This page was originally created by Richard E. Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org, but as far as I know that link does not work. If anyone has any information about the author of the page please let me know.
This set of rules will be a work-in-progress for some time until we gain enough experience to develop a workable set. The rules listed here allow collaboration using free give-and-take common to most discussion groups. The rules come into effect only when someone posts a motion. The rules then provide for disposition of the motion.
We could use Robert's Rules of Order for conducting business within Email groups, but the rules are overly restrictive. Their intended effects are (1) to prevent consideration of more than one business item at a time and (2) to prevent more than one person from speaking at a time. With Email discussion groups these restrictions lose some of their importance, however other problems assume more importance within the Email groups.
Most of these cybergroup problems have to do with timing. The unstated assumption within the Robert's Rules environment was that members were gathered within a meeting room to listen and respond to each speaker. In the Email environment, members may respond to their messages only once a day. The bylaws and rules adopted by the group must make some assumptions about how frequently members check their messages and about how much time they have to respond. Different groups deal with matters that have differing degrees of urgency, so each group must decide what responsibilities the members have towards connecting with the group. For the most part, these are questions of how frequently and how rapidly the members must respond to motions.
The motion ( or proposal, or question) is the kernal of formal group collaboration. The motion is submitted to the group and is then accepted or rejected. The interval from submission to disposition is the life of the motion, and the motion can pass through one or more stages. These stages constitute the life cycle of the motion.
For convenience, I attach two categories for classification of each motion:
Life Cycle Definitions
As I say above, timing is important in handling motions within Email groups. The rules listed below are intended as templates where the numbers, days, and other details can be changed. Each group will likely want to modify these rules to suit their own mission and purpose.
|Previous stage||Action||Next stage|
|none||Member submits motion and it becomes PENDING on the following day.||PENDING|
|PENDING||Members fails to second subject motion during 2 WORKING days.||DEAD|
|PENDING||The subject motion is seconded, but another PROCEDURAL motion is already being debated. The subject PENDING motion is not an amendment to the procedural motion being debated.||QUEUED|
|PENDING||The subject motion is seconded, but 3 other SUBSTANTIVE motions are already being debated. The subject PENDING motion would not amend any of the motions being debated.||QUEUED|
|PENDING||The subject pending motion is seconded and there is no reason to queue it.||DEBATABLE|
|PENDING||The subject motion is seconded and would amend a motion being debated.||DEBATABLE|
|DEBATABLE||The subject motion is being debated when an amending motion or higher priority PROCEDURAL motion becomes DEBATABLE.||SUSPENDED|
|SUSPENDED||A motion amending the subject motion is approved or disapproved. If the amending motion is approved (disapproved), the subject amended (unamended) motion becomes debatable once again.||DEBATABLE|
|DEBATABLE||One WORKING day passes with no postings concerning the subject motion. The chair must anounce a call for votes on the next following WORKING day. The subject motion become open for voting on the WORKING day following the call for votes.||OPEN|
|SUSPENDED||A PROCEDURAL motion calling for a vote on the subject motion is successful.||OPEN|
|SUSPENDED||A PROCEDURAL motion calling for a vote on the subject motion is not successful.||DEBATABLE|
|OPEN||The OPEN period for the subject motion come to an end, and the number of members voting against the motion is equal to or exceeds the number voting for it.||DEAD|
|OPEN||The OPEN period for the subject motion comes to an end, and the number of members for the motion exceeds the number voting against it.||APPROVED|
The table below describes the PROCEDURAL motions. Except for the first two, the intent of all these motions is to change the life cycle of one of the motions (usually SUBSTANTIVE) being debated. The motion which is the subject of a PROCEDURAL motion is called the TARGET motion.
|Motion to PAUSE||Any member may, at any time, submit a motion to PAUSE the proceedings. If the motion is seconded, then this motion is DEBATABLE the following WORKING day, while all the previously DEBATABLE motions become SUSPENDED.|
|Point of order||This motion might be more sensibly called a question. It is used to question a decision of the chair. The chair is responsible for responding to the question, and the question has no effect on the proceedings except possibly through the chair's subsequent actions, if any.|
|Accelerate DEBATE||This motion is used when a quorum of members are ready to consider and act on a SUBSTANTIVE motion, herein call a TARGET motion. The chair has the authority to accept or reject the motion. On acceptance of this PROCEDURAL motion, the TARGET SUBSTANTIVE motion immediately become DEBATABLE. The TARGET motion can only be approved by a majority of a quorum. This motion can be open-ended to apply all subsequent SUBSTANTIVE motions.|
|Debate style||This motion is used to alter the debate procedures for a TARGET motion. The default procedure is the familiar free-for-all so familiar to network discussion groups. The one alternative (to date) is the Delphi type debate where postings to the debate are made in rounds. All postings are held until the period for the round is passed, then all the messages are posted at the same time. A summary for the round may also be posted. Rounds continue until debate is terminated by a call for a vote.|
|Accelerate VOTING||This motion is used when a quorum of members are ready to vote on a SUBSTANTIVE motion, herein call a TARGET motion. The chair has the authority to accept or reject the motion. On acceptance of this PROCEDURAL motion, the TARGET SUBSTANTIVE motion immediately become OPEN for voting. The TARGET motion can only be approved by a majority of a quorum.|
|Turn off Accelerated Debate||The effect of this motion is to terminate the use of Accerated DEBATE rules.|
|Terminate Consideration||This motion can be made for a TARGET SUBSTANTIVE motion after the TARGET motion becomes DEBATABLE. Approval by a quorum majority terminates debate on the TARGET motion and the TARGET motion becomes DEAD.|
|Delay Consideration||The effect of this motion is to suspend the OPEN clock. The motion must be worded so that members can understand what would trigger resumption of voting. This may be used to obtain additional information about the motion or to delay action until results of a related event are known.|
|Refer||This motion is used to refer the TARGET motion to a committee. Can be approved by a majority of those voting or by a majority of a quorum.|
|Take up||Brings a SUSPENDED motion up for debate. Can be approved by a majority of those voting or by majority of a quorum.|
Suggestions to improve this set of rules are welcome. Send suggestions to me at email@example.com