Re: changed charter, new elections proposal

On Thu, 28 Sep 2000 16:40:21 PDT, Bart Decrem wrote:

>Hi everyone,
>I just modified the charter, removing the slates system.  I think this
>is by popular demand :)
>Check it out at  There's a change
>log at the end.
>Here's a new proposal for how to hold elections.
>1.  Proposed election process
>- The charter provides for 7 to 15 board seats.  For this election, I
>propose that we have 11 board members.  I picked this number because
>it's odd, and large enough to allow a broad mix of people, but hopefully
>still manageable.
>- I don't think we should designate specific slots for specific types of
>representatives.  If we try to set aside slots for "documentation
>person" or whatever, I think we're going to end up with a logistical
>nightmare and flame wars that make the debate about slates look like a
>joy.  It would get hopelessly complicated.  The reasons for this have
>been discussed at length on this list in recent days.  People should
>just vote for people that they think will best represent GNOME in all
>its diversity.
>- I propose that candidates nominate themselves by sending email to a
>list to be created by Havoc with a few sentences about their involvement
>with GNOME and what they would add to the board.  There'd be a two-week
>period for people to nominate themselves, and then we'd publish a list
>of candidates (see timeline).
>- I propose that everyone be allowed to vote for up to 11 candidates.
>So everyone gets to elect their dream-team.
>- Havoc will write a script to help tally the votes.  Votes would be
>held by sending email to vote gnome org (or whatever).  Havoc would come
>up with a ballot format that could be processed by his script.

Although I am certain it will add to the complexity of the process, I think
we may need to consider allocating board slots for specific comp
onents of the project/region; if we don't, we're not going to achieve
the desired result.

I think it is quite likely that the top vote-getters in any given 
poll are going to be hackers, probably even the current steering 
committee members (should they stand for election).  They are simply 
the most prominent members of the project, and their names are most 
known by the members of the project.  Even if there were a concerted 
effort to elect a documentation representative, or a translator, I 
doubt they would have the name recognition needed to crack the upper 
tier of vote-getters.  If there are more than one of a given type in 
the election, the chances of their votes being fragmented seem high, 
and they are not going to have a huge margin to work with.

This is one of the consequences of a direct democracy- even if 
everyone who reads this list actively decides to consciously vote for 
a certain number of non-hackers, I wonder whether that sentiment will 
filter through to the rest of the membership.  The slate system, 
while flawed, would correct for that by essentially allowing the 
"active" membership to pre-screen candidates through the slate 
creation process.  (Yes, that is anti-democratic, but it would have a 
desirable result.)

I think that geographic diversity is likely to be more happenstance:
Miguel is certainly going to be elected, but does he count as from the
U.S. (where he works) or Mexico?  Trying to mount a campaign to elect
a European (for example) will, I think, run into the same vote
fragmentation problem I mentioned earlier, unless one of top hacker
-vote-getters is from Europe.

In that light, I think that if representational diversity is 
important, we may need to bite the bullet and devise a "seat" system: 
that's only feasible, however, if we make some compromises like 
reserving seats for "non-code contributors" rather than documenters, 
translators, user helpers, etc. all separately; similarly for, 
"non-Americans" (or non-U.S.'ns, as the case may be), rather than 
seats for Europe, Asia, Africa, etc.  Otherwise, we're not going to 
have enough available board slots for at-large voting, or we're going 
to have a board that is so large as to be ungainly.

Just my thoughts...


Russell Steinthal		Columbia Law School, Class of 2002
<rms39 columbia edu>		Columbia College, Class of 1999
<steintr nj org>		UNIX System Administrator,

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