Direct democracy, while empowering, can often be time-consuming. Decisions are made more efficiently when the General Assembly (GA) follows a clear set of guidelines as to how it will operate. These guidelines are recommended by the facilitation working group and have been approved by the GA.
First, let’s go over some terminology:
General Assembly Terms:
- Proposal -
A proposal is a specific item for the General Assembly to approve or take action on. This can range from forming a working group to approving action or responding to external events.
- Clarifying question -
A clarifying question can be asked by any participant of the General Assembly. The point is to understand the proposal currently being considered. Questions about issues other than the current proposal are off topic and will be tabled until they are relevant.
- Temperature check -
A temperature check is used to determine whether or not a proposal needs to be modified before being considered for consensus.
- Point of procedure -
A point of procedure is used to ask a procedural question or bring attention to a departure from the agreed upon procedure.
- Block -
A block prevents concensus on a proposal due to ethical or safety concerns. Anyone can block a proposal.
- Consensus -
Consensus is achieved when 70% of the participants of the General Assembly approve the proposal.
- Amendment -
Proposals can be amended after a temperature check to bring that proposal closer to consensus.
- Stack -
The stack is used to keep track of whose turn it is to speak. This ensures that no one is overlooked and everyone who wants to contribute to the discussion has an opportunity to speak.
- Mic check -
When ambient noise makes it difficult for someone to hear they can perform a mic check. This notifies the group that, in order to allow everyone to hear the person addressing the assembly, participants close to the speaker should repeat what is being said.
General Assembly roles
There are a number of roles present during a General Assembly to keep things flowing in an orderly manner:
- Facilitator -
The Facilitator runs the General Assembly meetings. The Facilitator determines who should currently be addressing the assembly by following the agenda and maintaining the stack. By agreeing to facilitate, the Facilitator has agreed to remain neutral. This means that he or she does not make, discuss, or vote on proposals unless specifically asked to by the General Assembly.
- Recorder -
The Recorder keeps the minutes for each General Assembly. This should include proposals, a record of the discussion pertaining to it, and whether or not the General Assembly passed it. The Recorder is a neutral position like the facilitator.
- Scribe -
The Scribe writes the proposals before they can be considered by the General Assembly. The Scribe also helps participants refine their proposals so that the proposals are easier for the General Assembly to understand. The scribe is also a neutral position.
- Participant -
Anyone attending a General Assembly, who is not selected for one of the above roles, is considered a participant. Participants can make, discuss, and vote on proposals as well as make points of procedure.
General Assembly Procedure