GROOP is a citizen initiative to develop definitive General Rules Of Online Procedure, a best practice manual for mission-critical meetings. See adopt GROOP for how to start using it.

GROOP is optimized for online use. Unlike Robert's Rules of Order or Bourinot's Rules of Order, which include timekeeping, speakers lists, approval of meeting minutes, point of order and clarification handling appropriate only for live meetings, GROOP is optimized for the Internet. It increases the likelihood of consensus without censoring dissensus.

GROOP draws on direct action, peacemaking, democratic structuring, scientific method, diagnostic dialogue and deep framing theory directly, bringing decision methods into this century.

Decision Making Methods

TechnologyMeeting SizeProtocols
email, listserve2-20email meeting, agenda protocol
teleconference2-20meet by phone, agenda protocol
chat, SMS2-20instant meeting
wiki2-200wiki meeting, agenda protocol, Living Agenda protocol
In person meeting (F2F)2-20healing circle, agenda protocol, how to chair a meeting
conference(F2F)20-200agenda protocol, bonser method, open space, GPO proxy vote, dotmocracy


GROOP governance systems may be built on the GROOP foundation - relying on GROOP methods for all decision making in an organization. To adopt GROOP at this level requires absolute support.


Various forms of consensus decision making (for delegates and representatives) or Bonser method (for larger groups) are supported. GROOP has no particular bias about the threshold or degree of agreement required to proceed with controversial decisions - this can only be a function of the group's own cohesion. It lets integer allocation votes such as 5IAV be used to assess both tolerances and preferences. In most cases quite different types of votes, bets and other means will be employed for different types of decisions.

software and services

GROOP advocates the best (most affordable and useful) software and services to facilitate decision-making, typically free software such as mediawiki.


how to meet by phone

GROOP general background

structure and theory

examples and applications

GROOP evolves

GROOP uses a debate by edit approach to optimize online collaborative technologies such as IPA for consensus decision making, and the use of a virtual cabinet room for political parties or a virtual board room for other organizations. Tight budgets and geographical size require many social organizations in Canada to rely more heavily on internet based infrastructure to formally legislate policies without requiring travel to meetings.

it really evolves!

GROOP is a starting point. Like the game Nomic, any participant can modify the rules, and this is part of the game. Like the game Cosmic Encounters, participants' power to change the rules may be allocated based on their roles.

Consensus and dissensus

GROOP insists on appropriate technology being applied to each step or phase of a task.

For instance, dissensus can be developed within mailing lists, where it typically flourishes, whereas consensus takes place within the wiki, so newcomers see only what is presently agreed.

GROOP employs free software and Share Alike technologies such as mailing list and wiki to communicate and collaborate, in part to ensure that there are no problems moving code or content between the various technologies required.

The specific tools currently recommended by GROOP are:

Technology and technophobia

Some worry that the technology of wikis (or IC technology in general) is undemocratic in that it will exclude those who are impaired from using it in some way - those who are visually or technologically impaired.

GROOP encourages the use of paper based mark up and mail back fallbacks and in come cases, paid facilitators, so that these people's voices can be added to the process. Suppose it costs $3000/yr to accommodate someone who cannot use the technology, by giving them an technical assistant or providing them with some other interface to the technology. GROOP could provably save an organization many times that amount in improved productivity and avoided transport expenses, which can amount to over $3,000 per person for a single live meeting among people across North America or just Canada.

These facilitating technologies for deliberative bodies, have been embraced even by organizations Despite the argument that 5% of the population can't readily use them. Providing workarounds to accommodate that 5% (to thier satisfaction) and proceed in favour of the 95% that can, worked even in some of these notably technophobic organizations. See Living Platform in Practice.

Many direct action, peacemaking, democratic structuring, diagnostic dialogue, service-oriented architecture, personality type, service economy and deep framing theories contributed to the intellectual integrity of GROOP. Some more directly than others:

GROOP and related concepts arose in their present form among Green Party activists, mainly in Ontario between 1999 and 2005, as part of a struggle to find the ways and means for meaningful grassroots democracy in the Troll Age. Early proposals for a Lean Green Machine including full solutions to the URL and 404 problem were implemented by Craig Hubley and Russell McOrmond in late 1999 in the GPO. At that time, the basic model of Efficient Politics was well understood and debated, but technologically the Party was not ready for it yet.

At that time, rules for live meetings were also in flux. The Green Rules of Procedural Order were developed by a Canadian facilitator in order to accommodate the Green Party of Canada requirement for a less competitive process. They entered the GPC constitution in 1988:

"The Green Party of Canada does not use Robert's or Bourinot's Rules of Order in order to make decisions. Instead, we use a consensus seeking procedure: if possible, we work to make a motion acceptable to all participants, not a simple majority. Greens believe that each person involved in a decision has a piece of the truth." Meetings in 1999 and 2000 chaired by Laura Weinberg and others who had a working familiarity with the GPC rules, and procedures developed by Greg Bonser, Craig Hubley, Tom Salsberg and Andrew Roy, all in Toronto, gradually developed into a new method: The Bonser method in its final form was pioneered at a Green Party of Ontario AGM in 2001, as a collaboration among Bonser, Michael Pilling, Bill Hulet, Ted Alexander and Chris Bradshaw. It was subsequently adopted by other Green Parties in Canada. e.g. GPC GPNS.

The GPO proxy or delegate system synthesized proposals by Hulet and Pilling in the GPO AGM 2002. "Ground Rules for Grassroots Democracy" was co-written by Pilling and Dan King.

Meanwhile, through 2000, the Free University of Toronto had evolved a minimal governance system consisting only of two regular meetings, one between teachers and potential teachers, one open to all. Oriel Varga, Claudia Varga, Elan Ohayan, David Melville were early contributors, while Craig Hubley, Emily Sadowski and Ian Calvert evolved this mollusc model into its final form. Angela Bischoff and Tooker Gomberg's campaign for Mayor of Toronto in 2000 used a FreeUofT class to plan open campaigns. These involved direct action stunts and drew on the altermondialiste movement of the time. Many participants had been in the OCAP riot, 2000 and would also be in the Quebec City protest, 2001. Influence of Starhawk, Carol Moore, Bob Black and Anatol Rapaport was significant on the methods of all these groups including Free U.

Dan King, Frank De Jong, Craig Hubley and others also participated in the collaborative writing of the Gomberg for Mayor final platform for November 2000, mostly by email. The need to streamline this process inspired the Living Platform and Imagine Halifax projects, which effectively took the same methodology online and applied longstanding software methods to it: Hubley's familiarity with wikis back to the early 1990s now paid off.

The GPO and the later "GPC Living Platform" were initiated and designed by Pilling, Hubley, Hughes, and members of the GPC's 2004 process committee. It was used to coordinate Answers to Questionnaires 2004 and GPC policy FAQs used by GPC candidates relying on the GPC platform, 2004. The most innovative aspect of the 2004 GPC-LP were its terms of use, Platform 2005 test process (not actually done), its list of policy terms, use of the issue/position/argument structure. Direct application of deep framing theory of George Lakoff, twelve levers theory of Donella Meadows, and Hubley's own reflexive intranet theory helped evolve it into a semantic web. The Imagine Halifax initiatives were coordinated by Hubley and over 30 Halifax-area activists using a refinement of these methods in the fall of 2004.

All these projects used IPA, originated at Berkeley in the 1980s as gIBIS as the simplest action-oriented semantic web structure, then more fully developed by Michael Lipson, Hubley's colleague at ACM SIGCHI, and at MCC where Hubley had consulted in 1990 on technology trees and where CM/2 evolved. Use of IPA in software design projects and for meeting agendas was definitely Hubley's innovation (1996) and is applied by other colleagues notably Paul Shields and Alex Palanik in software projects to this day. TIPAESA extensions were discovered (some believe invented) by Hubley, subsequently developed for political wiki purposes and wiki troll culture.

The terms GROOP, "postmodern politics", "Living Agenda" were coined in 2004/2005 by Kate Holloway and other Green Party activists. They embellished on the original Green Rules of Procedural Order, drawing on exhaustive references Hubley added to Living Platform. The GPC fund protocol and GPC Revenue Sharing Committee, both under Holloway's tutelage, made exemplary use of the methods especially for meeting minutes and organization protocols. They also used anonymous augmentation methods in live meetings, a live meeting best practice. Despite or because of this success, the GPC Council Crisis intervened, and the key instigators ceased to be active in GPC. A few attempts to censor debate effectively killed the projects, moving the centre of innovation to the Green Party of Ontario, Green Party of Nova Scotia, Civic Efficiency Group and the Open Politics Foundation - an e-democracy nonprofit.

In the OPF, detailed wiki meeting procedures, debate by edit rules, issue challenge, and related concepts were further developed and applied by Pilling, Hayley Easto, Hubley and many anonymous contributors to openpolitics.ca itself, some of whom also donated work to Efficient Civics Guild - which is more concerned with e-government problems. By this point the evolution of GROOP methods had clearly begun to influence a number of other projects:

feedback to political wikis

Wikis covering difficult political subjects notably dkosopedia.com and embodimentwiki.org and wiki.creativecommons.org and especially let.sysops.be had all adopted some subset of the methods and developed them further. This was most marked at develop.consumerium.org where the three-wiki filter model seems to have originated, seemingly a refinement of the way draft planks evolved in Living Platform itself: beginning with positions that become proposals and finally planks or press releases. At each phase different experts become involved, but at all phases the ordinary user retains peer power. Also at this time, Wikipedia ArbCom under Florence Devraux and Fred Bauder had matured, and it was generally recognized that factions were a necessary part of wiki's evolution - the wikinfo.org, then Anarchopedia and OurAnswer projects, began to mirror GROOP elements.

feedback to political parties

Because so much of the initial work originated in political contexts and is CC-by-nc-sa there are no legal barriers, and few technical barriers, to re-applying GROOP to political party use. The New Canada Project seems to be attempting to do so.

Although work continues on related concepts in Green Parties, and the Bonser method is now widely adopted, any current Green constitution would need to be modified to adopt GROOP as a whole. See next GPO constitution, next GPC constitution, next GPNS constitution for related issues. The GROOP governance system is not proven for political party or large scale use. The GPNS moderator guidelines were somewhat based on GROOP but more on open politics in force.