[OSGeo-Discuss] Membership fee (was: Proposed process for selecting OSGeo charter members)

Even Rouault even.rouault at mines-paris.org
Tue Jun 24 06:12:14 PDT 2014


Interesting topic that raises quite a few questions.

I think that all people who have commented in that thread have not necessarily
agreed if membership fees would be something in addition to the nomination and
election processs, or if it would replace it.

If we switch to a paid membership, one would likely have to identify the
benefits brought by being a member. Voting rights for the board would probably
not a big enough benefit. In the AAG example quoted by Paul, there are several
benefits associated: access to journals, reduced prices to
publications/meetings, etc... That would mean that there is a commitment of
OSGeo to provide the advertized benefits, and thus the question on how to
guarantee this commitment would arise : volunteers effort, or paid
staff/contractors ?
Interestingly one of the benefit of AAG membership is access to "AAG specialty
groups" whose equivalent in OSGeo would probably be our mailing lists. So would
we want to restrict access to those to non members ? Mateusz also mentionned
that bills have to be paid to maintain some OSGeo servers, like svn. Would we
want to restrict access to those servers only to the folks who have paid the
membership fee ? Probably not.

We have only mentionned individual members, but would we want to extend to
corportate members as well ?

>From my perspective, OSGeo Charter membership is a recognition for the
accomplishments of an individual to support OSGeo values and missions, and thus
gets a right to define its steering through board election. Perhaps we at a
community sometimes fail to welcome people who would deserve it, because they
are a bit outside of our usual networks to be nominated (or because people are
not confortable enough to do public nominations, perhaps for language or
cultural reasons), or because we reach the yearly quota for new members. That's
certainly a pitty if folks feel excluded whereas I think we generally try to be
rather inclusive.

One thing to keep in mind is that if we translate into money the value of the
accomplishments of OSGeo Charter members, I'm pretty sure that in 99.99% of the
cases that translates to much more than USD 70. You can probably add one or two
zeros to that figure. So asking them for a fee, in addition to their other forms
of contribution, would seem a bit awkward, although I can understand that
contribution in term of money rather than time is sometimes more useful. So I
wouldn't object to paying a membership fee.

But IMHO the main question is : do we need membership fees to sustain OSGeo ?
Aren't surplus funds generated by FOSS4G sufficient for that (although I can
understand that Howard's fear that FOSS4G organization by volunteers might not
be a sustainable model) ? Or perhaps we would need more funds to be able to do
more things ?

OSGeo is perhaps rather different from other organizations in the geomatics
field in the way it manages its membership, but is it more a strength or a
weakness ?


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