Moving Forward (WAS: Governance and responsibility)

Ernest Prabhakar prabhaka at
Mon Sep 26 17:15:33 UTC 2005

Hi all,

On Sep 25, 2005, at 7:19 PM, Eric S. Raymond wrote:
> Brian Behlendorf <brian at>:
>> On Sun, 25 Sep 2005, Eric S. Raymond wrote:
>>> How about this: *you* tell *me* what would be acceptable as a metric
>>> of the community's trust in us as gatekeepers and spokespeople.
>> An OSI public membership process and elections for the board might  
>> work.
> We're working on that.  It's the next major item after license  
> proliferation.

Great comments, Brian & Eric.

Can I make a suggestion? While I realize that license-proliferation  
is front-burner (sigh), how about we charter a small working group to  
start a back-burner discussion of a *process* for determining  
membership/election "policy?"  Not to write the policy, but collect  
data about what that policy should look like, and how it should be  
ratified.  That would give us a "safety valve" here on license- 
discuss, by providing a place for people who have grievances  
(legitimate or not) to vent  -- and for us to capture their issues  
and concerns for future reference.  The name "osi-policy-discuss"  
sounds good to me.

Surely there must be other board members (besides Eric) who can spend  
some time on this, since I think we all agree that it is important  
(even if we disagree about how urgent).  And no -- I am *NOT*  
volunteering this time. :-)

Let's be fair: governance is hard, but its also really important:  
when it fails, things get ugly.  Over the last several years, OSI has  
done a masterful job of creating a coherent community voice out of an  
inchoate mass of individual software projects.   The informal  
governance mechanisms in place worked remarkably well for the "first  
generation" problems, but (as we've seen) are starting to fall apart  
under the weight of the second-generation problems they are now  
attempting to tackle.

Unfortunately, you can't go backward.  Once an issues is raised, even  
deciding _not_ to tackle it is still a decision.  The only way out is  
to develop a way to do the job better, because whatever problems the  
OSI has (and believe me, I have my own list of gripes :-) I realize  
that if it went away, we'd have to create it all over again.   
Because, despite what people may like to believe, all communities  
require *some* form of legitimate governance -- or they cease to  
exist as a single entity.

Anybody can overthrow a government, if they're violent enough. The  
hard part is replacing it with someone better.

-- Ernie P.

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