Proposed revisions of Article 3: Membership

Darren Benham gecko at
Thu Mar 18 23:21:37 UTC 1999

For those of you reading this, I've not written this linearly.  For
example, I started with a comment to Scenario 3.

On Thu, Mar 18, 1999 at 05:38:29PM -0500, Nils Lohner wrote:
> Scenario 1:
> -----------
>   'flat' membership.  In this case everyone who agrees with the principles 
> and goals of SPI can become a member.  Voting can be either limited to 
> voting for board embers, or voting on resolutions etc. as well (with 
> quorums established etc.).
>   - No membership levels (i.e. flat membership)
>   - very little administrative work
>   - greater membership carries more political weight
>   - advantages if members only vote for the board members is that SPI can 
> be very reactive (in terms of speed).  If you think about it, you're 
> electing the people that listen to the discussions, and then make the 
> decisions (i.e. vote on the resolutions that have been developed).
>   - if members vote on resolutions etc. then the voting process will take 
> a lot longer.  Thus SPI will be less reactive.  Perhaps the board can be 
> permitted to approve a resolution with a super majority (2/3 + 1 or 
> something similar)
>   - more/less informed members (some will be more/less active) mean 
> discussions will likely last longer
With the three given scenarios, I'd choose this one.  The whole membership
should be given rights to vote on the board *AND* resolutions.  The Board
should appoint any and all committees to a tenure that ends at the board's
next election and the Board/Committee should be given a respectable amount
of freedom to act.  There is no reason we need a resolution to decide that
Apple's or IBM's licenses are not Open Source as claimed and to act.  

Resolutions should be left for guiding the board... but the board and
committee's should have the latitude to "react".

> Scenario 2:
> -----------
>   tiered membership.  Have 'contributing members' and 'supporting members' 
> where the contributing members have to be active in the free software 
> world in some way.
>   contributing members can vote on board members and resolutions
>   supporting members can not vote, but can propose resolutions
>   - voting is easier since there will be less people who have to vote
>   - voters will be more informed since they're more active
>   - SPI still gets the large membership base
>   - you need to define contributing (that's not hard) and somehow verify 
> that the member is contributing.  A neat idea would be two year 
> memberships and at the end of the two years you have to send a mail 
> stating what you've done in the last two years for the community.
>   - more administrative work- the membership committee has to worry about 
> all this
>   - do we _want_ to create a difference between members? i.e. the 
> discussion is going and someone says 'but I'm a contributing member and 
> you're not!'  Yuck.  Ugly.
Bad, very bad.  There is only ONE way I'd consider accepting divided
memebership and that would be individual/project.  That would be it and Ean
and I have very opposite views on how that should be organized so I won't
get into it.  Even then, we both agree it would be "flat" WRT privilages.

> Scenario 3:
> -----------
>   only contributing members are allowed.  (I personally don't like this 
> option at all.)
You forgot the most imporant DISADVANTAGE.  Loss of focus.  SPI is supposed
to exist to promote the interests of Free Software.  How does it do this?
By an eleet membership roster!  I don't think I could even support such a
closed organization.  At the very least, this option should go against
everything SPI stands for.. or was formed to stand for.  I suppose it's an
option, but it should be considered about as much as far as it takes to
throw it out.

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