How (not) to build a community

Following previous discussions on various forums, we are in the initial stages of starting a community for civil vigilance. Some essential structures are being setup, including a mailing list. I thought it would be appropriate to suggest some guiding principles from the very beginning, so that the original aims of the campaigns are protected. These are only my suggestions, please feel free to criticize, suggest and improve.

I think our community should be based on the following premises.

  1. Define core values upon which the community will be built
    Although many issues will be open-ended and only be decided after discussions, I believe some core values should be defined from the beginning and the campaign should not be allowed to go against these values. I propose them to be the following: 

    • uphold democratic values (please remember, democracy is not same as capitalism)
    • uphold civil liberties and fundamental rights of all citizens
    • uphold freedom, transparency and openness
    • foster open and healthy discussions on any subject as long as they don’t go against the core values
    • Critical Thinking: all arguments have to be logical, fact, research or common-sense based. We call it ‘critical thinking’-  everything can be questioned and argued from many sides- no one angle of reasoning is correct by default, or correct in all situations. Civilized criticism and self-criticism and questioning of established values are encouraged, but they should always remain within the confines of the core values, and should not degrade into personal attacks, blame-games, emotional outpouring, blackmailing, violent behavior, or any similar activities.
    • Personal opinions, biases, experiences and interests do not matter- all disputes have to undergo ‘critical thinking’ and settled based on standard practices of logic and reasoning.
    • no compromise with national unity, integrity and sovereignty. This, however doesn’t discourage criticism or self-criticism- arguments and debates can employ all instruments of logic, as long as the end results are consistent with the core values
    • no special regard to any political ideology, group, ethnic group, race, organizations or similar affiliations, except for those in the core values
    • meritocracy
  2. Open for collaboration with other groups
    There are some groups (like Entrepreneurs for Nepal, BarCamp Kathmandu, Nepal Ko Yuwa, etc.) which are working in different areas and share with us the larger goal of making our future better and building a better, prosperous society. They have their strengths and weaknesses. We will also have unique strengths and weaknesses. We should collaborate and complement each other. As long as the core values are not compromised, such collaborations should be actively sought and made.
  3. Collective ownership
    The campaign is not owned, controlled or run by any individual, organization or a group. No attempt should be made to gain undue personal, organizational or group gains out of the campaign. In order to ensure this, all initiatives of the campaign will bear community owned names, symbols and other entities. However, different teams or individuals will/can be assigned responsibilities for fine-grained management and execution of plans and if so decided, exclusive privileges regarding such components will be at the discretion of such teams/individuals.
  4. Community Decision making
    All decisions will be open and transparent- they will be made public and available equally to all participants.
  5. Discourage bureaucracy and organizational hierarchy
    To keep the campaign always open to fresh ideas and new people, nobody shall be required to prove himself/herself before any individuals or groups of individuals. The contribution of the individual to the community, his/her performance, ideas and community consensus will be the only requirements for entry. All new ideas will be given equal consideration as long as the community is not against it. No discrimination or any sort of hierarchy suggesting seniority and juniority of community members are allowed. All voices are equal and will have chance to be heard fairly.
  6. Financial transparency
    Records of all finances and funds will be kept transparent and open to inspection on the internet.
  7. Dispute Resolution
    In case of extreme disputes, a settlement will be made based on voting or a decision by a team specially formed for such purposes. Such a team has to be pre-selected by the community through general consensus (or voting) for a fixed term.

4 thoughts on “How (not) to build a community

  1. अब ढिला नगरी सुरुगरि हाल्नु पर्छ , शुभकार्य मा किन ढिला हैन त ??

  2. Based on our discussion yesterday;
    I plainly purposed name and community format. Not necessarily it needs to be that way! We can decide on the name and build on that.
    I have also ideas on our mailing list. Why not have our next discussion on creating a community and even discuss the purposed guidelines?
    Really like the guidelines!

  3. Very nice idea. I think the name should be a simple and easy to relate for the common people (rather than fancy English name); it will make it easier to get the message across the common people.
    We can discuss more in the email exchanges.

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