[part 2] Article 3: Membership

Joseph Carter knghtbrd at debian.org
Thu Mar 25 09:25:21 UTC 1999

On Wed, Mar 24, 1999 at 05:22:13PM -0500, Nils Lohner wrote:
> >From the discussions it seems that people favor the two tiered membership  
> approach, so here's an initial whack at the bylaws article.

Actually I oppose it if there is any alternative to be found.  It would
cause the higher tier of membership to become a status symbol.  I think
anyone familiar with my rants about GNOME of late should be well aware
that I feel the GNOME project is doing poorly if their goal is to produce
good software because the people running the project are too busy
building their own egos to actually build anything useful.

As a result GNOME is at any given point half broken, bloated, and
generally unusable if you need something that works now.  I'd rather not
see this happen with SPI, though it may be necessary for the reasons
others have cited.  I'm just very leery about letting any one or any
small group determine if someone's contribution to the community is
"worthy" of being allowed into the upper ranks.  I'm worried this is
likely to push anyone but those who have published and popular code out
of consideration, even if they have done other things that are extremely

Forgive me if my faith in the community is not all that strong in this
regard.  I hear all the time that we need more people to pick up the
non-code areas which are being ignored.  People to write docs and howtos,
people to advocate for Free Software in positive ways, that sort of
thing.  Yet where is the notoriety in these things?  Nobody knows who
these people are and their work is taken for granted.  The more we try to
limit ourselves to the elite, the more it's going to simply become a
popularity contest and the more these people who are probably most
responsible for where we are now are going to be excluded.

> ps. an aside- let's get this done quickly if possible, then we can get a 
> membership and have committees to take care of things like OS and LPF etc. 
>  This would take a LOT of strain off the current board members.

Hehe!  I won't argue.

> [The membership should/will control SPI, and SPI's board and ultimately
> everyone that acts for SPI will be held accountable to the membership. 
> --iwj email]
> [somehow I'd like to phrase this into a good sentence.  Suggestions? :)]

Try two, for readability:

The membership shall control SPI and the SPI board.  All who act on SPI's
behalf will untimately be held accountable to the membership.

> - There are contributing and non-contributing membership available within 
> this organization.  All membership applications will be reviewed by the 
> Membership Committee.
> [where do we state the complete list of membership criteria?  Here?  In 
> the charter for the membership committee?  What should the criteria be?]

I would say membership charter.  See above for my concerns as to the
criteria I've heard voiced of "significant contribution to the community"
differenciating the "non-contributing" and the "contributing" members.  I
don't think the criteria for becoming a non-contributing member should be
too discriminative if we're going to have this tier setup.  If it's
reasonable to go with a flat membership and we do so, we'll need to be a
bit more careful about who we let in the door, so to speak.

> - all members agree to the general goals principles of SPI and agree to 
> help support the organization.
> [This wording is ugly.  Basically, I want to say that members should 
> (must?) agree with what SPI stands for and is trying to achieve.]

Aren't these spelled out in a mission statement?  Why not simply refer to

> - becoming a contributing member
>    The applicant must apply for a contributing membership and include a 
> list of projects or free software related activities that they have 
> participated in (including what they have done) within the last two years 
> (more may be included if desired).  This will be reviewed by the 
> membership committee.
> [should we define more tangible criteria here (or in the membership 
> committee charter) or leave it a little open ended?  how significant a 
> contribution should it be (point from iwj email)??]

I'm really more interested in who decides what is "significant" if we
leave it open ended.  I think perhaps reference to another document might
be good here as well--not so much because of the chance of revision but
because of the likelyhood this will be read over the Internet on a web
page and if we are going to have hyperlinks we may as well use them in a
way which is going to promote readability of the finished product.

> - term of membership
> - renewal of membership

I think this is a good idea, actually.  Do you think two years is a good
time length or is one year a better time frame?  Either one is fine with

> [this section seems short, but then again, I don't think it should be that 
> hard to become a non contributing member.  Look at javalobby.org- all 
> members do is basically support the 'write once, run anywhere' concept.  
> I'm picturing the same for SPI- non contrib members just support the 
> principles of SPI.]

I think you have the right idea here.

Joseph Carter <knghtbrd at debian.org>            Debian GNU/Linux developer
PGP: E8D68481E3A8BB77 8EE22996C9445FBE            The Source Comes First!
* Culus fears perl - the language with optional errors
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