This page was originally created by Richard E. Waddell at, 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.

Paul Scovell

Rules of Order for Cyberland

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:

  1. Substance category: The substance of a motion is either SUBSTANTIVE or PROCEDURAL. SUBSTANTIVE motions are those that are directly related to the mission or purpose of the organization. All motions that are not SUBSTANTIVE are PROCEDURAL. Motions to amend SUBSTANTIVE motions are, themselves, SUBSTANTIVE.


  2. Life Cycle category: The possible stages (not all motions go through all stages) include: PENDING, QUEUED, DEBATABLE, SUSPENDED, OPEN, DEAD, and APPROVED. These stages are discussed below:

Life Cycle Definitions