[OSGeo-Conf] [Board] Conference Committee Guidelines

Angelos Tzotsos gcpp.kalxas at gmail.com
Tue Dec 6 14:22:31 PST 2016

Hi Cameron, Marc, all,

Thank you for your e-mails, your input is much appreciated.

The board decision came after a long f2f discussion and was a result of 
a compromise between many voices and concerns. Since it was a f2f 
meeting, it was difficult for the board to provide a full discussion 
log, and this might have caused this interpretation of the board trying 
to micro-manage the committees. This is not the case.

What happened is that we reviewed how some committees have defined rules 
on how they work (we even talked about board voting rules, especially 
about the veto votes - which by the way are not mentioned in the 
by-laws). We also discussed about the committee guidelines wiki page [1] 
that caused much discussion in the conference committee thread, and the 
result was that wiki pages are not considered official documents. Jody 
made the effort to update the wiki page [1] and make it more generic, so 
that committees actually feel free to do their own thing.

All, in case you haven't done so already, please take some time to read 
the new version of the committee guidelines wiki page [1], it might help 
you in your committee or PSC. Also you can choose to ignore it and make 
your own decision process. In any case, please create a document on how 
you choose to work, it is very important for transparency and this is 
why the board wants to be able to review this document if needed.

Regarding the specific conference committee issue, it could (and still 
can) have been worked out (with or without consensus, with or without a 
veto voting system). The problem I see is that nothing happened after 
the long period of disagreement and no one raised (or had the energy to 
raise) a new motion to be voted (e.g. anyone in the committee could have 
re-raised the initial motion for an override vote after 2-3 days of 
discussion). At least this is how I understand the veto system, and how 
it is expressed in the board voting procedure wiki page [2]. If the veto 
system does not apply in your case, then the first motion already passed 
by majority...

Marc, personally, I totally support your energy and effort to work on 
the marketing strategy as a first priority. If you feel that the 
marketing committee is operating in a healthy way as is, you can focus 
on the marketing strategy first and think/propose/draft a minimal 
document on how you vote/make decisions at a later stage. The board 
request did not include any deadline for this ;)

Best regards,

[1] https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Committee_Guidelines
[2] https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Board_Voting_Procedure

On 12/06/2016 10:27 PM, Cameron Shorter wrote:
> Hi Angelos,
> I'm sorry my email comes across as offensive. On re-reading what I 
> said, I can see that it sounds patronising. I'm sorry for my rudeness. 
> I do believe that process helps communities work more efficiently and 
> it helps with transparency. So the goal is admirable.
> The process for putting guidelines in place for the conference 
> committee have been tainted by an ineffective attempt of the community 
> to create such a process.
> To summarise, Steven volunteered to create such a process, based on a 
> mandate from a face-to-face meeting of some of the conference 
> committee members. He put the process forward, tweaked it based on 
> feedback, obtained a vote of approval from the majority of members. 
> This is everything you'd want from a volunteer. Two committee members 
> (who also happen to be on the board) applied veto votes to the 
> proposed conference committee process. Resolution stagnated and a 
> significant amount of time was wasted. This has resulted in no 
> mandate. I'd argue that next steps in obtaining a conference committee 
> process is for the people who provided veto to step up to the task 
> creating an alternative process which the majority of the conference 
> committee prefer over the existing proposal. Based our recent 
> experience, this will be a lot of effort. Alternatively, these people 
> can withdraw their veto vote and accept the currently proposed voting 
> process.
> Warm regards, Cameron
> On 7/12/2016 12:28 AM, Marc Vloemans wrote:
>> +1
>> Perhaps it is possible that the board gives some back ground on the 
>> 'why' of the request.....? Hopefully taking away the current 
>> impression of being directive....
>> As stated in earlier mails; given recent discussions on the above 
>> lists, it seems the focus is still on other things than where we (as 
>> a community) want to go.
>> Reiterating, I still miss a process in which internal 
>> stakeholders/participants/members are solicited for their input. 
>> Strategising is a process: continuous, participatory, focussed, 
>> conscious.
>>  From a Marketing perspective; we are currently working on a 
>> marketing strategy. Including, which present and future stakeholders 
>> does OSGeo need to reach out to, where are they, by which 
>> means/channels and with what appropriate messages/products/services?
>> I rather work on that than on guidelines
>> Kind regards,
>> Marc Vloemans
> On 6/12/2016 11:48 PM, Angelos Tzotsos wrote:
>> Dear Cameron,
>> The following are my own views, not an official response from the board:
>> If such policy never existed and things worked well for the 
>> conference committee, then why did the committee tried to apply a new 
>> policy? And why did this new policy got blocked? Perhaps because it 
>> was not clear how the committee should work in the first place?
>> The board is asking for a document to actually avoid this situation. 
>> Having some (even minimal) document of how things work (and 
>> incubation committee documents are an excellent example, thanks 
>> Jody), would avoid such problems in the future.
>> I don't believe that the board is trying to lead by directing or 
>> micro-managing the committees. We actually were all against that in 
>> the video conference we had. But in order to get some consensus, a 
>> minimal set of rules has to be somehow be expressed.
>> Please have in mind that volunteers don't only loose their interest 
>> when formalities/bureaucracy take over, but also when things are not 
>> transparent or when major conflicts happen. I am guessing that Steven 
>> did not step down as a chair just because the new policy didn't go 
>> through, but also by being involved in a conflict with long e-mail 
>> threads etc. The board discussion was towards making things more 
>> transparent and open. It was also clear that the "committee 
>> guidelines" on our wiki are not a formal document but just an 
>> example, and that committees are free to do their own thing.
>> Regarding your reference to the Eric Raymond document, personally I 
>> find it offensive that you question us being aware of it, or having 
>> read it.
>> In any case, thank you for your input.
>> Regards,
>> Angelos
>> On 12/06/2016 12:48 PM, Cameron Shorter wrote:
>>> OSGeo board,
>>> I suspect you'll get a minimal response to a call for membership 
>>> policies.
>>> The reasons are relatively subtle. Volunteers step up to scratch an 
>>> itch if they feel there is a need. If such policies are not in place 
>>> yet, then communities probably don't feel the need for them.
>>> Having the board direct communities to produce documents, in a 
>>> command-and-control type request is typically not how open source 
>>> communities work effectively.
>>> I think you will find OSGeo communities work effectively, whether 
>>> their processes are written down or not.
>>> If you haven't already read it, I suggest having a look at The 
>>> Cathedral and the Bazaar, by Eric Raymond. In particular, this chapter:
>>> http://www.catb.org/esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/cathedral-bazaar/ar01s11.html 
>>> I suggest that leading by example and amplifying initiatives of 
>>> others will be more effective for you than leading by directing. It 
>>> will help you as a board be more effective during your term in office.
>>> Warm regards, Cameron
>>> On 6/12/2016 4:17 AM, Angelos Tzotsos wrote:
>>>> Dear Conference Committee,
>>>> Following up on your recent motion to update your membership 
>>>> policies and process, and the issues raised by this motion, the 
>>>> board has held a video meeting to discuss the issue of committee 
>>>> guidelines.
>>>> As a result, the board is asking everyone to write down "committee 
>>>> guidelines" on how each functions.  The idea is to make sure our 
>>>> committees are transparent in their decision making, and open to 
>>>> participation.
>>>> There is a wiki page here 
>>>> https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Committee_Guidelines that provides more 
>>>> information (and helpfully provides guidance for committee chairs). 
>>>> There are some examples of different committees doing their thing 
>>>> here (https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Committee_Guidelines#Examples).
>>>> Best regards,
>>>> Angelos

Angelos Tzotsos, PhD
OSGeo Charter Member

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