Commons-Oriented Open Cooperative Governance Model V 1.0

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This is a prior version of the Commons-Oriented Open Cooperative Governance Model.

Version 2.0 can be found here: Commons-Oriented Open Cooperative Governance Model V 2.0.

The Guerrilla Translation Reloaded workshop and follow-up meeting brought a host of important changes to the model which are not listed here. Version 2.0 is currently being finalised and can be found here: Commons-Oriented Open Cooperative Governance Model V 2.0, with all final updates to V 1.0 listed here.



This document describes a governance/economic model for self-sustaining, mission-oriented, distributed organizations.

It values pro-bono, care, and market work with complementary metrics and doles out payment accordingly. The purpose is to extract people from the capitalist marketplace so they can use their unique talents to do fulfilling, social and environmentally meaningful work. The document prototypes a governance model fit for digital labor and applies it concretely to an existing organization: the P2P translation collective Guerrilla Translation which is, in turn, embedded into a larger proto-organization called the Commons Media Collective.

It is a substantially developed fork of the Better Means Open Enterprise Governance Model (OEGM). The adaptations have been made to:

  1. bypass the original model’s start-up/for profit oriented lingo
  2. fit the needs and ideals of Open Cooperativism and Open Value Networks,
  3. benefit, commons-oriented market entities self sustain their social vision. while addressing their specific requirements and allow for future modifications.

What we offer here is an equipotential and opt-in engagement model: this means that anyone who is participating in the collective as a member will have their work valued, and will be expected to participate in the decision making process. Decisions and control are shared, based on contribution and peer review.

In the following sections we'll be looking at:

  • The ways that value is tracked and rewarded
  • The different roles and responsibilities within the organization and how decisions are made
  • How stewardship is held by all who have demonstrated willingness and invested personal effort participating in the collective's goals.

To see how we envision this in practice, we’ll be using Guerrilla Translation as a showcase example, but it’s important to stress that the model is designed to be useful to other organizations, whether they’re part of the Commons Media Collective, or independent from it altogether. the document features many links to Guerrilla Translation's Wiki. Be warned that most of the material in this wiki hasn't been updated since mid-2015 and some of these articles are subject to change.

Want to comment? For general comments, use the discussion page. For in-text comments, corrections, etc, use this colaborative document.


Commons Coop Governance Model TL/DR

We will explain the model as exemplified by Guerrilla Translation. There are (and will always be) many unanswered questions. The nature of a commons is emergent and evolving, but the model provides a solid set of patterns for its organic development.

Stripping away the particulars of GT, here are the model's main characteristics, which can be applied as a bare-bones formula for other commons-oriented service collectives:

  • The Open Coop performs pro-bono and paid work.
  • Pro-bono work creates relationships and social capital leading to paid work.
  • Both forms of work are tallied into credits.
  • Net earned income is distributed to fulfil members' shares, Paid (75%) and Pro-bono (25%).
  • Client prices are on a sliding scale but members’ credits accrued are stable.
  • Higher prices lead to surpluses, used to accelerate pro-bono credit payment.
  • There are two tiers: Casual/unpaid (Commons-based peer production dynamics), and Committed/paid (Commons and Coop dynamics).
  • Casual members have no responsibilities; addition of their work is mediated by Committed members.
  • Committed members have ongoing responsibilities (pro-bono and care work), evaluated quarterly. Members unable to maintain these are downgraded from the Coop.
  • Care work is essential but is the least specifically defined component, and is subject to regular re-evaluation and definition.
  • Repeated, modular care/admin tasks are valued in credits. More subjective care work is valued in time and entrusted selectively.
  • Decision making is made by consent. Committed members' votes are binding.
  • Both pro-bono and paid productive work affect each member's standing in the coop, as reflected by their historical credits.

The Open Coop Governance Model in Guerrilla Translation

TL,DR: Guerrilla Translators undertake both pro-bono and agency translation/editing work. Both types are accounted for in internal credits (1 credit = 1 Euro). Funds held in GT’s account are distributed on a monthly basis: 75% of these are used to pay down members' agency (livelihood) credits.. The remaining 25% pays is used to pay for pro bono (love) work.

Guerrilla Translation (GT) begun its life as an activist translation collective. Guerrilla Translators are politicised, conscious translators. Their motivation? To create a plurilingual knowledge Commons, accessed through GT’s websites (English and Spanish so far). But it is also a translation/language agency offering a series of services. The governance model is what ties these two facets together.

An Overview of Guerrilla Translation's philosophy and how it works

(Sourced from GT's "Services" page)

How we approach our work

As translators and editors with a variety of backgrounds, dedicated to a professionalism that matches our passion, we work hard and love what we do. All our work is done manually, that is, we do not use computer assisted translation (CAT) tools. We understand the justification others have for using translation software, but we choose not to use it ourselves. Working on unrealistic deadlines, on material that is neither inspiring nor motivating – this may be the appropriate environment for CAT tools. Automating for efficiency is the result of the perceived need, in most businesses, to always get work done faster, not better. Or worse, to assume that tech-driven efficiency also guarantees superior quality work; that software makes everything better by its nature, eliminating human error and producing something invariably correct. But words aren’t numbers, and languages are living things. Our opinion is that the final result of translations executed by software feels different, lacking in nuance and the sense of human connection found in the original language. That is, as long as the original wasn’t a toaster manual. What we do is different, it’s a bit like the slow-food movement. The material we work on, whether self-selected (pro-bono) or contracted (paid), is handled in a way that we feel respects the effort made by the author or client, ultimately reflecting the inspiration and freshness of the original piece. Technology may be the means through which we share our communication, but ultimately the relationship formed through that transmission is a human one. It was a human who wrote the original, and a human who will read the translated result. We believe that our method – pairing two brains (translator, editor), each familiar with the material and invested in seeing it translated – beats any software program. We know of no better or more trustworthy translation tool than the human mind – along with experience and dictionaries, of course.

Our Method

While our approach to translation is decidedly old school, we are a decentralized group working independently, and so we organize ourselves and our work using very “new school” methods including online organizational tools to manage workflow and communicate with other team members. Each translated piece is reviewed side-by-side with the original by the translator, an editor and a proofreader (triply checked). We work closely with authors and clients to ensure the greatest fidelity to the original language and intention. All in all, our level of commitment reflects our level of engagement with the topics themselves.

Our Subjects

We are committed to cultivating channels of communication between authors and new readers, as well as between clients (foundations, initiatives, and other types of enterprises) and their new members and audiences. We are often quite familiar with the relevant vocabulary, as many of our members have been involved in various collectives (P2P Foundation, Ouishare, Sharing Cities Network, The Post-Growth Institute, Positive Money, Guanyem, Podemos, Cooperativa Integral Catalana, to name a few), and have worked on a wide variety of related topics. In some cases, we even are helping co-create the emerging specific language used, both in the original language and the target language, for certain topics (for instance, “the commons”).

How our model helps – All around

We do two things: pro-bono translation, and paid translation – but it’s pretty much the same thing. It’s all by the same team, using the same methods, working collectively and sharing both the work and the eventual rewards. Let us explain, you’ll probably find this interesting.

Pro-bono translations are ones we elect to do ourselves based on our enthusiasm for the original pieces and that they fit our criteria. But the fact that we have selected work for ourselves to do does not make us unpaid volunteers, because of our innovative business model. For us, a pro-bono or a paid translation has the same value – literally. We assign a cost value for all work we do, whether it’s a self-selected pro-bono piece for publication on our blog, or work contracted for a client. Our model of income distribution diverts a portion of every paid/contracted job towards fulfilling the value of the pro-bono work done by our members. This has several functions, which we think you will appreciate. First, internally, it allows all members of the collective to gain some income from everything they do, whether pro-bono, paid/contracted or even managerial/administrative work (also valued). Collective members are not placed in the position of competing among themselves for paid work, nor for the “best” paid work as evaluated by the per-word rate. All work is valued internally at the same rate, regardless of the external price.

On that note, we have several pricing tiers for our clients. There’s a pay-it-forward spirit involved here, but it’s more like pay-it-backward-and-forward. Clients with the greatest financial means and which also feel attracted to and aligned with our principles will offered the top tier rate – this is still quite competitive, in fact at the lower end of typical translation pricing. There will be a penny or two per word that this level of client will be paying toward the “pro-bono” work already performed by GT members, as well as towards any jobs we accept for clients with minimal or bare-bones budgets (including small co-ops, activist collectives, non-VC startups, and others). This is so that we can establish relationships and help support collectives and initiatives with the least financial means, yet who are still able to pay something fair in return for our services

What this looks like in practice

The following example is a simplified explanation of how the model works. We’ll get into the nitty-gritty and open questions in later sections.

So “Jill the Guerrilla Translator” chooses an article to be translated. Maybe she’s proposed it, or maybe she’s picked it up from a common-pool of to-be-translated material. She contacts the author to let her know that GT is going to translate and publish the article and ask permission if necessary etc.

The thing to keep in mind is that this will be a pro-bono translation. Jill will work on it with “María”, a copyeditor, and “Deb”, who’ll take care of the web formatting and social media promotion of the article.

The article is 1000 words long. This wordcount is then processed through GT’s internal credits system. This means that this Pro-bono translation is valued a 0,16 credits per word. Once the translation is finished, 160 Love credits (LCs, for this is what they're called) have been created. This is how they are split:

  • 80 for the translation (Jill)
  • 40 for the copyediting/proofreading (María)
  • 10 for pre production (Jill, as she chose the article and contacted the author)
  • 20 for formatting (Deb)
  • 10 for post production (Deb, as she will be promoting the translation doing social media, etc)

Let’s imagine that this is the first time that Jill, Maria and Deb have done a pro-bono projectfor GT. Once the project is accounted for, their respective pro-bono piggy banks will look like this:

  • Jill has accrued 90 Love Credits
  • María has accrued 40 LCs
  • Deb has accrued 30 LCs

A week has passed and an author or client wants to contract GT to translate an article. This is seen as livelihood work. The material is chosen by the client, the deadline negotiated with the collective. Coincidentally, the text to be translated is also 1000 words long. Amazing! GT’s agency side uses a sliding scale for prices. This client is a small, Open Source-oriented small NGO, so the price quoted at 0,12 € per word. The team will be Jill (as a translator) and María as editor (bear in mind that, unlike the pro-bono translation above, there is no web formatting to be done). Once the translation is completed the client owes GT 120 €. Now, these will not be paid directly to Jill and María: they are accrued as Livelihood Credits (LHs) which go into separate piggy banks.

Once the translations completed and sent to the client:

  • Jill has accrued 80 Livelihood Credits
  • María has accrued 40 Livelihood Credits

For the sake of simplicity, we’ll assume that this is the only pro bono and agency work that has been undertaken in the history of the collective. It's getting toward the end of the month and the Guerilla Translators are ready to distribute! There are exactly 120 euros in the bank account. This is how they will be distributed:

  • 74% of the funds will fulfil Livelihood credits.
  • 25% will fulfil pro-bono credits
  • 1% is held in the bank (ice cream fund or, basically, money left in the back to keep the account alive).

These percentages have been chosen to offset time for paid gigs with the vital pro-bono side (AKA: "The Heart of Guerrilla Translation". No pro-bono,: no love!). Given that we have 120 € to dole out, we'll split them like so:

  • The Livelihood Stream receives 88,80 €
  • The Love Stream receives 30 €
  • The Ice cream fund keeps 1,20 €. Take that, bankers!

This is now divided among the member's piggy banks in the following way:

In the Livelihood Stream Jill holds 67% of the "shares" (80 credits of 120 total), while María has 33% (40 credits of a 120 total). So out of 88,80 € allocated for the Livelihood Stream, Jill will receive 59,50 €. María receives 29,30 €.

In the Love Stream Jill holds 56% of the shares (90 credits of 160 total). María has 25% (40 out of 160) and Deb has 19% (30 out of 160). So, out of 30 € allocated for the Love Stream, Jill will receive 16,80 €, María 7,50 € € and Deb 5,70 €.

All added up, this is the money that gets paid to the three active members:

  • Jill gets 76,30 €
  • María gets 36,80 €
  • Deb gets 5,70 €

This totals 118.80 €, remember that 1.20 remaining is the Ice Cream fund. More on that later.

An example among many

This is one situation. Another month María may have done a lot more editing work (which takes less time than translation). Deb may have done more carework (more on that later) in both the Love and Livelihood streams. New people may have come in, maybe there's been a windfall! The model can account for all those possibilities, and more, while also being dynamic and adaptable to changing circumstances. It's a "Team Human" mode, where the technology is kept flexible and updated to serve the qualitative experiences of the collective, not just the measurable ones.

The secret life of Livelihood, Love and other credits

As you may have noticed, if 1 love credit equals 1 euro, in the example above we've only paid down 30 Love credits (25% of distributed funds) in Euros. As 160 Love credits were created with the pro-bono translation this still leaves 130 which haven't been paid in money. The credits that have been converted into money and transferred to individual's accounts are called divested credits, ie: they've been paid down. The unpaid credits are considered Invested credits: active credits that have yet to be paid. If you think about it, on a month by month basis 75% of Love credits will be "invested" rather than divested/paid. In essence, the coop has a debt with its own pro-bono/Love stream which will be paid back in a rolling basis. There are, however, ways to accelerate the payment of Love credits, which are detailed in this section below.

The same situation is also applicable to Livelihood credits: As 74% of earned credits are divested, 26% will remain invested. In essence, both types of credits (Love and Livelihood) can be divested or invested.

Imagine that this same client that owes 120 euros hasn't paid the collective at the end of the month. As GT can't divest those into payments, the credits will be "invested" until there are funds in the account.

These are some of the types of credits handled in Guerrilla Translation. "Why so many? So confusing!" We get it, but complexity allows for dynamism, nuance and catering for the different life circumstances and preferences of Guerrilla Translators. We'll get into the various types of credit and their functions in a section below. For now, it's important to make clear that the total amount of credits you have historically accumulated (whether divested or invested) are accrued to give you G-chi. G-chi reflects your investment in the organization, whether through paying work or sweat equity, and directly informs its governance. The more G-chi you accumulate, the more it is understood that you have poured your soul into the collective and will be affected by its health. More G-chi means more influence and decision making power within the collective's governance and strategic direction.

Why have we chosen this model?

Imagine that María is single mother with two kids to take care of. She wants to do socially useful work, but her material realities don't allow her that privilege. By working with Guerrilla Translation she a) Gets agency work for causes that matter and b) is not "losing" income by doing pro-bono work - ie, translations that wouldn't get funded otherwise, but should still be translated. In fact, she could spend most of her time just doing agency/livelihood work, and it would still benefit the pro-bono/love side and vice versa. The model addresses the possibility of internal competition for "paid work" overshadowing the social/activist mission of the collective. In short, contributing to the Commons also makes your livehood more resilient and, in turn, you make the Commons more resilient by creating new commons and facilitating communications.

The Commons-Oriented Open Cooperative Governance Model in detail

After this basic overview of how the model works, we will now break down its components in more detail. Guerilla Translation remains the running example, but we encourage you to think how it could apply to other mission-oriented collectives that offer services in the marketplace to sustain themselves. We will be covering:

A graphic overview of the mode. Click to see full size

Roles and responsibilities (in ascending order of participation)

There are various levels of engagements within Guerrilla Translation. In fact, GT has been designed to be as porous as possible with the main distinction being "casual" and "committed" relationships, (think of dating). In short, casual relationships function more like commons-based peer production projects, such as Wikipedia, Firefox, GIMP or the VLC video player. Contributions are permissionless and validated after the fact. Everybody is welcome to contribute but translations will only be published when there are team members available to process these tasks. Additionally, there is no agency work offered to casual members and pro-bono work doesn't yield payments (although it is accounted for, as these casual members may choose to become committed in due time).

Committed relationships work more like a traditional Commons, with clearly established boundaries, governance protocols and accountability mechanisms. A committed relationship is also more akin to a Coop: an initial investment is expected, the members watch out for each other and are dependent on their shared trust. Committed members are the de-facto worker-owners of the agency side of GT (think of it as their day job) while assuming the responsibility of upkeeping the pro-bono/commons-producing side. Committed members are considered to be Guerrilla Translators.

Although this is an "ascending order", the roles reflect level of engagement and responsibility. Being a Core Member, for example, doesn't give you VIP access to the boudoir of our evil reptile overlords. In fact, you would only have more responsibilities but no "perks". Rewards are proportional to work and sweat equity investment in the collective, not based on status or overpay (within the committed side, pay ratio is 1:1).

In the following list we will describe four roles:

  • Supporters and Contributors are considered casual roles
  • Guerrilla Translators and GT Posse (Core team) members are committed roles


We will refer to people who want to engage with the collective but are not interested or suited for translation or carework as “Supporters”. A supporter helps ensure that Guerrilla Translation succeeds in accomplishing its mission while remaining true to its values.

Supporter contributions could include (but are not limited to):

  • Evangelizing about GT (e.g., posting links to its work on social media,word-of-mouth awareness raising, etc.)
  • Providing feedback: informing the collective of strengths and weaknesses from a new supporter's perspective. This can help keep GT accountable to its mission and values.
  • Providing moral support, including simple acknowledgement (a ‘thank you’ goes a long way).
  • Participating in open discussions: commenting on ongoing work and in forums.
  • Recommending Guerrilla Translation for paid work: Supporters can identify potential translation gigs which fit with GT's values and broker introductions.
  • Providing earned income: Any individual who contracts GT for paid work is also considered a supporter.
  • Supporting the collective monetarily: This batches all non-contract income and can includes donations, Patreon supporters, funders etc.

Supporters can engage with Guerrilla Translation through email or social media but, preferably, through an open Loomio group for that purpose. In time strategies can be studied to use the Loomio group for polls etc. This follows a general pattern of ensuring that the Committed/Commons-stewardship side has sufficient momentum and resiliency. Once achieved, more resources can be allocated to the Casual/Commons-based peer production side.

Casual Relationships: Contributors

One example of a casual relationship is someone who does pro-bono translation work on their own and then shares it with Guerrilla Translation, so GT can edit it and publish it on their web magazine. Another example is when GT contacts a close associate outside the collective to see if they’d be willing to edit a translation at their own pace when GT hasn’t any other members free to take it on. The key here is that the people in question are qualified professionals in GT's chosen field (translation, editing) with friendly, ongoing relationships, and who currently do not have any interest in joining the collective.

From time to time people will write to GT wanting to hook up – sending a translation they’ve done, or similar – but there's no "history" between these people and the collective. GT might find that the work is excellent, but maybe not. If the translation (or editing) work in a proposed casual relationship isn’t up to scratch, GT will probably won’t be dating with this person. Conversely, if both parts reach a clear, mutually respectful understanding, they will probably keep collaborating in some form or other. Again, extending the metaphor, these casual relationships can only happen when time and circumstances allow, and won’t take precedence over committed relationships with established team members.

What are the contributor's responsibilities? And the collective's to the contributors?

None! To be clear: if a contributor sends a translation and it causes the editor a headache, then "we’re really not made for each other". Casual relations are consent-based and depend on clear communication.

A casual contributor doesn't really have to do anything for the collective – in terms of building our support structure and using GT's workflow tools, for instance. Contributors can get in touch for a booty call whenever they feel like it and vice-versa.

But here is the important bit: Contributors shouldn’t imagine they’ll have any priority over members of the collective, or that they’ll be compensated for any of their contributions (poor unicorns!). A casual relationship is based on a respectful coincidence of wants and needs.

What contributors get out of a casual relationship with GT

If the submitted translation or editing work is of sufficient quality and the mutual experience is a happy one:

  • GT will publish and promote the work in its web magazine.
  • Contributors don’t have to worry about learning GT's practices as a Commons or undertaking any of GT member's basic responsibilities.
  • Whenever a Contributor wants to test out as a member and join the collective “for real”, both parts will be ready to take the next steps. GT will already have determined whether the Contributor can translate and/or edit in accordance with the set standards, so no further testing will be necessary, although a call should be set up to explain what becoming a member in a committed (but not exclusive!) relation with GT is all about. Any published translation work will be valued for eventual Love Credit compensation, once the contributor has joined.
  • If after having an honest chat about what it means to be in a comitted relationship, both parts don’t want to get involved for whatever reason, sorry, they’ll have to part ways. As stated above, casual relationships (like any others) must be based on consent, and obviously you can’t force anyone into a relationship. Contributor obviously have the same right to tell GT that they’re not interested, too. ("It's not you, it's ME!" etc)

What about non translation casual relationships??

People can approach GT from time to time wanting to help with non-translation tasks etc. These can be treated on a case by case basis, but this poses more difficulty than easily measurable translation/editing work. It will be up to those dealing with carework to devote time to this but, in general, we recommend that carework be dealt from within the organization, as committed members, etc.

Committed relationships and membership: Guerrilla Transalators

The next step up within the organization is becoming a full fledged Guerrilla Translator (or "member"). Membership level engagement also marks the (porous) membrane between casual and committed relationships with the collective or (if you prefer) permissionless Commons-based peer production type interactions or those of a concrete commons or cooperative. Again, for more details on casual vs. committed relationships read Guerrilla Translation's article To be or not be a Guerrilla Translator, which is routinely shared with anyone approaching GT to ensure clear understanding of what it is and it isn't.

In short: Guerrilla Translators can either be proven contributors who have shown that they are committed to the continued development of the collective or newcomers who would like to apply directly for membership without going through the "casual" phase. The important thing here is that Guerrilla Translators:

As far as GT is concerned, all these steps are detailed in the links above, but we'll briefly summarise them to illustrate the model:

GT applicant Evaluation Criteria and Procedures

Before getting "committed" and spending time and love on new members, GT has to make sure that the relationship will be a good fit. Of course this is hugely subjective and there's no perfect model but, like relationships, clarity of communications an intentions is key. Guerrilla Translation is specifically looking for:

  • Ability to translate (and/or edit) into at least one target language
  • Interest in working in a co-operative, collective group
  • Good skills for working independently and remotely, including time management and communication
  • Strong interest and familiarity in enough of the topics we cover
  • Commmitment to learn our procedures, tools, governance model

This is determined through a series of procedures, including a short love letter by the prospective member on why she/he wants to be committed, a translation and/editing test, and a video chat. Above all we value reciprocity and carework. GT's model is NOT simple and, like most self-organized collectives, involves a learning process.Think of it as moving in with someone or sharing a flat (our “relationship” metaphor doesn’t necessarily have to mean “romantic” for our examples to work). You can save money, have more support, build stronger futures, but it’s all dependent on what you put into it. GT's commitment is to facilitate this process with excellent attention and availability. If the prospective member wants to commit, she/he has to be crystal clear on what is expected before taking this step. If it's a mutual "yes", the next three months are key for leaning how to work with the collective:

Boot Camp phase and basic responsibilities

When both parts are happy about going forward and investing our time in the relationship (ie, “going steady”) they’ll still be, in the words of Sly Stone, “Checking each other out”. At this stage, the new member enters the testing phase, or "Boot Camp". Don't worry, it's nothing like Full Metal Jacket, the purpose here is to help the new member as much as possible and to clarify any doubts. These first few steps within the collective are summarized and detailed in GT's wiki’s “Welcome” entry.

First impressions can be great, yes, but it’s the months following that will make or break the relationship. Again, it’s all about clear communication and consent. When we talk about three months to see how everyone works together this is not just limited to new members, in fact every member of the collective is subject to the same basic responsibilities and criteria. These can be explored in more detail in this link: Ongoing Evaluation Criteria and Basic Responsibilities.

In GT, these responsibilities basically boil down to keeping in touch with the team and translating some material for the web magazine. It amounts to approximately two full days of work out of those three months. Concretely, 400 credits equals 5000 words of translation work and 10000 words of copyediting work (If you're not familiar with the subject, translation takes a lot longer than editing. Compared to what most translation agencies offer, this is a very high ratio for copyediting and proofreading). It makes the most sense to spread this work out over those three months but, all told, we think that it’s pretty easy to meet these goals. Anyone serious about joining GT or any collective using a similar model ought to meet or - preferably, exceed - those responsibilities. In more detail, they include:

  • Reading a becoming familiar with the working procedures of the collective. (For GT translators this is all detailed in a thorough tutorial called The Tao of the Guerrilla Translator).
  • Accruing a minimum of 400 Love credits by doing a number of pro-bono translations, editing or formatting tasks. Carework also adds to these credits.
  • Be familiar with the collective's tools and procedures. In GT that means Loomio, Trello and The Wiki and how they interact.
  • Keep up with all deadlines and commitments in a professional and responsible manner.
  • Answering any communications and keeping the collective up to date about availability.
  • Be supportive and solidarious to other members (casual ones too!)

Boot Camp members will be assisted and cared for at every step of way by all Guerrilla Translators but, specially, by the Carework and Language Stewards (see below)

GT's Boot Camp normally takes place over three months, but these must be in synch with a quarterly calendar. This is done so the collective can batch all team evaluations at the same time. If a trainee joins in the middle of these, that's fine too, but the final evaluation will take place at the end of the next quarter, along with the rest of the team. During that first "partial quarter" trainees are not obliged to obtain a proportional amount of Love Credits, but it's a good metric for initial feedback.

Once three months have passed there will be a mutual evaluation. Is the new person happy with the relationship? How about the collective? Has the person met the minimal requirements? If it's all yes, great, full speed ahead. If not, better to cut the relationship now. No bad vibes.

Guerrilla Translators beyond the Testing Phase

Once a member has passed the testing phase, she/he has become a Guerrilla Translator. This brings a few perks, including:

  • Choosing material to be translated according to GT's Content Curation Guidelines.
  • Having biding decisions in online votes and decisions (see below)
  • Being elegible for livelihood/agency work
  • Enter the monthly payment pipeline (Including a payout of accumulated credits during the Test Phase or, possibly, accumulated credits from a preceding casual relationship with the collective)

All Guerrilla Translators are, however, subject to the same responsibilities outlined through the Test Phase. Q

What happens when a Guerrilla Translator doesn't meet the quarterly quota? And if they leave?

Full, committed members get extra love and understanding from the collective. The key here is, once again, clear communication. If you're going into a three month retreat, go you! They only thing you'd have to do is tell the collective that you're taking a sabbatical quarter, six-months, year, whatever.

Let's imagine that "Luis" takes a sabbatical quarter: In this case Luis will have all his invested credits frozen until the next quarter, when the credits will be weighed as shares for monthly payouts, minus 400 Love credits, which will be erased from his Love piggy bank. This frees Luis from meeting any pro-bono obligations during the sabbatical period. He is, of course, free to do translations on his own during this time, which can be submitted and credited once back in the flow of things. Luis can also accrue 800 Love credits during the quarter he returns, so he can recuperate the Love credits which expired during the sabbatical.

Even when something unexpected happens and no sabbatical was announced, that's OK, but those 400 divested credits will be deducted automatically. Exceptions to this logically include being sick, family situations etc. In those case the credits will be frozen or, if needed for emergencies, divested. If Luis keeps taking longer sabbaticals, his credits may eventually run into the negative! That's no problem, but as he rejoins he'll have to build them from that negative figure up to zero.

If a Guerrilla Translator vanishes into the jungle without a trace (and doesn't check in every quarter to inform of what's going on) then, unless they've been the victim of a 3-month EMP blackout, there will be a split with the collective. In this case, it'd be preferable if they wrote a breakup letter shedding some light on the subject, as all parts can become wiser with these experiences, but the decision is final. All invested credit (livelihood and love) piggy banks will be cancelled, increasing the shares of other members.

When and if a Guerrilla Translator decides to announce that they're leaving the collective for good (not a sabbatical), they will "cash out" all divested Livelihood credits. Their love credits, however, will expire altogether; this is done to prioritize Love credit paydowns for active Guerrilla Translators in the monthly distribution. Whether the owed Livelihood credits are dispensed as a flat payment or staggered across several months will depend on the collective's finances and will be decided in a vote.

Splits are considered final, it is much preferable to take sabbaticals and keep a good relationship, specially when both parts need to give each other some space!

What Guerrilla Translators get out of a committed relationship

Guerrilla Translators create shared value together, and the result of this value reverts back to the individual members. Members of the collective assist with its development, co-creating and facilitating commons, and are rewarded for their work. All pro-bono translation and/or editing work published has a value attached to it, the same as livelihood or care work. This value will be fulfilled on a regular basis as the collective continues to build an income stream.

As explained above, members share work and income proportionate to their investment and commitment to the collective. The more they sow, the more they reap. The minimum requirements are the bare minimum, and while it’s OK to stay at that level, any members that decide to put more time and effort into the collective will see this reflected.

It is important to recognize that Guerrilla Translation membership is a commitment, not a right. Membership must be earned and once earned it can be removed by the Core Team (see next section) in extreme circumstances. However, under normal circumstances Membership exists for as long as the Guerrilla Translator wishes to continue engaging with the collective while meeting its requirements.

Guerrilla Stewarding Posse (Core Team)

Here come the Illuminati! No, seriously, being a Core Team member is NOT a status symbol, but a committed, ongoing responsibility. In GT the "managerial class" does not get compensated more than the value-creators. The Guerrilla Stewarding Posse (which is a terrible name, but it helps dispel those notions of "Core Team = privileged rentier tyrants") consists of those individuals identified as the main representatives of the collective. The Posse has additional responsibilities over and above those of a regular Guerrilla Translator and these responsibilities ensure the smooth running of the collective. Posse Members are expected to participate in strategic planning, approve changes to the governance model, and formally represent the collective to the outside world. First and foremost, they are the guardians and keepers of the enterprise’s principles and values, and are accountable to all stakeholders.

Posse Members do not have significant authority over the rest Guerrilla Translator community, although it is their ultimate responsibility to vote and evaluate new Guerrilla Translators in. In addition to their actions as Guerrilla Translators, Posse Members will also find themselves doing one or more of the following:

  • voting on nominated Guerrilla Translators, both before and after Boot Camp.
  • voting on structural changes to the governance model (not numerical ie: credit ratios etc, which can be reevaluated quarterly by a Guerrilla Translators).
  • nominating Guerrilla Translators to the Posse.
  • Posse Members may declare a ‘vote-by-credit’ vote (see below).

GT Posse Members are stewards of several areas. This means that, although they may not directly work in any of these areas or even be the main contributors, they are ultimately responsible for their upkeep. Unlike the more "permissionless" aspects or the more lax standards of being a Guerrilla Translators, Posse Members are expected to excel in the areas they stewarding. Think of people who have a special talent for something and are able to do with more ease than others. Rather to use it for their own profit, in the Posse that talent is harnessed for the health of the collective, and all its members. In GT the stewarding areas (and roles) are:

  • Vision and values steward
  • Economic and Governance Model steward
  • Carework steward
  • Linguistic work steward

Membership of the Posse is by invitation from the existing Posse Members. A nomination will result in discussion and then a vote by all Guerrilla Translators. Posse Team votes are subject to consensus approval (see below) of Guerrilla Translators. In essence, the Posse is working for the collective and, in the quarterly evaluations, their essential work must be honestly assessed, both by themselves and by the rest of Guerrilla Translators. If a Posse member isn't able to meet requirements or would like to step down, they go back to being regular Guerrilla Translators. It is their responsibility to nominate and train another steward for the area the are caring for.

Posse team members are also eligible to accrue credits on a time-basis (as opposed to task) basis. This is explained in more detail below.

The issue of care work

So far we have spoken about tangibles. Translations, editing, blog posting etc. As these tasks are mostly word-based they are easy to quantify and assign credits for. But what about everything else? All the invisible work that goes into holding the relationship together.

One of the biggest unsolved issues in GT so far has been how to take responsibility of and reward carework appropriately. There is a whole wiki article written to explain what carework consists of, which you can read here. But to summarize, in GT carework can include contacting authors for translations, promoting posts in social media, seeking paid gigs and following up on them, accounting, member evaluations, forging alliances, attending meetings, training new members, making sure the websites have regular content and that the pro-bono/commons side is thriving, keeping GT's online and learning materials up to date, listening and mediating... this is no small thing!

In GT it was initially decided that ALL translators/editors would devote some of their time to carework. This way there would be no fixed roles and every full member would take an equal stake in the responsibility of caring for the collective. Another option was to try a weekly rotation. Neither worked at all, many translators bypassed or made perfunctory attempts at carework, leaving it to be picked up by other members who, as a result, had no time to translate, accrue love credits or engage in agency/livelihood work. The fact is that carework needs special abilities (just as translation) which necessitate an important investment of time.

As of writing, there is no agreed upon solution, but here are some ideas to discuss and develop:

How to value (and compensate) care work? A scenario

Note: It's important to highlight that what follows is one of several ideas/solutions. Other's include rotation, hours, etc. It's impossible to know what will work until it's tested. For this we propose trying a scenario for three months, then evaluating it together. Then try another if the first one doesn't work, etc.

The majority of Carework could be handled by a "Carework steward". This is trusted GT Posse member tasked with ensuring that all care work tasks are met and of assisting other members to help with carework. This includes training and assistance for both Committed members and casual relationships. Carework will still be a team effort and members ARE expected to participate, but there will always be a lead person.

It would be impossible to itemize/quantify all the tasks involved in carework. We need to decide which tasks (low hanging fruit) CAN be itemized. Think social media work, accounting... any task that is repetitive and can be easily accounted for in advance can be considered as a credit based task. Furthermore, these "accountable" tasks can take place in both the Love and Livelihood Streams, giving everyone the chance to take on various tasks and see how the whole machine works. It's important that members don't limit themselves to the "translation" bubble, or whatever service the Open Coop offers to meet its livelihood responsibilities. Think "Art and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance": you don't just ride the bike, you're in tune with it, you know how it works and, most importantly, how to fix it when something breaks - this is the task of all Guerrilla Translators.

We need to think in how to encourage and make this carework as easy and fun as possible. Ideas for assigning value metrics to "measurable/modular" care tasks are listed here

For all non-measurable tasks (think contacting clients, training new members, forging relationships, attending calls) the Care steward can be paid a full time salary. These care tasks take place both within the agency/livelihood side and the pro-bono/love sides. If the Care Steward ALSO does itemized/credit-bound work, that is also added, but the idea is that she coordinates and helps other in the collective take on these tasks while she "holds the center".

Where would this "salary" come from? As GT has an important social mission, we believe that this position can be filled with philantropic and/or project funding, freeing up the livelihood/love streams for translation work but, if this isn't feasible or if the collective thrives with Livelihood work, the Carework steward's salary can be made up by assigning it a percentage of credit payment streams until a full-time salary is met. It is important to not undervalue “carework-prices” or salary in relation to translation prices because we want to motivate task-contribution and not add an “underclass” admin (organization) staff who get paid proportionately less than translators. Our calculation of a base price for 30 hours a week carework is of 2000 € a month. This has been tallied against averages of how much translators can make for an hour of paid/pro-bono work etc.

The important thing here is that the care work steward is entrusted by the whole collective with her own time keeping and accountability. Credit-based care tasks will have set prices because the better you get at performing a task, the shorter it will take so you will free up time to take on other tasks and increase your credit score or else just chill. That situation doesn't apply to the care work steward, which means that she has to be consciously selected and have a proven track record in delivering what is expected of her. As with everyone else, the care work steward will take part in the ongoing assessments, but would not be subject to the 400 love credit obligation.

An important question is whether would this person be paid "normally" (set paycheck at the end of the month) or as part of the credit streams. This would depend on whether there is funding unrelated to translation work/earned income available. If yes, than that's a possibility, but both scenarios need to be examined.

There is also the possibility of having a translator/editor as care steward. In that case they still wouldn't be subject to the 400 credit obligations, but could accrue credits, the same as everyone else.

With such a scenario, we expect that this "salaried" Carework steward would be regularly assisted by the rest of the collective. For tasks that don't have a credit measurement, credits can be agreed on with a value matrix, such as Backfeed or the Subjective Enumeration Algorithm. All credit value, as we'll see below, is not final and needs to analysed in every quarterly evaluation. If something doesn’t' work, the collective needs to make changes, both to the governance model as well as the software that facilitates it.

An open question is whether the Linguistics steward could follow a similar model: ie, being salaried for training and evaluating translator's and editor's skills. This would depend on the volume of this work, or if it can be tallied in credits by using word-count based metrics.

This scenario assumes a functioning governance/model, with working software and a well-greased collective. At present that is yet to come so, for what we've termed the "Start-up phase" we want to seek philanthropic funding to develop and implement the model, while rebooting the project. For this, the Carework steward would be paid full time until completion of the start-up phase. Additional collaborators to the Start-up phase can also be paid, bearing in mind that the start-up phase can be seen as a time-bound project with concrete deliverables.

The decentralization of carework

We begun this section mentioning the following:

In GT it was initially decided that ALL translators/editors devote some of their time to carework so they'd be no fixed roles and every full member took an equal stake in the responsibility of caring for the collective.

This remains the optimum scenario an Open Commons Coop should strive toward: Care work stabilises and is shared equitably across the collective. As this is a complex process, the figure of care steward comes into play, but not as a self-perpetuating position. Ideally this figure would "wither away" (wink) or play more of a support role. In this case it is also important to "train" the care steward to become proficient in whatever productive services the Open Coop offers. In GT case, the care steward needs to be, at least, bilingual, so it's not a stretch that as this person "trains" collective members on care work and collaboration, she is in turn trained to translate or edit and reach the quality level expected of committed members. Therefore, when and if the care steward position withers way, this person would still be part of the collective and rewarded for her work.

Decision making processes

The bulk of the decisions affecting the day to day of the collective and its future are made by all committed members/Guerrilla Translators. Other decisions can be shared with the wider/casual community. Why this split? As Guerrilla Translators may well depend on the collective to meet their livelihood needs, decisions and votes that can be subject to trolling (or, simply, well meaning but ignorant diversions) by individuals not affected by the health of the collective shouldn't be pushed outside the membrane. On the other hand, as the resilience of the committed team increases, more and more decisions could be made in the casual sphere.

Guerrilla Translation's chosen tool for decision making is Loomio, which has all the features the collective needs (it matches up to a tee with the original Open Enterprise Model) and is made by people GT loves and whose values it respects and celebrates. For anyone not familiar with Loomio, it is decision making platform based on the logic of Occupy or other self organised assemblies. There are various level of privacy within Loomio Groups

In order to ensure that Guerrilla Translation is not bogged down by endless discussion and continual voting, the collective operates a policy of lazy majority. This allows the majority of decisions to be made without resorting to a formal vote, and keeps the work agile and red-tape free. Loomio is also used for discussions and quick "temperature" checks.The ideal is to have dynamic communication that is conducive to concrete outcomes. This blog post perfectly illustrates how Loomio discussions can improve the health of a community, please read it.

The Process

Decision making typically involves the following steps: 1. Proposal 2. Discussion 3. Vote 4. Decision. For this example we will be centring on the committed sphere where the Guerrilla Translators huddle together.

Any Guerrilla Translator can make a proposal for consideration by the community. In order to initiate a discussion about a new idea, she/he adds the idea to the appropriate Loomio group (groups are divided into four general work areas: pro-bono translation, agency work, carework/admin and projects) This will prompt a review and discussion of the idea. The goal of this review and discussion is to gain approval for the contribution.

Loomio allows for work-items and ideas to be voted upon by the community. However, different levels of voting and approval may be needed depending on the situation. In general, as long as nobody explicitly opposes a proposal, it is recognized as having the support of the community. This is called lazy majority – that is, those who have not stated their opinion explicitly have implicitly agreed to the implementation of the proposal, and those that showed up to vote determine the direction of the work.

Lazy majority

Lazy majority is a very important concept within the project. It is this process that allows a large group of people to efficiently reach consensus, as someone with nothing to add to a proposal need not spend time stating their position, and others need not spend time reviewing it. This section describes how a vote is conducted. The following section discusses when a vote is needed.

For lazy majority to be effective, it is necessary to allow at least 72 hours before assuming that there are no objections to the proposal. This requirement ensures that everyone is given enough time to read, digest and respond to the proposal. This time period is chosen so as to be as inclusive as possible of all participants, regardless of their location and time commitments. More complex proposals which may requiere more thinking/reading of materials etc, can be extended.

If a formal vote on a proposal is called, all Guerrilla Translators can express an opinion and vote. Those still in Boot Camp are fully encouraged to vote and discuss, but their votes are not binding.

There are 4 types of votes:

  1. ‘agree’: agrees that the action should move forward
  2. ‘disagree’: disagree but will not oppose the action’s going forward
  3. ‘block’: opposes the action’s going forward and must propose an alternative action to address the issue (or a justification for not addressing the issue)
  4. ‘neutral’: indicates that attention has been given to the action but abstaining from voting one way or another

Another way to abstain from the vote is for participants to simply not participate. However, it is more helpful to cast a ‘neutral’ vote to abstain, since this allows the team to gauge the general feeling of the community if the proposal should be controversial.

When a vote receives a ‘block’, it is the responsibility of the community as a whole to address the objection but it is expected that the "blocker" takes the lead by offering a better alternative taking everyone's needs into account. Such discussion will continue until the objection is either rescinded, overruled (in the case of a non-binding block) or the proposal itself is altered in order to achieve consensus (possibly by withdrawing it altogether). In the rare circumstance that consensus cannot be achieved, the Core Team can influence a forward course of action by calling for a weighed-vote (which are based on historical credits, more on this below).

In summary:

  • Those who don’t agree with the proposal and feel it would be detrimental to the collective if pursued should vote ‘block’. However, they will be expected to submit and defend a counter-proposal.
  • Those who don’t agree, don’t find it intolerably detrimental, and don’t have a better idea should vote ‘disagree’. Then, if things go wrong down the line, they can say "I told you so!".
  • Those who agree should vote ‘agree’.
  • Those who do not care either way or who find themselves on the fence should vote ‘neutral’.

Type of approval

Different actions require different types of approval, ranging from lazy majority to a majority decision by the Posse. These are summarized below. The next section describes which type of approval should be used in common situations.

  1. Lazy majority: 72 hours

A lazy majority vote requires more binding ‘agree’ votes than binding ‘disagree’ votes and no vetoes (binding ‘block’ votes). Once 72 hours have passed, the decision moves in the direction of the majority. Naturally if an actual majority of Members vote before the 72 hours are up, the decision moves in that direction immediately.

Sometimes a lazy majority is tied with a vote threshold. This allows for decisions to be made quicker than 72 hours if enough Members vote. If the vote threshold is reached before the 72 hours are up, the decision moves in the direction of the majority.

  1. Unanimous consensus: 120 hours

All of the binding votes that are cast are to be ‘agree’ and there can be no ‘disagree’ votes or vetoes (binding ‘block’ votes)

  1. Credit majority

Some strategic actions are decided by giving each credit-holder 1 vote per credit. Such actions typically affect the foundation of the project (e.g. adopting a new governance model). This can also be applied when the vote affects a very specific area (say translation, carework, or vision) and the person(s) devoting most of their time to it.

When is a vote required?

Every effort is made to allow the majority of decisions to be taken through lazy consensus. That is, simply stating one’s intentions is assumed to be enough to proceed, unless an objection is raised. Activities that require more control are taken through lazy majority, which is still informal enough for team to stay agile. Repeated/regular tasks are generally not subject to votes, they're assumed to be "pre-approved" unless they need to be re-evaluated for whatever reason and, in that case, discussed and voted on.

However, some activities require a more formal approval process in order to ensure the health and cohesiveness of the collective.

This section identifies which type of vote should be called for:

  • Regular work task: (In GT this will,most often, be a translation. Decisions on probono/love work are not taken on Loomio, but on GT's workflow tool (currently Trello). In this instance, any Guerrilla Translator can suggest a translation, according to the collective's criteria and allocation limits. Normally the person suggesting the work item will tag other collaborators and they will make a decision in-situ.
  • New Workstream: Lazy majority of all Guerrilla Translators
  • Credit value per new task: Lazy majority of all Guerrilla Translators
  • New Guerrilla Translator: Unanimous consensus of all Guerrilla Translators
  • New Core Team Member: Unanimous consensus of all Guerrilla Translators
  • Core Team Member removal: Unanimous consensus all Guerrilla Translators
  • Guerrilla Translator removal: Unanimous consensus of Posse (In the case the member has quantitatively met her/his quarterly obligations, but there may be another, “unquantifiable” issue)
  • Governance model change: Credit majority
  • Legal structure changes: Credit majority
  • Blocked discussion where no decision is made: Credit majority.

Credits: Contribution Tracking

Credits are the measurement by which contributions are tracked. A Credit typically means 1 euro in compensation. So, if an item is estimated at 100 credits, and a person completes the work and is attributed 100% of the contribution, than that person earns 100 credits and is owed 100 euros for work completed.

Having established that we have 2 types of credits.

  • Pro-bono work (whether care of productive) is tracked in Love credits,
  • Agency work (whether care or productive) is tracked in Livelihood credits

There are, essentially, 3 ways to measure a Guerrilla Translator’s credits:

  1. Total/Historical Credits. This is just that: the total combined number of credits the member has ever earned, whether Love or Livelihood. This number only goes up over the lifetime of the member’s participation, starting from the moment they started contributing to Guerrilla Translation.
  2. Invested Credits. These are the active credits that have yet to be paid. It is, in one form, money owed to the member by the collective. If a member earned 1,000 credits and they cashed out 600 of those credits, they would now have 400 remaining ‘invested’ credits.
  3. Divested Credits. These are credits that have been paid.

All active Guerrilla Translators (ie: that haven't left or aren't on Sabbatical) have equity based on the their total historical credits, we call this G-Chi!. G-chi is be used sparingly, and never as a substitute for dialogue and consent. It can be used however for blocked proposals or to when voting on important structural changes.

The balance between invested and divested is also important. Ideally Guerrilla Translation wants to provide meaningful work (and income) to all it's members, so mechanisms can be provided to keep this balance (ie, when one member's livelihood credit allocation is very low due to other translators taking paid gigs, this member would be prioritised).

Types of credit

As we've mentioned, there are essentially two types of credits in Guerrilla Translation: Love for pro-bono work and Livelihood for paid (or "agency" work). Let's summarize them and add some more details.

Love Credits

Love credits are earned through pro-bono, commons-producing "productive work" (in Guerrilla Translation's case Translation, editing, transcribing, simultaneous translation... In essence these are the same services it offers as an agency (see below). They are also earned through all care/reproductive work that undertaken for the pro-bono side. This can be formatting for the blog, taking care of the backend, contacting authors for pro-bono translation, advocating for the project, social media work and networking.

Some Love credits (such as translation and repetitive tasks) have set values, based on wordcount (for translation) or task-value. Others which are harder to measure, are earned by the hour.

Love credits do not lead to direct income. Love accruing tasks are decided on by the collective, not contracted by clients, it is voluntary work undertaken to meet the collective's social mission. All Guerrilla Translators accrue Love Credits through this type of work and, at the end of each month, 25% of GT's holdings are used to pay off Love Credits, which are then distributed according to the relative percentage of Love Credits accrued by each active Guerrilla Translator.

Livelihood Credits

Livelihood credits are earned through Agency work. This may also produce Commons, as GT encourages (and sets lower prices) for Commons-oriented work. In essence Livelihood work includes the same type of work as Pro-bono work. This not only means translation, editing and the rest of the | services offered by GT, but everything that leads directly to paid work: Searching for clients, project management, quality control etc.

Livelihood Credits bring direct income to the collective and are tied to specific deliverables It is its means of sustenance, but it is not used to directly reward (or pay down) those Guerrilla Translators who have performed paid work. Is is the collective who is rewarded and, much like a commune, these rewards are then used to sustain pro-bono, paid, productive and reproductive work. All Guerrilla Translators accrue Livelihood credits (although some may choose to just accrue Love credits, according to their circumstances) and, at the end of each month, 74% of GT's holdings are used to pay off Livelihood credits, according to the accrued percentage of invested Livelihood credits each member has on a monthly basis.

As mentioned above, the 74/25% ration (with 1% being kept as holdings, or "Ice Cream Fund") is based on the necessity of freeing enough time to undertaken paid work for the collective. It does mean, however, that Livelihood credits are paid off triple as fast as Love credits, creating a backlog. While all credits increase G-Chi and reflect each Guerrilla Translator's equity in the collective, there are ways to accelerate the payment of Love credits:

Accelerating Love Credit Payment

Love credit payment can be accelerated by funds which are not obtained by agency work. This can include:

  • Agency work sliding scale surpluses (see section below)
  • Crowdfunding for specific projects or for Guerrilla Translation itself
  • Philanthropic or project funding
  • Translation-specific microdonations, until these translations are “value fulfilled” (think of Fiverr or similar)
  • Value may be fulfilled through means other than money, such as barter, time banking, alternative currencies or gifts.
  • Gifting Love credits: Guerrilla Translators have the option of gifting their work away. They can also "burn" accumulated Love credits, considering the value as already fulfilled.
  • Additionally, if any pro-bono translations are published in paying media, any funds received will be used to pay Love credits
  • Work as a syndication agency.
  • Another source of income could be book format compilations (paper or electronic) of previously published material on a particular theme and including new, exclusive introductory text.

Whenever any income (or gifts) is derived from these possibilities, it can be paid off 100% according to each Guerrilla Translator's invested Love shares as a lump, or staggered over several months. Think of it as a bonus. Of course, project funding will be matched to specific deliverables and these must be met, so that can be discussed on a per case basis.

Credit Estimation

Translation Value and Sliding Scale

Guerrilla Translation has the advantage of principally dealing with easily measured productive work. All translation and editing work has a very specific way of measuring its value: wordcount. The same for applies for video work, which is measured by timestamps. Other collectives adopting and customising this model could use other repeatable metrics and where "quality of work delivered" is hardly evaluated, as it is trusted that all members (in GT's case Guerrilla Translators) will deliver high quality work.

In GT, all agency work has defined prices. These follow a sliding scale, depending on the client. Pro-bono work for the websites also has definite metrics, which also include pre-production, formatting etc. For now let's examine the logic of the sliding scale, as it affects not only the Livelihood, but also the Love stream.

An important thing to distinguish is that:

  • Toward clients, we are talking about prices, in hard cash. This is external.
  • Within the collective we are talking about value': ie credits. It is considered internal

In regard to clients, external pricing that’s fair to everyone is highly important to the collective. The sliding scale was developed to:

  • Ensure fairness for Guerrilla Translators, including those working on Pro-bono
  • Ensure that those clients who most need GT's support get cheaper rates.

To achieve this, GT's 4-step sliding scale assigns the same internal credit value regardless of external rates charged to clients.

The base price is 0,12 € per word to the client (0,08 € to the translator, 0,04 € to the editor).

For the “cheapest” external rate (which is slightly beneath GT's base price), a small part of that credit value is transfered to each Guerrilla Translator's pro-bono piggy bank, as invested credits. When the rate charged surpasses GT's base price, the surplus income goes directly toward paying down credits in the pro-bono stream. This surplus would be much like a "bonus", which can be paid out monthly or quarterly (this is the same "Love bonus" we are referring to in "Accelerating Love Credits)·

The Sliding Scale in Action

The following is adapted from GT's pricing page. As the sliding scale has four tiers, we'll use four examples

Example 1: A 1st tier client (a for-profit organization with outside investors wants Guerrilla Translation to translate some Free Software literature. Jill will be the translator and María the editor. The external rate given to the client is 0,16 cents per word. The translation is 1000 words long, so the final price is 160 Euros. The internal distribution of value is as follows:

With a Tier 1 rate of 0,16 per word:

  1. 80 credits (0,08 per word) go to Jill's Livelihood credit piggy bank
  2. 40 credits (0,04 per word) go to María's Livelihood credit piggy bank
  3. The remaining 0,04 (surplus) will be used to accelerate Love Stream payment (Love bonus!).

This means that at the end of that month (assuming no other work has taken place, remember we're trying to keep this dumb-simple) 160 € go to the account. 120 € are then split according to the 74/25/1% Livelihood/Love/Ice Cream equation described earlier, "shares" are paid out etc. The surplus 40 € is then paid as a Love Bonus for that month. How is it split? According to the status of Love shares after the first 120 € payment is made. As Jill and María haven't worked any harder to get this higher price/surplus (they just happen to have done some work for a more wealthy client), the dividends are distributed to reward all the pro-bono work in the collective.

The following four tiers follow a similar format, but the relative quantities change:

Examle 2: A Large, well funded NGO also wants a 1000 word translation. Their external rate is of 0,14 per word, so the total quoted is 140 €. Once paid, the internal distribution of value is:

With a Tier 2 rate of 0,14 per word:

  1. 80 credits (0,08 per word) go to Jill's Livelihood credit piggy bank
  2. 40 credits (0,04 per word) go to María's Livelihood credit piggy bank
  3. The remaining 0,02 (surplus) will be used to accelerate Love Stream payment (Love bonus!).

So this is pretty much the same situation as the first example. The exception is that the client can't pay as much so, while Jill and María get "paid" the same (in truth, they get the same amount of credits assigned to their livelihood piggy bank as with the 1st tier translation) the Love Bonus will be lower, 20 € this time, but they mechanics for distributing it are the same.

Example 3: A Free/OS software startup, small NGO's, or regular/Platform co-op wants (bet you didn't see this one coming) to contract GT for a 1000 word translation! This time the external rate is 0,12 per work. This is equal to the internal "base allocation". The client is charged 120 € and then:

With a Tier 3 (or Baseline) rate of 0,12 per word:

  1. 80 credits (0,08 per word) go to Jill's Livelihood credit piggy bank
  2. 40 credits (0,04 per word) go to María's Livelihood credit piggy bank
  3. But there is zero surplus (boo!)

So, OK, we've done the right thing and charged our OS/Coop friends a friendly price. There may be no Love Bonus but 25% of those 120 € will go to pay down Love credits anyway. As you can see, up to here, Jill and María get "paid" the same regardless of what GT charges the client. But here comes the hat trick:

Example 4: A activist collective or Open Coop, or someone using the Peer Production License (our kind of villainy and scum!) needs a 1000 word translation. The external rate is rock-bottom: 0,10 cents per word. This means they'll pay 100 € for a 1000 word translation. (Sure, activist collectives may ask for pro-bono work, of course, but no guarantees - the idea is that Guerrilla Translators don't get "volun-told" what to translate, they choose it themselves and according to GT's criteria. Besides, show some solidarity!). For this tier the (100 €) split goes like this:

With a Tier 4 rate of 0,10 per word:

  1. 70 credits (0,07 per word) go to Jill's Livelihood credit piggy bank
  2. 30 credits (0,03 per word) go to María's Livelihood credit piggy bank
  3. We now have a negative surplus of 0,2 (or 20 €).

So what we do is add 10 credits each to Jill's and Maria's Love credit piggy banks. This means that they've done the "unpaid part" of the work as pro-bono/love work. Yes, they will get paid for it eventually, but not "as fast". The point is that Jill and Maria never get paid directly, they get paid accordingly. It's the collective gets paid.

Credit Value for Productive Love Work

In the case of Guerrilla Translation, "productive love work" basically boils down to those articles, videos etc which are published in GT's website. Bear in mind that the work put into contacting authors, formatting for Wordpress, adding images, promoting in social media, republishing is quite considerable, and should get compensated in order to encourage Guerrilla Translators to assign themselves these sorts of tasks. This is value-assigned, of course, not actual income. Happily a per-word rate based criteria works very well for such tasks, as the effort needed for the editing is usually proportional to the wordcount. Same goes for post-production (longer articles demand creating more SM posts, contacting more people to promote them, etc.).

As far as internal valuation goes pro-bono productive work gets top the top tier treatment. This means that it's valued a 0.16 cents per-word. So, with one of these increasingly suspicious 1000 word translations, (this time translated by Jill, edited by Pedro and with "Susan" doing everything else) the credit assignment is as follows.

Out of a total of 160 credits (at a Love tier of 0,16 per word)

  • 80 credits (0,08 per word) go to Maria's Love Piggy Bank for the translation
  • 40 credits (0,04 per word) go to Pedro's Love Piggy Bank for editing Maria's translation.
  • 10 credits (0,01 per word) go to Susan for pre production
  • 20 credits (0,02 per word ) go to Susan for formatting
  • 10 credits (0,01 per word) go to Susan for post production

In essence, María and Pedro get credited for the same rates internally as any Livelihood work (except Tier 4) it will just take longer for these to become go to invested to divested. All the "surplus" in this case goes to Susan's Love credit queue.

Original writing and bios

Published translations are not the only way to contribute to GT's online commons. The collective also recognizes and values the short intros and original writing done for its websites. This would also include bios as well, since most of them are not translations. This is the value allocation for those:

Original writing value per word: 0,10

  • 0,05 to original writer
  • 0,025 to the editor
  • 0,025 for whomever does "everything else" (pre and post production and formatting)

Carework Value

For simplicity's sake, the four examples shown above are very utopian: translation work doesn't really come out of the blue and "someone" (let's say "Deb") will be taking care of the correspondence, invoicing, etc. We've spoken about carework before and the various options for ensuring there is no "care sub-class" making life peachy for translators.

Carework is the most difficult type of value to measure, so we expect a lot of experimentation and honest communication in this area. One of the options is time-based and undertaken (logically) by Deb, (in the role of care steward). No livelihood credits would be assigned for the (up until now) invisible work that has benefited Jill and Maria)... but how does Deb get paid? As we've said, one option is to seek project funding to meet this person's salary. Deb puts in her hours and makes sure that everyone is taken care of. If there is no funding to pay her, then the collective has to take measures to ensure that she is (changing prices and/or internal redistribution). Of course, if María and Jill are capable of self-organising for this care work, then great... but the collective needs to decide how to reward them, evaluate that work etc. Like everything else, it's an ongoing process which necessarily needs to be based on clear, honest communication. The following example is, again, adapted from the original Open Enterprise Model:

Work Item estimations

Those work items which have been identified as being quantifiable need to have their value consented upon by the collective. These are estimated independently, in terms of how many credits will be awarded for their completion. Any Guerrilla Translator is free to give an estimate of how much should be given for any open Work Item, but their estimation will affect the average estimate of that item if they have worked in that area.

What this means is that, if "Pedro (another Guerrilla Translator) has never had to fill an application form for a grant, his opinion is welcome, but his estimation is not binding. María has plenty of experience with these and, although it's Jill who will be doing this task, Maria's estimate will affect the value estimate. One of Pedro's (and any Guerrilla Translator's responsibility) is to become at least somewhat familiar with all types of work going on in the collective. It builds empathy and minimizes misunderstandings.

If the people doing the task feel that the estimate has been wildly miscalculated, they should express so and call for a vote to renegotiate.

Again, and for simplicities' sake, as far as credit-valued tasks are concerned, modular, repeated tasks will always be more easy to value, while "fuzzy/messy" tasks may be better served by measuring work time.

Credit retrospectives

While productive work credits are pretty much set (as they're based on agency/outside prices), care or reprodutive/admin work credits are more fluid and subject to closer scrutiny and ongoing evaluation. For simplicity's sake, within each quarterly self-evaluation some time must also be dedicated to discuss the value given for repeated/modular task, the per-hour rate of any time-based tasks, etc.

Once values have been decided, the collectives needs to ensure that all contributors to a workstream get adequately compensated for their work, and that compensation be as fair as possible, the compensation system is based on several tenets:

  • There are no fixed salaries in an Open Commons Coop.
  • Contributors are generally compensated based on Work Items completed, not time spent – This is to provide everyone the freedom to contribute as much or as little as they choose, and for the Collective to be "billed" fairly. The exception to this is work tallied by hours.
  • If various Guerrilla Translators are contributing to a care task, this contribution is assessed by one’s peers(coworkers and co-team members are the most likely to know how valuable someone’s contributions were). But, like in certain decisions, this assessment is only binding when member's have had demostrable experience in performing whichever task is being valued.
  • Peer assessment is compared with self-assessment – This is to provide an opportunity for each participant to self-reflect and learn about their assessment of their own work, as well as an indicator to all users of each participant’s self-assessment abilities.

During the a Retrospective, each person who has contributed any amount of work to any multi-person Work Items is asked to assess their own percentage contribution to the completion of these items, as well as every other participant’s. Once all participants have stated their opinion, each one receives the average of their team’s assessment of their work. That figure is also compared with their own assessment of themselves, which affects their self-assessment reputation. The percentage each participant receives is then applied to the total amount of credits associated with the retrospective and these credits are distributed accordingly.

Credit retrospectives also take into account the following factors:

  • Does the current credit value for modular/set task reflect the effort put in to achieve them?
  • Is the current hourly-rate for time-based tasks equitable with other valuations in the collective (esp productive work?)
  • Should certain set credit-value based tasks become time-based tasks and vice versa?
  • Are certain members taking up a larger share agency work (leading to livelihood credits) and taking it away from others?
  • Does everyone feel that the time/effort they are putting into the collective is reflected in the credit score?

Credits Interface

An Open Commons Coop needs a software interface to:

  • a) Reliably input credit values
  • b) input member's contributions
  • c) Easily visualize each member's piggy banks, the relative shares etc

The software needs to be Open Source, be backed by a distributed, incorruptible ledger, and be available for public scrutiny. Once Credits have been awarded, they are tracked in the Credits Queue. This Queue demonstrates all the credits ever awarded, and in addition it demonstrates which Credits are active. When an individual decides to retire their credits, meaning that they have been paid or they are trading in their credits, (see below) they are able to do this from the Credits Queue. The Credits Queue is a way for people to see who has completed what and how and when people have been compensated for their contribution.

Volunteer Credits

In addition, any task or workstream can be declared as a volunteer workstream. In this system, item are still tracked and estimated with retrospectives to distribute credits. However all credits earned are volunteer credits and are merely a recognition of the hard work that a person has donated to a cause they believe in. Volunteer Credits give the owner the recognition and decision-making ability of a credit, but have no monetary value. In addition, the volunteer workstreams are an important signal to participants that their work will be volunteer in this context. In GT volunteer credits increase a member's G-chi, but these are not divested credits to be paid at a later date.

Volunteer credits can be declared in both Love and Livelihood streams. Guerrilla Translators can also declare part of the credits accrued for any give productive work or care task as volunteer. For example, say that Jill get an inheritance, she's doing well and doesn't need as much income but, still, remains a committed member of Guerrilla Translation. For a couple of months she decides to volunteer all the Love credits she is accruing and to volunteer 50% of her Livelihood credits accrued during this period. What this effectively means, is that the collective's debt to itself decreases and other member's shares increase.

Gifting Credits

Volunteering credits is a way of indirectly gifting to the collective, but members can also choose to gift credits directly to any other member of the collective. In an sense, they can also give them to casual members, but in this case cash payment to these members will be undertaken by the "gifter". These gifts to casual members should be tallied against the accrued "latent" love credits, in case the casual member in question decides to become a committed Guerrilla Translator in the future. In that case, the gifted credits would be considered as divested.

Commons Coop Governance Model TL/DR (Redux)

We've explained the model so far, as exemplified by Guerrilla Translation. There are (and will always be) many unanswered questions. The nature of a commons is emergent and evolving, but the model provides a solid set of patterns for its organic development.

Once again, (and stripping away the particulars of GT) here are the model's main characteristics, which can be applied as a bare-bones formula for other commons-oriented service collectives:

  • The Open Coop performs pro-bono and paid work.
  • Pro-bono work creates relationships and social capital leading to paid work.
  • Both forms of work are tallied into credits.
  • Net earned income is distributed to fulfil members' shares, Paid (75%) and Pro-bono (25%).
  • Client prices are on a sliding scale but members’ credits accrued are stable.
  • Higher prices lead to surpluses, used to accelerate pro-bono credit payment.
  • There are two tiers: Casual/unpaid (Commons-based peer production dynamics), and Committed/paid (Commons and Coop dynamics).
  • Casual members have no responsibilities; addition of their work is mediated by Committed members.
  • Committed members have ongoing responsibilities (pro-bono and care work), evaluated quarterly. Members unable to maintain these are downgraded from the Coop.
  • Care work is essential but is the least specifically defined component, and is subject to regular re-evaluation and definition.
  • Repeated, modular care/admin tasks are valued in credits. More subjective care work is valued in time and entrusted selectively.
  • Decision making is made by consent. Committed members' votes are binding.
  • Both pro-bono and paid productive work affect each member's standing in the coop, as reflected by their historical credits.

Version 2.0 changes

The changes incorporated in version 2.0 are listed here. Version 2.0 of the model can be read at the Commons-Oriented Open Cooperative Governance Model V 2.0