Re: Membership drive


Luis Villa wrote:
Given that the membership is charged with making important decisions
about the direction of the foundation and the stewardship of the
foundation's resources, I'm fairly skeptical about any move to
increase membership for the sake of increased membership. So, why are
we seeking to increase the number of members, exactly?

One of the problems the foundation has is explaining how being a foundation member is relevant. If too many GNOME participants aren't members, then the foundation (and notably, the board, elected by the foundation members) isn't going to act in a way that reflects the wishes of the majority of GNOME contributors, making the foundatioon irrelevant.

Another thing is that foundation membership is kind of the only metric we have for measuring whether someone is "part of GNOME" or not, and at present it's not a particularly good metric.

The rest of your email seems to assume 'more members' == 'good', and
I'm not sure I follow that, given that much of the current membership
is apathetic and uninvolved[1] and increasing the numbers doesn't
actually solve that.

I think that increasing membership will help with the apathy and lack of involvement. I think that the lack of involvement is actually a perception problem rather than a real problem (do you have to vote in an annual election or present yourself as a candidate of the board to be involved?).

I'd prefer we figure out why we have membership
(besides the obvious legal/voting reasons), what we offer the
membership, and what the membership offers 'us' (the community, the
foundation, etc.)  [...]

Going back to the beginning, the goals of the foundation as laid out in the charter:

The charter says:
The foundation should not be exclusionary or elitist. Every GNOME contributor, however small his or her contribution, must have the opportunity to participate in determining the direction and actions of the project.

But then we define the membership...

The charter says:
The Membership will be a large body made up of people who have made a contribution to any module which is part of GNOME...
The membership will have two responsibilities: electing the Board of Directors, and issuing popular referenda on any issue under the jurisdiction of the foundation, at any time

So the foundation is everyone contributing to GNOME, but the only things we require of our membership is that they vote.

But then there's the section about who does what.

The charter says:
The board is the primary decision-making body of the GNOME foundation. It is responsible for ratifying all decisions the GNOME foundation makes.
The Advisory Board will have no decision-making ability
And then almost a throw-away phrase, perhaps the most important in the document:

From time to time, ad-hoc committees may be formed, formally or informally, either by the board or the membership

So the foundation is everyone who contributes to GNOME, the board is responsible for ratifying decisions which are made by the foundation, but anyone can participate in the making of those decisions.

I agree that the board has been a little too distant from the foundation membership, particularly with respect to the openness criteria we started with in the charter, but the key point is that the foundation *is* its membership. The board is not the foundation. So more members means better foundation, almost by definition, since we will have more input and participation from community members.


Dave Neary
bolsh gimp org
Lyon, France

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