[OSGeo-Discuss] [Incubator] Should OSGeo accept "benevolent dictator" projects into OSGeo?

Cameron Shorter cameron.shorter at gmail.com
Sun May 1 00:44:26 PDT 2016

OSGeo discuss, OSGeo incubation, OSGeo board,

I'm hoping the greater OSGeo community will consider and comment on this 

Should OSGeo accept a "benevolent dictator" [1] governance model for 
incubating projects?

-0 from me, Cameron Shorter.

* As part of incubation, Peter Baumann, from Rasdaman has requested a 
"benevolent dictatorship" governance model [2]. While "benevolent 
dictatorships" often lead to successful projects, all prior OSGeo 
incubated projects have selected "equal vote by PSC members". Someone 
with better legal training than me might find "benevolent dictatorships" 
to be unconstitutional according to OSGeo bylaws. [3]

[1] Eric Raymond's "Homesteading the Noosphere": 
[2] http://www.rasdaman.org/wiki/Governance
[3] http://www.osgeo.org/content/foundation/incorporation/bylaws.html

On 1/05/2016 3:56 pm, Peter Baumann wrote:
> Cameron-
> I understand where you are coming from, and your characterization is 
> definitely correct. While our process is and always has been 
> absolutely open to discussion so as to obtain the scientifically and 
> technically best solution this "benevolent dictatorship" has brought 
> rasdaman to where it stands now - it is designed by innovation, not by 
> committee. Just to get me right, our model is certainly not the right 
> one for every endeavour. Here it is the most appropriate, and hence we 
> will keep it.
> As you observe, this model is not contradicting OS as such, and many 
> projects run it. So ultimately it lies in the hand of OSGeo to decide 
> whether they accept the existing plurality of approaches (in this case 
> manifest with rasdaman).
> best,
> Peter
> On 04/30/2016 10:47 PM, Cameron Shorter wrote:
>> Bruce, Peter,
>> I've read through the incubation process documentation, and can only 
>> see one thing which I think breaks our OSGeo principles.
>> The Governance model includes a statement:
>> "In all issues, the PSC strives to achieve unanimous consent based on 
>> a free, independent exchange of facts and opinions. Should such 
>> consent exceptionally not be reached then Peter Baumann has a casting 
>> vote."
>> http://www.rasdaman.org/wiki/Governance
>> This is describing a "benevolent dictator" model, which has proved to 
>> be an effective model for many open source projects. See Eric 
>> Raymond's "Homesteading the Noosphere": 
>> http://www.catb.org/esr/writings/homesteading/homesteading/ar01s16.html
>> However, it is not in line with existing OSGeo Incubated projects, 
>> which have documented a "vote by PSC" as the defining governance 
>> process. In practice, the PSC community debate alternatives, and if 
>> needed, respectfully revert to reasoned advice provided by the 
>> "benevolent dictator".
>> Peter, are you open to changing the governance model to a "vote by PSC"?
>> I'd be comfortable with a "vote by PSC, with PSC chair being given 
>> 1.5 votes to break any deadlocks. I'd also be ok with PSC chair 
>> defaulting to Peter (as founder), until such time as Peter resigns 
>> from the role."
>> Warm regards, Cameron 

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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