[OpenStack Foundation] Individual Member Director Elections

Troy Toman troy at tomanator.com
Mon Oct 7 23:08:46 UTC 2013

> On Oct 7, 2013, at 4:06 PM, Mark McLoughlin <markmc at redhat.com> wrote:
> Hi Jim,
>> On Mon, 2013-10-07 at 10:12 -0700, James E. Blair wrote:
>> Hi,
>> During the October 3 meeting, the board discussed the election process
>> for the individual member directors and made some fairly shocking
>> conclusions.
>> As you may recall, there has been concern about this process since its
>> inception, and the board has spent some time dealing with this.
>> On November 16, 2012:
>>  RESOLVED, that the Board will bring in outside experts and conduct a
>>  proper legal review before making changes to the cumulative voting
>>  process prior to the next election.
>> And on February 12 2013:
>>  RESOLVED, that the following members of the Board shall be appointed
>>  to an Election Committee, to be chaired by Mr. Moore:
>>  ...
>> From what I gather, that election committee produced a report that was
>> delivered to the directors.  I have not read it because it has not been
>> made public; nor do I believe that any input from the wider community
>> was solicited.  But based on that report, the board concluded that the
>> individual member director election process is fine the way it is and
>> does not need to change.
>> I believe this is, to anyone who has been paying attention for the past
>> year, quite a shocking determination to make.
> All your points are well made and thanks for taking the time to make
> them.

Yes. Thank you for voicing these concerns. This is an issue that needs broad input from the members of the foundation. 

> I do very much agree with your points about the election system and
> favoured a change to STV but, yet, I did vote to not change the system
> this year because:
>  - there was a general feeling that relatively few perceive the 
>    problem here. Comparing our ~6000 members to the numbers expressing 
>    serious concerns on this mailing list, you can see why.
>  - the current system does appear to have elected committed board 
>    members who act on behalf of the membership rather than their 
>    affiliation. That could be a self-serving perspective, though.
>  - with such a large electorate, getting a majority of a 25+% voter 
>    turnout to vote for an election system change is going to require a 
>    lot of awareness raising. I'm trying to imagine a massive "our
>    election system is broken, it's critical you turn out to fix it" 
>    being a positive thing. I'm also concious that if we did hold a 
>    vote to move to STV and it was rejected, that could be the end of 
>    the matter forever.
>  - I do think the code of conduct will have an influence and prevent 
>    "bad" voter behaviour. I'm basing that on the strong endorsement 
>    all board members appear to give the code.

I do believe most members try and follow the code. However, everyone re-emphasized this prior to the 2013 elections and the numbers were only marginally improved. Given the concerns, I am not inclined to rely solely on the code of conduct when there are other actions at our disposal that are in practice at other organizations. 

>  - I was in favour of the max-4-votes-per-candidate "tweak" because we
>    initially thought that would not require a bylaws change. This would
>    have had an immediate positive effect IMHO.
> i.e. my conclusion was that we should make a tweak for this cycle and
> revisit if/when this becomes a big enough issue again to mobilize a
> large enough chunk of the electorate.

I ended up in the same place as Mark. I felt an incremental improvement in the near term was our best option. We didn't discover, until after the vote on the total system change, that even an incremental change to the cumulative voting system was impossible in this cycle. Had this been clear earlier, I would have favored pushing for a vote to switch to SVT. 

I believe there would still be an opportunity to get this on a ballot in January if there was enough support from the community to move in this direction without waiting for one more round of votes. I would certainly be willing to revisit this prior to the January elections. 

> Ultimately, though, my concern is how our membership numbers means there
> is a massive difference in commitment/engagement between our members.
> The number of members who are closely engaged with the project (and no,
> I don't just mean ATCs) is huge by any standards but they are most
> likely dwarfed by the number of less engaged members. That numbers game
> had a big impact on this debate IMHO.

I think we would all prefer to make sure eligible voters are active in the community. This turns out to be more difficult than you might think as we want to make sure activity includes more than code contributions. I think this is an area where, using community input, we can make a lot of headway and begin to find a way to focus on active members of the community. 

> All that said, it's fair to say the election committee realized only
> last week that we should have been far more transparent and e.g. had a
> mailing list like the transparency committee has. I should take
> responsibility for that since your concerns about the committee's
> workings is like a mirror image of mine from last year:
>  http://lists.openstack.org/pipermail/foundation/2012-November/001250.html

We all whiffed on this one. In the effort to get something done before the window closed, I think we were completely blind to the transparency obligation. Huge lesson for me here as I have always advocated for more transparency from this board. There is no excuse but it turns out to be harder to remember than I expected. Hopefully, we will an infrastructure in place soon that makes this the default for all board interactions. 

> The report of the committee was intended to be published, I trust it
> will be soon.
> Thanks again,
> Mark.
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