Sugar Labs/Governance

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DRAFT Rules of Goverance

Please comment.

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 [1]).

Oversight Board

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 in an online conference 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 (

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 first election of members to the Oversight Board will occur within one month (30 days) of the acceptance of membership into the SFC. (If membership into the SFC is denied, then the election will occur sometime before September 30, 2008.) The terms will be on a two-year staggered basis (three of the initial board seats will be for one year only to seed the process).

Until the time of the election, an acting Oversight Board will consist of the following members:

  • Marco Pesenti Gritti (RH)
  • someone appointed by OLPC
  • someone appointed by the SFLA
  • Hernan Pachas (MoE Peru)
  • Aaron Kaplan (Community member)
  • Benjamin Schwartz (Community member)
  • Walter Bender (Community member)

Advisory Board

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:

  • <null set>

Advisory board member companies pay an annual fee which helps finance the operations of the Sugar Labs Project. There are two levels for commercial companies. In order to promote a diverse membership that represents the interests of organizations around the world, Sugar Labs fees vary depending on the annual revenues, type, and location of headquarters of an organization. A base fee (initially ?) will be determined by the finance committee annually.

Large company headquartered in developed country Base fee
Medium company headquartered in developed country 20% of base fee
Small company or non-profit headquartered in developed country 10% of base fee
Large company headquartered in least-developed country 50% of base fee
Medium company headquartered in least-developed country 5% of base fee
Small company or non-profit headquartered in least-developed country No fee

A large company has annual gross revenues exceeding US $50M per year; a medium company has annual gross revenues exceding US $5M per year. Please refer to [2] for a list of the least-developed countries.

Sugar Labs Advisory Board members enjoy a number of specific benefits including:

  • The opportunity to interact and work directly with the leading companies, organizations, and individuals;
  • A seat on the Advisory Board, including an invitation to semi-annual Advisory Board meetings;
  • The ability to provide strategic direction to Sugar Labs through review of Sugar Labs proposals and operational policies;
  • Participation in Sugar Labs working groups, where specifications and guidelines are developed, and in W3C Interest Groups, where discussions are conducted;
  • Access to a community of experts in Sugar and Sugar deployment;
  • Access to the Member Web site (Member-only link) containing early information on emerging Web technologies, software, events, forums, news and announcements;
  • The right to use the Sugar Labs logo on your Web site and to participate in press releases.


The Oversight Board is responsible for establishing:

  • Membership and Elections Committee that oversees membership applications, election of the Oversight Board, and referenda
  • Infrastructure Committee that oversees Sugar Labs and community infrastructure needs
  • Community Committee that oversees Sugar Labs community outreach and organizes events
  • Finance Committee that oversees Sugar Labs finances
  • Learning Committee that periodically reviews the Sugar Labs roadmap in regard to its potential impact on learning

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 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 ______ at

The Sugar Labs membership elects the Oversight Board each September, beginning September 2009. Members can nominate themselves to run in the election. The overall election process is overseen by the Membership and Elections Committee, which can be reached at elections at

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

Additional roles within Sugar Labs

Ombudsman: A neutral party with whom anyone (member or non-member) can consult with anonymously. The ombudsman will make a monthly report to the Oversight Board and the community. Bert Freudenberg will serve as acting Ombudsman until one is elected (Please email ombudsman at

System administrator: de facto member of the Infrastructure Committee

Treasurer: de facto member of the Finance Committee