Community governance

Coordinating human being by application of social force


Interesting examples

Overthinking Everything Discord Community Guide. DIY socials are an interesting case study in community governance. The first example I ran into of running the organisational infrastructure of an indy social network for and by the users:, an Oregon-based social network. They document their toolset for barnraising a local, accountable community network including governance. Their actual network runs on the federated mastodon system. Open collective gives them transparent community organising for the governance and expenses. They use loomio for decision making. I don’t know how they keep these systems all in sync. The broader Mastodon project in turn uses patreon to fund itself.

  • PledgeBank

    PledgeBank was a mySociety project, running from 2005 to 2015. It let people set up pledges in the form: ‘I will do something, if a certain number of people will help me’.

But how about for projects weightier or more intimate than online volunteerism? How do you run a housing cooperative, or a cafe, or a militia, or a government in exile?

On process and accountability

  • Jo Freeman, The Tyranny of Stuctureless

    This means that to strive for a structureless group is as useful, and as deceptive, as to aim at an “objective” news story, “value-free” social science, or a “free” economy. A “laissez faire” group is about as realistic as a “laissez faire” society; the idea becomes a smokescreen for the strong or the lucky to establish unquestioned hegemony over others. This hegemony can be so easily established because the idea of “structurelessness” does not prevent the formation of informal structures, only formal ones.

  • The Backchannel is the Message

  • Arguing About How the World Should Burn

Transformative justice

I do not know much about this but I am bookmarking it here because it seems to be an attempt to build community-led processes of accountability for transgressions, which also assumes a process of redress, change, and attempts to get this without appealing to external authorities. I am increasingly sympathetic to these goals, although I might have issue with the methods here when I dig deeper. Let us see.

Misc notes

SR Constantin taxonomises types of norms of groups as they pertain to governance in Group membership norms.

People who set up community governance

Common Knowledge produces a bunch of community social organising thingies.

We are a not-for-profit worker cooperative building digital tools for grassroots activists.

Our team shares a vision of an abundant democratic culture in which people are confident in their capacity to self-organise.

Our aim is to empower people to directly resist all forms of oppression, form more resilient and autonomous communities, and organise themselves at ever larger scales.

What we do

  1. Build digital tools and infrastructure
  2. Increase the overall capacity of the movement through consultancy and education
  3. Facilitate activists to share knowledge and resources with each other


Balkin, J. M. 1997. The Constitution of Status.” The Yale Law Journal 106 (8): 2313.
Bloom, Nicholas, Renata Lemos, Raffaella Sadun, Daniela Scur, and John Van Reenen. 2014. The New Empirical Economics of Management.” CEP Occasional Paper 41. Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
Bowles, Samuel. 2004. Microeconomics: Behavior, Institutions, and Evolution. Princeton University Press.
Bowles, Samuel, and Herbert Gintis. 2002. Social Capital And Community Governance.” The Economic Journal 112 (483): F419–36.
Conway, Drew. 2010. Networks, Collective Action, and State Formation.” SSRN Scholarly Paper ID 1726041. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network.
Ostrom, Elinor. 1990. Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions). Cambridge University Press.

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