Sugar Labs Rules of Governance
Please comment on the discussion page.
One of the challenges that free software projects face is the impact of governance on their community members: while FLOSS 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 is a member of the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC). This places 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 FLOSS projects can obtain the benefits of a formal legal structure while keeping themselves focused on software development." Governance must be maintained by Sugar Labs on its own behalf to provide for the long term success and stability of Sugar.
The following governance model is largely derived from the model used by the Gnome Foundation (Please see gnome.org/about).
As a fiscal sponsor for FOSS projects, the Conservancy provides member projects with financial and administrative services:
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 by the Sugar community—the Sugar Membership. The positions on the Oversight Board will be on a two-year staggered basis. The members of the Oversight Board may be removed from the position at any time by a majority vote of the Community Members. Upon the resignation or removal of a member of the Oversight Board, the Community Members shall elect a replacement Community Member to serve on the Oversight Board. The Oversight Board shall meet at least once per quarter to discuss various topics pertaining to the regular activities of the Sugar Labs Project and Sugar. (It is expected that more frequent meeting will be required in the early stages of the program.) The minutes to these meetings shall be posted publicly on the Sugar Labs wiki (Oversight Board/Minutes).
The members of the Oversight Board may be removed from the position at any time by a majority vote of the Community Members. Upon the resignation or removal of a member of the Oversight Board, the Community Members shall elect a replacement Community Member to serve on the Oversight Board.
The Oversight Board will elect a single individual to communicate with the Conservancy (the "Representative") and shall notify the Conservancy promptly following the election of a new Representative. The Representative will have the authority to instruct the Conservancy on the Project's behalf on all matters.
The Oversight Board's role is to manage the day-to-day 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 Oversight Board will review and ratify Decision Panel reports.
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 will appoint (up to) three (3) members who will be non-voting attendees of Oversight Board meetings. The Advisory Board will meet up to twice per year.
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 appointed 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.
Advisory committees will provide input in advance of Oversight Board meetings and may be asked on occasion to send a representative to a meeting of the Oversight Board.
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 all of the membership. The overall referendum process is overseen by the Membership and Elections Committee, which can be reached at email@example.com.
A 75% vote of all of the members can override an Oversight Board decision.