Funkwhale Sync organization


#1

Roughly two weeks ago, we had our third Funkwhale sync. In case you don’t know, Funkwhale Sync are monthly meetings that started in november 2018 (we skipped december meeting), as a way to synchronously discuss, coordinate and shape a consensus on various topics.

It also serves as a way to meet other community members which I think is really important: while I value text-based and asynchronous communication, having a time to be together and talk is priceless. As a project maintainer, it helped me several times to break the feeling of isolation that grows inevitably when you’re alone in front of your computer, all day long :wink:

The format/organization was pretty similar every time:

  • at least two weeks before, I publish a forum topic to prepare the next Funkwhale sync, with a link to a framadate (=doodle), to pick the best date, and a link to the meeting agenda. Both links are available to everyone, and the agenda is built collaboratively by participants
  • a week before the sync, I close the framadate poll, pick the date with the most votes, and announce the date
  • the meeting happens on the given date, on our mumble server (audio server with a text chat). During the meeting, we go through the various points of the agenda, take notes, discuss, and make decisions, when necessary. The whole meeting is usually scheduled to last 1 hour, but we did not always respect that (especially during sync #3)
  • after the meeting, I publish the meeting notes in the forum topic. I also publish audio recordings of the meeting at https://open.audio/library/albums/6133

What’s good/bad with this format

I think this format works pretty well. It gives us a moment to talk, the organization overhead is not too high, and the resulting discussions and ideas are interesting. It also gives us some transparency/accountability about the decision process, as meeting notes and recordings are shared publicly.

There are a few things that proved to be a bit problematic with this format though:

  • It’s audio-based, and as such, not accessible by everyone. For Sync #3, we agreed on allowing text-based discussion via Mumble’s chat, and it kinda worked, so it may be a non issue :slight_smile:
  • All three meetings happened in french, because participants are french speaker. There is an accessibility issue here, because our community isn’t french-only, and non-french speakers are de facto excluded from this meetings
  • We don’t appoint an explicit moderator, or keep track of talking time, which can lead to akward moments (do we continue to discuss this point? Do we switch to the next one?)
  • I don’t think it can scale really well if we have more than 10-15 participants
  • It probably need to adapt to the organization we’re designing

For all those reasons, I’d like to discuss with you about Funkwhale Sync. What’s your opinion on this topic? What could we do better? Should we keep it at all or switch to a completely different thing?

@ginnymcqueen You probably have some experience from your other communities. How were you coordinating discussing things?


#2

What percentage of the group shows up for these meetings? Do things usually get solved/brought up easily?

For scale it sounds like maybe splitting meetings in to subject areas as it grows, or at least a schedule for if people can/want to only tune into parts they feel they want to be involved in. I’d definitely suggest a moderator or two.

Town hall-type meetings usually go better when you allow people who have something they know they want to bring up to file that with the moderator before the meeting starts, like filling out a ticket or something. Then the moderator can keep track and make sure everyone has had a say.

I’m personally fine with reading a transcript or notes later. I don’t think we will solve the language issue right away.

I’ll dig into some more meeting format stuff. :smile:


#3

For the first two meetings, we were 4-5 participants. And we were 13 for the last one :smiley:

Indeed, splitting the meeting in more focused things makes sense!

I guess we could consider the open agenda could play that role (people can simply add a a topic to the list), but it will probably more efficient to appoint a moderator, and let this person collect topics prior to the meetings.

Ok, it’s interesting to know it’s not that big a deal. My main concern was about locking people outside of the decision/consensus process, buit maybe this is something we can mitigate by having an open discussion on the forum (or another tool, like Loomio) prior to the meeting, so that everyone can express their point of view.


#4

I think if the main discussions are in French, as long as there’s a follow-up for those who need English for now it’s fine. Depending on how it shakes out, could maybe be something where the first hour of the meeting is in French and then the English speakers can come in at the end for 30 min for review/follow-up.


#5

Yup, that’s definitely an option, let’s try that for the next sync then :slight_smile:


#6

May I add my 2 cents in?

Speaking something other than English hinders me completely in participating, be it in a meeting or chat or whatever. Moreover, I’m feeling being actively kept out. As a rule of thump, I wish that English is the only spoken or written language in the whole Funkwhale thing. The only exception would be such a audio meeting with French guys only, but notes taken in English.


#7

I can understand that @gerry_the_hat, but the opposite is true as well: lots of people who helped shaping Funkwhale as it is today don’t speak english. It wouldn’t be fair to say to them: thank you for your help, but now, we’ll do this in english, and if you can’t speak english, well, you’re out.

I think that’s why we’re doing, or at least, that all important discussions are open to everyone (regardless of their language), and that notes and other documents are written in english. Now, some discussions still happen in french, because, especially for difficult/complex topic, you need to use a language you are comfortable with.


#8

I think we can achieve working with everyone with their native language, at the cost of slightly more work from bilingual people that could translate for the others participants when needed. I’m not comfortable to exclude a big part of the community, and although i’ve poor spoken english skills, i’m volunteer to to that live-translation work


#9

From my experience of town hall style meetings:

  • Topics should be agreed beforehand and submitted by anybody for discussion in a suggestion-box kind of way
  • Notes and transcripts should be provided as soon as possible (this allows translators to get them translated for other members of the community quicker)
  • Splitting meetings into different areas is usually good (as @ginnymcqueen says) as it allows the information to be divided up more easily and eases processes such as translation. This may help to shorten feedback time for those who have submitted questions/suggestions if there are more frequent meetings about individual topics

I wonder if Mumble is the best solution for this style of meeting. It’s great software, but it feels a little bit exclusive to join a specific chat room with a required piece of software with which some may be unfamiliar. Some sort of in-browser broadcast software may encourage more casual participation and increase the accessibility of these meetings in future (I would have to do some research to give any suggestions re: a suitable candidate, though).

I would also be happy to help with translations. I’m fairly proficient with French, so would certainly be willing to do some transcribing. I wouldn’t say I’m good enough for real-time translation, however :sweat_smile:


#10

We’re kind of doing this right now, except it isn’t meant to be anonymous: @eliotberriot publishes a link to a pad where everyone can enter a topic. Do you think it’s enough? Do you think of any improvement for this?

Anyone can take notes during the meeting in the pad, and we try to be as complete as possible. From the last meetings, it seemed that the notes were complete enough to be published as-is. It wouldn’t hurt to document more this process.

I don’t have any experience of this, since town hall meetings doesn’t really exist in France. So I trust yours.

About Mumble, and the technical “expertise” it involves, that’s a good point. I can think of a few browser-based chat systems, like Jitsi Meet (eg. on https://framatalk.org ). But when I think about it, there is already a web client for mumble, here. We tried that when @eliotberriot did setup the Mumble server, and it worked quite well.


#11

I didn’t actually know Mumble had a web client! (Although it makes a lot of sense in hindsight). That looks pretty ideal, actually.

I think the pad is a pretty good idea. My only concern is that it may be a little confusing for non-technical users due to its non-WYSIWYG writing/editing method. Is the process for adding ideas/notes documented anywhere?


#12

Also, our first sync happened on Jistii (web-based conference system), and it was literally a nightmare (bad quality, people reconnecting/deconnecting all the time, etc.).

That’s why we switched to Mumble, and it’s waaaaaay better than before :smiley:

I agree this is an additional step (you need to install a client), but it’s also less bandwidth and resource hungry, which also increase the accessibility of our meetings to people with a bad connection. It also have lots of interesting features like a decent text chat and recording, which are usually missing or badly designed in web-based solutions.


closed #13

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