[foundation-board] "OKF's development as an open, decentralised, organisation."

Jo Walsh metazool at gmail.com
Fri Nov 12 14:52:51 UTC 2010

I'm happy to hear that Ben Laurie is up for offering reflections and 
informal advice to OKF based on his experience as an ASF founder (where 
ASF is a model for so many free and open source software foundations as 
well as OKF).

Here are the topics that are highest on my mind.

1) How to get more people in the wider community onto the Board, and 
make sure the Board membership is taking decisions that reflect the aims 
of the wider community.

OKF right now has a selected rather than elected board. ASF has a 
membership that elects the board. OKF doesn't have a formal membershp 
category, like a lot of other free software foundations have (providing 
a constituency for electing the board.) OpenStreetmap has a paid-for 
annual membership that buys one voting rights. One potential problem 
that can be observed with wide elections is that they become a 
popularity contest - people are elected because their work is well 
known, not necessarily because they have strategic-thinking mindsets or 
a lot of energy for getting involved in the work of the Foundation.

2) Transparency of contracts and budgets regarding paid work undertaken 
by the Foundation as entity and its members as individuals, on 
Foundation projects. Does, or did, ASF as a body take on work directly 
that added features and dependencies to ASF projects? How was this handled?

Important to ensure that we don't see an internal division in the work 
of OKF - on the one hand the wider community of enthusiasts and 
volunteers - on the other, a smaller group doing directly paid work on 
some of the same projects. (CKAN is the clearest example here).
One role of the "projects coordinator" that OKF is looking to hire,
is to hold paid project work to a high documentation standard, so that 
community members can get review and monitor work that is happening.
Generally we should be looking for separation of concerns, the 
strategic/Board stuff and the operational/Executive work separated out.

3) Balance of public/private discussion of operational goings-on.
A general aim that there should be as little private discussion is 
possible (an acknowledgement that some matters to do with unsigned 
contracts, uncertain financial transactions, things that may affect 
other peoples' current employment) ought to remain private.

The problem is always that once a discussion starts in a non-public 
forum, it's difficult to extract elements out into a public forum. "Many 
eyes make shallow bugs"; OKF grew by carrying out its work in public, 
encouraging random interested passers-by could to feel they have a 
stake, are members of an "open, decentralised organisation".

I'm sure there's more, but these are the main issues that bug me...


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