[OpenStack Foundation] Self-governing meritocracy

Mark McLoughlin markmc at redhat.com
Fri Jan 13 16:55:25 UTC 2012


One of the things I raised on the previous thread was whether we could
enshrine the principle of "OpenStack is a self-governing meritocracy" on
the mission statement.

Maybe the lack of replies on that means that everyone agrees and this is
part of the consensus Jonathan mentioned. It be good to hear that
though :)

Related to this, I've quoted some the bits from the Apache and GNOME
Foundations' blurbs that I really like.

There are a couple of pieces of language in the discussion about the
Foundation that I think are very different in tone from the bits I
quoted and I'm not sure that's intentional, so I thought I'd mention it.

  - "business friendly" - this *is* important and OpenStack *has* done 
    well on this front so far. Each time it was mentioned in the 
    webinar it as accompanied by well articulated reasons why this is 
    important and how to ensure the goal is met.

    However, I'd be cautious about putting it front and centre too much 
    in the language of the foundation mission as I think it 
    de-emphasises the importance of individuals (affiliated or not) 
    contributing (in the broadest sense) to OpenStack as opposed to
    the companies contributing.

    Even though many of the individuals contributing are employees of 
    companies investing in OpenStack (as is the case for GNOME and 
    Apache), I think the emphasis in the governance and mission of the 
    foundation should be on individuals.

  - "the foundation co-ordinates resources" - the point being made here
    is important too. This legal entity isn't going to employ or 
    closely manage a phalanx of developers etc. to do the work of the
    project. Nor will it own a bunch of hardware etc. Those "resources" 
    will continue to be contributed by companies or individuals 
    investing in the project.

    However, this really makes it sound like the foundation is separate 
    from the individuals (the "resources"). The blurbs below talk more 
    about the individuals making up the foundation. We are the 
    foundation. So, the foundation is doing more than co-ordinating. 
    Through its membership, the foundation *is* in fact doing the work
    of the project.



  "the foundation will provide a forum that is elected by the GNOME 
  community, that is accountable to that community, and that will
  conduct its affairs in the open."

  "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. "

  "This principle has real, concrete meaning for the foundation: All 
  discussions must be publicly viewable, any person must have the
  opportunity to contribute to the decision-making process, and every
  GNOME contributor must have the direct ability to influence the
  decisions which are made. The foundation must be democratic and
  friendly to those responsible for making GNOME what it is. "

  "Participation in the foundation is intended only for those 
  individuals who are making contributions to the GNOME project and the
  software which makes up GNOME. A corporation, organization or
  individual should not be granted a place in the foundation unless its
  presence is justified by the merits of its contribution. Money cannot
  buy influence in the GNOME project: show us the code (or
  documentation, or translations, or leadership, or webmastering...). "


  "When the group felt that the person had "earned" the merit to be 
  part of the development community, they granted direct access to the
  code repository, thus increasing the group and increasing the ability
  of the group to develop the program, and to maintain and develop it
  more effectively.

  We call this basic principle "meritocracy": literally, government by 

  [..] newcomers were seen as volunteers that wanted to help, rather 
  than people that wanted to steal a position."

  "We firmly believe in hats. Your role at the ASF is one assigned to 
  you personally, and is bestowed on you by your peers. It is not tied
  to your job or current employer or company."

  "Individuals compose the ASF

  All of the ASF including the board, the other officers, the
  committers, and the members, are participating as individuals. That is
  one strength of the ASF, affiliations do not cloud the personal

  Unless they specifically state otherwise, whatever they post on any
  mailing list is done as themselves. It is the individual
  point-of-view, wearing their personal hat and not as a mouthpiece for
  whatever company happens to be signing their paychecks right now, and
  not even as a director of the ASF.

  All of those ASF people implicitly have multiple hats, especially the
  Board, the other officers, and the PMC chairs. They sometimes need to
  talk about a matter of policy, so to avoid appearing to be expressing
  a personal opinion, they will state that they are talking in their
  special capacity. However, most of the time this is not necessary,
  personal opinions work well.

  Some people declare their hats by using a special footer to their
  email, others enclose their statements in special quotation marks,
  others use their apache.org email address when otherwise they would
  use their personal one. This latter method is not reliable, as many
  people use their apache.org address all of the time."

More information about the Foundation mailing list