How Membership Works


(Caroline Savery) #1

What is Membership?

Membership is a mutually-consented-to commitment to enter into a relationship in which the member devotes economic (and other) participation in exchange for the system (Cosmos) providing valuable benefits to the member.

New Member Process

In order to become an “activated player” in the game of Cosmos, membership is the required threshhold to cross. Becoming a member involves filling out an application, which then must be accepted by Cosmos (acceptance may be tied to “curating” for optimal members, either culturally or based on the needs/offers the petitioning member expresses to bring into Cosmos; or at least is dependent upon having adequate capacity to “open” its services/capacities to more members). This communication flow establishes a two-way conversation between prospective member and Cosmos.

More on the Member Intake Process

Membership seats are only offered in the amount and complexity that Cosmos.coop assesses it can handle in a given period. Cosmos.coop, mindful of the mix of its current members needs, aspirations, and offerings, accepts new member applications and analyzes them for “best fit” in that array. So, say Cosmos accepts the 100 most active members first. Then based on the needs/goals expressed by this cohort of 100, the next batch of members is let in with an eye toward what they bring and what they need, and how those mesh with the existing organic activities of the 100 initial members. That is, the next batch brings with them certain different or complementary skills or needs to round out the system.

So, an individual could apply for membership in Cosmos, and Cosmos upfront calculates the demand & the opportunity represented in that candidate, and then lets them in when it feels it is ready/able to accommodate. I envision rapid “uptake” and favorable pricing in onboarding a member applicant with strong skills that Cosmos (formally) and/or a large number of members immediately need, and potentially slow “uptake” if a member has unique needs and Cosmos is not mature enough of a system to provide for those needs. Additionally, as new technical and social capacities are built out that can accommodate many more users to achieve particular goals, this can “free up” the flow of new members into the system.

An applicant-member could update their pending application at any time, and Cosmos would reassess applicant fit shortly after edits were made. Member invitations could be tied to data-gaged needs, even: e.g., the system could acknowledge to its members that it is low on people of a specific skill set, and do they know of anyone in their outside networks who would be good candidates to bring that into Cosmos? If so, a member can receive vouchers to let those qualified candidates join into Cosmos for free (for an incentive period or whatever; also the work opportunity presented by Cosmos to a $$-needing member may be sufficient too).

ALL memberships go through a “responsive,” semi-curatorial process–that is, Cosmos must accept applications actively. This may be automated per Cosmos’ AI, or manually curated by human members. Membership may only be open during certain designated windows. In the process of choosing members to let in, the limited number of seats MUST be tied to specific, objective system constraints, such as “user load” on a new app, how long it is expected to take to get the new member fully up to speed and integrated with existing communities on the platform (which may include factoring in whether the individual already knows people in Cosmos who are willing to act as their “community guide,” etc.) The exact rules around the terms for accepting membership applications, for “onboarding” new members, and terms for terminating a mebership, remain to be determined by the community. Forum membership is a good “trial grounds” where people have just enough permissions to get a sense for the platform and maybe “test out” their fit in the community, before applying for full membership.

After mutual consent occurs: the exchanging of valuable consideration/vows.

The next step in becoming a member is tangibly committing to the relationship and vowing to enter & engage with the system “in good faith.” Becoming a member involves paying dues that secure a person’s equity stake in the co-op enterprise. At the point of dues-payment, the amount a member pays is divided (by rule) into two types of capital: 1) equity capital (retained by Cosmos), 2) Litcoin (a liquid “play currency” to be spent on acts, presences or good/services of perceived value in the game of Cosmos).

Litcoin is one main method of expressing/measuring what a member finds valuable in the sprawling playground of Cosmos. There are many other ways of exchanging value, too: such as contributing to deep conversations, offering “sweat equity” to a peer’s project, developing proposals to benefit the community, etc. Some of these activities may earn you LC, but as LC is a peer-to-peer currency, spent at the discretion of individuals, there is no guarantee of how much you will be gifted.

However: as a member meaningfully engages within the game, Cosmos (the meta-system) measures this and later, drips another form of coin, representing patronage and referred to as Cointribute (C>) to the member to reflect Cosmos’ assessment of how much value *the member *brings to Cosmos.

Thus is a mutually validating framework established.

Membership Validation & Valuation Flow

  1. At the point of joining, member and Cosmos validate the mutual desire to join in relationship.

  2. Member validates Cosmos with cash-paid dues. Dues become equity stake and Litcoin wallet amount in the user’s account, thus validating the member in Cosmos. The “dues” each member pays are the same: however, the exact amount each user chooses to spend each month in Cosmos (on taking advantage of different features or services of the platform, or to exchange cash for LC so as to spend it on the platform) is at the discretion of the member.

  3. Members spend their Litcoin on one another, thus validating one another’s contributions in shared spaces/matters of concern.

  4. Cosmos resources the fulfillment of its collective objectives by attaching LC or C> bounties to the completion of crucial work, then recruits people to perform the work from members on the platform (whenever possible). Members may attach LC or cash prices to the services or products they are offering on the platform as well, to show how much they themselves value those things.

  5. Cosmos drips patronage (C>) to members (which C> is calculated in part through observing LC circulation patterns and intensity, as well as other factors), representing acknowledgment of the value a given member creates for Cosmos.

  6. C> can only be spent on validating proposals for Cosmos’ development, thus reciprocated by members in expressing their views on how Cosmos could grow/develop.

  7. Members receive one vote (democratic control, per co-op best practices) on all crucial (constitutional) matters and proposals affecting Cosmos-at-large. On smaller, optional, feature-development proposals, members may vote using their accumulated C>.

Continue reading about Membership Types & Functions in Cosmos.


Cosmos: At a Glance
Membership, Structurally (What is "in" & "out" of the system)
**Key Docs Table of Contents**
(Douglas Duff) #2

This comes off as exclusive, or at least confusing (and maybe just to me). This segment may be an overstatement; ideally, we may wish to curate, to ensure that the new member applicant and the “Cosmos” are on the same level of understanding, but in reality, it is a simple click-n-pay, with a email or two of thanks from the Cosmos crew in charge. I think the “communication flow” could use a face-to-face experience.

This section, as most is speculative (could be titled More of the Future Member Intake Process), needs to be discussed. Not scraped or even edited at this point, but definitely discussed. This is a good start and makes sense if we can apply it in the future.


(Caroline Savery) #3

Thanks @Douggins! Yup, highly speculative–it seems I’ve insinuated specific proposals into something that, as you pointed out, may not even have received any discussion–and I’d take that back if I could. Would love to discuss this more broadly.

Yeah, that New Member Process section is totally speculative–the idea that we’d constrain membership to “system capacity” is only sensible if we’re assuming that the system has some way whatsoever to gauge its capacity and glean insight into the collective capacity represented by its entire membership… like a massive cognition of “needs & yields” throughout the membership. We are a far cry from even defining what we’d wish to measure, much less from synthesizing everything offered and requested from everyone! Too much speculative futurism may be smothering this text. :wink:

The broader vision underpinning the specific proposal is that new members would be invited in only to the extend that Cosmos could confidently say that it has the capacity to offer them its full attention and care–that is, let’s start off on the foot of being of service to people, and not a disservice of neglect. An ideal being that new members might be “dripped” into Cosmos in a way that is met with appropriate onboarding and integrating capacity on the part of the community inside.

And I think face-to-face interaction in many dimensions is SO IMPORTANT. Just not sure how to account for it and resource it within the system, either, at this point.

I suggest we brainstorm more on what we want from a new member intake & onboarding process, and how we could resource our desires for this.


(Caroline Savery) #4

I have a new formulation of an idea for how monthly member payments work. This may have major implications to the financial model.

What if we explicitly set the monthly or total minimum equity payment in a 3 tiered way. 1 for sustainer/fan, 2 for creative, and 3 for worker. (e.g. 1:$5, 2:$10, 3:$15 or even 1:$5, 2:$25, 3:$100). This might appear in the form of minimum monthly requested payments, or at member’s discretion: e.g. minimum equity payment is $5, with a standard split of $2.5 becoming equity and $2.5 becoming LC. You can pay more (say I choose to pay) $15/month, and I can choose whether that goes to fully vesting me in my desired member class (e.g. worker) or LC, essentially: my equity/LC split, which is perhaps a dial I can set, not to exceed 80/20 in any direction, perhaps. (NOTE: it may behoove Cosmos to NOT let people speed up the process, so there is time to adequately vet their trust & cooperation levels. It may be better to require a minimum equity payment and let any amount over that NOT go to equity, but solely go into Litcoin, for example.)

Perhaps the minimum monthly payment requested of each class of members is set at a rate where a member becomes fully vested in 1 year on average (e.g. 1:$5, 2:$25, 3:$100), but they can choose to accelerate that by paying more. OR: everyone starts out at $5, and they can stay there, and if they want to become a worker member, there are various pathways to that–but if you just keep paying $5/month you have to acknowledge that it will take you 10 years to get fully vested. I envision a responsive, dynamically generated math equation on the member intake screen, so as members consider their budget, their short-term goals and their long-term goals on the site, they can tweak dials and instantly see what their various numbers would be, of: equity/LC split, and how long it would take to become a fully vested member of their chosen type.

This setup would be justified by different equity prices for each class of member. To be a fully vested sustainer member your equity share might cost $50, whereas to be a fully vested worker member your equity share costs $5,000. That kind of thing. This would mean that the distinctions between the three classes are meaningful in terms of the organization–not just nominal in terms of how members “tend to behave” on the site.

So basically anyone is a petitionary member until they’re fully vested, at which time they get to use Cointribute, perhaps. This can be fluid: e.g. once you become a fully vested sustainer member (1), you can choose whether you want to continue allocating funds to begin advancing to the creative membership level. If you’re paying $5/month, then it’s the difference between stopping payment & staying at the level of accessing sustainer privileges, OR continuing to invest in Cosmos equity and thus expand into realm of creative privileges. And then, of course, for each pay grade level, participants also get more access to more elite tools and opportunities. The mass of people (~80%) will be general users at the sustainer level, some (~18%) will become creatives and grab exceeding value via the 5 Pillars & support systems, etc., and workers (~2%) will grab the most value by indicating their eligibility for paid roles (of substance–not the same as micro tasks where members can earn “rebates” of 0.01LC an hour, but actual substantive decent-paying work). It may seem odd to charge workers money so they can work, but it’s just a formality (structural) allowing those members to pay down their higher equity requirement, thus ensuring their access to that particular class of benefits.

Regardless of class, each member has one vote on cooperative-wide issues. However, as your investment level rises, so too may the domains in which you get to control outcomes rises in parallel. What I mean by that is: perhaps sustainers only have decision-making opportunities in matters affecting the whole co-op. Whereas: creatives have privileges/permissions of making decisions about priorities within Cosmos (i.e. they have more Cointribute to weigh in on what spaces, utilities, processes, etc. are built to serve their creative-self purposes). Workers may have more autonomy and power to realize the intentions filtering up through the collective by being in charge of their areas of work–they have the freedom to make decisions on the nitty gritty of how work will get done (they are their own bosses). So, intensity of influence (which domains of decision-making are unlocked/available to you personally) rises naturally as investment (and trust) does, too. Workers have more decision-making power in more sub-domains of Cosmos than anyone else (another way of structurally saying this might be, they may have more Cointribute). But on matters affecting ALL the co-op, ALL members have one vote.