[foundation-board] Request for board approval to start working towards OKF Austria

Jordan S Hatcher jordan at opencontentlawyer.com
Mon Nov 15 18:11:38 UTC 2010

On 12 Nov 2010, at 09:58, Jo Walsh wrote:

> On 11/11/2010 18:27, Jordan S Hatcher wrote:
>> -- need to ensure that there is a community *before granting a legal
>> entity / formal chapter
> "Chapter" doesn't necessarily imply legal entity, or am I missing something?

Respectfully, yes this does miss something.  

This is a group of people acting in the name of the company on whose board of directors we sit. This group of people could be doing anything, including from the well-meaning-but-legally-problematic (fundraising, entering into contracts) to the dishonest and fraudulent (theft) and some stuff in-between, like totally misrepresenting what the OKF is about and generally causing problems because people don't know if they represent us or not.

> OSGeo has a lot of chapters, a few have legal entities, most don't.

We are not OSGeo.  I don't care what they do and I don't have any sense of whether they are a well run or effective organisation on which we should base the OKF model on their model.

I care about what the OKF does, and if we are going to empower autonomous groups of people, unincorporated or incorporated, off in various foreign lands, then I am of the opinion that we need to have a modicum of control over them and some established norms and rules about how they behave. That opinion seems to be shared by the board, which is why one of the action items from the last board meeting is for Paula and I to discuss and to report back at the next board meeting in December.

The situation with certain people claiming that they represent the OKF in a related thread is but one example of why we should think about who gets to represent us and have a process.  

This is all good for discussion but in some degree is moot as we've already voted as a board to establish a chapters process involving a transition of supporters into formal legal entities.  When Paula and I report back to the board we can have a further discussion then.



> All have quite different flavours, according to local culture.
> Some are language chapters, others are more spatial.
> http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Category:Local_Chapters
> The UK one was very quiet for years, but was a hand in the air, a place for people to turn up as they became interested.
> If we applied the reservations below to Working Groups, then most of them would never have started. The de facto policy that Rufus and Jonny have been following is it's okay to spawn a WG as soon as there's a sense of potential future interest - so people have a place to go - and if the WG lies dormant for a year while energy/interest builds up around the topic, that's acceptable.
> I would be *very* wary of putting people off by telling them "No, hold on, you can't have a local chapter until [...]". One bit of feedback I had from the Germans was how much they were inspired by the "Just Do It" ethos coming from the Open Knowledge Foundation, that too much upfront formalism in their approach to building Open Data Network meant they felt impeded from working openly and collaboratively - ironic, huh?
>> we need to separate the wheat from the chaff here
>> the people involved are the "right" people
> I don't really know what to say.
>> I also think we need to digest
>> the budding german chapter and learn some lessons on how to improve
>> the process before jumping on a whole bunch more (italians included)
> Cultural differences mean we'd be unwise to make general conclusions based on one set of experiences.
>> there are more reasons that need to be distilled and paula and i to
>> discuss.
> OSGeo has some guidelines that have been worked out over the course of a fair amount of experience. Not addressing legal issues of liability, it's all been a bit laissez-faire with an emphasis on trusting people to self-organise (Which seems to have worked out well)
> http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Local_Chapter_Guidelines
> There's still a formal board approval stage at the end.
> Note, that this is done in public, and the discussion about approval is also done in public.
>> bottom line -- i suggest telling them to chill for a bit and
>> establish a mailing list and regular meetups first.
> Presumably this is already going on. It would be kind if we could offer lists.okfn.org hosting for a mailing list, as we do for working groups.
> "chill for a bit" isn't very encouraging unless we're prepared to articulate what the criteria to stop chilling are...
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Mr. Jordan S Hatcher, JD, LLM

More at: <http://www.jordanhatcher.com>
Co-founder:  <http://www.opendatacommons.org>
Open Knowledge: <http://www.okfn.org/>

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