the slate issue

I wasn't going to do any more campaigning about this, but I wanted to
throw out one more thought. The United States used to elect the
President and Vice President separately; the top vote getter and the
second vote getter in the presidential election used to be declared
president and vice-president. Now, even though the VP is next in line
to be president if the president becomes incapacited, the two get
elected as a team. So the person second-favored to be president

The reason this was changed is because the president and
vice-president need to work as a team. If they'd spent the whole
election campaigning against each other, this became difficult if not
impossible. I think the foundation board is the same way. Some have
compared it to a legislative body, but really it's not. It's not going
to pass laws for GNOME, or lay down a lot of complex standing
rules. Primarily, it's an executive body. And that means it needs to
work together efficiently, and it's important to pick the right team,
not just the right individuals.

Many people have raised the point that the slate backed by the
steering committee (when/if there is one) will have a strong advantage
in terms of getting elected. However, without slates, incumbency will
still be a strong advantage on the individual level. While the
steering committee (and in the future the board) will want to propose
slates not identical to their current composition to circulate fresh
blood through the leadership, straight majority voting is likely to
lead to almost exactly the same usual suspects getting elected time
and time again. Further, I think the ability to vote for a null slate,
declaring no confidence in the entire process, will be an important
check to ensure that choice is not limited unduly.

Another thing to note is that for almost all non-profits, including
ones relating to free software, such as SPI, the FSF, the Apache
Software Foundation, Linux International, the XFree86 Project, Inc.,
the FreeBSD Project, Inc, etc there is no voting at all! The board is
self-appointed and appoints it's own successors. The reason for this
is that the most popular people to be on the board are not always the
same exact set that is the best. The slate voting system is an attempt
to compromise between this usual, completely undemocratic approach,
and letting the community have a voice. I think it's a good
compromise, and we shouldn't toss out the current, carefully tuned and
revised charter over this one issue.

 - Maciej

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