The CES forum is likely to be retired any minute, so if you would like to reply to the post below or if you have new topics to raise please head over to the Reddit placeholder forum. The new forum at votingtheory.com is not live yet.
This post is cross-posted on Reddit here:
Over at the CES Forum rkjoyce wrote up a good outline on the process to form and incorporate an organization:
Since I have been the president and the chairperson of the board of a not-for-profit corporation, for which I wrote the charter and the bylaws, I can tell you a few things, perhaps. Really, the domain name and the website should be owned by a corporation (or at least by a not-for-profit unincorporated association). Unincorporated associations are very much like corporations, and have the same basic structure, except they are less ‘official’, and the issue of their ability to own websites probably ‘depends’.
Unless created by a act of the US Congress, corporations are creatures of the states, and every state has different requirements and laws regarding their structure. (If some highly unusual dispute arises, one must probably travel to the state where the corporation was formed (maybe associations must declare which state they were formed in, etc., but I don’t know about that).
The president must provide LEADERSHIP. The (independent) treasurer must provide TRUST. The board chairperson must provide KNOWLEDGE. First you need a lawyer, probably. You must write up a charter (really a sort of constitution), and based on that a set of bylaws. Normally the assets of such an organization are considered to be owned by member who elect the board ad other officers. The most basic issue is the question of how membership is defined, and this is usually controlled by state law.
My 1st step, even before formally incorporating, would be to informally identify members in some manner that is actually generally legal. This is usually based upon participation.
Step 2: Write up a ‘skeleton’ charter FORMALLY identifying the members and have them vote on it
Step 3 Members submit suggestions regarding the organization’s name, and domain name.
Step 4 Have members meeting pertaining to charter, bylaws, officers, etc, and vote on them. And have the members vote on the organization’s name, and domain name.
Step 5 IMMEDIATELY (right at the meeting) buy the domain name before GoDaddy does.
The only webhosts I trust are:
siteground dot comnearlyfreespeech dot net
westhost dot com
(Or you could set up your own server and fight the DDoS wars.)
All my domains are hosted by nearlyfreespeech dot net, since they will move heaven and earth to protect you.
ADDENDUM: In the name of all that was ever holy, stay far away from ‘Robert’s Rules of Order’! Do not listen to what ‘they’ all say! Just use the I Ching or something.
So far we are at step 4:
What our Forum Council has accomplished so far:
- Had 3 meetings (1, 2, 3) with all in attendance who were willing having been elected to form an “interum council” which is empowered to make binding decisions on the formation of the organization. (Sara Wolk, Jay Cincotta, William “Jack” Waugh, Parker Freidland, Rob Brown, David Hinds, Johnathan Bright, Rob Lanphier. (Keith Edmonds stepped down.))
- We have draft proposed bylaws. Please read and comment or suggest edits if needed. For substantial edits copy doc and submit an alternate draft rather than edit too much in line if your edits would make it hard to read doc.
- We have a name and domain: Voting Theory Forum and votingtheory.com
- Left to do:
- Review discuss and approve bylaws asap (including details for quorum, decision making, and election of moderators,) or else approve “interum bylaws” with the intent to revisit the topic later in more detail.
- Elect an official Council with Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, and the remaining members as officers.
- Create Forum
- Elect moderators and pass code of conduct for forum users.
- Decide if we want to incorporate as a formal legal organization or if that is not necessary. Incorporating is a lot of work, with ongoing paperwork, fees, and reporting requirements. Activities which require organization include the managing of money and valuable assets on a scale that makes the legal protections for a corporation worth it. If we don’t want to incorporate we can go forward as a non-incorporated organization or can revisit partnering further with Equal Vote regarding fundraising, income and expenses, and ownership of assets such as the url. Consult a lawyer if desired.
- Create a Procedure Manual including details which don’t need to be in the bylaws and which are more adaptable. (Decide how we want to facilitate meetings, moderate the forum, code of conduct, etc.
- My default is to assign a chair/host, secretary, and moderator for each meeting. Meetings follow the agenda but can be somewhat organic and dispense of excessive formalities unless the situation calls for otherwise or a binding decision is to be made.
- Decisions can be made as following with each step recorded word for word by the secretary: 1. Someone makes a motion (proposes a decision.) 2. Motion must be seconded. 3. People can propose an amendment or amend an amendment. People vote to accept the amendment or go back to the original motion. 4. Council votes on the motion as per bylaws. 4a. Voting can be via online e-ballot for multi-option votes or not. 4b. Voice votes can be done as follows: “All in favor say Yay.” “All opposed say nay.” If the result is not clear to all a headcount can be done to tally votes individually. 4c. If anyone on the council is concerned that a vote count was not correct the vote results can be recounted in a transparent and open process.
- See link above for a complete proposal and feel free to comment or add suggestions, or to submit an alternate proposal.