The unMonastery: On shared ownership in open collaboration

 Photo: CC-BY-SA by Sam Muirhead

We are currently slowly producing some key documents which make it easier for newcomers to Edgeryders to navigate it and need your help.

Why now? As some of the projects we have been building together mature and take flight, it is important that there is consensus around rules guiding our choices moving forward.

An example here is that of the unMonastery.

Recently I received an email asking whether I wished to become a shareholder in a new organisation run by a mix of community members and others, wishing to work on unMonastery(ies). The reason stated for my being offered the share is that I have put in a significant amount of work into the project. After the unMonastery presence at Transmediale, I have been approached by community members upset because they have not been consulted about this development in spite of having made contributions to the project's development.

Edgeryders is a massive experiment in distributed organisaton structures, and the way we learn is by raising issues and addressing them in an open, collaborative manner. So I am flagging it as a case study.

I think there are two questions that need to be discussed:

1) Does it matter that everyone who feels they have contributed towards the building of the unMonastery (or any community born project) is consulted about this move, and or feels invited to be part of the new organisation? If so, how to ensure this happens? (Bear in mind that everyone has limited time and resources, so it needs to be practically actionable under those conditions).

2) Is a version of a community project run by a new organisation or using new processes a fork? If so does it make sense for the new projects and or organisation to be named in a way that indicates this is the case?

What do you think? Comments welcome below.




Ben's picture

I think it's important when discussing openness and communities to highlight where the impetus for this post came from on Nadia's part - EdgeRyders has a closed forum, which is ostensibly an admin board, but has increasingly become the space in which many decisions are made about the direction of the organisation and what the community should do. 

It's located here. Those who have access are the directors of the community and those that essentially govern and coordinate. 

Over the past 6-8 months ER has taken directions that many community members have felt uncomfortable about, leading to many of the individuals whom work on unMonastery ostensibly full time to not feel comfortable posting on the platform or participating more generally in EdgeRyders activity. The project has also evolved and developed significantly in the last two years to the point where it requires it's own kernal similar to the way ER has evolved - in order to replicate and have agency. This is good for everyone and the organisational structure being set out by those working on unMonastery full time is being  designed to ensure anyone can join and have agency in the organisational structure, legally - which differs slightly to ER, as ER operates with a board of directors and a diffuse "The person who does the work calls the shots" permission mechanism e.g the way the unMon org came about was on the basis of the people doing the work (the 30+ people gathered in Berlin earlier this year) decided this would be a good and productive direction.

As with any organisational evolution and development there can be growing pains, disagreements and difficulties - it's likely that if you're a regular on ER that you will have seen a significant drop off of posts in this group, because people have felt uncomfortable or unhappy posting here. 

Last week I met with Alberto and Arthur in London to discuss if it would be possible to mend these fences and move towards a reconciliatory effort, so both communities could work effectively together - my proposal was to create a group, with facilitation focused on resolving discord and finding out where we can fix what was potentially broken - clearly this wasn't a satisfactory decision for Nadia in this instance. And so this post was made, in a fairly provocative way, that's likely to create more discord and arguments, which is an enormous shame and massively upsetting to me personally. 

Given the desire expressed here for openness and community involvement I think it's important to share here the impetus for this post and discussion, from the ER private admin board. Quoted below:

Who is the "unMonastery crowd"?

""""Nadia's picture

I would like us to be very clear at this point because not doing so leaves the door open for manipulative behavior and rhetoric.

As far as I am concerned "the unMonastery crowd" is everyone who has contributed towards the building of the conditions that enabled a prototype to be set up in the Palazzo Casale, as well as those who were afforded the opportunity to be physically present in Matera during the months when the prototype was running. This includes every single person who was in the room when the idea was first voiced during a #lote unconference session on alternative ways of financing social innovation. As well as every single person who has been involved in building and or participating in every single #lote event where there has been a discussion about the unMonastery concept, including all the twitterstorms and social media outreach efforts, done presentations at events etc.

Any other definition means that we are not honoring everyone's contributions.

Which I can tell you has already angered some members of the Edgeryders community who contacted me after rumours of the setting up of an unMonastery organisation got around.



Lines in the sand.

Ben's picture

Hi Nadia, 

I'm sorry but you're wrong, it's this kind of attitude and declarative statements that lead to alienation and low retention rate for collaborators on EdgeRyders, particularly in respect to the "unMonastery Crowd" - the unMonastery organisation is composed of a significant cross section of those who were in the original meeting in Strasbourg, those who supported and delivered the Matera effort and those who have joined to work on iterations of unMonastery since. Membership is essentially based on those who have committed significant time to the unMonastery (around 200 hours over the past year) and pledge that same amount of time going forward.

This is not intended as a gate keeping exercise but rather is intended to allow unMonastery to act in the operational capacity it requires to replicate, and for those who invest significant time, resources and social capital into the work to have agency and a voice in its future. You were invited to join unMonastery in Berlin for this discussion but didn't turn up, to the extent that we lost money on the hotel room we booked for you, due to your last minute message that you wouldn't be there. 

Manipulative behaviour is positioning ones self as the de facto representative voice of a community with a diverse set of perspectives without enabling a space where those views can be aired and lead to productive more healthy forms of collaboration.  You cannot repeatedly use this form of rhetoric "angered some members of the Edgeryders community" to exercise your will on the direction of the organisation, it creates enormous limitations for what the organisation is capable of. I am a member of the EdgeRyders community, like many of those working on unMonastery that no longer feel comfortable posting here or view it as a productive exercise - and it's clear that is asignificant chunk.

Lets be clear though if you continue to hold this position, it's obvious that an exercise such as the one proposed will fail before it starts. 



We need some middle ground between closed and google

Nadia's picture

I think it is important that everyone who feels they have had a role in building the unMonastery feels welcome to have a discussion about this. I honestly do not feel this is a decision for me to make on behalf of anyone, or for a small group to make on behalf of a larger group. 

There are always issues that we are not at liberty to discuss in public, but need to have more accountability than afforded by email. Your choice to take communication happening in private channels and post them publicly displays a breach of respect for privacy and need for space in which to air out thoughts which are incomplete, or resolving interpersonal issues.

Those who wish to be included in channels are never denied and I do not see any issues as to why people would not have access to the contents. However, we have as of yet to find a good middle ground between "closed " and everything popping up in google search results.

If you have constructive proposals for how to resolve this, you are more than welcome to suggest them. 


My constructive proposal.

Ben's picture

"If you have constructive proposals for how to resolve this, you are more than welcome to suggest them. 

My constructive proposal is what provoked you into making a unilateral decision. Everything you have stated in this thread and post is contradictory. 

You demand openness whilst operating a closed forum that makes major decisions about a large community. 

You make public responses to conversations happening in a private forum, and then tell me I don't respect privacy. 

You demand constructive proposals, in response to constructive proposals. 

Seriously WTF? If you'd have just had the conversation in private, we could of formed a constructive proposal for a safe space dialogue that would ensure good facilitation and good outcomes for everyone. 

For reference, here's the constructive proposal that led to this uncomfortable and upsetting exchanged: 


Ben's picture

This is a reasonable summary of our discussion. 

The principle reason why I wanted to meet and have the desire to engage in a reconciliatory exercise is because 1) I think we're better together than apart, 2) It is entirely necessary from an operational perspective going forward for unMon and ER relationship, 3) In order for a shared mission to maintain integrity it's important this happen, i.e "best collaborators in the world".

My view is that this be composed of a 3 step plan: 
1) Reconciliatory effort composed of a group on ER, with pre-established facilitation rules of conduct, moderated by one (relatively external facilitator), with a fixed time period for discussion. With outcomes and lessons learned compiled as something useful after the fact.

2) Providing we reach a good point of reconciliation, I think it will bring back many people to the platform - then we engage in a pragmatic exercise, such as shared open source software deployed over an extend time period - like OwnCloud etc - in a structured manner. 

3) We'll be in a decent position to collaborate and support other projects and initiatives, such as the opening future unMonasteries together.  "



So, um, you two having fun over here?

JamesL's picture

So, um, you two having fun over here?

It's a lovely day in Athens, a bit rainy, but the sun just came out, and we're happy doing The Good Work of the unMonastery.

When you guys are done, we'd love your help with continuing the unMonastery project. To be clear, we will do that anyway, with or without the help of any particular organisation or person, and regardless of what the title of the project is, because we are a collection of people who believe in it (although we're not quite sure exactly what it is), and we love working together. That's really enough, and holy crap we're lucky to have found each other - thanks to EdgeRyders for amazingly inspiring LOTE's and thanks to everyone who kickstarted unMonastery so far with getting the resources we need to all still be working together today. We don't yet need to be a 'do-ocracy', or a 'community platform', or whatever, we will figure it out along the way, and we are figuring it out along the way, with (usually) lovely, peaceful, productive conversations, lots of post-it notes, with a group of people that care deeply about each other and the things we're working on.

We're not used to big fights, and we can go watch the wrestling on Sky Sports if we want to see one of those, please don't bring them to us, we kinda don't care and we want to put our energy on other things. We need to be able to communicate with joy, calmness and respect, and if our leaders can't do that, we'll go find some who can.

If you (that's, anyone reading this) want to join us, the group is completely open, sorry if it doesn't appear like that sometimes. You'll need to know how to communicate with a reasonable level of calmness and respect, just like in any other group, so Nadia, you're gonna have to work on that: the level of energy and aggression in your communication is enough to alienate some of the people you come into contact with (remember that time you chewed me out on Facebook? that was fun, though it kinda made it hard to continue working with you after that), even though we know you have good intentions and are working to support us all and do good work. Ben, as the defacto leader of unMonastery, you're gonna need to step it up too - we're all doing our best but these kinds of dramas aren't ok for much longer and we care about you a lot so they affect us to our very cores. <3 to both of you from me, and I know many reading this will say that too.

unMonastery as a group is in the middle of sorting out some really important questions for itself. One of those is working out the basic organisational and legal structure for the project to be able to continue to grow comfortably. There are a group (you could even say 'gang') of people who are the temporary stewards of that project and we're aiming to have a first pass at sorting out some of the structures we need within 3 months (oops, 1 month gone, only two left). Anyone who is intimate with unMonastery is welcome to join and should already have been invited. Anyone who hasn't been invited to that party but feels like they should have should contact us. It's gonna be a lot of fun, but to be honest, I'd suggest waiting until our first pass is done unless you really have experience with setting up organisations, or you really care about the unMonastery. To be clear, this work is mainly about the minimum structure we need to continue doing what we're doing. It is not to facilitate control or direction of the org by any particular closed group of people, and should result in a mechanism by which anyone who wants to will be able to take an active role in guiding the community. To be double clear, as of right now, we just don't work on those kind of businessy terms - we do not work on command and control structures, we do not work on concepts you recognise from business, we don't work on holding people down to contractual commitments or getting angry when stuff doesn't happen, there is nothing to 'own' here. When we're done with that first pass, we'll hopefully have a much clearer structure for the group which will allow anyone to plug in more easily in the right way. *SPOILER ALERT*: we probably won't hit the 3 month target.

While that's happening, unMonastery people are active all over the place doing all kinds of things, and we'll be getting better at communicating all our projects, needs and wants out in future. If anyone feels like we're not doing that, we would be sad, and you should come talk to any one of us directly. We're quite present in Athens doing some good work here, but we're also in London, Berlin, Norway, Switzerland, and of course, we'll always have many good friends in Matera.


(This post written by me, occasionally assuming the identity of a 'we' with absolutely no authority or agreement from anyone else. If you want the 'we' I talk about or the unMonastery 'we' to include you, then it probably does. The description of what unMonastery is doing in its organisational work is also completely my own interpretation. No post-its were harmed in the construction of this post.)


This is a serious issue, and

K's picture

This is a serious issue, and what I see here is not very likely to be solved over a beer - emotions can, but the structural and system issues can’t. This is a structural issue which will continue to trap individuals between it’s cogwheels. Usually in small organisations conflictual situations  are simply brushed under the carpet - thats why nothing never scales.


Ben mentioned a need for facilitation while solving this issue, and sensibly so: I want to take on the responsibility of this as a facilitator, and I would really hope that you will agree that this process should be taken seriously. What we are dealing with here requires more than one facilitator and a significant amount of time: exactly like any arbitration process does. I would describe what I am proposing in detail as long as I get your consent and agreement to take it seriously and contribute time.

What we need here is a long and open conversation - where everyone concerned and involved should be able to be heard, and which doesn’t escalate into an ugly flamewar, however eloquently is it written.


Time scarcity is one of the popular excuses not to deal with conflictual situations carefully. And the most painfully sad thing about it that our illusion of time scarcity comes exactly from the inefficiency of our collaborative work, that we also can’t afford to admit.

This issue deserves time - because it is about saving the only thing which matters the ability to resolve conflicts in a way that we can continue working together, not just dump one network and move on to another.

We should aim at restored ability to work in parallel and to benefit from each other networks, respect to each others integrity and sovereignty - restored health of the network, because right in this moment it is not healthy. All of it might require a serious restructuring.


Conflict prevention and resolution is probably the most urgent and the only thing we need to spend out time on both levels: being able to produce meaningful work as well as remain a mentally stable individual. Nadia mentioned that Edgeryders is a massive experiment. Please, be aware of the fact, that we are dealing with a very serious things - culture of social structures. Specially when the line between life and work is almost non existent. Whether our lives as individuals are hell or meaningful largely depends on how social structures we are a part of function. Please, make sure this experiment, doesn’t result in too many casualties.

Established organisations have courts and arbitration, they can afford justice. We can’t. And a sad fact is - most of the time we think that justice and arbitration is a waste of time. We deal with it emotionally, in a primitive way “Ok, I forgive you, lets have a beer, but will never work with you again” and the only valuable asset we have - our networks - gets eroded.

Thats why we will never build anything which is really  game changing, we will just eat each other alive. And this is very sad. Old school institutions will, and what is meant to be a networked organisation - wont. It will just turn into an ugly midget version of an istitution - as evil as a big one, but less efficient.


If you look at this particular situation - lets call it unMonastery IP issue - the reason why this thread even happened is not even the fact that we don’t believe in contracts, and think “it will be fine”. Look at it from structural perspective - these conflicts happen because of the position we are in in relation to those whom we have to ask for little money to work on what we want to work with.  We blame rigid old school institutions for our “burnouts” - the truth is the structure we are representing which causes so called burnouts.


I have been always been an outsider but my experience at the unMonastery and at Edgeryders makes me suitable for the role of a facilitator. I am also pathologically intolerant to hypocrisy, and seeing another good initiative I was once a part of eating each other alive sugarcoating it with “Ok, we fight, but we’re all big happy family” will be very painful. Please, remember that I am not a hippie, and in this case look at structures rather than at individuals. Let me know if you up for taking this issue seriously. Facilitation will only work if everyone is equally interested in honestly solving the problem, and people part to the conflict will put time to communicate their position in a structure way. And no, 30min hangout with low bandwidth and background noise - wont help. It might help to solve emotional level problems, similar to having a drink - but on the system level everything will remain the same. However, if you choose solving this problem behind closed doors in some way, I wont argue against it. This is just a proposal.



Avoid flamewars even if eloquently written

K's picture

@JamesL @Nadia @Ben - please, avoid eristics.

@JamesL things are not always that simple - one evil side and one bright side. All social structures can be extremely hostile.

And it is not even a question of who is a leader of unMonastery. The question to me is how you ended playing king of the mountain game at the first place and what it actually represents.

You can set up as many legal structures as you wish - will be all the same Tower of Babel problem if you get it wrong.


This conversation is funny and very ugly and sad at the same time. 

Avoid flamewars. No matter how nicely you write in English - it all looks the same to me.
It needs proper process of arbitration, even though for both parties it looks like it is pretty obvious who is evil and who is good. 
The thing is - it is always the case -  thats why people cant work together, and this shitty self proclaimed changemakers elite can't change anything even their own lives unless they get a proper job. Everyone thinks they are fucking good and right. Everyone adores eristics and winning the war. This is disgusting and hypocrite - isn't it? 
Look at Russia in the 1917 - bolshevik revolution, anarchists, Kropotkin - all this jazz. There was movements and ideas apart from poxy marxist-leninist puke which are really interesting and cool. And you know what? They didn't manage a distributed organisation, they just eaten each other alive and let the rotten mainstream with bureaucracy and the army to run the shop. And it's always the same. Again and again and again. Intellectual elite (self proclaimed or not, I don't care) with cool ideas can't organise a piss up in a brewery after they clash once. Unless they get old and become academics - but no one reads that.
Thats why I am raving here on this platform about arbitration and conflict resolution. Not because I didn't get mine, because this is so outrageously ugly - it hurts. 
But everyone has a personal issue. No one cares about the structure. And more time passes more personal issues add to your collection. In the end you end up in the paranoid world of personal issues with individuals.
Ok, Im not sure why am I writing this here. Just would like to see one day people take this seriously and try to establish a proper process to deal with this  - not with intention to punish or to get rid of someone or prove a point - that we know how to do. But in a trully constructive way.
@JamesL not to continue flamewars - I dont care if he is right or wrong - it just looks ugly and personal "you chewed me out on FB", "Ben is the leader of unMon" -  I haven't been a part of this for a while, and believe me this does look very ugly - I would edit out all the ugly bits and leave something constructive. Look guys - this is surreal.
Again - I dont care who is right or wrong in this thing - I was steamtrucked by all parties at some point, so I am a bit like a mofo Phoenix.

This is a great point

Alberto's picture

Sorry, I can't resist the urge to endorse this great point by K. When you are highly invested in a discussion, there is the risk to live it out as a battle, or a game, rather than as a truth discovery engine. I have been thinking about this myself, for unrelated reasons: and my mind went insistently to old Cicero, and specifically his work De oratore – essentially a handbook for being a good rhetorician (does this word exist in English?). It would be a good thing to learn his techniques so as to be able to refrain from using them oneself, and unmasking them when used by others.



Agree :)

Dorotea's picture

Agree, yes  :) 


A simple technical solution (hopefully)

Alberto's picture

@Ben, Drupal is pretty good at moving content from one group to another. It is literally one-click.

So, there are two possibilities:

  1. Create a group somewhere (moderated, if you wish to. Moderated means: the group itself is visible, its content is not to non-members. People can request an invitation). Ignore this post and start over.
  2. Create a group as above. Move this post into it, then continue the discussion.

These posts

katalin's picture

These posts on ER fill me with dread. I usually get tripped up by the kickoff of the subject, in this case, "someone out there is left out, I am opening a discussion to give them voice". This on a platform where even the suggestion of making it a bit more user friendly for outsiders gets the response that the barrier is set high on purpose, this is a special group of 'doers' who own their voices.

Then the helpful facilitator, in this case Nadia, does not ask those feeling excluded to express their concerns on the unMonastery page of this platform, and/or calls on the unMonasterians to clarify what is going on, but stands up to carry their flag. Which immediately turns the case from being open, unjudged and impersonal, into an accusation. Which prompts the person, in this case Ben, whose only function as "king of the mountain" is that he is the connection between ER and the actively working group of unMon (the tone of conversations here having managed to alienate everyone else) to defend the points he did not make, but the actively collaborating group as a whole. Which makes him being perceived as playing 'king of the mountain'.

I suggest to take Alberto's first suggestion, open up a moderated thread and start over. I think it should start with an open letter from the unMonasterians reporting on recent developments. I would also like to make a second suggestion: use this particular thread as a case study on what is wrong with communication on the Edgeryders platform, in view of conflict facilitation, the hidden admin thread (if you don't know something exists, clearly you cannot request access), the angry emotional tone of the participants, and the usage of the expressions 'hypocrisy', 'king of the mountain' and vague reference to eloquence as a threat, by K who proposes herself to act as neutral facilitator.



Not my idea

Alberto's picture

I can't take credit for the idea, @katalin. Ben suggested it. I am happy to play along, though my facilitation skills are not especially developed.


@Katalin - I apologise for

K's picture

@Kathalin - I apologise for the use of words such a "hypocrisy" and "king of the mountain". And yes, I propose myself as a completely neutral facilitator willing to put my time into this issue. I am completely neutral towards Edgeryders and unMonastery group - I could see it coming. I see it as a structutral problem

Let me explain the the word usage: 

Hypocrisy happens in both camps. I am not interested in counting how any times it occurs. I am sensitive to it and would like both parties to limit it. I saw that the conflict resolution is often replaced by sugar coating and hypocrisy, I can talk about it as a structural issue for a long time, in this context and in small and medium networked organisations in general - you can ping me a DM is you like.

"King of the Mountain" is a game. You can read about it here  And I pointed out that if someone on a forum starts talking about who is the leader of what - I call it "King of The Mountain" because that what it is. 

I think Alberto suggestion is great - moderated group. My concern is, knowing the dynamics of flaming in forums which, I believe, is largely affected by the layout of the page and UX rather by the subject matter - I suggest we use additional ways to let people and groups to voice their concerns and structure the conversation. I am very interested in that - mainy because I think it is largely a question of UX. For example, the amount of text you had to skip through to get an overview of the conversation, clearly resulted in a misinterpretation of what I written,most likely influenced by the perception you had of me once we spoke in Matera. My point here is - conflic resolution in a treadlike structured forum is a suicide. I have better suggestions, and I would really like to work on it with others. Provided, my offer as one of the facilitators is accepted by all parties, I will be happy to discuss it further.


In my opinion this situation

Billy Smith's picture

In my opinion this situation is NOT acceptable.

Edgeryders, as was originally presented to me, is supposed to be about open collaboration. That means that all the decisions and discussions should be explicitly open to all members of Edgeryders.

I didn't even know that closed groups, that were not available to the public existed. I only found out when i tried to refer someone to one of my posts, and they couldn't access it.

This is NOT what i was led to believe would happen, and is NOT what i want for any project that i am involved in.

If this continues, then i will be closing my account, and i will actively go out of my way to make sure that everyone i work with knows why this is, and that Edgeryders, as an organisation, cannot be trusted.

Being told the full story will go some way towards ameliorating this situation, but without complete, open access, we're not building something new, we're just re-creating the same old same old.

Like i said here, "Do you want real change, or do you want business-as-usual with a different set of faces in charge?"





Nadia's picture

The main reason why things that should be done aren't, is that this requires someone to step up and take responsibility for making them happen. Most of the time spent working on the platform is done on volunteer basis. When client projects started to come in last year, there was a surplus after costs associated with producing deliverables were paid for. This surplus has so far gone into 1) paying for travel grants for lote4 participants and 2) some bugfixing work. E.g. we are waiting for Arthur and Alberto to find a little spare time to set up a financial dashboard so we can be totally transparent about money etc.

I have never felt comfortable with there being closed groups on the platform. It was a compromise made based on a number of conversations in which the consensus was that we needed to have something semi-private but accountable, lest everyone just default into email or google docs etc which are far less transparent and or manageable (too many docs and hackpads spread all over the place). The reasoning was that once all the issues and concerns about privacy were ironed out it would be possible to just open groups to everyone in the community. 

Ideally this would be resolved so we can get rid of them, but this requires more people to step up and help with solutions which do not make admins and content managers entirely dependent on developers for changes to the platform. For example, the platform really does not work well for making decisions where a lot of people are concerned, imho loomio is much better. But it's a mess when communication around projects is spread across platforms so we need some integration between them. So far the only person consistently handling the tech development and development has been Matthias, with some support sometimes from others, and he is already overstretched. So if you or anyone else can help, this would edge us closer towards a better setup.


I wasn't able to take part in Unmonastery last year,

Billy Smith's picture

I wasn't able to take part in Unmonastery last year, due to the state of my health, so i can't comment on how things went as i wasn't there.

In the same way i didn't get to Transmediale for similar reasons.

All i know about the situations and the conversations has been second-hand and hearsay.

However, as far as the Edgeryder's website is concerned, i am reminded of a cartoon i saw of someone shearing a sheep, where the shearer was labelled "Social media", the sheep was labelled "Users" and the wool that was being harvested was labelled "user provided content". This was the reason that i stopped using social media, when it started to become heavily "monetised".

It's the reason that i use a self-owned and self-run non-profit workshop, that i share with a bunch of other people, rather than pay membership fees for a privately-owned co-working space.

@Nadia, what is the full story with the organisation being set up? Who is going to end up owning it? Where will the profit go?

Am i seeing a repeat of the same behaviour that i met in the past?


Not sure which organisation, replies regarding both.

Nadia's picture

Not sure which org you are asking about

1) Re: Edgeryders organisation ( link accessible from main menu all over the site) I tried to summarise the backstory in this post. Regarding how things should be run, this wiki is one @Dorotea has helped draft for helping us move forward.

2) With the new organisation being discussed in this thread I do believe there is the intention to have an open and inclusive setup, but it takes time and a lot of different kinds of input to set the foundations. Whether or not this is the case, it is a move that makes complete sense to me on all levels and I fully support it. More organisations allow for more experimentation, diversity and resilience without adding to the already high workload involved in maintaining the shared infrastructures that enable new collectively driven projects to emerge. The issues I raised above have to do with more general practical rules about shared ownership of what comes out of the collectivity, regardless of how individual relationships and or inter-personal conflicts develop over time. I had a conversation yesterday with Lars Zimmermann from OSCE Days about how to both enable and clearly signal that it is fine for a subset of people to take a community powered project in whatever direction they choose, while not getting in the way of others wishing to do the same. His suggestion was to establish consensus on how forking can be done and part of this was figuring out a naming convention for the new projects/constellations/organisations. 


After following a number of

Billy Smith's picture

After following a number of FLOSS projects, i've seen how forking has its good points and bad points.

Have you come across One Click Orgs? It was a project started by some members of the London Hackspace, in an effort to streamline the bureaucracy towards running the hackspace. I'm glad to say that some of the work that they did on co-operatives was helped by me. :D

@Alberto, you mentioned the problems that you came across with co-ops in Italy. Possibly you could point your colleagues there at the One Click Orgs website. NB. The set-up that they use is specific to the UK's legal system. You could probably help them with translating their idea's to the Italian legal system. A good person to contact about this is Martin Dittus.


I don't think that would help

Alberto's picture

Those coops are led by people who tend to be on the wrong side of the digital divide, and proud of it. They barely use email, let alone one click orgs. Also, these guys are most definitely NOT my war buddies. smiley



Billy Smith's picture

NP. Sorry if i got the wrong end of the stick.

Maybe you could point the next generation towards this approach.

It gives a more equitable way of doing things than the current start-up-equity lottery-tickets...


A person who cares

Alberto's picture

Rhiannon here on Edgeryders is a young British lady who deeply cares about coop reform, and believes it is possible. Maybe you could talk to her?


Community Healing

Dorotea's picture

Hello :)

As some of you know , I'm a lot into *Community Healing* and peaceful and respectful resolutions of "conflicts"

I would like to help :)


First thing, there were some questions asked, 

Nadia asked them in the post

let's answer them ? :)

here they are again :

1) Does it matter that everyone who feels they have contributed towards the building of the unMonastery (or any community born project) is consulted about this move, and or feels invited to be part of the new organisation? If so, how to ensure this happens? (Bear in mind that everyone has limited time and resources, so it needs to be practically actionable under those conditions).

2) Is a version of a community project run by a new organisation or using new processes a fork? If so does it make sense for the new projects and or organisation to be named in a way that indicates this is the case?


for me both answers seem to be "YES" 

and I think an open discussion about collaborative projects is very healthy 


I'm also happy to facilitate anything I can help with,

within this "conflict" resolution,

and building meaningful projects together.


Many Hugs and Love <3 




I'll try and keep it brief,

emkay's picture

I'll try and keep it brief, digestible, for your sanity and for mine.
I can and will elaborate if asked. Just talk to me.

UnMonastery is personally significant & the same is true for many who are reading this & written on this page.
I put its survival, stability & integrity first and foremost when entering any discussion & conversation about it.
I expect the same from everyone else who identifies with it.

UnMonastery is a unique opportunity for its time, scope, precedent, approach & approachability
In short it represents urgent, imperative social value, which reaches far beyond those it directly interfaces with.

A lot of that value is translated and built directly from 'process'; which is *this*.
The hashing out of the exact ethics, methods, objectives, values; all enacted and discussed in vivo, whilst the work is happening, whilst we're 'doing' it.
This takes a very human toll no matter who you are, this is exhausting work - so if you're feeling emotional right now - you've probably been working really hard on this.

UnMonastery has a history; from Day 1 in Strasbourg until this moment (and for some, even before then).
There have been huge achievements, there have also been disagreements and failings. All of them are valuable, all of them are learning material.
If we're able to resolve the disputes at present, some already expressed, some still in people's heads, and we're all still here - have no doubt that whatever comes next for unMonastery will be even better than any iteration to date.

UnMonastery at present contains and practices, disagreement and contradiction (in addition to all of the alignment and accord).
A root issue to highlight is that the foundations for this network are built entirely on a trust (that everyone involved has only good intentions for the project and its people).
This fundamental requires rebuilding before any other progress can take place. Expect no progress, without first taking the belief that you are all on the same team.

UnMonastery currently has the capacity to solve its problems. Expect new problems when they're solved.

Almost entirely the only reason why UnMonastery is so irreplaceably unique and socially valuable, is its diversity of vision, methods and practices, which exist in direct contradiction, yet hold a stable identity.
If you have contributed even a simple vocalised idea to UnMonastery, know that your contribution is irreplaceable, needed and valued.
You have built this. No hyperbole, no romance.

UnMonastery could be everything you want it to be, it can fulfill on all of its ambitions. It requires your patience and participation.
But rightly so, also your opinion and agenda.


Trust In The Process.
Thank you, to every single one of you.

You've undoubtedly worked much harder on this than I have, you've had much stronger belief than me from the start -
This post is a small, inadequate gift in return. Taken in good faith, and helpful, I hope.

See you soon x


Thanks for your offers

Alberto's picture

Thank you, @Dorotea and K for your generous offers. You are both more than acceptable facilitators to me. I believe I am roughly aligned with Nadia, Noemi, Arthur and Matthias (though honestly I have not had the chance to hear from Matthias about present tensions). They will correct me where I am wrong, and I will definitely not take it personally. I would also like to thank @emkay for putting things into a useful perspective.

@Billy Smith, I am sorry that you feel that way. Private groups come out of the box with Drupal Commons, as with most social networking software. This is reasonable, because some activities need discretion (generally, with respect to people outside the community). That includes some of the work we do here: for example, collaboratively writing competitive funding applications. Even if we are happy to do it in the open, partnering organizations generally are not (in fact I already got in trouble once, for releasing an application, though it had already failed, into the recycling bin). It is not exactly a secret: instructions for creating invisible projects are in the user's manual, accessible by clicking on "Help" in the main menu.

That said, Ben and other community members have full access to the ER LBG Administration group.

If and when we have this moderated conversation, I will be happy to explain the rationale for having this. If you want to access the Admin group yourself, I personally have no issue with it, though I will need to make sure everybody is comfortable with it.


@Alberto, thank you for your

Billy Smith's picture

@Alberto, thank you for your trust. Check with the other people from the Admin group, and if they're happy, then i'd be happy to help.

I've been ripped off a number of times in the music industry, so i tend to be a little twitchy when it comes to "Trust Issues", especially in business.

I also met Trevor Bayliss when he was talking at ELIC, and he was explaining some of the ways that people tried to rip him off. This was one of the main rationales of the inventors club. Mutual self-defence and support. There's nothing more useful than a quiet conversation where you are told, "Don't work with those people. Here's how they tried to rip me off..."

Whenever i see some of those initial symptoms that they mentioned, it pushes my buttons. Once burnt, twice shy.

I didn't know about the NDA restrictions that were attached to some of the funding providers. Like i said before, i've not used those forms of funding before. I've had to sign NDA's before, but i always make sure that they have a sunset clause, so that there will always be a definite date when i CAN talk about the work that i've been doing.


Re. My comment about the for-profit co-working spaces. Whenever i went to have a look at them, they always put an emphasis on the interesting mix of people that you would meet there.

Whilst nodding, smiling and continuing to listen, i always had in the back of my mind, a Billy Connolly sketch that he called "Getting in touch with your Inner Welder", where he was polite in dealing with pretentious middle-men, gate-keepers, and rip-off merchants, at the same time as feeling the hair and muscles sprouting from his arms, while he was thinking about ripping them limb from limb.

I would end up thinking "You want to use me as product to sell your space, and you want me to pay you for the priviledge..." Though it always sounds better when you're roaring it loudly in a broad Glaswegian accent... :))


The thing is when i worked in the corporate environment, the rip-off's had a different flavour, but the underlying taste was the same shit with a shinier spoon.

The current start-up craze is another example of the same thing. Yes, there are a lot of sincere people trying to start businesses and make the world a better place, but because i'm seeing it here in London, i'm running into a lot of money laundering schemes, ponzi scams, pump'n'dump schemes, and graft!

One horrifying but excellent example can be found on the Ribbon Farm website,, where the writer,Venkat, manages to tie together the MacLeod Company hierarchy with the Five Stages of Chaos that every organisation goes through from genesis to decay. Something too think about when we're organising how we do things.

This also acts a reatively good description of the parasites that haunt funding pots, and act as shovel-salesmen to wannabe's.


Though you've also got to watch out for the Feral Ballerina's... ;)


Billy: welcome to the Admin group

Alberto's picture

@Billy Smith, we will be pleased to welcome you to the Edgeryders LBG Administration group, where you will be treated to the joys of updating Terms of References, drafting reports and generally hustling for Edgeryders. cheeky

I will get in touch with you on private email for more detailed instructions.


access to Admin board

katalin's picture

Hi @Alberto, I wonder if I can also have access to the admin board. It may make it easier for me to understand the background of some of the topics that I contribute on the platform.

Many thanks!



Same thing as Billy

Alberto's picture

Hello @katalin, the same applies to you as to Billy: ask around if people are comfortable with you in the group.

Please guys, don't do this one at a time. This is all unpaid overhead for me – on top of trying to make my own living and creating paid opportunities to do meaningful work for me, which is not easy at all.



Alberto's picture

Katalin, if you are still interested we will admit you. I will write to you the instructions in a separate message but they boil down to understanding and accepting the terms of use of a non-public group. 


Stop this bickering, now!

ArthurD's picture

On one hand I don’t know who these alleged excluded unMonasterian souls can be but since the process of forming the ‘unMon’ entity is neither final nor complete then the adult thing to do is to tell them to come forward and ask/demand to be included and, by so doing, put the vaunted principles of the unMonastery to the test. If, and only if, they are then excluded do they have any right to complain. In the meantime those claiming leadership roles should not be carrying gossip.
On the other hand one of the reasons for standing up the unMonastery as a separate entity was to allow and oblige those who were unhappy about the evolution of the edgeryders platform to show that they could do a better job of developing an online community. Consequently, those people should not be indulging in rehearsing a litany of petty or imagined slights on the old forum. They should be building their new ‘Jerusalem’.

A pox on both your houses if you cannot conduct yourselves more maturely.


Keeping it short

elf Pavlik's picture

1. Please let's keep discussion constructive, for healing personal hurts I recommend meeting IRL!

2. @K, I respect you and <3 you but I can NOT +1 on you as completely neutral facilitator between ER and unMon. Let's please consider asking for help for example great folks from Emerging Leader Labs. Why inbreed and cook in our own sweat?

3. @Nadia, if we talk in public lets all talk in public! When someone contacts you on private with concerns, maybe you could encourage those people to have courage to express themselves openly? C'mon, we don't have vicious monsters on this platform which will e-chew someone. Even if someone will loose one's calmness, others will step in and offer support on comforting to other one feeling offended. I think people need encouragement and not mom who keeps 'helping' them to clean their noses.

4. Talking online in open doesn't = keeping everything on ER platform. If unMonastery currently doesn't provide any open forum - PLEASE OFFER ONE! If you need technical help, let's ask @almereyda for help! unMonastery already has VM on Ecobytes to run whatever needed.

5. @Nadia, if you didn't come to Berlin for unMonastery Gathering, please consider to consider yourself simply less involved and don't try to "call the shots"

6. If anyone here feels that people currently working on unMonastery have some debt towards you. Please state it loud and clear, including your precise demands and proof of your past contributions. IMO staying vague obligations/expectations doesn't help anyone.

7. Online tools need integration? Of course! Who actively works on it? I only know that @almereyda does, myself and maybe @JamesL still does. Anyone else here? Until we sort out various technical obstacles, let's acknowledge current limitations and learn how to leave with them. We don't need all to use the same channels. If will to communicate exist then people will bridge conversations . And if you want to have nice online integrations available sooner - CONTRIBUTE to developing them! (now I juts go back to exactly do that)

Last but not least


keep it playful :)

Dorotea's picture


we're in the same room but for now I can only really strongly agree on one thing you stated here... that is also in the same room... "Keep it playful" 




Nothing against Nadia!

elf Pavlik's picture

@Dorotea have brought to my attention yesterday, that one can interpret my comment as 'against @Nadia'. I would like to clarify that I didn't put such intention into it. I just have impression that while Nadia tries to help with really improving something, it unfortunately seems to result in contrary - making this situation even worst.

IMO both Edgeryders and UnMonastery communities (including cross over between them) have enough participation from various people. So while Nadia and @Ben somehow ended up in unfriendly resonance, others can step up and keep the vibe more positive and constructive. Which I have impression happened already :)


Nothing against anyone

Alberto's picture

An assumption of good faith (no one is "against" anyone) is both required and reasonable in any constructive conversation. Knowing you a bit, @elf Pavlik, it is not hard to believe you are not bearing personal grudge.

That said, thanks for making the point, therefore helping to spread the better vibes.


Better Vibes :)

Dorotea's picture

Exactly , helping to spread better vibes :)

I'm definitely willing to help with that !  


hi and thanks

mishek's picture all for your clarifications, obfuscations, flame warring and poxes too!

all are very welcome in my view, the more info, the more crap, the more enlightenment, the better...

lets have it all out finally (and never finally) to find new inspiration in this mess of humanity that we chosen to enter into here, no there's never any final conclusion to such conversations (how could anyone even try to mediate, i mean meddle, i mean mediate)...

we must apologize as needed, continue to fight back were necessary, to conflict when necessary (and of course to find the positive when it helps balance things out)....for is that not the essence of who we are? conflicted, prejudiced, one sided, unholy, ungodly, unmons trying to escape from business as usual? please, let's be honest about the process (and our own process) and stop pretending to be like everyone else ok?

an answer to anything? all we can do is to continue as we've continued, hobbling along at times, flying along, edging ourselves towards new forms of being, of being together, organizing, collaborating, designing new ways of seeing, but please let's not be so evolved as to design away our demons, our personal hells, we need them all, thanks to all who have spoken up!

cheers friends, looking forward to working in athens soon...



Moderated group now accepting members

Alberto's picture

Hello all, as Ben has resurfaced to post a first (short) update in the to-be-moderated group, I have taken the liberty of accepting the sign-up of those who had requested access to it, i.e. @Cristiano Siri, @Dorotea and @Billy Smith. I name them here because I am not sure that Drupal serves email notifications when your pending request for membership in a group is accepted. I think it is the first time this happens in Edgeryders.

Those who wish access to that group can request it here:


Alternative channel for accepting members

Alberto's picture

The three people mentioned above could successfully request membership to The Confessional, and have now been approved. If you want to access the group but can't for some reason, let me know by whatever channel and I will add you manually.


yes please

mishek's picture





Alberto's picture

@mishek you are now a member of The Confessional smiley


Request to join The Confessional

Vidrij Da's picture

I would like like to help mend and redesign these bridges


Accepted with thanks

Alberto's picture

You are now a member, David.


Welcoming Projects- Community Building and Management View-Point

Dorotea's picture


Hello everyone :)

I know that many comments here refer directly to the unMonastery project, but I would like to get back to what I perceive as the more general and objective reason for making this post by @Nadia . This general question as I perceive it was "how to make a collaborative project/process welcoming in practical and realistic terms" . 
(There are more aspects of the questions asked, but I'll refer to this aspect here)

I think it's a good thing that we can learn together and improve our projects based on gained shared knowledge.
We can learn in neutral objective ways, even if sometimes we might have more emotionally involved views on some projects . ( But it's completely OK to feel emotional about things too . )

It's possible that most conversations around the topic of unMonastery, even as an example, are in some way emotionally charged, especially for everyone involved in a project since the beginning, but we can still try to look at it from a different perspective and answer the questions objectively. 

I believe this post might have been actually more neutral in the questions asked that it might seem, and referred to the conversation me and Nadia had about what makes a collaborative process/project welcoming ( in the context of this wiki and the project I proposed to start working on, learning together on many examples 

I've been working on this topic for a while now, and I'm happy to help. Just because I genuinely care :)

One of the important ingredients of the answer is welcoming human interactions and communication. How can I join the project (in practical, realistic terms)? What happens when I have some concerns? How can I join the conversation ? How can I collaborate constructively and enjoyably ? etc...


As an example ( neutral example, really :) in the context of unMonastery, how can I support and help ? how can someone participate in building the project together (not just apply)? what are possible collaborative processes to co-design that makes a project of this type welcoming ? 

I'm interested in finding the answers to these questions so that it can improve any collaborative process and project. 

I think that many people who might care about the project like unMonastery (containing the co-living feature) can possibly have some reasons constraining the option to be at the specific time in the specific location ( in the co-living context or event context, the same applies to the edgeryders projects and events, like Lote events, Futurespotters, etc ) but still would like to be involved and included in a participative way. How can people "keep in touch" but not just via social media or a newsletter type of updates, but rather as a collaborative conversation ? 

Another practical matter to consider is that people have very different skills to support the projects with. I think supporting the diversity can be very beneficial for collaborative processes/projects, so the way of joining should not constrain finding creative solutions to join the project in different ways. 

A real-life practical example : In my case, and the different possibilities of joining the unMonastery project, being based in Berlin at the moment, how can I join, help/support/ have insight into the project to design and evaluate possible ways of joining? 

possible answers :

  • open forum with discussions so that people can know how to possibly "jump in" or suggest some good solutions . my possible offer : I can help with "community management" "group dynamics" "communication" and "moderation"


  • different working groups (also possibly working meetups) for different cities . my possible offer : I can help with Berlin group 
  • general "community calls" (could be joined with edgeryders community calls) - having bi-weekly or monthly calls to update and talk about the project . my possible offer : I can organise and coordinate these kind of calls 

my proposals here aim to generate solutions that would off-load the work generated via such solutions and I could possibly take the lead on it or help to organise it 

happy to co-design solutions for this, or propose some more 

( just a neutral  :) question to consider )

Much Love and Hugs to everyone <3 




cc-by credits :)

Dorotea's picture

I have to credit elf here, I like to credit good people :)
for giving me a good advice "how to constructively help" in this discussion
I'll share the advice points :

  • talking from your own perspective
  • creating constructive proposals
  • helping to possibly off-load peoples work  

Thanks elf !


Caring about unMonastery

Dorotea's picture


Hi again :)

As a practical example of a creative collaborative solution for everyone who wants to express their care about the unMonastery here is where you can express it @emkay made it for you :)

I had some very nice constructive and interesting conversations with @emkay when he was staying here at our space in Berlin and later too,
I believe he has some really nice approach and ideas and I think we have identified some nice and interesting things worth working on. 


Hugs <3 




Looks cool!

Nadia's picture

thanks @emkay, nice idea :) Am racing towards some deadlines this week, but will put post some comments as soon as I have a moment. Just wanted to acknowledge I saw and appreciate this.



Dorotea's picture

I just wrote some of mine, will write more later, happy we could help :) 


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