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Proposal for a formal (commercial) co-operative

Posted by Frank Oxener
on 23 May 2010

So you’re an independent Ruby developer with all the benefits you can think of.

With a lot of freedom. You work from home, you choose your own assignments, no adjustment to a corporate culture, no managers to deal with etc.

But what about the downsides? No feedback on your work (from which you can learn), not a lot of interaction with other programmers, not easy to consult a colleague on technical or other matters and sometimes the workload is too much or too little.

So that leads me to the question: is there a form of working together without losing the valued benefits of an independent developer. Somehow it must be possible to work together on a commercial basis as individual developers more or less the same way we contribute to an Open Source project.

Living in a community (on an island) where we have a lot of benefit of existing co-operatives (for transport by ferry and the delivery of energy), I of course thought of a formal co-operative as an organization form for working as an collective.


  • Acquisition as a collective.
  • More flexible in workload. No more running or standing still. A more even distribution of the workload.
  • Higher occupation on average.
  • Share knowledge and practical experience.
  • Learn by working together on the same project.
  • More change to do what you do best (specialties).
  • More change to make some money as a part time ruby developer.

The co-op will also offer the customer more continuity. A customer will value the lower dependence on a single developer or a small company.

Release early, release often:

With this proposal I like to research the possibility of working together in a formal co-operative. Of course I don’t have all the answers (yet), but I’m hoping that we can together answer a lot of them.

Let me know what you think. I made a first draft of a proposal on Github with the following subjects:

  • Definitions
  • Objectives
  • Rights
  • Responsibilities
  • Obligations
  • Financials
  • Board
  • Workflow
  • Examples

I like to invite you to join this discussion and make your contribution by forking and submitting your patches!