Re: Discussing issues

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On Mon, Apr 14, 2003 at 08:45:24PM -0400, David Wexelblat wrote: 
> Which is why I think the issues are completely about process, and not at all
> about governance, and (IMHO) why we aren't making concrete progress, as
> governance is Jim's explicitly stated, and (I think) Keith's
> not-so-explicitly-stated fundamental issue, reading through these
> conference-call transcripts.

I think you're missing some background on what Jim had to say.

The context Jim alludes to was a several-meeting-long discussion that
went on in the GNOME Foundation board about who should be able to vote
for the board. We ended up basically saying that if you felt like you
were a contributor and could point to anything that was
reasonably/arguably a contribution, even a small one, you could vote
for the board. The alternative was to define in some way a "large
enough" contribution.

There are a few points about this.

1) I think it's perfectly reasonable to define a contributor in some
other way that requires a specific size of contribution, and in fact
some projects such as Debian do that, and it works fine. Jim is just
trying to have this argument prematurely.

2) There is a big difference between voting for the GNOME Foundation
board, and running the project. As far as technical decisions, the
GNOME Project is essentially a confederation of module dictators.
Then there are various teams with responsibility-and-authority for
i18n, docs, release planning, and other cross-module issues; those
teams are dictators for their areas.

The board is about financial issues, organizing conferences, anything
falling through the cracks from these various dictators, and
resolving disputes about who the dictators are if/when those arise.

So the "anyone who thinks they are a contributor" level of 
being able to influence GNOME is an annual election for a group 
of people that are only involved in 1% of decisions at best.
You can read all the GNOME board minutes at

I'm comfortable enough with the board being sane that I didn't even
run for it this year. I trust other people to take care of that, and I
can do my technical work without being involved.

3) In practice, the people who have voted are all people who are
actively involved in GNOME, and we've always had reasonable
results. Yes, we were scared for the first election that certain
disastrous candidates would win, but all the bad candidates were
soundly trounced.

There were also fears of corporate domination, but in practice the
numbers are something like 60 corporate-affiliated from 275
registered, and the 60 were from several different companies. (Only
211/275 voted, I don't know how many of the 60 voted.)

You can generate exact stats at if you want (you can even
run stats to see if corporate voters changed the results and how,
etc., if you're ambitious. I'm curious myself. ;-))

In any case, the important point is that all corporate-affiliated
voters were individuals who had contributed to GNOME.

So that's what Jim is talking about there as I understand it. I don't
think "community governance" is intended to mean this exact model, it
could also mean something more like Debian etc.

Granted, this isn't necessarily clear just from the minutes without
the GNOME background, which is why having you guys on the phone to
immediately say "wait! I don't get that part" could be helpful.


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