Community Membership and Education Service

@members We’re going to be discussing this at our General Meeting today. I’m posting this now to let you do some pre-reading :slight_smile:

We’re planning to launch a new form of membership in the cooperative: a “Community” membership. It will be a paid membership (paid on a monthly basis) and have a variety of benefits. Alongside this new membership type, we will also be launching a new service offering: Education.

To get it ready for launch we will all need to pitch in to hammer out the details. I don’t expect we’ll be ready to launch this for a few months yet; this should not be a rush job. We need to get this right.

Feedback is welcome on all aspects, however I am also going to give some specific assignments which I’ll need you to help me on. If you have a specific assignment that is your responsibility and should be your main focus.

Each aspect of this is interrelated, so to work together effectively we need to keep the collaboration in defined streams, i.e. through topics here in #members as much as possible. A significant part of this interrelation is the correlation between the service level (i.e. how much effort it requires) and the price we charge for this. Revenue generated from this membership will be used to pay the fixed costs of Pavilion and distributed amongst the workers providing the services that comprise it.

The interelationship between the price and the service offering will be important. It may be case that we determine that we charge additional fixed feeds for some aspects of the service offering, for example a fixed fee for the advanced courses (perhaps “Discourse 101” would be included in the membership offering). That’s just a hypothetical, but that’s the kind of conversation we need to have.


These are the benefits the community members will receive.


Responsible person: @merefield, with assistance from @fzngagan and @muhlisbc.

Being a member of the cooperative means that you will get preferential support for our open source customisations. Note that this is different from our Managed Update Service which 3 clients are currently on (Ackerly Green, RStudio and HEPF).

The main feature of this offering we have already talked about is the 24hr or 48hr support window outside of monthly update periods. We need to refine this. @merefield Rob, we need the scope and features of the support offering to be clear for the start. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • What is the turn-around time we will offer? 24hrs, 48 hrs?
  • What is it that we “support”: is it just bringing our customisations up to date with the latest discourse? Where does that end? What are some examples of cases that fall inside and cases that fall outside?
  • Which customisations do we include in the support and how do we message about this scope?
  • Do we potentially support community members on anything outside of our customisations?
  • How do you provide the support? Through what channels? Do we have a private category here on Do we give access to a chat channel?

The answers to thse questions will be dependent on a few factors including:

  • What is our support capacity, both in terms of workers and in terms of customisations
  • How can our current support practices be leveraged or extended to meet this kind of service provision?

@merefield Can you start a new topic for this? @fzngagan and @muhlisbc Rob will need your help hammering out the details on this. There’s a lot to nail down here.


Responsible person: @pacharanero

We have been approached at various times in the past about providing education on different aspects of Discourse. This is both a new service offering for us and something that will be good to include in a membership targeted at Community Managers.

@pacharanero I think you’re the person to structure and lead this. I’m keen to be involved, both in a subject-matter sense, e.g. I could teach the plugin development or site admin course, but if you’re keen, you’d be good at leading this.

I think this is the better way for us to focus your Pavilion energies rather than in providing a “Pavilion” branded hosting service. It’s an area where we have clear unique value. None of the other Discourse “experts” or orgs are particularly good at the education / explaining side of things. That is one of your talents. It is also one of mine. We’re well placed to create a valuable service here.

These are the initial “Courses” I think we could offer

  • Discourse 101 (setting up a server, basic site admin, basic CSS)

  • How to develop plugins, including:

    • Learning Rails / Ember.js
    • Learning Discourse conventions, patterns and APIs
  • “Advanced” Site Administration

    • How to construct and use Database queries
    • Advanced Discourse use cases and how to set them up, e.g.
      • Discourse as a CRM
      • Discourse as a project management tool
      • Discourse as part of a network of other sites (e.g. identity management)
  • Discourse Sysops

    • How to perform server maintenace
    • How to safely backup and restore
    • How to setup a staging server
    • How to automate things (e.g. ansible)

My current vision for how this would work is as follows. A new Discourse instance, or a parent category here on, with a category for each course. The courses will start at defined times in the year and be limited to a set number of students (probably relatively small). The teaching tools would be:

  • Classes run via video call, with a couple of set classes a week
  • Weekly homework exercises, which can be both
  • Discussion and collaboration between the students as they complete the exercises

Using Discourse as a learning platform (as a proto-LMS) is already a use case we are supporting (in slightly different ways) for two of our clients: #clients:rzim and #clients:rstudio. They use it in different ways, however the common thread is one-category-per-course. This is also true for Udacity and Code Academy, who use Discourse for the “Discussion and Collaboration” portion of online learning.

I do anticipate that, to make this feasible, we will probably charge extra (i.e. above the Community Membership fee) for certain courses. I don’t expect we will have the scale to have the kind of model Udacity or Code Acaemdy have (i.e. low fee subscription based). We could even have some kind of model where the Community Membership fee gives you a discount, but you could also purchase the course outright.


Responsible person: @angus

Being a member means that the Community members will have a role in the cooperative itself. This is where our organisational nature as a “Cooperative” will start to seem different from a more traditional corporation. Up until now, while we have our special ways of doing things, we have effectively had a relatively “traditional” work practices, i.e. there are a small group of individuals who work together and there is a relatively bright line between that group and the “outside world”.

The community membership is going to be a significant overlap between our existing working group and the “outside world”. This where being a “cooperative” will start to become more of a reality.

Community members will:

  • Have a say on the activities and direction of the cooperative. This will be formalised as a seperate membership class with specific voting rights when we incorporate as a cooperative, however even before then, in the more informal way of working we have now, it will be relevant.

  • Be part of some of our private spaces. How this is managed will be an interesting question. Do we include them here in #members? Do we create sub-categories with different permissions? How do we handle Mattermost? What kind of meetups do we hold?

I will be creating a new topic specific to this.


Responsible persons: @Eli

The benefits mentioned above will be brought together as a defined “Product”. Eli, as our product manager, will have lead responsbility on this (@Eli can you create a new topic for this)


The pitch for this membership type includes:

  • The specific benefits mentioned aboe
  • Support of Pavilion’s open source work
  • Being part of our cooperative

Target market

The main targets for this type of membership are:

  • Community managers
  • People pursuing a “Discourse for X” use case (e.g. startups, entrepreneurs etc)
  • Aspiring discourse developers
  • Open source / Community supporters (e.g. themselves)


The Community membership will be a monthly subscription. We may also have additional fixed charges for certain aspects of the benefits mentioned above. Working out this mixture is key. One aspect of the mixture will be a monthly fee.

The starting frame for the price discussion is sub-$100 a month.


The legal, tax and other boring adminsitrative aspects of this will be handled by @angus. These are also significant, but rather than going into depth on these here, I want to keep the focus on the above, i.e. fleshing out the key benefits / services and the product offering.

This sounds great and I am up for it.

@members Excited to get cracking on our plan :smiley:

@merefield @pacharanero @Eli Project leaders, please break off your part of the plan into a new topic in #members:projects. You can use what I’ve posted in your section above as the stub.

e.g. this is mine for “Membership”:

@pacharanero I’ve kicked off the education topic here: as we just got another education request and I thought it’d be good to start collecting examples of those requests somewhere.