[OSGeo-Discuss] Proposed process for selecting OSGeo charter members

Cameron Shorter cameron.shorter at gmail.com
Fri Jun 20 05:38:20 PDT 2014

Thanks Paul, Dimitris and Peter for your thoughts.

Comments inline.

On 20/06/2014 4:31 am, Paul Ramsey wrote:
> http://www.aag.org/cs/membership/individual_membership
> http://www.aag.org/cs/membership/individual_membership/dues
> Both simpler, and better for the bottom line of OSGeo, if you want to
> be a member, sign up as a member, collect your t-shirt, see you @
> foss4g.
Yes Paul, "pay for membership" is simple, but I'd argue that the value 
of OSGeo and OSGeo communities is the volunteer time we contribute, and 
"pay membership" wouldn't capture that.

> On Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 10:28 AM, Dimitris Kotzinos <kotzino at csd.uoc.gr> wrote:
>> Dear all,
>> some thoughts on the proposed changes on the Charter Member election
>> process.
>> I will divide my comments into two parts, first some issues about the
>> process itself and then some comments on the proposed changes.
>> (A) the process per se:
>> 1/ I think that whatever change in the election process should be validated
>> by the Charter Members themselves, so I fully agree with Arnulf that we need
>> to vote on that and not just the Board. And of course this contains no
>> offense for the Board; it is just that I think that it is fair that the body
>> who is affected by the changes to take the decisions.
>> Moreover the charter members are the ones who elect the Board so it seems
>> quite awkward to me that the smaller governing body will take such decision.
This is a worthy comment, and something we can work toward. I've heard 
many people over the years suggest that OSGeo doesn't make enough use of 
our Charter Members.
The OSGeo constitution defines the role of charter members to vote once 
a year for new charter members and to vote for the board. With the 
trialing of limesurvey for voting for these elections, the process of 
setting up a vote will be easier so we could ask charter members to vote 
on other issues as well.
However, until a new process is put in place, we should continue with 
the old process, which has been to vote in a board, and then have the 
board vote on day to day matters.
(Community comments such as this email thread helps the board form an 
opinion, which hopefully reflects the feelings of the community).

>> 2/ I think that whatever decision taken should be enforced in next year's
>> elections; members need some time to evaluate that. So it is good to
>> conclude this process now but enforce it from next year.
Historically, despite suggestions being discussed at the end of each 
election, we get to the next election and find that no one has updated 
the process.
Our aim this time is to be proactive, make a decision and put it into place.
Sure, what we decide probably won't be perfect, but hopefully it will be 
better than last year.
The aim here is for continuous improvement.
>> (B) the proposed changes:
>> Before discussing the proposed changes I think that we should understand
>> where the current system has failed. Do we have cases where recognized
>> community leaders failed to be elected? If so please bring them forward. I
>> doubt so though since if I recall correctly the last two years all charter
>> member nominations were accepted without voting!
While I understand your sentiment, I'm wary of going back to look at 
evidence from previous years:
1. I think it inappropriate to bring up examples of specific people who 
were denied access to charter membership, probably due to insufficient 
2. There is quite a bit of work involved in compiling such evidence. 
(Would you like to volunteer to do the research?)

>>   Moreover the notion of a
>> "recognized community leader" that cannot be elected as a charter member is
>> a contradiction by itself. So why change?
Note that our definition of a "recognised osgeo community leader" is 
someone who has already been *voted* into a prominent role within OSGeo. 
So I don't think this is a contradiction.
>> I am not against the idea of having some people becoming OSGEO Charter
>> Members ex officio but for one I do not like the idea of having members of
>> different categories and secondly I need to have a look at the data: how
>> many of the committee chairs, PSC members, official Chapter chairs are not
>> already OSGEO Charter members
Interesting question. Would you like to do the research?

>>   (and they wanted to be and failed)? Why are
>> they not nominated to become ones and to be voted?
>> And I don't see how the problem described here:
>> "In previous years the Charter Member selection process has been a little
>> contentious. We typically receive numerous nominations from high caliber
>> members of our community, and insufficient positions to accept them all.
>> This typically results in unnecessary disappointment and dissent."
>> will be resolved: again we will have some people not becoming Charter
>> Members if the seats are not enough. So some of us will still be
>> disappointed, etc. So if the numbers are the same the only difference I see
>> is that now we choose beforehand whom to disappoint and people working in
>> the community but in not "official" positions will have less chances to be
>> elected.
>> If we want to open up the numbers, this is OK, more seats are offered every
>> year anyway. But what else?
>> And of course the first come first served approach if the recognized
>> community leaders are more than the seats is a bit odd: to lighten up the
>> discussion I cannot imagine people with the finger on the mouse waiting for
>> the process to open in order to submit there nominations.
This is a valid concern. Ideally we will have enough positions such that 
anyone who qualifies as a "recognised osgeo community leader" will be 
accepted, however we are bound by our constitution to accept between 10% 
and 1/3 of current charter members, so some how we need to cap. This is 
the simplest process I could think of.

>> Finally, for the voting process I completely disagree with the ability of a
>> member to vote multiple times for the same person. This removes from the
>> process the requirement of someone to be widely recognized within the
>> community and potentially allows "a couple of friends" to elect whoever they
>> want.

I agree with you on this, but it is the process we have been following 
to date. Maybe next year we can address this and you might be able to 
help draft the proposal to have it changed.

>> I think that the discussion is interesting and thanks to the board and
>> Arnulf :) for initiating it!
>> I think that other solutions could also be considered if we feel that we
>> need to differentiate on how charter members get elected, e.g. agree on a
>> bonus percentage that a "community leader" gets when he goes through the
>> standard process, so he still has to be voted by many...
>> I apologize for the length of the e-mail and thanks for listening,
And thanks for sharing your thoughts. I hope to see you next year 
getting involved in improving our voting process further.
>> Best regards,
>> Dimitris Kotzinos

On 20/06/2014 4:58 am, Peter Baumann wrote:
> Hi all,
> good - and important! - discussion!
> Being Charter Member I am somewhat concerned:
> - I am surprised that the common democratic procedure of election is 
> perceived as creating "dissent".
> - yes, democracy is expensive, but generally it is considered worth 
> the effort.
> - is "lifelong membership" compatible with community participation?
> - "Recognised OSGeo Community Leaders" seem to get determined in a 
> very special, selective way (as compared to standard election 
> procedures).
For the selection of "Recognised OSGeo Community Leaders" we have 
specifically selected groups who have established voting processes for 
selecting their own leaders (such as graduated OSGeo projects).

> Altogether, the criteria seem to make OSGeo a self-sustaining group:
> insiders will remain insiders for a lifetime, outsiders will...well, 
> face a hurdle.
> So the contrary of "open".
Yes, membership is not open to everyone, people need to be voted in. The 
authors of our OSGeo constitution based the constitution on many other 
prior open source communities. As I understand it, the general feeling 
at the time, which I think still holds, is that it is more valuable to 
retain the experience and advice of prior Charter Members than there is 
in retiring these members out.

> Just an idea: what about applying the OSGeo incubation checklist to 
> OSGeo itself to determine feasible procedures?
I'm not sure the incubation checklist which is designed for software 
projects is a good match for applying to a community such as OSGeo.

Cameron Shorter,
Software and Data Solutions Manager
Suite 112, Jones Bay Wharf,
26 - 32 Pirrama Rd, Pyrmont NSW 2009

P +61 2 9009 5000,  W www.lisasoft.com,  F +61 2 9009 5099

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