Can Karrot support our food co-op?

Hi folks! Have had my eye on this project for some time and have sent some commits in the past :blush: but due to $life, I couldn’t really stay involved.

Now that I saw that Karrot is becoming a more generic organisational tool, I thought hey, this is a way to get back in the mix - by trying to see if we can use it to self-organise Biobulkbende, our food co-op in Rotterdam.

We are doing all of these things already in various ways and mostly in offline ways but there is a desire to see if some sort of technology can help us out. Foodsoft already makes our lives much easier so there is curiousity in the group.

Things we need are as follows, I add a where I think it is possible and a [?] where I think it is not. If anyone has time and energy to help me along, that would be :100:. I am also willing to help out with development of missing stuff if it looks like this can work out :rocket:

  • Recurring pick-up day scheduling, reminders by app notification and email for entire group
  • Messages for entire group by app notification and mail about various organisational things during the month
  • [?] Organisation of members into specific work groups. Every member of our co-op must join a work group and they have specific tasks within those groups and be able to see who is in the group and contact them individually or to the entire group.
  • [?] Some sort of wiki function for each work group, multi-lingual support if possible, to list how to do the tasks of the work group.
  • [?] On-boarding of new members. We need to have a form input here (we’re using a Nextcloud form so far) with some multiple choice questions and also potential to chat with someone to ask questions.
  • [?] Issue raising by work group or by entire group? Some issues are only specific to the work group and not everyone should get notified about them. Some work groups might want to open issues for other work groups or the entire group.

I am tempted to write some stuff about how to manage order lists of food, bulk purchasing, dealing with finance but then I think that is just another app :upside_down_face:


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Hey @decentral1se and welcome back :slight_smile:

I’m really happy our direction go more generalized is interesting to you, we figured the basic features of karrot are actually quite general purpose, and could be suitable for many more use cases. Well, let’s find out!

Development activity is a bit low right now, partly because of me, I’m on a bit of a “summer pause” (preparing for a long awaited cycle trip)… but we focus on slow and steady, comes and goes in flows. I think you know all this kind of stuff anyway :wink:

Would could be a really nice approach that we’ve started doing more, is do a video call with screen share where you can show us how you organise at the moment, e.g. with foodsoft, and whatever other tools. It makes it really real for us, and helps to see how the flow of karrot can be… and quite motivating later on when I see karrot being used for real stuff (compared to my seed data local dev database).

So, more specifically in reply to the ? points:

The closest we have right now is using “Places” for non-geographical purposes, there are groups doing this already, you don’t have to choose a location when creating a place (which is not obvious). And we don’t have explicitly membership of the places, but when users star/favourite the place, they will be automatically subscribed to the wall, which can be used for communication.

You can sort of see who has favourited a place (on a place page you can click on the star on the left, and it shows you the avatars of the users).

There is scope here for improving all these aspects things within the Places feature, but I also wonder if we need a bigger concept which is more like subgroups or teams at some point. As the groups scale, they do get unmanageable at some level, one current solution is just having multiple groups (a few of the groups do it like this, and it can actually be quite good for supporting more autonomy amoung the parts of a group).

There was a bit of chat on a related topic here → How to make Places more suitable for conversations? and @bruno is using Places for non-geographical uses (as we are in karrot now, with our meta group).

Usually the groups are using external tools for more content, and linking to them in the descriptions. Our upcoming agreements feature might work for that use case - they will support democratic process to add/update agreement documents (we have the feature prototyped over at - actual dev hasn’t been started yet).

For some groups that might be a bit cumbersome process to go through a whole process, instead of just editing a doc directly, but for that case maybe just a public pad (or BigTechCompany Doc) linked from the description is sufficient?

We have the group application feature, which just has a freetext field question and answer, when we built that I imagined one day it might be great to include a form builder to it, I think that feature would make sense, and can be incrementally added to what we already have.

Group applications are already modelled around a conversation (with applicant + group members, who can opt in/out to be notified about new applications), so maybe that aspect already fits?

All issues at the moment are group wide, and also the outcome options are focused on the worst case (removing the user from the group), as those were the conflicts that were most critical to support. But one of the most common things requested is less drastic “conflict” options, which go along two lines:

  1. “graduated” conflict - if appropriate, encourage dialog between only impacted people, then if needed bring in people that opt-in to be mediators, and if that fails, then go group wide
  2. subtler outcomes (e.g. locked out of account for 1 week, remove a role, offline resolution, … or I guess just a nice warm feeling inside having resolved something, it’s based on a dialog as we have a general hope that most/many issues/conflicts can be resolved with good communication, and are often just misunderstandings)

I feel we definately started to focus more on the human and community features of karrot, over “technical resource management” type stuff, and my hunch is that resource management realm is perhaps already better served with tools, than the community features… so great if that makes sense to you as separate apps, I think those are a lot of work too, and in a very different direction.

What sounds like one of the biggest needs from you is the work groups part, and I wonder what are the basic needs of those? How is access to a work group managed? (assuming they already exist in the offline reality of the group)

Ok, that’s my thought dump for now!

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+1 for Nick’s thoughts and clarifications. Only regarding the question of raising issues, I understand @decentral1se differently, not referring specifically about conflict resolution, but maybe something more like issues as in github issues. Is that correct?

If that’s the case, then I think that raising issues by just writing on the place wall (if you choose that to organise work groups) or on the main wall (if for the whole group) might be a good way to do it.

We also discussed in the context of group self-governance that creating issues (like starting a discussion or flagging one) which may lead to a certain outcome - a new agreement, a poll, a conflict resolution… - can be an interesting thing to explore for the future.

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