at one point (but stopped short of writing a formal board
>  policy or LLC structure).  REALNEO is a fine, productive asset for the area.
>  I've posted less as I have my own site  to deal with, but I am
>  happy to be
>  a part of a solution. It sounds like someone was out to exploit the openness
>  of REALNEO.
>
>  KEvin
>
>
>
>  On Thu, May 6, 2010 at 2:49 PM, Laura
>
>    For folks old and new to REALNEO--
>
>  Using REALNEO, requires the user to develop a basic understanding of
>  the site features and the Drupal platform.  Everyone cc.d. has that basic
>  understanding.
>
>  Other groundrules--(Please correct the following information is
>  incorrect): Norm Roulet, Jeff Buster, Jeff Schuler and Susan Miller have administrator privileges.  Evelyn Kiefer is Norm's wife--she may have administrator privileges--that is an unknown to me.  I have posted  at REALNEO since 2004.  I am not an adminstrator.  Jeff Shuler is a programmer and mostly behind the scenes.  He has cleaned up the site when
>  it has
>  crashed.  Jeff Buster and Norm Roulet are the only folks who control the header images (? correct).  Several members have come and gone over time--either because they lose interest in the site or the site has become too offensive to them.
>
>  Norm did not cc. Bill MacDermott who also posts using an alias...I completely agree that aliases have no place on REALNEO and should be abolished.
>
>  I suggest we post the following two polls to the site for further  input and then move forward to implement changes needed at REALNEO:
>
>  1.) Should aliases be abolished?
>
>  Vote Yes or No--
>
>  2.)  Should REALNEO elect an editor/moderator to control site content
>  and quality ?
>
>  Vote Yes or No--
>
>
>  RE: legal issues and defamation--Has
>  REALNEO or any member been named
>  in a lawsuit? If so--then we can discuss that issue.
>
>  REALNEO has affected real change in NEO.  While similar efforts have come and gone--REALNEO remains to date.  I personally think REALNEO is needed and is worth  saving.
>
>  I hope that this latest conflict can be resolved so the site can grow to include a more representative and balanced reflection of NEO.

 

thanks, Norm

thanks Norm. Being a pragmatic person, I have to ask about the cost of doing the IT any different. I do not know the IT terms, so be patient. What are the costs to run realneo monthly as it is now? What are the costs of adding "nodes or nodules", as well as "filters" then what would be the new costs? Any idea of how to pay for this? I want to be clear on this, and also say that I am opposed to seeking out any funding from any Cleveland based Foundations, politicians, or government branch. I have seen what those strings that get attached do to non-profits.

This is also the time for me to thank those that contribute to the costs, whatever they are, in keeping this website going, month to month. Thank you all. 

Debbie

Historical costs and going forward - Open source is awesome

That is a question for governance or whoever has the balance sheet for real coop - they pay the bills. Hosting a Drupal site like realNEO doesn't cost much - $30-100s a month depending on if you have your own server or share server space - Jeff S would have the tech details. None of the changes we should make will cost much - some money for Jeff S. consulting and programming time to make site upgrades and add and test modules, etc (he is reasonable) - the software is Drupal and is open source so free and that applies to all modules - and there are 1000s of free themes (the code that makes the screen look the way it does - the user interface - e.g. where the header goes, where menues go, how wide the page is, font colors, backgrounds, etc... unlimited options here - in our case the theme is programmed in CSS - Cascading Style Sheets).

So our hosting costs should not change unless we change server strategy - our current strategy seems to be working fine - Jeff S. will clarify iof we need to make dramatic changes and this is highly predictable and scalable - incremental cost changes are not huge - and we have no software costs - so the primary costs are for monthly hosting as is, continued, and consulting and programming from Jeff S., who has been handling all this to date. He seems to be able to handle any of these needs and is cost-effective.

We need to discuss what Jeff S. should do next, like upgrades to our version and adding modules (he already does all this), and budget for that - Jeff S. can provide the budget. This is funded by donations - Jeff B. should have the details on what we have received and spent. We have never pushed for donations and I'm sure we can raise more without going outside the community - we aren't talking about a lot of money.

No other big surprises I know of - Jeff S & B am I missing anything?

Open source is awesome, and cheap.

Disrupt IT

The only IT change we have discussed is using other forums

If you are referring to IT changes I mentioned in my comment above, for brainstorming, Jeff S. had suggested we use some discussion web off realNEO to hold our IT and governance brainstorming forums - forums are not a very distinct feature in Drupal so we were thinking of using a different tool - we didn't decide anything so I was leaving that option open -  the only cost to do that would be for any time Jeff S. spent configuring the interface, setting up the account, etc. - again, easy to budget... not need to go outside for help.

Disrupt IT

Governance Committee, time to deal with another wolf

Governance Committee, time to deal with another wolf. We have several regular posters who post under aliases and one at least who posts with multiple accounts - one of the multiple accounts - Peter N. DeWolfe - posts lewd content - the most recent being a massive chart that trashed the home page for two+ screens scrolled down - 650x1024 - the graphic having sexual content that is unnecessary here - the entire posting is unnecessary and unwanted in my mind.

How do we deal with this posting by a regular poster who knows better yet trashed the home page format with content I find offensive (not the first time) - I moved the massive site-blasting sexual graphic down this posting page so it does not load to the home page, but I don't think it belongs on realNEO at all...

Perhaps a sort of Brewed Fresh Daily Lewd feature for DeWolfe - not posted to the home page?!?! More content for RealPerv?

There is no personal explanation for the posting - and the poster is not posting as a real person - why the hell be here then?!?!

How to we deal with someone using two accounts to post - one account an alias

How do we deal with anyone wanting to post with an alias.

My vote, until we have a technology to track account activity to users better, is one account per human and no aliases.

Disrupt IT

Update to Technology Committee posted here