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

Jody Garnett jody.garnett at gmail.com
Sun May 1 13:05:12 PDT 2016

A PSC is not required for any OSGeo project (even a graduated project) -
being inclusive is. The GeoNode project is an example in incubation that
forms a leadership team based on recent committers as I understand it. The
benevolent dictator model does not meet this inclusive requirement, Cameron
suggested a steering committee formed with one chair member with 1.5 votes
(to prevent deadlock).

The OSGeo incubation principles are often based on risk ... to users of the
software project. The "benevolent dictator" model, just like having a
project backed by a single company/organization, suffers from a stability
problem - what if the dictator or organization loses interest? By splitting
responsibility across multiple parties the project has a much better chance
of weathering these storms ... and the risk for users of the software is

I am sorry I am not the best at talking through the pros/cons of
the benevolent dictator model - perhaps some who feels more passionately
about this subject (or who has first hand experience) could step in.

Jody Garnett

On 1 May 2016 at 12:50, Rashad Kanavath <mohammedrashadkm at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Sun, May 1, 2016 at 1:29 PM, Jody Garnett <jody.garnett at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> This is kind of a larger topic than just the incubation committee, but no
>> I do not believe we should. It is a defining characteristic of our
>> foundation to not place many restrictions on our projects - but demand that
>> the projects be inclusive and open to collaboration.
>> I do not believe that the "benevolent dictator" fits this ideal.
>> I also do not think we need to stress the PSC approach as the one true
>> way, smaller projects that only wish to have committers vote on decisions
>> (rather than form a PSC) is perfectly acceptable - provided there is a
>> provision for new committers to be added into the mix.
> I agree with Jody that demanding a PSC for projects to be in incubation is
> not a good idea.
> If a PSC is required to join OSGeo. It must propose how a right PSC should
> work.  Otherwise any project can form a PSC on whatever criteria, one being
> the "dictator" way.
> Project can decide weather to have PSC or not. If they have it must be
> validated by OSGeo during incubation process. I hope having a checklist to
> validate working PSC and how it should work can filter projects with
> "benevolent dictator".
>> We also have an outstanding request from our president to make the
>> foundation more inclusive. With this in mind we are a lot less demanding on
>> our community projects - which provides a way for projects that do not meet
>> some of our ideal criteria to be part of the foundation.
>> --
>> Jody
>> --
>> Jody Garnett
>> On 1 May 2016 at 00:44, Cameron Shorter <cameron.shorter at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>> OSGeo discuss, OSGeo incubation, OSGeo board,
>>> I'm hoping the greater OSGeo community will consider and comment on this
>>> question:
>>> Should OSGeo accept a "benevolent dictator" [1] governance model for
>>> incubating projects?
>>> -0 from me, Cameron Shorter.
>>> Background:
>>> * 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":
>>> http://www.catb.org/esr/writings/homesteading/homesteading/ar01s16.html
>>> [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>
>>> 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
>>> LISAsoft
>>> 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
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Incubator mailing list
>>> Incubator at lists.osgeo.org
>>> http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/incubator
>> _______________________________________________
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>> Discuss at lists.osgeo.org
>> http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
> --
> Regards,
>    Rashad
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