Re: Shared survey: what does your community use?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 6 Aug 2017 07:29:33 -0700 (PDT)
>> Corey (corey.birnbaum [at] wrote:
>>> Hello everyone! I've created a short survey that asks what you and your
>>> community use to help organize your daily community lives, with a focus on
>>> software/services. Everyone can see the results after they submit a
>>> response!

Comments on the survey questions — Surveys are very hard to do and can easily 
skew data. It’s best to test them on a bunch of people before launching them so 
you know if you are getting the information you mean to get. I applaud your 
interest in doing this but it might be helpful if you use this survey to design 
a clearer one based on the responses.

For example
> How does your IC build consensus for making decisions? 

— In one sentence? Consensus building is a process that takes months from 
initial discussions of the problem to research to discussion of possible 
solutions to final decisions. And then there are all the ways of working with 
individiual personalities. Consensus is a people thing not a voting thing.

The question about how satisfied with the tools/methods currently used:

1. What do you define as group discussion software? Does that include email? 
For many, many people all these online things are not used or even known by 
name. Need more information to answer this correctly.

2. Polls, surveys, consensus building are grouped. Polls and surveys are not 
the same as consensus building. This makes it an impossible question to answer 
or tabulate. Its like asking “Do you use an iphone or do you talk to people?"

> About how much time per WEEK goes to administrative or managerial tasks for 
> your IC? (Such as handling paperwork, setting up meetings, sifting through 
> binders/cabinets, etc.)

 Is this per person, just for me? How do I count up all the hours spent by 
maybe 20 people who are involved in various aspects of this? Or are you just 
asking so people will start thinking about it?


We recently signed up for Association Voice which is designed as a condo 
management tool but is awkward and expensive if we used all the services. as we 
thought we could when we signed up. We use it for document storage, 
information, form submissions, and a portal to our CalendarWiz Calendar. Our 
calendar is complex because we record birthdays, vacations, CH room 
reservations, guest room reservations, meals, all meetings, social events — 
basically anything that you can put a date on. 

The idea was that if we used Association Voice, we could put all our stuff in 
one place — email accounts, calendar (instead of paying separately for 
CalendarWiz), photo storage, documents, etc. AND only have one password. Not a 
chance. Once we began using it, we saw its limitations. 

We still have our own ISP and domain name to host email accounts and the photo 

We still use Google Sites, which is actually a wiki, to store facilities 
related information.

We still use the bulletin board for meal signups, though we can often just 
email the cook to reserve a space.


Cohousing is filled with Yankee-dos. People who want to do it themselves. It 
isn’t just about not wanting to pay for things. We have a cleaning crew that 
cleans the CH every 2 weeks. Cleaning is something we could easily hire out and 
would love to have these people cooking meals instead. But they like cleaning 
and refuse to hire things out.

I don’t like having our website on Association Voice because I like doing 
websites but the other people who want to work on the website want an interface 
that doesn’t require knowing learning Wordpress or other web design programs. I 
dislike the standardization such programs require and they love it. 
Standardization keeps things equal. As a result we have to learn the vocabulary 
the site and not our own vocabulary. The "Contact Sheet” is now “The 
Directory”. Instead of a separate menu item for different kinds of documents, 
we have “Resources” and have to click through to find another layer of menus to 
click through. It can take 8 clicks to get where you want to go. Some of this 
could be redesigned — to 4 clicks maybe — but the hierarchical structure is 
built into the program.


More comments on software in a separate post.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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