[OSGeo-Discuss] 2015 Charter Member elections
vasile at geo-spatial.org
Mon Jun 29 06:08:01 PDT 2015
First of all, please accept my apologies for the delay in sending this
message to you and, again, apologies for the length of the message.
Let's start with some basic information about the charter member
elections followed by a little bit of history. I know that many of you
already know the details but the community is quite large now and I find
this recap useful.
OSGeo charter members  are the blood of our foundation. They are
voted into this category by the other charter members. They have the
right to vote in elections for other charter members and for board
members. They are required to act in accordance with the goals and
bylaws  of the Foundation and have the following responsibilities:
(1) annually vote for OSGeo Board members; (2) annually vote for new
OSGeo Charter members and (3) be aware of and protect against a hostile
takeover of OSGeo.
Each year new charter members are nominated (nomination process is open
for the entire community, not only to the existing charter members) and
elected by existing OSGeo charter members, in a process supervised by
the board  and operated by the Chief Returning Officer (CRO) .
Non-active members can retire or be removed by board decision. An
updated list with all the current and past charter members is available
on OSGEo website . During the years the charter members selection
procedure suffered minor and major changes as you can see bellow.
OSGeo was created in early 2006 . One of the main outcomes of the
first OSGeo meeting (held in Chicago)  was a list of 21 foundation
voting members (most of them high profile figures of the existing FOSS4G
projects) and 5 interim directors . Later that month, the first real
elections started with a public nomination call  followed by a vote
 and the election of new 24 voting members . This was followed
by a new nomination call  for the remaining four open seats in the
board. After a tight vote, the first four candidates  from a list of
eight  join the board.
In June, after a f2f meeting, the new board redefined the OSGeo
membership categories as we know today . The voting members are now
called "Charter Members" and they have the right to vote in elections
for other charter members, and for board members. The other member
categories (participant & members) have the right to nominate charter
board members but they cannot cast votes. In March 2007, with the
approach of the new charter members elections, discussion started about
the ned for a CRO position, the number of new seats (and by who/how the
number is decided) and the voting procedure (e.g. nomination and voting
period extend, right to designate a proxy, the number of votes each
charter member can submit) . In June 2007 the nomination process
 started with the aim to elect 15 charter members (the number was
arbitrarily selected by the board). During the vote , each charter
member was entitled to cast votes up to 15 names from the nomination
list. It was possible to cast more than one vote to the same nominee
(even all 15 votes).
The same voting procedure was used for the 2008 charter member elections
(including the number of seats, 15) . However, the nomination list
included 18 great names  and people start asking to accept all the
names. Again, the method to pick the number of open seats was questioned
again. Some people ask not to change the rules during the game and to
select only 15 names. And 15th it was. Ironically, "there was a four-way
tie for last place. So, the 15th person on the list was selected by a
random process." .
In 2009 the elections  followed the same rules but the number of
seats was raised to 30. Though, as before, the charter members were able
to cast only 15 votes. All nominated members  were elected as the
number was bellow 30.
2010 , brought an important change. Due to lack of time for proper
organization, it was decided to switch the election order and elect the
charter members after the board elections. This way, the new charter
members were not able to vote in the same year were elected. Also, the
board decided, in a f2f meeting, to "add 10% of existing members each
year - 10 new members this year." . The charter member were able to
cast a maximum of 10 votes using the same rules as before. However, a
number of voices noted that the list of nominee  had many great
names and it was a pity to cut down to only 10. Some suggested that is
time to make some changes in the charter member selection procedure
In 2011  the elections order remain the same as in 2010. The board
agreed on opening 20 seats (20% - ). Each member were able to cast a
maximum of 20 votes using the same rules as before. In the end, 21
members were elected (all nominees ) as it was a tie for the 20th
slot and that still fits within the limits of 20% new charter members
set by the board. The voting participating rate was 65% and some voices
ask about the charter member retirement procedure.
In 2012  the election schedule return to the initial order: first
charter member and then board. 20 seats were open and the board decided
to accept all 22 nominations  as it was inline with OSGeo bylaws (is
possible to add between 10% and one third of the existing charter
2013  elections followed the 2012 scenario. 30 seats open. 37
nominations received . The board decided to accept all the nominations.
2014 , the year of the change for OSGeo charter member elections.
First big change was the implementation of an electronic voting system
 to replace the e-mail voting. The selection process itself was also
revised from the bottom. Each charter member received an email with a
personalized url to access the electronic voting system. Each charter
member can vote with Yes/No/Abstain for all nominated charter members.
Each candidate with more YES votes than NO votes, and greater than 5% of
voting charter members voting YES for them, were included as new charter
members. The result was that all 64 nominations  were accepted as
Charter members. For the first time, the board decided to publish the
elections results on the internet with detail numbers of YES/NO/ABSTAIN
for each nominee . Some concerns were raised about the low threshold
of voting charter members voting YES for a nominee.
Now we are getting to the current year. In 2015 , the elections will
follow the same pattern: charter members and then board members. For the
charter members elections, the OSGeo president, Jeff McKenna, propose to
change the the above mentioned threshold from 5% to 50% . Jeff did a
simulation on the last year votes with the new threshold and discovered
that 45 nominations would be accepted, versus all 64 nominations. The
item was briefly introduced during the board meeting held in June .
Due to the lack of time, no detailed discussions or vote follow .
However, a motion on the item was introduced to the board via e-mail
. The board was not able to reach an consensus with six votes to
approve, one abstain and two to reject the motion. Some other charter
members join the discussion but also with split opinions. Some are pro
for a more exclusive charter membership and some are for a easy way to
join. A consultation with the entire community was demanded. For more
details see thread "[Board] motions from June 18 meeting - making OSGeo
Charter membership more exclusive" on the board mailing list . The
thread expanded on the OSGeo-discuss mailing list and more concerns were
raised. Like: the YES/NO/Abstain options should be better explained to
the charter members; ask the charter members to vote on the threshold;
the algorithm to measure the support for a nominee should be modified as
Abstain votes are counted right now as No votes. The "YES / (NO + YES)
= percentage support"  and "(YES-NO) / (YES+NO+ABSTAIN) = percentage
support"  formulas were suggested; Arnulf suggested that "charter
member" term was misused by OSGeo in the past and the foundation should
embrace a regular membership mechanism and even ask for a low annual
membership fee .
I hope I did not make any mistakes and also did not left important
information outside this recap. I so, please correct/add points. Charter
member elections process is vital to OSGeo, therefore we should proceed
further with great care. The time is also not on our side as we need to
do this before the board elections. Until now we have the following options:
a. Go with the unmodified 2014 selection process;
b. Change the threshold percent;
c. Change the algorithm that measure the support for a nominee;
d. Change both b and c;
e. Change the selection process from the ground (e.g. move to regular
e. Other options not expressed until now.
Please take some time, think about the existing voting system and if/how
should be improved, and express your opinion here. Thanks to the
electronic voting system we can put your options into a survey and all
vote for the best solution.
Warm regards from sunny Bucharest,
(your 2015 CRO)
P.S. Two personal notes after I did some research about the
selection/voting process in other open source software organizations: 1)
all of them seem to have difficulties in finding the best solution
(apparently such solution does not exist); 2) OSGeo is a very
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