DRAFT Rules of Governance
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One of the challenges that free and open-source projects face is the impact of governance on their community members: while FOSS licenses assure access to source code, that doesn't guarantee a successful project. A governance model can help ensure that the project is run in a professional, disciplined, and equitable manner. Good governance lets the community engage in discourse and provides a transparent mechanism for arbitration in the hopefully rare circumstances in which it is necessary.
Some attributes that are necessary for good governance include: meritocracy, transparency of process, open access to anyone who has demonstrated the skills to contribute, and a means to ensure a balance of control so that no one special interest wrests control of either the discourse or the decision-making.
Software Freedom Conservancy
Sugar Labs has applied for membership within the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC). This would place the project under the umbrella of a 501.3(c) foundation. "The Conservancy provides member projects with free financial and administrative services, but does not involve itself with technological and artistic decisions. By joining the Conservancy, member FOSS projects can obtain the benefits of a formal legal structure while keeping themselves focused on software development." The governance of Sugar Labs is independent of the SFC board.
The following *proposed* governance model is largely derived from the model used by the Gnome Foundation (Please see gnome.org/about).
Sugar Labs cannot have directors, since that attribution within the SFC is already taken to mean the board members of the Conservancy itself. Therefore, the central administrative body of Sugar Labs is termed the Oversight Board.
Sugar Labs shall be governed by an Oversight Board, consisting of seven (7) members, elected annually by the Sugar community—the Sugar Membership. The Oversight Board shall meet twice per month to discuss various topics pertaining to the regular activities of the Sugar Labs Project and Sugar. The minutes to these meetings shall be posted publicly on the Sugar Labs wiki (SugarLabs:OversightBoard/Minutes).
The Oversight Board's role is to manage the mundane affairs of Sugar Labs and to help the community to build consensus. On the rare occasion of a contentious issue on which no general consensus can be reached, the Oversight Board is responsible for convening a Decision Panel. The Oversight Board will be responsible for determining when a Decision Panel is required and for selecting members for the Decision Panel. Members of the Oversight Board are not permitted to serve on a Decision Panel. A Decision Panel will solicit community input, discuss (in private if they deem it necessary), reach a conclusion internally, and produce a report documenting their conclusion. (Anyone may submit advice to a Decision Panel.)
The Advisory Board is made up of organizations and companies that support Sugar Labs. The Advisory Board has no decision-making authority but provides a vehicle for its members to communicate with the Oversight Board and help the Directors guide the overall direction of Sugar and the Sugar Labs Project.
The Advisory Board consists of representatives from the following Sugar Labs Foundation member corporations and projects.
Advisory board member companies pay an annual fee which helps finance the operations of the Sugar Labs Project.
The Oversight Board is responsible for establishing committees as necessary.
Each committee will include one member from the Oversight Board (non-voting), who will server as a recording secretary, and three (3) to five (5) additional members (initially recruited by the Oversight Board and subsequently elected) from the community.
Special Interest Groups (SIGs) may be established by any member. They can be formed around any topic and, if they prove to be useful, can be designated as official committees.
Sugar Labs Membership
The Sugar Labs membership consists of all the contributors to the Sugar project. Members can run for election to the Oversight Board, vote in the elections for the Oversight Board, and suggest referenda.
Any "significant and sustained" contributor to Sugar Labs is eligible for membership. Although it is difficult to specify a precise definition, a contributor generally must have contributed to a non-trivial improvement of the Sugar project or Sugar Labs activity. Contributions may be code, documentation, translations, maintenance of project-wide resources, running a Sugar deployment, or other non-trivial activities which benefit Sugar Labs. Membership eligibility is an individual determination: while contributions made in the course of employment will be considered, they will generally be ascribed to the individuals involved, rather than accruing to all employees of a "contributing" corporation. The Membership and Elections Committee will oversee membership applications (Please apply by sending email to members at sugarlabs.org).
Sugar Labs Referenda
At times an issue may arise that merits gathering consensus from the community. Any member of the Sugar Labs Foundation can suggest a referendum. To be accepted, a request for a referendum must be endorsed by 10% of the membership. The overall referendum process is overseen by the Membership and Elections Committee, which can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.