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From Brett Porter <br...@apache.org>
Subject Re: Democracy? [was: About joining JSR 279 and 280]
Date Sun, 27 Nov 2005 19:04:25 GMT

Some more thoughts on this.

Dain Sundstrom wrote:
> Geir, I believe you missed the meat of my proposal which was a proposal
> to make the JCP process at Apache democratic.  

Something felt wrong about this word, and when prompted to think about
it I remembered the ASF is meritocratic, not democratic. I think its
probably what you mean anyway, you're just working on the assumption
that everyone here has merit, which seems a fair assumption at this point :)

Meritocracy vs democracy is an interesting distinction when it comes to
something such as this, but what I think it means is:
 - all members with appropriate paperwork can participate (as they can
in any ASF project they are interested in, as I understand it)
 - committers with proven skills in the relevant areas and with
appropriate paperwork can participate.

This would be the "committers list" of JCP@Apache. Importantly, there
should also be a way for any committer to jump in and learn about and
contribute to "prove" themselves too.

> It is my opinion that the
> process for JCP involvement at Apache is really a dictatorship and not
> democratic.  Now, I get the feeling this is a benevolent dictatorship,
> and to be crystal clear I am not saying anything negative you or the
> current process.   I would like to see the process changed to pure
> democracy, and to achieve this I think we need to change two areas,
> openness and voting.

In some ways I agree. It is a dictatorship in the respect that it's one
of the few offices not backed by a committee. From
http://www.apache.org/foundation/, I relate the first 4 with the board,
the projects with a PMC, then there is the PRC. The other two: legal
affairs (very new) and JCP are individual positions with no specific
committee, but discussion lists.

I'm sure Geir would argue here that others are welcome to participate as
we are doing here. I think this is just the chicken and egg problem you
would see anywhere. If the process is not documented or open, then you
don't tend to form a community around it.

Does it make sense to set up a PMC-like committee that can share some of
the responsibilities? I'm not exactly sure how the PRC is defined or
operates, but it might be similar. It seems to me that we should have
these lists:
 - private. To be discussed only with those under NDA (not necessarily
members, if this is allowed - those that fit the 2 categories I listed
 - public. Only committers can subscribe, but a public archive
available. For discussing apache's process, participation and to provide
feedback on JSRs of interest. Kind of like legal-discuss. Would be good
to be as open as possible, without violating the trust of any EG's, so
members of the private group need to be prudent.
 - jsrXXX-discuss. One per JSR where requested. Only NDA'd individuals,
but so more Apache people can discuss individual JSRs even if only one
can be on an EG.

> Openness
>  * Publicly document the process to join an EG
>  * Publicly document the requirements of an person representing Apache
>  * Publicly document the people representing Apache on the various specs
>  * All administrative communication between Apache and the JCP should be
> copied to this (or the private) list

+1 to these. I think we all agree on something like this and just need
to get it started.

>  * An EG representative should give quarterly reports to this list

The JCP VP is meant to report to the board in Feb, May, Aug, Nov, though
I'm not aware of whether this happens. Geir, can you shed some light on
this? Anyway, it seems the perfect opportunity to provide feedback and
issues, to the extent possible given that board reports go public after
some time.

> Voting
>  * This list should discuss all votes on the EC and decide how Apache
> will cast it's vote


>  * This list should vote on who will represent apache on the EGs

An interesting one. Nowhere except the board do we vote one person
against another, nor do we allow self-nomination for votes, which is
what this seems to be about.

In theory I agree - it should be consensus of the community, I just
worry about the mechanics. I think we'd have to wait for the situation
to arise and see how it plays out. I'd find it unlikely that there will
be a lot of contention around a spot if it was discussed openly, and
anyone that easily offended when not selected because another is viewed
as having more merit in that instance, probably doesn't have the stomach
for it anyway :)

>  * This list should discuss and vote to propose Apache sponsored
> specifications


>  * This list should on a yearly basis propose to the board a individual
> that we would like to represent Apache in the EC (of course the board
> has the choice to choose whom ever they want, but we should offer the
> opinion of this group)

I know this is something that is proposed and sometimes practiced
elsewhere. I'm not really comfortable with it in projects because it
creates unnecessary tension at that time and places more importance than
necessary on the chair. In a project, the chair is just reporting to the
board. They don't have any special powers, require any particular
technical expertise, and they aren't the designated leader of the
project. I feel that if they are doing a good job, the project is happy
with their reports to the board and handling of issues, and the board is
happy with the view of the project, then they should continue on as long
as they feel they have the time and energy.

The Apache EC member is actually quite different, and while they can
(and ideally should?) be the same, I wonder if it should be described as
a separate position to the VP position responsible to the board? I'm
certainly interested to hear more from Geir about what he thinks is
involved in that position and whether that is a fair distinction.

One real concern I have here is, currently, if the representative
decides that there are better things in life and decides to throw in the
towel, then it could be quite difficult to replace them. Does anybody
know enough about the processes, the current issues and relationships to
effectively do this?

Anyway, I hope we can get together at ApacheCon and discuss these things
(or anything else in the mean time). I'm looking forward to it.


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