[OpenStack Foundation] Individual Member Director Elections

Bret Piatt bret.piatt at rackspace.com
Tue Oct 8 13:48:33 UTC 2013

OpenStack isn't controlled by any one company or "cabal" that I'm aware of.  If there is evidence of this you know about please share it now. I'm unsure how it isn't even possible to control OpenStack.  The most important part of OpenStack -- the code -- is copyrighted by hundreds (maybe over 1,000 now?) of authors all granting a license to it under Apache 2.0.

I am in favor of improving the election process and anything else that creates a more vibrant and active community.  I see this in the same way I see refactoring of portions of the code.  Sometimes you should refactor early to avoid future problems but when you do refactor be careful to think through what new issues could be created by the changes.

We currently have the fastest growing community in the history of open source.  This is wonderful and it creates many challenges at the same time.  A board of directors should be invisible to most of the community .. They should be focused on big issues, long term strategy decisions.  Our board is doing an excellent job of this from my perspective. I look forward to continued growth of our community along with the debate it brings.


Bret Piatt

Jim Jagielski <jimjag at gmail.com> wrote:

On Tue, Oct 8, 2013 at 8:41 AM, Christopher B Ferris <chrisfer at us.ibm.com<mailto:chrisfer at us.ibm.com>> wrote:
+1 to Theirry's comments below.

My personal opinion is that the code of conduct is an inadequate influence over behavior, as Theirry suggests.

STV would go a ways to improving the situation, but it would not neutralize the voting block behavior.

It would actually go quite aways in doing so... any excess votes would go to the next in line in that person's vote. The key point in STV is that each person gets a *single* vote, which is transferred as needed (this is an EXTREME simplification!), and once a person gets enough votes to be elected, all those extra votes are basically moot, which means that a voting block actually has somewhat limited affect.

Quite honestly, and I know that many will rail against this, the problem is the temptation.

Eliminate the ability for any single entity to have more than one seat on the board.

IMO, each Director should reflect the goals and desires of the OpenStack community, regardless of who pays their salary. True, this is a biased based on my own background and experience, but it works. The board should govern the foundation, not a single entity, and when the cards are stacked in favor of a single entity (or a cabal) being the controlling, then it's simple human nature for that to be taken advantage of.

Isn't this the *exact* thing that the OpenStack Foundation was created to *solve*??

That would increase the diversity of the board, which would be a Good Thing(tm). Yes, I have heard all the arguments for allowing the movers and shakers in the development community some influence at the board level. I get it, I really do. However, they have all the influence they need at the TC level, where the technical decisions are made. If they want to influence decisions of the board, their voice alone should be sufficient to help influence the other board members.

The bottom line is that you can't have your cake and eat it, too. Remove the temptation and the behavior will normalize. No other organization that I know of permits multiplicity of representation on the board from a single entity.


Christopher Ferris
IBM Distinguished Engineer
IBM Software Group, Standards Strategy
email: chrisfer at us.ibm.com<mailto:chrisfer at us.ibm.com>
blog: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/blogs/page/chrisferris
phone: +1 508 234 2986<tel:%2B1%20508%20234%202986>

-----Thierry Carrez <thierry at openstack.org<mailto:thierry at openstack.org>> wrote: -----
To: foundation at lists.openstack.org<mailto:foundation at lists.openstack.org>
From: Thierry Carrez <thierry at openstack.org<mailto:thierry at openstack.org>>
Date: 10/08/2013 06:01AM

Subject: Re: [OpenStack Foundation] Individual Member Director Elections

Mark McLoughlin wrote:
> [...]
> All your points are well made and thanks for taking the time to make
> them.
> 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.

I suspect a lot of people consider that the already-raised concerns
should be enough to trigger a proper response and don't feel the need to
+1 to be "counted". For the record, add me to the number expressing
"serious concerns".

>   - 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.

It's a classic dilemma with democracy: the currently-elected (who decide
to keep or change the rules) generally don't feel like changing a system
that worked perfectly well to elect them.

>   - 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.

It's not that clear cut. Is giving all your votes to a single person
"bad behaviour" ? Is voting only for members of your company "bad
behaviour" ? If you answer "no" to both of the above, how can you blame
a company that ends up with 81% of its employees voting only on company
candidates ?

>   - 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.

Personally I would have made it max-1-vote-per-candidate. Forcing
everyone to pick the 8 people they want as individual members would
definitely and efficiently dilute block voting. And it makes perfect sense.

Thierry Carrez (ttx)

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