[Board] Charter members and directors elections

Howard Butler hobu.inc at gmail.com
Mon Jul 18 09:32:08 PDT 2011

On Jul 18, 2011, at 9:23 AM, Tyler Mitchell wrote:
> This does not seem like a good idea to me, because then really anyone can become a charter member.  Lowering the bar this far makes the whole status of charter membership meaningless.   If you "let them all in" - then the charter membership has no way to exercise one of their only privileges and wouldn't even be allowed to vote.  Instead the board would be entirely responsible, and I don't think that's what the membership or the board really wants.

Please explain how it is not meaningless already?  How is charter membership anything more than a "Like" or "+1" for OSGeo right now?  The board can simply write bylaws that would prevent a mass overthrow, and I think the worry should be more about keeping things viable through volunteerism and energy than worrying about a drastic change in governance. 

> I believe we want the most engaged and respected people to keep joining as charter members, potentially making their way to the board of directors.  Changing our election parameters, talking about demographics, lowering the bar to let too many in... doesn't help us (the charter membership) encourage contribution or engagement.  I argue it does the opposite.

It seems contradictory to espouse meritocratic governance of our projects through our incubation guidelines on one hand and limit voting membership of the foundation size on the other.  If I remember right, we've had trouble filling the 10% slots that we've advertised in the past and haven't really had to count votes for charter membership.  It would seem more valuable and community-building to have those who wish to be charter members write up something about who they are and what they do as a requirement to grant them membership than to have a vote where a tiny percentage of folks would know who they're voting for.

In my opinion, OSGeo-the-global-software-foundation needs a good dose of volunteer energy (OSGeo-the-local-volunteer-organization seems to be doing great without much interference from the former), but I don't see how it does so.  The first generation of true believers is waning away through volunteer exhaustion, regular attrition, and disinterest.  Our member projects don't represent many of the new things that have been happening in open source geo in the past three years (where's Mapnik, GeoCouch,  MapTiler, this-n-that-caching project, the JavaScript geo world other than OpenLayers, etc).  What is our sales pitch to these kinds of projects?  What do we offer them in exchange for our bureaucracy?  Have we incubated any new projects in the past two years?  New software projects are our natural membership pool. 

I have no prescriptions for how to attack these challenges, but I think that artificially limiting the pool of folks who can feel they have ownership in doing so by setting a bar on charter membership is not one of them.

A burnout,


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