[GRASS5] Project Steering Committee voting

Frank Warmerdam warmerdam at pobox.com
Wed Apr 26 12:54:41 EDT 2006

Helena Mitasova wrote:
> Frank, Markus,
> if people on this list do not follow osgeo activities, it hard to 
> understand from emails that Markus posted
> what is needed for GRASS project incubation, setting up PSC, etc. So I 
> am not surprised at all by Glynn's questions,
> I had similar ones. So Markus, if you could let us know what needs to be 
> done - step 1.2.3,
> maybe we will get it moving. We have nominations for the PSC but nobody 
> said what is next step - who votes
> to set it up etc.


Well, in fact the bootstrapping process is not entirely obvious.  For
MapServer we had an issue with how to bootstrap a steering committee.
What I ended up doing was issuing a document describing the TSC and getting
all the folks named in the TSC to declare "+1" support for it (after a bit
of revision).  Since it included a broad representation of the significant
developers contributing to MapServer it was accepted and we went from there.

My suggestion for GRASS would be to prepare a document for a PSC (perhaps
modelled loosely on MapServer or GeoTools or some other operational
project), discuss it on the list.  Hopefully the document can be
adapted to address any serious objections.  Then declare the PSC "in force"
when all of the initial members declare their support (via a +1 to the
mailing list for instance).

The key is to end up with a committee that the GRASS community respects
as being in charge, and that has a clear process to make decisions.

> Frank, thank you for your explanation - this helps a lot - now we need 
> to know what is the next step after nominations.
> And BTW, as I have already expressed to Markus, we should really keep 
> the management structures and procedures
> to minimum (there already was a GRASS steering committee, GRASS 
> interagency committe, GRASS foundation
> and soon everybody is sitting in meetings and nobody has time for 
> development and you also lose the freespirit
> of open source development), so I am with Glynn on this, but
> a minimal steering committee is really needed for reasons well explained 
> by Frank,

I agree with the need to keep overhead modest.  One of my goals for OSGeo is
to manage some of the overhead required for a legal entity in a way that
shares the load between many projects.  I didn't have the gumption for a
"GDAL Foundation", and discussion of a "MapServer Foundation" was not able
to get off the ground for several years due to the overhead involved.  But
with a shared infrastructure it becomes much more managable.

Of course, there has been a non-trivial amount of "committee overhead"
within OSGeo as Markus can attest being on the board, the incubator and
a couple other committees.  We even these we try to keep overhead managable
and to "meet" in IRC which means you can do other work if you aren't
actively involved in a particular point of discussion.

For MapServer the TSC (originally it restricted it's mandate to technical
issues) has added some overhead.  We now need to write up a document
describing substantial changes to MapServer (we call these RFC's) and
revise these based on review feedback.  The voting is generally not a big
issue since we take the approach that two +1's from voting members is
sufficient to pass something as long as there are no objections.  The main
downside there is that there is a 2 day wait before committing changes
that require an RFC and vote.  We generally don't vote on bug fixes, or
very localized (non-disruptive) improvements.

One reason that we ask each project to come forward with it's own
"governance rules" is so that each project can adapt it's rules to
the realities of that project as long as it fits in the general sense
of an OSGeo PSC.  That is that it has to be "in control", has documented
procedures that are followed, and is reasonably open to review and input.
One of it's key responsibilities is to ensure that code added to the project
is legitimately contributed (ie. watch for copyright violations).

While I realize details of the incubation process may not be of great
interest to everyone, there is a growing wealth of material on the incubation
process available at:


Details of the incubation process are firming up at:


The GRASS Status page is at:


Hmm, I see that the GRASS incubation status page is still based on
the original "request to incubate" form, not the status template.
Perhaps someone would like to help Markus overhaul the status page
to be based on this template:


Folks are welcome to attend Incubation Committee meetings or join the
incubation mailing list, though currently only Markus has voting status
with the incubation committee.   As is usually the case anyone with a
sensible point to make can be influential.

Best regards,
I set the clouds in motion - turn up   | Frank Warmerdam, warmerdam at pobox.com
light and sound - activate the windows | http://pobox.com/~warmerdam
and watch the world go round - Rush    | President OSGF, http://osgeo.org

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