[OSGeo-Discuss] 2015 Charter Member elections

Gert-Jan van der Weijden - Stichting OSGeo.nl gert-jan at osgeo.nl
Tue Jun 30 04:24:12 PDT 2015

Vasile: thanks for this very useful recap. 

A few remarks from a relative newbie as I am ;-)  
- the name of the wiki page with the charter members is already called
"voting members" ;-)
- the charter member list grows and grows. Over the year only 1 person
retired from the charter member list
- charter membership seems to drift towards a title of honour, instead of a
mechanism for proper board elections and prevent a hostile take-over
- the voting participant rate for the board elections is low over the years:
70% - 85%. I would expect 100%!

Therefore, I'd suggest a voting membership with:
- a fixed number of seats (e.g. 72)
- with a certain numbers of seats reserved for each region [51], (e.g. 6*6,
and thus 36 remaining "wildcard"-seats).
- in case of not enough candidates, or note enough votes for a candidate
from a certain region, seats can remain empty
- a 3 term (instead of a lifetime membership, re-election possible)
- and a mechanism in which not all seats are elected every year, but
one-third every year, and thus all seats once every three years

Just my 2 eurocents,


[51] http://bl.ocks.org/jsanz/raw/779f9b9954b92461fa50/

-----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
Van: discuss-bounces at lists.osgeo.org
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.osgeo.org] Namens Vasile Craciunescu
Verzonden: maandag 29 juni 2015 15:08
Aan: OSGeo Discussions
Onderwerp: [OSGeo-Discuss] 2015 Charter Member elections

Dear all,

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

OSGeo charter members [1] 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 [2] 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 [3]
and operated by the Chief Returning Officer (CRO) [4]. 
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 [5]. During the years the charter members selection procedure
suffered minor and major changes as you can see bellow.

OSGeo was created in early 2006 [7]. One of the main outcomes of the first
OSGeo meeting (held in Chicago) [7] was a list of 21 foundation voting
members (most of them high profile figures of the existing FOSS4G
projects) and 5 interim directors [8]. Later that month, the first real
elections started with a public nomination call [9] followed by a vote [10]
and the election of new 24 voting members [11]. This was followed by a new
nomination call [12] for the remaining four open seats in the board. After a
tight vote, the first four candidates [13] from a list of eight [14] join
the board.

In June, after a f2f meeting, the new board redefined the OSGeo membership
categories as we know today [15]. 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) [16]. In June 2007 the
nomination process [17] started with the aim to elect 15 charter members
(the number was arbitrarily selected by the board). During the vote [18],
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) [19]. However, the nomination list
included 18 great names [20] 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." [21].

In 2009 the elections [22] 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 [23] were elected as the number was
bellow 30.

2010 [24], 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." [25]. 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 [26] 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 (e.g. [27]).

In 2011 [28] the elections order remain the same as in 2010. The board
agreed on opening 20 seats (20% - [29]). 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 [30]) 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 [31] 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 [32] as it was inline with OSGeo bylaws (is
possible to add between 10% and one third of the existing charter

2013 [33] elections followed the 2012 scenario. 30 seats open. 37
nominations received [34]. The board decided to accept all the nominations.

2014 [35], the year of the change for OSGeo charter member elections. 
First big change was the implementation of an electronic voting system [36]
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 [37] 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 [38]. 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 [39], 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% [40]. 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 [41]. 
Due to the lack of time, no detailed discussions or vote follow [42]. 
However, a motion on the item was introduced to the board via e-mail [43].
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 [44]. 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" [45] and
"(YES-NO) / (YES+NO+ABSTAIN) = percentage support" [46] 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 [47].

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 membership); 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 transparent organization.

[1] http://www.osgeo.org/Membership
[2] http://www.osgeo.org/content/foundation/incorporation/bylaws.html
[3] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Membership_Process
[4] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Chief_Returning_Officer
[5] http://www.osgeo.org/content/foundation/members/voting_members.html
[7] http://www.osgeo.org/content/foundation/meetings/2006_02_04/meeting.html
[8] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Charter_Members
[9] http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2006-February/000008.html
[10] http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2006-February/000073.html
[11] http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2006-March/000132.html
[12] http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2006-March/000167.html
[13] http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2006-March/000314.html
[14] http://www.osgeo.org/content/news/news_archive/board_nom_20060314.html
[15] http://www.osgeo.org/Membership
[16] http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2007-March/001558.html
[17] http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2007-May/001964.html
[18] http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2007-June/002003.html
[19] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Election_2008
[20] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/New_Member_Nominations_2008
[21] http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2008-June/003789.html
[22] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Election_2009
[23] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/New_Member_Nominations_2009
[24] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Election_2010
[26] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/New_Member_Nominations_2010
[27] http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2010-November/008312.html
[28] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Election_2011
[29] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Face_to_Face_Meeting_Denver_2011#Minutes
[30] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/New_Member_Nominations_2011
[31] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Election_2012
[32] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/New_Member_Nominations_2012
[33] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Election_2013
[34] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/New_Member_Nominations_2013
[35] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Election_2014
[36] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Electronic_Voting
[37] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/New_Member_Nominations_2014
[38] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Election_2014_detailed_results
[39] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Election_2015
[40] http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/board/2015-May/012863.html
[41] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Election_2015
[42] http://irclogs.geoapt.com/osgeo/%23osgeo.2014-09-13.log
[43] http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/board/2015-June/012912.html
[44] http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/board/2015-June/thread.html
[45] http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/board/2015-June/012945.html
[46] http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/board/2015-June/012946.html
[47] http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2015-June/014374.html
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