Re: Draft of Proposal for the GNOME Foundation.

Maciej Stachowiak <> writes:

> Some comments below.
> Nat Friedman <> writes:
> >        In the past, being a part of the GNOME project has simply meant
> >        "I wrote  some code" or "I hang  out  on the mailing  lists and
> >        build the  thing  from  CVS  frenetically every  three  hours."
> >        There is no reason to change this.
> Yes there is. Can you honestly say that having a debate on gnome-list
> is a useful decision-making process?
> Anyway, I think more than not capturing the consensus, the idea that
> anyone who wants to should have a voice in decision-making is pretty
> opposite to most opinions expressed so far.

Yeah, I agree that it has to be a bit more than "I want in."  But the
bar needs to be pretty low.  Raise it above gnome-list if you want,
that's fine.

What I described was inspired by what Jim mentioned about the IETF,
and by the knowledge that an "exclusive" membership is a Bad Thing.

> Does that mean that no module is part of GNOME until it becomes part
> of a GNOME release (and that therefore people working on it are not
> per se working on GNOME)?

I answered this question in detail in my reply to Havoc.

> "virtual global entity" == "no actual legal existence"?

Right.  This was what Bart proposed.  It would be represented locally
by national GNOME foundation points of presence.  These would be used
whenever a legal entity in a given jurisdiction is needed: for the
transfer of funds, for example.

It does sound a little crazy, I know.  Bart?

> I don't think "any contribution" is the right place to set the
> threshold. When I get a 5-line patch I don't want to have to worry
> about whether I'm giving that person full GNOME voting priveleges
> automatically if I check it in.

I think maybe one problem you're experiencing here is that there's no
distinction between 'belonging' and 'voting.'  You don't want to
exclude people from belonging because you don't want to alienate them.
But then again, you don't want uninformed people to vote.

This is a classic democratic problem, isn't it?  The only really
important decision the voting proletariat will make is the slate they
choose for the board.  The board will make all the other decisions.  A
substantial amount of organization would have to occur in order for a
referendum to actually be issued and pass.  The idea is that referenda
are only used rarely, in the case where the public is outraged, or
something, and their feeling is not harmonious with that of the board.

So I don't think there's anything really bad about having a board
voting base.

> >     Miguel will be the chairman and will preside  over all meetings of
> >     the  board, unless he  is declared legally  insane and  "fit to be
> >     tied" by the UN or the Pope.
> I hate to appear to speak against Miguel (since he's the reason we're
> here more than anyone else) but I think this clause is lame system
> design. We didn't make George Washington President for Life.

Actually, they tried to.  But he refused.

So what are we doing for Miguel, then?

> >     In order for a referendum  to pass, 1/3rd  of the total membership
> >     must  participate, and 2/3rds   of the participating members  must
> >     approve.  There will be a mailing list for all of the members, and
> >     all  referenda   must be announced  to the   list by the initiator
> >     before they are opened on the voting system.   At least three days
> >     must pass before  the referendum is closed,  and no referendum can
> >     remain open for  longer than seven  days.  [ These numbers are, of
> >     course, eminently debatable. ]
> I don't think we should allow any referendums other than recall of the
> board.

What if the board unfairly decides to exclude a piece of software from
a release?  A recall of the board at that point -- right before a
release -- could be disasterous for the whole project (not that the
kind of lack of unity/harmony required to reach this point isn't!).  A
referendum to force the inclusion of the package would be a lot

> The board becomes completely non-useful past a certain size. Better to
> declare a particular size range and let the membership decide if a
> particular slate is the right size in that range.

Yeah, I think everyone's on the same side on this one, at this point

> > V. Release Engineering / Defining GNOME
> > 
> >   The  board of directors   will  be responsible for   authorizing the
> >   release of a new version of GNOME.  The board will determine the set
> >   of  modules which will  make  up the release   at  least 60 days  in
> >   advance of the  release date, subject  to unanimous  approval of the
> >   module maintainers.
> Requiring unanimous approval for anything is not good. Setting fixed
> date limits is also not good, this should be up to the judgement of
> the board and the release coordinators (what if we decided to have
> releases 30 days apart)? Also writing stuff like this into the bylaws
> might make trouble later. For example, if we wanted to drop a module
> from the release, would that mean we'd have to delay is 60 days?

Yeah, but how do you do a release if the module maintainers aren't
going to cooperate?

> In addition to the specific objections, I don't think this proposal is
> very much in the spirit of even the very rough consensus we do have
> now.

Really?  Why not?  Here's what I see, from reading the list:

    * Havoc and Maciej are worried about giving power to too many
      people, and having an inclusive, large body in the foundation.

    * Jim Gettys insists that we will not be able to create a large
      administrative organization, and that we should look at hard at
      the IETF (which is as at least as anarchic and
      proletariat-inclusive as what I've described).  Jim says "if you
      want to be in, you should be in" (or something along those

    * Martin Baulig wants to make sure that people who work on GNOME
      in their spare time, and therefore feel an assocation to the
      project, are well-treated by the new foundation.  Marin also is
      concerned about corporate control.

    * Kjartan and Dave are both concerned that a screening process
      could potentially overlook people who make large contributions
      to GNOME on an on-going basis.

    * Both Alan and Jim say that standards are important.

    * Bart Decrem proposed fairly wide-open membership (If you ask,
      the board can say no, but it will only do so rarely) and a
      bootstrapping system (refined by Havoc et al).

I tried to incorporate all of this stuff into my proposal.  Where did
I miss?


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