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

Gert-Jan van der Weijden (OSGeo.nl) gert-jan at osgeo.nl
Sun May 1 23:30:04 PDT 2016

Hi Jody and others,

Apart from the discussion here at this list, this might be a nice 
subject for a "topic talk" (a discussion on a specific theme) in August 
at FOSS4G in Bonn.
If annybody is willing to take the lead in this, we (=the Bonn LOC) can 
see if we can fit this in the program)



Jody Garnett schreef op 01-05-2016 22:05:
> 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 lower.
> 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":
> [1]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 [2],  W www.lisasoft.com [3],  F +61 2 9009 5099 [4]
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> --
> Regards,
>    Rashad
> Links:
> ------
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