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IOPS Founding Convention Poll Results

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In this blog, I report on the results of the Preconditions for the IOPS Founding Convention poll, and share my own personal views on the results.

A quick resume of the results: In one year – april 2014 – we shall decide where, when and how we will have our international founding convention. This was one of the two clear results we got out of this poll. The other one was that we're enough online members to proceed. So, it's time to prepare we lack, not number of online members.

Furthermore, most of the other questions had as a presumption that the membership had a clear preference for how working chapters should be in place and operating before the founding convention. However, it doesn't — the most popular answer to this was "no preference".

This means that the answers to the questions about the criteria for the chapters can not be seen as an absolute criteria — only as a lax norm. This lax norm is that we should aim for 10-30 chapters, with no less than 30% female membership in each of them, with chapters in at least 5 countries in at least 3 continents.

Other than that, this poll did give us a more realistic impression of both how many members who participates and how many who'd like to participate in the forthcoming period of preparing for the founding convention.

Let me comment on this. The lowest "no preference" (25%) is for question 3. This coincides pretty well with the highest number of people who didn't like to make any commitments to the planning of the founding convention (24%). Probably, this means that about 3/4 of those members who answered (764 – to use the lowest number of voters for any of the questions – out of 3073 members), i.e. roughly 600 members, expect and want to take an active part in getting this organization going.

This does not mean that the rest of the members don't want the organization to succeed, but it means that they probably won't be the ones who're going to do the hard work of preparing for the founding of the organization. I'm glad we now have this number, as we now have a somewhat more realistic understanding of our present organizational resources. So, we have one year ahead of us, that we need to focus on building the organizational capacity to make an international founding convention meaningful. Let's get going!

NOTE ON THE COMMENTS: Underneath each question, I've added a little comment. The interpretation is my own (of course), and doesn't reflect any "official IOPS interpretation" or anything like that (there isn't one). I've only included the percentages of the most common preferences. I've done the math using a simple calculator (I don't have access to some sort of secret parts of the polling system, or anything like that).

1. Online Membership

How many online members do we need to have before the founding convention?

  • No preference: 234 of 785 (30%)

  • Less than 5,000: 189 of 785 (24%)

  • 5000: 157 of 785 (20%)

  • More than 7500 (incl. more than 10.000): 157 of 785 (26%)

Comment: This criteria doesn't seem that important for most members. The most common answer was "no preference", and the second most common answer was "less than 5,000". This means that a majority (54%) think we already fulfill this criteria.

2. Chapter Definition

For purposes of Question 3, a chapter is a group of members that meets regularly, develops shared commitments, shares experiences, etc., maintains an IOPS chapter web page, and has a membership of at least:

  • 3: 145 of 785 (18%)

  • 5: 183 of 785 (23%)

  • 10: 161 of 785 (21%)

Comment: 5 was the most common answer, and even though the vote for higher numbers than 5 was split into different, competing categories (7, 10, 15, and more than 15), it seems that some kind of average would've been closer to 5 than 10 or more. So, 5 it is then. Regardless, it seems this will be little more than an informal norm, as the most common answer for how many chapters we need (the next question) was "no preference".

3. Chapter Precondition

How many working chapters should we have in place and operating before the founding convention?

  • No preference: 198 of 782 (25%)

  • 20: 134 of 782 (17%)

  • 10: 122 of 782 (16%)

Comment: The most common answer (25%) was "no preference". A majority (59%) of those that did have a preference thought that it should be within the 10-30 range, with the most common answer (23%) being 20. So, we should strive for 20 chapters with 5 members in each, but only as a lax norm, and not as an absolute criteria.

4. Gender Diversity Precondition

How female/male diverse do we need to be overall before the founding convention?

  • No preference: 282 of 783 (36%)

  • No less than 30% female overall: 173 of 783 (22%)

Comment: The most common answer (36%) was "no preference". Of those that did have a preference, the most common answer was "no less than 30% female overall". However, if we hadn't split the vote between so many alternatives, a majority (57%) of those that had a preference thought we should have "no less than 40% female in each chapter". I see this as especially legitimate to do in this specific context, as the two options that constitute this majority pretty much are indiscernable (what's the practical difference between "no less than 40% female in each chapter" and "more than 40% female overall"?). Still, the by far most common answer was "no preference", and we do not know whether they would've chosen "no less than 30% female overall" or a higher criteria. If they all had chosen "no less than 30% female overall", that option would've been the most common one (58%). But of course, we don't know how they would've voted. All this means that while we should indeed aim for gender diversity, we do not have a absolute criteria that we need to meet, in order to get founded.

5. Chapter Gender Diversity Precondition

How female/male diverse do IOPS Chapters need to be before they qualify for question 3, above?

  • No preference: 372 of 782 (48%)

  • No less than 30% female in each chapter: 218 of 782 (28%)

Comment: The most common answer (36%) was "no preference". Of those that did have a preference, the most common answer was "no less than 30% female in each chapter" (53%). This means we should aim for gender diversity in the chapters – and at least 30% female – but this will just be a lax norm, and not an absolute criteria (indeed, the goal of 20 chapters as such, will only be a lax norm).

6. National Diversity Precondition

In how many nation states do we need to have active, functioning chapters, before the founding convention?

  • No preference: 244 of 778 (31%)

  • 5 nation states: 206 of 778 (26%)

Comment: The most common answer (31%) was "no preference". Of those that did have a preference, the most common answer was "5 nation states". However, if we hadn't split the vote between so many alternatives, a majority (61%) of those that had a preference thought we should have functioning chapters in no less than "10 nation states". However, because having a minimum of chapters as such isn't an absolute criteria, and as we don't know what those who didn't have a preference would've chosen if they had to chose one, the goal of having functioning chapters in no less than "10 nation states", can only be seen as a very lax norm.

7. Geographical Diversity Precondition

In how many continents (Continents are: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe, Australia, and Antarctica) do those active, functioning chapters need to be active, before the founding convention?

  • 3 continents: 244 of 785 (31%)

  • No preference: 235 of 785 (30%)

Comment: This is one of the two rather meaningful questions (the other being the next one, on time frame) where the most common option was an actual preference, namely 3 continents. Even so, since having a minimum of chapters as such still isn't an absolute criteria, this too can also only serve as a lax norm, even though the preference is clear.

8. Time Frame

What time frame should we set to reach the above convention preconditions, after which we will have to decide by vote whether to proceed with whatever we have - or extend the campaign - or fail?

  • 1 year: 249 of 785 (32%)

  • 18 months: 129 of 785 (16%)

  • More than 2 years: 38 of 785 (5%)

Comment: The most common answer (32%) was 1 year. If the vote hadn't been split between so many options, the most common answer would've been somewhere in the 1-2 years range. This is the one solid criteria we have. We will start establishing the organization 1 year from now on, and no later than 18 months from now on.

9. Commitments to Founding Convention Planning

Once the campaign succeeds in reaching ¾ of the way to its agreed preconditions, a Founding Convention Working Group will be established. This will be responsible for organizing the convention including making sure there's enough time for discussion about proposals; collecting, sorting and making all proposals available to all members before the convention; and the practical planning of the convention itself - duration, housing, attendance conditions, means, etc. Candidates will be nominated by the ICC and any IOPS member can also volunteer to be a candidate. A vote will select actual committee members. I will participate in electing the Founding Convention Working Group.

  • Yes: 584 of 771 (76%)

  • No: 187 of 771 (24%)

Comment: More than 3/4 that'd like to participate is a good result, I think.

10. Commitments to Recruitment

I will commit myself, barring exceptional obstacles, to seriously prioritizing reaching out to new people. This will include explaining IOPS' commitments, guiding people to the IOPS site, and seeking to answer questions people have. My goal is to sign on at least one new member, preferably taking into account the need for diversity in gender, culture, and geography, in the next six months.

  • Yes: 539 of 764 (71%)

  • No: 225 of 764 (29%)

Comment: This is not that uplifting, but I think the people who answered "no" probably are keen to recruit people, but don't feel confident, or simply don't quite know, how and where to start (any comments from those of you who answered no would be appreciated!).

11. Commitments to Chapter Building

If I am invited by someone in my local area to attend a meeting seeking to develop ties to establish a local chapter of IOPS, I will do all within reason, given my other commitments, to attend and seek to aid the effort.

  • Yes: 719 of 773 (93%)

  • No: 54 of 773 (7%)

Comment: This is a very good result, I think! I'm very happy with this having the highest positive score of the three "commitment questions", as I think the main focus needs to be on building the organization locally!

EDIT I: Formatting…
EDIT II: Proof reading (some at least)

Discussion 55 Comments

  • Lambert Meertens 7th Apr 2013

    I interpret these results differently, even if the conclusions may come out the same. Take for example 3. Chapter Precondition How many respondents thought that 10 chapters is enough? Those who picked one of the options a (less than 5), b (5), c (10), and h (No preference). That is 25 + 38 + 122 + 198 = 383 respondents, less than 50% (which is 782/2 = 391). So 10 is not enough. The next possibility is that 20 chapters are sufficient. That adds the 91 respondents who selected option d, bringing the number to 383 + 91 = 517, or 66.1%, a majority. So here 20 is the outcome. The conclusion is the same as Kim's, but the way of reaching it is fundamentally different.

  • Lambert Meertens 7th Apr 2013

    Most of the targets seem reasonably realistic to me, with the stark exception of 'No less than 30% female overall', to be reached within a time frame of 1 year.

    • Jane Johnson 15th Apr 2013

      Lambert - The target of 'No less than 30% female overall' to be reached within a time frame of 1 year might be unrealistic using our current strategy. But don't you think it might be more realistic if we consider some radically different strategies?

    • Lambert Meertens 15th Apr 2013

      Yes. If we un-member 1600 non-female members, we will be left with 1500 members of which about 450 or 30% are female :). (Or else 480 male members could volunteer to be dis-membered and have a sex change :).)

      If we succeed in from now on attracting females and non-females in equal numbers, as I have calculated below we'd need to reach 10,000 members to meet the criterion. Reaching that number within a year means an increase by a factor of 10 in the net influx of members, going from the present fewer than 2 per day to almost 20 per day.

      Living as I am in cloud cuckoo land, I can easily imagine strategies that might have that effect. Where my imagination fails me is in believing in my ability to convince a sufficient number of my co-ions that we have a problem and that we should do something about it.

    • Jane Johnson 15th Apr 2013

      Well you might be pleased to hear that the radically different strategies I had in mind did not include un-membering any non-female members or even dis-membering any male members :-)

      I'm not sure if we should turn away anyone who is keen to become a member of IOPS. However, we could request that from now on anyone who is white, male and middle-class and wants join has to bring along with them (at the time of joining) at least one other person willing to join IOPS who comes from any oppressed group (female, person of colour, LGBTQ, working class etc.) What do you think of that idea?

      And I'd be very interested to hear what strategies you think might have the effect of increasing our membership by a factor of 10? ;-)

    • Lambert Meertens 15th Apr 2013

      I see that you don't count the middle class yet as an oppressed group, although it appears to be in the process of being made to merge with the precariat.

      I fear that a join-with-a-buddy request, if taken seriously, will squeeze the present trickle to a mere drip. And although it may improve diversity in general, the effect on gender diversity may prove less strong. I wouldn't be surprised if the gender imbalance is even stronger among the working-class contingent of our membership.

      One leg of the strategy would be to make it clear that we actually do want people to join us because we need to do this together, and to make clear that we're happy when they do. And not just intellectuals and wool-dyed activists, but everyone: artists and astronomers, homeless and housewives, students and shoemakers. Another leg would be to make it more fun to be a member.

    • Jane Johnson 15th Apr 2013

      That's a fair criticism. So perhaps instead of anyone who is 'white, male and middle class' we change that to anyone who is 'white, male and privileged'. Is that any better?

      You might be right that this strategy could result in a slow down of membership growth. However, is it not possible that it might inspire people to get involved (especially those from oppressed groups), since we would be prioritizing reaching out to them, thus resulting in an increase in growth? Even if you were correct and it did result in a slow down in membership growth overall, I would argue that this trade-off is worth it for an improvement in diversity. Surely diversity is a more important goal than just increasing numbers?

      I'd be surprised if this strategy made the gender imbalance worse, but if that did appear to be happening we could always request (for a period of time) that those white, male privileged members bring along a new female member in order to work on improving gender diversity.

      Of course I agree with your two suggestions and I'm sure that these would result in an increase in membership growth. However, I do wonder whether they would have much effect on diversity? And do you have any more specific suggestions on how to make it more fun to be a member? :-)

    • Lambert Meertens 21st Apr 2013

      Depending on the form in which we frame an appeal, it will have a different effect on different groups of people. Militant language will appeal to militants but may scare away others. Academese may appeal to some intellectuals but does not speak to the heart. There may be cultural sensitivities we're not aware of. Personally I expect the best effect from a broad appeal to help giving birth to a new world that is based on the care for each other.

      If we all are convinced that being a member of IOPS should not be a duty-bound packet of chores but a rewarding experience, and recognize that we cannot do without a good dose of playfulness, I'm convinced the fun will follow naturally. Some ideas that could be applied to our website can be found at http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/creating-another-world and at http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/the-cool-and-iops. Compare also item number 4 of my proposal for a "Whole World Week", here: http://www.iopsociety.org/forum/interim-goals-for-founding-convention/whole-world-week.

  • Kim Keyser 8th Apr 2013

    Thanks for sharing your view, Lambert. After taking another look at the numbers, I agree with your interpretation of question 3. So, 20 chapters as a minimum, it is.

    This will make it easier for us as well. We can now clearly say that we should aim for 20 chapters, with no less than 30% female membership in each of them, with chapters in at least 5 countries in at least 3 continent, within 1 year to 1 and a half year from now.

    It feels good! After a rather long period of hesitance, I now feel ready to proceed building IOPS.

    I also share your point of view regarding the realism of the criteria. I think they generally are realistic, with the two exceptions of gender diversity (overall and in each chapter – both needing at least 30%). We should nevertheless aim for it though! It might be very difficult without more concrete measures though. In the IOPS compatible activist organization I'm a part of in Norway, we have a very much comprehensive, and very much concrete strategy for reaching gender diversity (not only in membership numbers, but also in power, mandatees and so on). However, after years of development, we're just starting to get finish up details, and the concept won't really start being implemented before the forthcoming autumn (not because we wouldn't like to, but because we won't have enough resources before then). I hope this will be successful, and if it will be, it's something I hope IOPS will consider implementing as well. I intend to report back.

  • Kuan Phillips 8th Apr 2013

    Hi guys. Great contributions as always. I put my main reaction on the poll thread, but in terms of the analysis I seem to have differed with you on 2 points.

    Firstly I've discounted the "no preferences" from the analysis. Those people have basically abstained from making the choice and can't be taken to have chosen minimum requirements.

    Secondly, I've gone with averages rather than a median/majority approach. I agree that if this were an election we'd probably be better off thinking in terms of the median voter as that would get rid of tactical voting. But this is a survey where I think people voted honestly, so the average figures are arguably the best expression of what people want.

    Anyway, I'm no expert - those are just my thoughts.

    • Kim Keyser 9th Apr 2013

      Thanks for sharing your views, Kuan.

      I agree that those who voted for the "no preference" options can't necessarily be taken to have chosen minimum requirements. But I think quite a few of them didn't simply know what to vote and not — I think quite a few of them also thought that non such absolute quantitative criteria should be the basis for when we decide to hold a founding convention. I think those people think that we'll know when we have the capacity, by doing a qualitative judgment – when it seems there's enough "drive" and initiative, and as soon as we have enough money to do it, we should do it (something like that). While this stance isn't necessarily the minimum preference (it's something different), I think those voters at least wouldn't have like to be hindered by even higher quantitative criteria… (For instance, I think Lambert is of that view – isn't that right Lambert?) Of course, we can't know how many of those who chose the "no preference" option think like that and how many of them who simply doesn't know what option to chose. Regardless, we have to take into account that there were /a lot/ of people who chose the "no preference" option.

      So I do not think we can just disregard their votes either. This mostly being an internet organization thus far, with little to no real material commitments for each member, I do think we can cautiously disregard those who didn't vote at all (the overwhelming majority of our ≈3000 members, about 75%). However, when so many of those who actually did vote, expressly opted for the "no preference" option (ranging from 25% at the lowest end to 48% at the highest, and being the most popular option in 5 out of the 7 answers where you could chose that option, and cutting 1% point short of the most popular option in 1 of the 2 answers where it weren't simply a majority), I do not simply think we can disregard them.

      I mean, if this had been a real organization and only 10-15% (i.e. 52% of those ≈25% who voted) of members had voted AND chosen a positive preference (i.e. not "no preference"), and even those votes being split into quite a few different options, we would had to discuss the issue anew before voting once more, in order to ensure that much less than 10% of the members decide the actual criteria.

      However, being that we're not a real organization yet, we shouldn't do that (we'll probably end up with more of less the same ratio of participation and "no preference").

      So, we have to stick with the results and make the best out if it. Then we have – as far as I can see – six options:

      1. Choosing the most popular (problem: often they're "no preference")
      2. Choosing the median, disregarding those who opted for "no preference"
      3. Choosing the average, disregarding those who opted for "no preference"
      4. Choosing the median, counting those who opted for "no preference"
      5. Choosing the average, counting those who opted for "no preference"
      6. Choosing the median as absolute criteria where there are relatively few "no preference" votes, and chosing the median as relative criteria/non-binding norms where there are relatively many "no preference" votes.

      We can't/shouldn't choose 1, as it'll be having close to no criteria, and that's not what the majority voted for. We shouldn't choose 2 or 3, as there were many who opted for "no preference". So, we need to choose either 4, 5 or 6. Here my thinking goes like this: even though the lowest and highest options of each question weren't extreme – and thus not that vulnerable for skewing the average value to a totally unrepresentative value – we can't assume that none voted tactically either (I'm quite certain I've read several people saying that they did indeed intended to vote sort of tactically). Therefore I think we rather should go with option 4 than 5. When we do that, this is what we get: 5000 members in 20 chapters, with no less than 7 members in each, with no less than 30% female membership in each (and 40% overall), and with chapters in at least 10 countries in at least 3 continents, within 1 year from now on.

      But I think alternative 6 is a much better option. Then we get 1 year as an absolute criteria, and the rest as non-binding norms: 5000 members in 20 chapters, with no less than 7 members in each, with no less than 30% female membership in each (and 40% overall), and with chapters in at least 10 countries in at least 3 continents.

      One doesn't need to be an expert to have an opinion about this. I'm no expert either. Few are. And I'd be uncomfortable with making an expert decide (even though I'd be eager to listen an expert's advice, if explained in an understandable way).

      What do you think?

    • Lambert Meertens 9th Apr 2013

      It's funny (funny haha) that already in this first foray into democratic decision making we run into non-trivial differences of insight as to how to interpret the results. In my opinion, there is no majority for making 5000 (or more) members a precondition, which means the poll results indicate there shouldn't be a precondition based on the size of membership.

      From a practical point of view, the issue is moot because we'll run into the one-year time-frame limit anyway because of the gender-diversity precondition – assuming you agree that one year and 30% are what the results of the poll indicate. But hopefully a next binding poll, if we'll have any, will have a defined and ambiguous procedure, established in advance, for determining the meaning of the vote counts. Also, hopefully, it will offer other options, next to "being hung" and "being drawn and quartered", than "no preference".

    • Lambert Meertens 9th Apr 2013

      That should have been: "being hanged".

    • Kim Keyser 9th Apr 2013

      :)

    • Lambert Meertens 9th Apr 2013

      Also, "defined and unambiguous procedure".

    • Zane Hannan 9th Apr 2013

      :)

  • Lambert Meertens 9th Apr 2013

    For most of the questions I chose the "no preference" option, not because I didn't care, but because I felt it was a mistake to define such preconditions, limiting our future ability to choose our actions like a vow of premarital chastity. Before I voted I asked in the Discussion section of the poll what I should do to express this opinion, choose "no preference" or lowest values (typically option "a"), and was advised by Jason that voting "no preference" would make most sense in that case. So that is what I did; this did not mean I didn't care to choose between the options, but that I wanted an option that was not available, "no preconditions". I'd therefore be very upset if the "no preferences" are simply discounted from the analysis.

    There are many measures of average, each with their advantages and disadvantages. The arithmetic mean can be a good measure of average when the alternatives are equally spaced. In the options of the poll they are not; they have obviously not been designed for making the arithmetic mean of the responses a meaningful measure. The median is robust in that respect. There is, moreover, a strong theoretical reason for preferring the median in this context: it tells you what would have resulted for each option if it had been singly presented in a simple up-or-down vote.

    • Kim Keyser 9th Apr 2013

      I published a comment that anticipated (some of) what you said here, before refreshing and seeing this comment of yours. I /think/ there are quite a few of those who think like you about the "no preference" option.

      I agree with your comment about median VS mean, in this poll (one could also add that it'd be quite subjective/arbitrary how to assign values to the "less than"/"more than" options for purposes of finding the mean).

  • David Jones 9th Apr 2013

    I voted "no preference" on a few of the poll questions. Some of the questions struck me as a bit misconceived. For example Q1: what is meant by an "online member"? - somebody who clicked a box saying "I agree" a year ago and has never had anything to do with IOPS since? (and here I note in passing that less than a third of our online membership voted in the poll...) Or somebody actively involved in building the organisation? Obviously there is a huge difference between, say, more than 10000 of the former versus less than 5000 of the latter. Less than 5000 active members to me makes a better precondition than more than 10000 passive online members. And similar comments apply, perhaps, to Q2 - 3 committed community organizers is presumably better that 15+ people who exist on paper but barely show up to chapter meetings or do anything much IOPS related. So I agree with what Kim has said further up that:

    "I think quite a few of them [the "no preference" voters] also thought that non such absolute quantitative criteria should be the basis for when we decide to hold a founding convention. I think those people think that we'll know when we have the capacity, by doing a qualitative judgment"

    And I agree with Lambert that it would be a mistake to discount "no preference" from any subsequent statistical analysis of the poll. It surely contains important information?

    • Jane Johnson 15th Apr 2013

      Hi David, I see what you're saying about the important difference between active and passive members. Question 1 could have been phrased 'How many active online members do we need to have before the founding convention?', however I think this might lead to difficulties in how to determine whether someone is an active member (where do you draw the line?). With the question as it is now, one can always make a guess at the percentage of active members there currently are and use this as the basis of determining how many members they think we might need overall. And of course there was also the 'no preference' option.

      I think the problem with the 'no preference' votes is that there was too much variation in what this meant to people who picked this option, as Caragh indicated below. Therefore it would be difficult to extract any accurate information from it. And to assign a preference to the 'no preference' voters seems a bit ridiculous to me.

      It has been suggested that in the final poll we could have another option for each question: "this should not be a target" (see further down in the comments section of this blog). I think this might be more helpful than just having the 'no preference' option - do you agree?

    • Jane Johnson 7th Sep 2013

      Hi David, I take back what I said earlier about the difficulty in distinguishing between active and non-active members, I now think this is actually something we really need to be doing. I think you were right, it should have been made clearer at the time of the poll what was meant by an "online member", as well as what is meant by a chapter member. This might have avoided the current confusion over how to interpret the preconditions for the founding convention:
      http://www.iopsociety.org/forum/interim-goals-for-founding-convention/criteria-working-chapter

  • Caragh - 9th Apr 2013

    The no preference option was always going to make things difficult. I personally count them as an abstention. When people abstain it means different things for different people.

    As an individual, I would count what I am considering an abstention as a vote, but then take it away from the total. So for example - 700 votes of which 300 showed no preference, leaving the percentages being only for those that did show a preference. All of this needs ironing out though because we have no rules, as as yet we have no way for registering a desire to have further discussion on an idea, or perhaps setting up a working party etc etc.

    If for example the poll was only online for 2 weeks and 100 people voted and it was considered binding and it was contested (how?) what would be the process then? Considering more than one fifth of people did vote in the poll is that enough for us to use as a guide?


    There are so many things that need to be worked out. This is not so straight forward. Amazingly though 700 people did register votes - it could have been far lower.

    • Lambert Meertens 9th Apr 2013

      If you discard the 'no preference' votes and take the median, you get 10,000 members for the members precondition, a number that we're not likely to reach before 2020 if the current growth curve continues like that.

    • Kim Keyser 10th Apr 2013

      Isn't the median found like this:

      (785-234)/2=276?

      …if so, it's found somewhere in the 5000 category:

      Less than 5000: 189
      5000: 157

    • Lambert Meertens 10th Apr 2013

      You're right, I made a mistake. I hope I got this right this time:

      Membership: 5000 members
      Chapter Definition: 7 members
      Chapter Precondition: 20 working chapters
      Gender Diversity Precondition: 40% female
      Chapter Gender Diversity Precondition: 30% female
      National Diversity Precondition: 10 states
      Geographical Diversity Precondition: 3 continents
      Time Frame: 1 year.

      Most of these targets are unrealistic within a one-year time frame. We'd need to more than quadruple our female membership, and even if from now on 50% of all new members are female, we'd still need at least 10,000 members to meet the 40%-female gender criterion. (The latter calculation assumes we now have 3100 members of which 450 are female. 450 + (N - 3100)/2 = 0.4 * N is solved by N = 11000.)

    • Jane Johnson 10th Apr 2013

      I agree with Caragh and would also count the no preference votes as an abstention. I calculated the results of the poll to be the same as what Lambert has done above:

      Membership: 5000 members
      Chapter Definition: 7 members
      Chapter Precondition: 20 working chapters
      Gender Diversity Precondition: 40% female
      Chapter Gender Diversity Precondition: 30% female
      National Diversity Precondition: 10 states
      Geographical Diversity Precondition: 3 continents
      Time Frame: 1 year.

      If we had had exact numbers for each category (rather than for example 'less than 5000 members' or 'more than 15000 members') we could have calculated the mean averages rather than the median which would have provided us with more accurate results. Perhaps something to bear in mind for future polls.

    • Kim Keyser 10th Apr 2013

      Yes, those results are the same as mine. :)

      I agree with you about esp. the overall gender diversity criteria (even though I really wish it would be realistic!). Except for that single one though, I think the rest can be met, if we work hard. I'll post an article related to this, as soon as we have an official statement about the interpretation of the results.

      Also, regarding the overall gender diversity thing, we have no way to tell now, so we'll need to register sex when people sign up to become members, and also, all the 3000+ current members will need to register their sex, as soon as the technical solution is in place. Different matter altogether, I know…

    • Zane Hannan 11th Apr 2013

      I know this has been discussed elsewhere, but this is just another nudge to please expand the options beyond Male/Female/Other when choosing ‘sex‘ on registration.

  • Zane Hannan 9th Apr 2013

    Hi all!

    Thanks for the post, Kim!

    I also voted no preference for almost all the questions. I chose that specifically because I do not believe we should have such binding criteria. Also, I had read Jason's advice to Lambert on which answer to choose in lieu of a ‘no preconditions’ option. I share the views of Lambert and David on this, as Kim described.

    I think the fact that the poll was up for an entire month, with several reminders being sent out, yet only about a quarter of registered members actually voted, is very significant. I agree with Caragh that the number could have been far lower, so I was pleasantly surprised. I’m unable to find the first test poll that was put up, but if I remember correctly, only about 40 people voted.

    I remember so many discussions over the past year when there were various blogs written proposing visions of exponential growth of membership. Many other members cautioned against such an approach, and also warned about the distinction between registered versus active members. In other words, that the focus should be on participation, rather than numbers.

    I realise that this discussion is for another blog or forum, and has been ongoing amongst some members (several of whom have since left) pretty much since the launch of IOPS. However, I think these poll results should be used not only to determine the criteria for the convention, but also should be mined for other information.

    At the end of our first year of existence, IOPS has fewer than 800 active members. We have a year before we must decide whether to have a convention, or let IOPS fold. If we are happy with the progress so far, no problem, we continue as before. But if not, maybe we should consider what we could do better.

    I certainly don’t take the view, often expressed by some members, that we have low numbers because most people are apathetic, or brainwashed, or feel hopeless. I’m continually inspired by the passionate desire for change expressed by most people I meet in the world, and the sheer mass of politically activist work that is ongoing. Maybe I see this more often because I live in a large, busy city, London. Yet I believe a more optimistic and appreciative attitude towards our fellow human beings may be one of the changes IOPS could make if we want to survive beyond the next year.

    • Lambert Meertens 9th Apr 2013

      The first test poll closed with "I didn't find any problems with the poll system (37); I found some problems using the poll system (5)".

      I too was pleasantly surprised by the number of voting members and the high number of 'Yes' commitments for the last question. I had expected about half that number.

      Yes, many people I meet believe that the world is going completely the wrong way and that a drastic change is desperately needed. But at the same time they feel powerless (which is not the same as hopeless) and have no conception of how things could be turned around, let alone that they see they can play a role in the process. Maybe they are not brainwashed in the sense of believing there is no alternative, but their notion of processes leading to social change is confined to political parties taking the right stance and the electorate voting for these parties. As far as I can see IOPS doesn't offer a clear message there either. The 'Why join IOPS Q&A' page is very obviously not written with such people in mind and will not appeal to them. The 'About IOPS' page also offers no form of appeal to join us in the effort of gaining a new world.

    • Zane Hannan 11th Apr 2013

      Thanks for providing those test poll numbers!

      I strongly agree with you here, Lambert.

      However, I would say that there are several stories out there that do offer narratives of how things may be turned around, and which both empower people and offer multiple roles for them to play in the process. One of the most attractive, and increasingly well-supported, is the magnificent Transition Network movement, and all its nodes such as the Post Growth and Post Carbon Institutes, as well as many others. On the other side, there are the more malign, millenarian scenarios, which we’d all rather avoid.

      I also very strongly share your critique of the Q&A and About (and other) documents, but will keep any further non-poll-related comments to the relevant forums and threads.

    • Zane Hannan 11th Apr 2013

      Just to clarify: by mentioning these other narratives, my hope is that we can learn from them, and create more appealing stories ourselves.

  • Kuan Phillips 10th Apr 2013

    Hi all. Thanks for the replies Kim and Lambert.

    I still think that "no preference" shouldn't be counted in the analysis of what the requirements should be. "No preference" people have said that they are indifferent between the options given so we can't count them as having chosen one of the options.

    It's not that I want to disregard the "no preference" people's contribution - I'm glad they participated, and they have revealed something, maybe that the question wasn't very interesting for a lot of members - but it would be wrong to assign a preference to them, in my opinion.

    I still also think that the mean is a better expression in this case of what people want than the median. If, say there were only 2 options on question 1 - a)5,000 and b)10,000 and 51% went for (a) with 49% going for (b) then the median would give us 5,000 and the mean would give us around 7 and a half thousand, which is a much better expression of what people want. I'm no statistical expert and I agree, Lambert, that the numbers chosen by the questionner might alter what the mean turns out to be, but this is more obviously the case with the median - we are getting the result of 5,000 because that was given as one of the options.

    I hear what you're saying about tactical voting, Kim. By tactical voting here I mean picking a more extreme precondition that you actually want in order to push the average further in the direction you want. If people were doing that then maybe we should look at the median.

    Anyway, as has been said, all of this is a bit academic as whether the female target is the average of 37% or the median of 40%, IOPS is likely to remain in the interim stage for some time to come.

    • Jane Johnson 11th Apr 2013

      I agree with you Kuan that the no preference votes shouldn't be counted. It is unfortunate that there wasn't a separate option for those people who wanted to express their view that there should not be any preconditions. I also agree that the mean gives a more accurate picture of what people want than the median but (as I explained above) I don't think it's possible to calculate the mean averages for our poll because we don't have exact numbers in each category. I'm no statistician either though so please correct me someone if I've got that wrong!

    • Kuan Phillips 11th Apr 2013

      Hi Jane. Thanks for your reply. I agree that more general questions would have been better from a democratic point of view. You're right that the mean can't be definitively calculated. On question 1, I assumed that below 5,000 meant 2,500 and above 10,000 meant 12,500, to give an average of 6.1 thousand members. These were just figures pulled out of the air and your criticism is valid. I still think the mean is a better approach than the median here, but it's probably better to use the median in the future as the mean is open to tactical voting. So it doesn't make much difference here, though I confess I find these issues quite interesting!

    • Jane Johnson 13th Apr 2013

      Hi Kuan, I'm not sure anymore, having read all the comments on this blog which average is best to use in this poll. It's not as straight forward as I first thought - especially when taking into account tactical voting and other factors. However, it appears that this decision had already been made (see also Lambert's comment further down in this blog):
      http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/icc-report-decision-methods-and-first-poll

      It won't be the mean or the median that is used - instead it will be the mode (the most popular answer for each question). And there will soon be a further poll where we choose between these results and a separate proposal formulated by the ICC in 'a final run-off election'.

    • Kuan Phillips 16th Apr 2013

      Thanks for your reply Jane. I suppose there's no right answer to these questions in a way. I think we can probably all reasonably agree that the Mode isn't a very good measure of people's opinions here. As you may have read, I'm bowing out of the IOPS project as I think this poll reveals that members are reasonably happy with this interim phase, which I'm not satisfied with. I wish you all the best with this and other projects. I'm staying an online member so feel free to get in touch anytime.

    • Jane Johnson 22nd Apr 2013

      Thank you Kuan. I hope you will change your mind about 'bowing out of the IOPS project'. I sympathize with your frustration about the interim phase but do you really believe that IOPS won't ever move to a democratic structure (a comment you made on the first poll)? The Mission and Structure and Program statements repeatedly refer to the IOPS goal of "organizing in an internally classless and self-managing way". And quoting from the IOPS History and Future Hopes page: "The ICC, created as an interim tool, will when a membership is able to convene, disappear into the organization, with no particular continuing rights or responsibilities. It will only have helped take the interim steps toward establishing a self managing organization, its members then becoming part of that organization like all other members."

    • Kuan Phillips 22nd Apr 2013

      Thanks very much for your reply Jane. I'm afraid I'd rather focus on democratic endevours. I judge this project by its actions and structures, not by its stated ideals. There are minimal practical barriers to it being a democracy now, so I assume it's not a democracy for some more fundamental reason. My prediction is that it will never become a democracy. If it does I'll be happy to get involved again, but, as I say, I don't think that's going to happen. I don't regret being involved for a few years as I've learned alot, so I don't blame you for doing the same.

  • Mark Evans 11th Apr 2013

    "As membership in the overarching international organization and in its branches and chapters grows, digital voting facilities will facilitate arriving at plans at all three levels, not least for a convention - perhaps a year or so in the future - to establish actual (not interim) international organizational structure and procedures, as well as shared international program and campaigns."

    The above is taken from the "History and Fututre Hopes" document. From this we can see that there has always been an intention to formulate a plan for organisational structure, etc.

    Within this context the position of having "no preference" can only be understood as meaning that that members has, well, no preference amongst the options on offer. What "no preference" cannot be understood to mean is that the member voting for this options is against formulating a plan - "no preconditiond" - as identifying preconditions, as part of our transition from interim to actual organisation, has been part of our intention from the start.

    • Lambert Meertens 11th Apr 2013

      Preconditions to be met before we can hold a founding convention are an entirely different thing than organizational plans for holding such a convention, which should indicate who can submit proposals (members? chapters?), who can attend and vote (any member? delegates?), what the voting procedures will be, and so on and on. I find it an unacceptable switching trick to suggest that the document you quote from implies that members opposed to formulated preconditions are opposed to formulating plans in general.

      I have loyally cooperated in improving the poll, suggesting several changes that were indeed adopted, all while I was against the whole poll. Not polls in general, but this one. I was disappointed that there was no room for me to indicate my objection against formulating quantitative preconditions. I know that you do not understand my objection, but maybe you could at least respect it.

  • Lambert Meertens 11th Apr 2013

    Something I would have forgotten if I hadn't been reminded is that this is not the final poll. Quoting from http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/icc-report-decision-methods-and-first-poll:

    "5. After a decision related poll is complete - running for a month - the ICC formulates, in light of the results, an uncontroversial compromise solution/proposal for each feature that the ICC believes will appeal to all. That proposal is pitted against the most popular position for each feature as revealed by the earlier poll, in a final run-off election. The winning stance is decided."

    I have a hard time interpreting this. If it is truly uncontroversial we shouldn't need another poll, but perhaps this is meant as a kind of ratification. But to be pitted against the most popular position, the uncontroversial proposal has to be less popular, so how can it be uncontroversial? Or should we read "the most popular feature among those that differ from the ICC proposal"? Finally, it isn't clear whether this is a vote between two packages, or separate votes for each question from the original poll.

    For most questions the most popular answer was 'no preference'; exceptions being Chapter Definition, Geographical Diversity Precondition, and Time Frame. So will we have to express a preference between some option and 'no preference'? What if you have no preference for any of the two?

    • Jane Johnson 13th Apr 2013

      I had a hard time interpreting this too, Lambert. I don't think the uncontroversial proposal has to be less popular than the most popular position result of this poll. The majority of participants did not select the most popular option in each question so in a further poll where there are only two options, it may be that the ICC proposal becomes the most popular option.

      I think that the ICC will probably use the most popular answer not including the 'no preference' option as the results of this poll:

      Membership: Less than 5000 members
      Chapter Definition: 5 members
      Chapter Precondition: 20 working chapters
      Gender Diversity Precondition: 30% female
      Chapter Gender Diversity Precondition: 30% female
      National Diversity Precondition: 5 nation states
      Geographical Diversity Precondition: 3 continents
      Time Frame: 1 year.

      Hopefully there will be an option in the next poll for those who don't think there should be any preconditions.

  • Preeti Kaur 13th Apr 2013

    I think having a second vote makes sense. This second vote could be seen as the first concrete step towards having a founding convention. The poll could ask participants to make the final choice of preconditions (taking the most popular (by mode and median) as the options, including having an option of not having targets).

    For example:
    "1. Online Membership
    How many online members do we need to have before the founding convention?
    a) Less than 5,000 (mode)
    b) At least 5,000 (median)
    c) This should not be a target
    d) I don't care"

    • Jane Johnson 13th Apr 2013

      Hi Preeti, I think having a second poll makes sense too. I like your idea of having the option of both the mode and the median, as well as options c) and d) that you have suggested above. This seems like the perfect solution to me! I think we should get on and do it (unless anyone wants to raise any objections?) :-)

    • Jane Johnson 13th Apr 2013

      Although maybe instead of d) "I don't care" it might be better to have "No preference" like in the previous poll.

    • Zane Hannan 14th Apr 2013

      LOL!

    • Jane Johnson 14th Apr 2013

      :-)

    • Jane Johnson 14th Apr 2013

      In 4 of the questions the results for the median and the mode were the same (chapter precondition, chapter gender diversity, geographical diversity and time frame). So we have the option of either accepting these as the final result or we could perhaps use the mean as an alternative option for the final poll (or the ICC can come up with another proposal)?

      I have calculated the mean for each of these 4 questions - the results are not wildly different from the median/mode (it's actually the same for geographical diversity):

      Chapter Precondition: 26 chapters (substituting 'less than 5' for 3 and 'more than 40' for 50)
      Chapter Gender Diversity Precondition: 36% female (this is the actual mean not an estimated mean)
      Geographical Diversity Precondition: 3 continents (substituting 'more than 4' for 5)
      Time Frame: 1 year and 4 months (substituting 'more than 2' for 2.5)

      I double checked it all so hopefully I got the maths correct! :-)

      So for example q.3 Chapter Precondition options could be:
      a) 20 working chapters (median/mode)
      b) 26 working chapters (mean)
      c) This should not be a target
      d) No preference

      Given that the mean, median and mode are all the same for the geographical diversity precondition (3 continents), I think we should probably accept that one as the final result.

    • Jane Johnson 14th Apr 2013

      I have written up suggested questions for the final poll using the above suggestion by Preeti and adapting it slightly - where (using the results from the last poll) option a) is the mode and b) is the median (or an estimated mean in cases where the median and mode were the same):

      1. Online Membership

      How many online members do we need to have before the founding convention?

      a) Less than 5,000
      b) At least 5,000
      c) This should not be a target
      d) No preference

      2. Chapter Definition

      For purposes of Question 3, a chapter is a group of members that meets regularly, develops shared commitments, shares experiences, etc., maintains an IOPS chapter web page, and has a membership of at least:

      a) 5
      b) 7
      c) This should not be a target
      d) No preference

      3. Chapter Precondition

      How many working chapters should we have in place and operating before the founding convention?

      a) 20
      b) 30
      c) This should not be a target
      d) No preference

      4. Gender Diversity Precondition

      How female/male diverse do we need to be overall before the founding convention?

      a) No less than 30% female overall
      b) No less than 40% female overall
      c) This should not be a target
      d) No preference

      5. Chapter Gender Diversity Precondition

      How female/male diverse do IOPS Chapters need to be before they qualify for question 3, above?

      a) No less than 30% female in each chapter
      b) No less than 40% female in each chapter
      c) This should not be a target
      d) No preference

      6. National Diversity Precondition

      In how many nation states do we need to have active, functioning chapters, before the founding convention?

      a) 5 nation states
      b) 10 nation states
      c) This should not be a target
      d) No preference

      7. Geographical Diversity Precondition

      In how many continents (Continents are: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe, Australia, and Antarctica) do those active, functioning chapters need to be active, before the founding convention?

      a) 3 continents
      b) This should not be a target
      c) No preference

      8. Time Frame

      What time frame should we set to reach the above convention preconditions, after which we will have to decide by vote whether to proceed with whatever we have - or extend the campaign - or fail?

      a) 1 year
      b) 18 months
      c) This should not be a target
      d) No preference

      Note: To keep the numbers simple I have rounded the results for the mean to the nearest option of those which were already available from the previous poll (e.g. 1 year and 4 months rounded up to 18 months for Q7). The geographical diversity question only has 3 options because the mode, median and mean results were all the same.

    • Kim Keyser 15th Apr 2013

      I think these are good suggestions. I wouldn't mind using the median all the time either, but I would prefer your suggestion slightly above that. And I agree about omitting question 7, on the grounds you mention below.

      As far as I know, people in the Interim Consultative Committee are discussing this, and should (hopefully) publish the run off referendum soon. :)

    • Jane Johnson 15th Apr 2013

      Thanks Kim for the feedback! Glad you like my suggestions. I look forward to hearing what the ICC decide to do, I'm sure they'll come up with something good :-)

  • Preeti Kaur 14th Apr 2013

    Thank you Jane! Perhaps question 8 should not have options c) and d), given Mark Evans' comments above. Or, thinking about it, perhaps none of the questions should have options c) and d), and options a) and b) alone should be given? Making the next vote a binding vote and the winning options forming the pre conditions in the movement towards a founding convention.

    • Jane Johnson 14th Apr 2013

      Yes, I think it might be okay to remove options c) and d) from question 8. I suspect that it might be a bit more controversial to remove these options from all the questions! On second thoughts I think question 7 could probably be omitted and the final result for that already assumed to be 3 continents (since this was the result for the mode, median and estimated mean).

  • Jane Johnson 15th Apr 2013

    There was some (I think valid) criticism of the last poll that it gave priority to the gender issue over other issues. It was pointed out that this is somewhat contradictory to the IOPS goal that IOPS "centrally addresses economics/class, politics, culture/race, kinship/gender, ecology, and international relations without privileging any one focus above the rest" (from mission statement). I am concerned that if we have a target for gender diversity only then we might end up putting too much effort into reaching out to new female members at the expense of other oppressed peoples. I would therefore like to propose two new questions for the ICC to consider using as alternatives to the gender diversity questions in the final poll (someone else might be able to word it better than I have):

    Oppressed Peoples Diversity Precondition

    What percentage of members who identify as coming from an oppressed group (working class, women, differently abled, people of colour, LGBTQ people etc) do we need achieve overall before the founding convention?

    a) No less than ?% overall
    b) No less than ?% overall
    c) This should not be a target
    d) No preference

    Oppressed Peoples Chapter Diversity Precondition

    What percentage of members who identify as coming from an oppressed group (working class, women, differently abled, people of colour, LGBTQ people etc) do IOPS chapters need before the founding convention?

    a) No less than ?% overall
    b) No less than ?% overall
    c) This should not be a target
    d) No preference

    I wasn't sure what to suggest for the percentages but given that this includes all oppressed peoples, I would have thought it would need to be to be considerably higher than those for the gender diversity questions - which were a)30% and b)40%. I'm thinking maybe a)60% and b)70% ?

    I realize that it might be difficult to account for all these types of diversity but not impossible I don't think?

    Feedback/criticism welcome...