Membership process: a proposal

1. TL;DR

The membership process is more complicated than anticipated.

Proposed solution:

  • Move forward based on the following informal agreement:
    • Decide on Associate Membership by consent (Full Members only)
    • Use the draft proposal until Team Reef has approved the final proposal
  • Ask Team Governance (and others) to finalise the proposal and present it to Team Reef for approval.

2. A proposal on the membership process: why?

My task was to come up with a proposal on how The Reef will deal with membership requests. This is because we make decisions on membership by consensus (as per the Governance Document) and we want to make sure that we are transparent about how this is going to happen, and also that we minimise the potential for hurt feelings.

3. Scope of the proposal + implications

When going into the details I found that it made more sense to cover:

  1. How The Reef will deal with membership requests (or the lack thereof), and
  2. How people can become a member and what is expected from them.

This has the following implications:

  1. The draft proposal could be used to replace the entire Section 2 in the Governance document.
  2. We probably need a bit more time to think about this and do the collective intelligence thingy.

4. Read the proposal

Saved on Nextcloud (internal link).

Warning: it’s a bit dry and technical :woman_shrugging:.

5. Key points

  • Associate Members can be heard about other people’s membership requests, but will not be invited to participate in the decision-making.
  • To decide on Associate Membership we decide by consent rather than by consensus => Question for the round: “Can you work with this for moving forward?”.
  • To decide on Full Membership we decide by consensus, but nevertheless with the long-term viability and stability of The Reef at the center of the question of the round (rather than personal preferences). The proposal lists a couple of criteria to justify the lack of consensus (e.g. commitment, responsibility, trust, …)
  • All members are asked to be proactive and conscientious about membership. When we see potential problems at the horizon, we talk to somebody and ask Team Conflict Management to intervene.

Graphic summary:


6. Issues that need to solved still

  • What do we do to determine the order of priority to chose a unit if several people become Full Member at the same time? (my suggestion: units are designed according to people’s wishes, so I don’t think this will be a problem)
  • What will we do when we get more applications to become an Exploring Member than we can take on? How will we select people?

7. Proposed way forward

We need to find a balance between the following needs:

  1. Moving forward and making it actually possible for new Reeflings to become an Associate Member
  2. Taking enough time to think this through and let the collective intelligence do its thing

This is why I would propose a hybrid / informal solution, as follows:

  1. The current Full Members hold a GA shortly, and decide on the membership requests by consent.
  2. People who become Associate Members after this GA agree that they will not be able to decide on Associate Membership requests (until they become Full Members of course).
  3. We ask Team Governance, Team Recruitment & Onboarding and Team Conflict Management to have a look at the parts of the proposal within their remit and to refine or amend it where needed.
  4. We decide on the final proposal by consent in a plenary meeting.

8. Questions


  1. Do you have any questions, remarks, thoughts?
  2. Can you work with the hybrid / informal proposal under point 7 above?

Thanks for doing this. Answer to your question is yes, I find these informal agreements very reasonable.

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Question 2. Yes
Question 1. About the second issue in (6). Maybe select people in order to get the group as diverse as possible? I would try to keep everybody on board in some way at the Exploring stage, as we don’t know how many people will go on to become Full Members. I see another potential issue in this regard: having too many Full Members compared to the size of the site The Reef will find :wink:


@reeflings: so we are going to move forward on this basis then.

We are planning a GA shortly (probably next weekend), so if you still want to become a member these are the steps (see proposal linked above, Annex 1, Section 2.2):

  • Make sure you filled in the onboarding documents (personal presentation fiche, skills and experiences, registry of members)
  • send an email to request membership
  • save the email on Nextcloud


This is the membership process proposal that I was referring to (see post no 1 at the top - the link to the document is under heading 4).

Would you be willing to read this document and provide your comments from a recruitment point of view and from a conflict management point of view?

Team @reef-governance is going to do a reading from their point of view by Sunday 4 September, so that they can decide whether they can move forward with the proposal for the plenary meeting of 15 September.

Thanks a lot!

Great work putting this together @Lee !

In answer to question 2, no problem working with the hybrid/informal proposal.

Regarding the potential issue of having more exploring members signing up than units available, I agree with @Celine_D that we should try to keep interested parties on board as much as possible because it’s hard to tell who’s really interested at the beginning. And if we have actually filled all the units, perhaps still invite them to one plenary to be introduced, then having a backup list (as @alberto said existed at Brutopia). They could also be invited to social events.

Regarding priority of units for Full Members who joined at the same time, it’s possible that this situation never arises, but it may well do, so we should have something in place. The conflict management team is still in the process of looking into the appropriate methods for resolving such situations, and I’m sure they will exist if we ever have to cross this particular bridge. In the meantime, there should be something in writing somewhere that the conflict management team will mediate if this situation arises.



Thanks a lot for your feedback @ChrisM!

Regarding priority for choosing a unit for people who became a Full Member at the same time, maybe it can be as simple as the date of requesting Full Membership and/or the date of the transfer of the 2000 euro?

One small thing I remember I forgot to address is annual membership fees for people who become Associate Members towards the end of the year. Should we maybe exempt people who became Associate Members in November and December from paying the annual membership once more in January, to avoid that people will drag their feet to avoid having to pay 125 euro twice?

Seems like a good idea, and I think the transfer of the 2000 euros should be considered the moment that someone becomes a Full Member. We talked about this a bit at the last plenary, regarding what if someone requests full membership but never gets round to paying. Perhaps it could be in writing somewhere that it is the payment that completes the process.

I didn’t even realise that the 125 euros is an annual membership fee. So two things about that: firstly, yes, I agree that people joining in November and December should be exempt for the following January, particularly in light of the timing for the next presentation; and secondly, perhaps the words ‘annual membership’ could be underlined in the new proposal document, in the same way that other things are.

I’ve just had a look at that section of the proposal, and I didn’t notice before that the 125 euros is now per person, rather than per household, and is an annual membership rather than a one-off payment. Was that part of a discussion that took place? And not sure if this is an issue or not, but is it fair if some members paid 125 per household but others paid 125 per person? Do those that paid 125 per household recently change to 125 per person next January?


Hmm. This I did not remember, and I do not get the logic behind it.

@ChrisM - same questions regarding the fee, I didn’t register neither the per person bit nor the annual nature of it…

This seems like a good idea if we have to resort to that. Maybe a first step could be to consider any other potential priorities (eg need for physical accessibility for ex)?

If this is what it says in the proposal, it’s an error. It should read “125 euro per household per year”. The corresponding article in the asbl’s statute is Article 12 “cotisation”.

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So I think that these are the outstanding points to resolve in order to finalise this proposal before the next plenary, at which time it will be put forward for consent:

On page 5, it still says that the annual membership fee for the ASBL is ‘per person’, so this needs to change to ‘per household’.

There doesn’t seem to be any objection to Associate Members joining in November or December being exempt from the following year’s ASBL membership fee. That could be included as a final bullet point to that section.

Regarding exactly when people become Full Members, there has been some discussion on it being reliant on the 2,000 euros being paid. I think this is so obviously the case (that this is an essential part of the process) that it doesn’t need to be explicitly stated in the document. It would need to be resolved if it didn’t happen, and that would be a bridge for Team Conflict Management to cross if it ever comes to that.

So assuming that some people would become Full Members at a GA of the ASBL at the same time, there may be an issue regarding order of priority for choosing a unit. I don’t think this is something that has to be resolved in this document, as it should be something for Team Conflict Management to think about moving forward.

Finally, with regard to the unresolved issue of what to do with too many exploratory members in relation to available units, we don’t have a clear position on this yet. However, perhaps this doesn’t need to be resolved in terms of this particular document, but can become a separate and specific thread moving forward…

@Lee - Am I right in thinking that as the author of this document, you will make the final edits before the plenary?

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@ChrisM, count on me.

If you want I can also take care of the presentation at the plenary meeting, but only if you don’t want to do it.

To inform others I would propose to introduce a link to the document in the agenda of the plenary, with a request to read the document before coming to the meeting. Works?

Shall we make it Q4 to be safe, so October-December?

In my view this is less important than it seems. Can we just say that for people who become a Full Member during the same GA, it’s the moment that the 2000 euro reach The Reef’s account that determines the priority?

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I’m sure I speak for all of us in saying that the intention is to move towards a place where you aren’t taking responsibility for everything, but in this case, as you’ve written the proposal it seems like the best thing for you to present it :slight_smile:


Seems fair

Let me know if you need me to do anything more as part of this process…


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