Community Leadership Summit Wiki

Session: Governance Styles

Organizer: Randy Fay

notes: Jefro



civilty consensus do-ocracy

equality built into history not expandable

no policy making techniqiues

dries- benevolent dictator for life bdfl

governance can mean number of tihngs

just making clear way that decisions are made

if >1 people have opinions, may never make decisions

need technique for dealing with conflicts

culture makes everything work

governance makes culture work better

eg with government

some families work with minimal governance bc culture is strong

interesting diversity of communities

debian - constitution, membership criteria, voting, exec director voted

no commercial sponsor

very explicit democratic organization

yet roots in anti-authoritarianism

"nobody can make you do nothin'"

kde - less structure than drupal, sum is conflict resolution group

about 1000 contribs

value determined by contribution

many open source projects have benevolent dictator

ubuntu, wikipedia - founder

debian does not

ubuntu also has a commercial sponsor

with the purse strings go the power

will determine direction of project

in drupal, deny that have one but actually do

if choose to spend on community, will affect it

wikipedia has benev dictator, explicitly limited power

on governanace pages, described - privilege relinquished by x conversation

still holds a lot of power informally - open source community with bdfl, matt mullenweg

doesn't mind being directive

significant set of contribs company - automattic

dries lets community make decisions, only steps in when necessary

linux kernel - 1200 people, huge user base but narrow contributor path

12k lines of code per day

12-ish maintainers, each line [patch] has maintainer & submitter

linus final right to veto? does not tolerate fools

slightly more than half corporate contribs

healthy division among many companies - top company is maybe 12% code, 30% signoffs

compiling for 60-70 hw platforms in australia, automated testing

fedora - divided out governance of tech issues vs people issues, event issues

formed steering committee for tech decisions

ambassador steering committee manages events

many conflicts in any community - technical approaches, personnel touchyfeely issues, resolving conflicts

people good at resolving one type not necc good at other

also board of directors to help as final arbiter

as director - if I have to be involved, doing something wrong

thus at odds with board

hired by redhat

redhat wanted fedora on its own for many reasons

separate foundation didn't work

rh pays bills but do not dictate


open & transparent

[david strauss] frustrated with influence from canonical, specif shuttleworth

frust withdouble standard - not actually meritocratic

for fedora, rh has to go through same process, via steering committee

don't exercise back channel influence

tierry carrez

gentoo - bd failed, made way for more democratic system - needs to be respected, otherwise if not representative, doesn't work

linux kernel grew organically

canonical - model is sneaky, pretending to be open source, but mark has strong veto power

make strong calls not necc representing what community wants

sometimes fedora model makes harder to get things done

focused on short term or long term success? top down is short term, open/collaborative/meritocratic helps grow community overlong term


building governance from scratch

like linux kernel, open innovation setting

no single company owns

hrad to have benev dictator model, hard to hire one person respected by everyone

just elected policy board, change out every 6 months

moving toward foundation model - board on one side, control brand etc, tech community still meritocratically elected sep from money side - forge/editorial page sonja barry

sponsored by oracle

benevolent dictator

tryto be invisible but available

advocate for community to oracle, but if division create safe place w/o registering opinions

java community process, glassfish/flagship java projects

sb has veto power

loose terms of use

any individual group/project can create own governance as long as narrower than overall terms of use


hudson v jenkins - expecting email from sb, got email from glassfish team didn't open, didn't realize project being moved, panic attack in public

 communication broke down
 just a stupid miscommunication
 lesson in good forks & bad forks
 reason why communities break up & move on, better than missed email
 hudson could have been stronger

job to educate oracle about community

oracle spends 10x

corp open source, like ms - implicit structure, vs. github freeform

depends on personality of project founder

sb welcome anyone - splash page on just fine

big projects need massive bug trackers, etc so need resources from other places

still in infancy

homeschooling - rodger williams

bd has to have respect from people

all people governance

re asshole talk - mistake not to throw people out fast enough

drupal - working group mon/tue, dries present

angie byron lioness of civility

expect technical vs community division

already have some structure for technical division

issue queues

but deadlocks often abandoned instead of resolved

on technical side

on community side, conflic resolution group

funadmentally, no explicit wayto create or enforce policy

tends to be ad hoc

implicit policy tends to make people feel disempowered

create ways to make explicit policy, but wnat to be gentle


less policy, or more clear origin for policy


sometimes grows organically (esp if they wrote the code)

american business model is last vestige of feudalism, until a yr ago couldn't make it work better

just a few people held the power, would veto attempts to go forward

if they didn't understand it

about 1.5 yrs ago, initiative & set policy, now enormous # beautiful things have happened as a result

went from having cathedral to instances, sandboxes, results w/o having to think theoretically

workflow & tools need to evolve at same pace as policy

initiative for core, delegated some power down to initiative owners

but infrastruc hasn't evolved to accommodate workflow

tried to layer policy onto system based on groundswell from flat plane

greg dunlap - can say what's important, but doesn't force anyone to work on it

dstrauss went to fedora to gain perspective on issues, wnat to see drupal take on gigantic underatkings

like systemd

not everyone agrees with, but big risky thing, requires hwolesale coordination

who decides? how to get people to work on

jared smith - fedora steering committee chooses what ready to go in, take longer, won't accept

some credibility in community - we voted for fesco

body to make decisions & stand behind

organizational democracy

manage coworking space

entirely democratically run as a business

decide terms of service by majority vote

difficult sometimes

forces into conversation

avoid voter fatigue, don't vote on boring stuff

weekly civics meetings on direction

membership in community - relative parity

find own level

those most interested will stick around to vote

those who have a goal in mind 840k members

democracy doesn't scale


debian counter example

project lead tries to stay out as much as possible