[foundation-board] Fwd: [Board] board-priv posting policy

Jo Walsh metazool at gmail.com
Wed Oct 27 11:22:36 UTC 2010

I forward this message to the okfn-governance list because it describes 
a policy for keeping Board communications in a public forum wherever 
possible, that is working out for OSGeo reasonably well in practise.

The situation differs from that of OKF in that OSGeo, as many of its 
membership run their own small businesses, does not take on project work 
directly, so as to not create conflict of interest between the 
Foundation and its members.

As OKF is bidding for, and taking on, project work, there seems to be 
necessarily a bit more traffic on the Board list concerning early-stage 
bids and so on.

Regardless, adhering where possible to a policy more like the below 
should be desirable - I want to encourage other Board members to talk 
more in public about the decisions we are making on behalf of OKF.
This was a consistent informal policy back in the day when OKF was a 
purely volunteer project and community-led effort - to use private lists 
as minimally as possible and talk in public as much as possible.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [Board] board-priv posting policy
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 2010 11:07:51 -0400
From: Frank Warmerdam <warmerdam at pobox.com>
To: OSGeo-Board <board at lists.osgeo.org>


We seem to be suffering from a tendency to write stuff to -priv whenever
there is the slightest concern that someone somewhere could be offended
or concerned or anything.  I think that we really need to discipline 
to discuss things in public unless there are very very real reasons to do
it in private which might include:

  o Disclosure of information provided to us with a request for 
    ie. conference contract agreements (though I really wish we wouldn't
    get stuck with contracts under NDA).

  o Disclosure of private personal information - like if I wanted the board
    to know I was dying of AIDS, but preferred not to announce it widely.
    (just an example!)

I would like to suggest we put in place a policy that any new thread started
on board-priv needs to be prefaced by a very specific explanation of the
legal/moral requirement to keep it private.

Early in the life of the foundation there was, once or twice, issues raised
on the board list that some board members felt should not be associated with
the foundation.  In particular I was personally blasted for bringing up

I struggled with this for a while, and I've come to the personal conclusion
that it is important that we be able to have public discussions on a wide
variety of matters without worrying that the world will take the discussion
as policy.  There seems to be a concern with some folks that in a discussion
among board members that one statement might be pulled out of context and
touted around the world as "OSGeo says...".  I think it is wrongheaded of us
to get bent out of shape with such concerns.

On the other hand, I am very concerned about statements we publish as
OSGeo / board policy.  With that we need to be careful.

So, I am now seeking feedback on whether the board would be receptive to
me preparing a policy on board-priv use we could vote on at the next

PS. I started writing this email as a reply to the messages on -priv, and
in a moment of self-reflection I realized this very discussion is much
better held in public!

Best regards,
I set the clouds in motion - turn up   | Frank Warmerdam, 
warmerdam at pobox.com
light and sound - activate the windows | http://pobox.com/~warmerdam
and watch the world go round - Rush    | Geospatial Programmer for Rent

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