Board of directors community representative

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Contents

Request: Please read first.

Disclaimer: I'm going to exhibit an awkwardly phrased mixed reaction to firing up this discussion now.

On the one hand, the results of this (likely long and patient) discussion are potentially very high-impact, if it works and we do get a community board member. So yes, this is important.

At the same time, we shouldn't get so caught up in the metadiscussion of representation and governance that we forget to do the work that isn't meta - answering tickets, fixing bugs, running tests, making translations, etc - because that's important too.

I made this page because I found I was getting distracted from the OLPC volunteer work (largely QA) I needed to do and spending lots of time thinking about this instead of doing my other work. I didn't publicize it because I didn't want to distract people, but as Rafael (dirakx) pointed out to me, this is a conversation that should be shared.

So what I'm going to do is to ask that, as you spread the conversation, you spread this idea alongside it as well: if you spend time on this conversation, spend at least an equivalent amount of time Making Something for OLPC that isn't related to this conversation. Submit a code patch, brush up a deployment's wiki page, walk a newbie through connecting to the internet on RT or IRC, make an Activity icon.

Talk is easy. Action is hard. Action has been the foundation of our value-adds as a community; they're what have enabled us to be in the position to ask for representation on the board, and if we're to be good board members, we should make sure that these contributions continue.

I spent 12 minutes writing this section, so I'm off to answer RT tickets to offset the time I just spent on this discussion. :)

Mchua 06:44, 17 January 2009 (UTC)

Introduction

This is a request for a OLPC Foundation board seat for a OLPC Community representative. The intended audience of this proposal is ultimately the OLPC Foundation Board of Directors and any other decision-makers who have the power to create and appoint a community member to a seat on the OLPC Foundation board.

Rationale

"OLPC board seats used to go for $1.5 USD million. Community contribution has passed that mark several times over. It is just fair that, as our contribution is not only huge but essential, it be given at least parity with that of other major contributors, if not actually more." --Yama Ploskonka

can somebody quote out how much G1G1 money has come in during both runs? I believe that was indicated to the press<sub>Yamaplos</sub> 02:57, 17 January 2009 (UTC)

Number of representatives

We need to decide how many representative seats on the board we would like to ask for. Generally, groups will have a single representative on the board.

This is an open question, and proposals are welcome. Please add yours below in a new subheading.

2 representatives

I propose we have 2 community representatives at any given time, with overlapping terms (one of the first representatives will have a shortened half-term to make the calendar work out). It is unusual for an organization to have more than one representative on a board of directors, but the community isn't exactly an organization - community contributions have certainly passed the $3 million USD mark, and two representatives will make for a more well-rounded balance of views, greater potential diversity of representation (regionally, demographically, with respect to communities of participation, etc.). Also, two overlapping terms would allow for a better transfer of knowledge between the senior and junior community board members so that we can pass the knowledge of "how to be a good community board member" down through the grassroots as well. It's my hope that the community position will often be filled by representatives for whom this is their first Board of Directors membership. Mchua 20:48, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

Length of term

We need to decide on a term for the community representative on the board. This may be subject to term length restrictions in the bylaws, but in general, board terms seem to be in the 1-3 year range.

This is an open question, and proposals are welcome. Please add yours below in a new subheading.

6 meetings-worth

This assumes the board meets roughly quarterly. An overlap of 3 meetings between representatives should be sufficient for each duo to build a good working relationship and advocate for things consistently to the rest of the board. Mchua 20:48, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

Eligibility

Should there be any criteria community board members have to meet?

This is an open question, and proposals are welcome. Please add yours below.

  • Note: For the most part, "must be a contributor" or "must have been a member of the community for a certain length of time" are things that are self-policing - folks are unlikely to vote for people without these sorts of unspoken qualifications - so this list is really mostly to make sure that any legal things are taken care of.
  • Must not already be a member of the OLPC Foundation board
  • Must not be employed by a company on the OLPC Foundation board
    • I don't actually agree with this restriction, but thought it might be something to consider in case there's a legal conflict of interest here. Mchua 20:48, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

Responsibilities

Should there be any explicit responsibilities that come with the position?

This is an open question, and proposals are welcome. Please add yours below.

  • Solicit input from the community prior to board meetings
  • Attend board meetings
  • Report to the community following board meetings
  • There are some ideas at User:Mchua/Braindumps/Community_ambassador, but I'd rather not add any more to the above list - that having been said, there might be things I'm missing that a community board member really should do other than attending board meetings. Mchua 20:48, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

Process of selection

This is an open question, and proposals are welcome. Please add yours below in a new subheading.

Who runs the selection process?

  • Current (or past) community board members (nonvoting)?
  • An OLPC employee?
  • An interim committee with reasonable consensus? In my experience with Sur, that was handled fast with good accountability and follow up <sub>Yamaplos</sub> 03:05, 17 January 2009 (UTC)

Nomination

  • Proposal: That nominations be allowed by any community member, that nominations must receive a second before the nominee can accept, and that nominees be allowed to self-nominate but not to second themselves.

Becoming a candidate

  • Proposal: That for a nominee to become a candidate, they must collect 50 (digital) signatures from community members supporting their candidacy. Mchua 20:48, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

Approval voting

When the list of candidates has been finalized, approval voting will be used to determine the new board member. Mchua 20:48, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

Voting eligibility

Who should be able to vote?

  • If you can point to any proof of your activity in the OLPC community dated at least 3 months prior?

Next steps

  • Find out the process the Board uses for approving new members - which means finding a copy of the OLPC Foundation bylaws. (In progress: writing an email to SJ as he said he'd track these down, and will cc the grassroots mailing list on this, but hunting help is welcomed. Mchua 20:48, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
    I said I would track down our public docs, which to date are our annual reports (via Guidestar) and not bylaws. There isn't currently a mechanism for community involvement in the Board. Organizing a group of community advisors elected by and for the community, which can publish regular recommendations, is a mechanism often used by civil society groups in the UN and might be appropriate here - and public coordination is needed more strongly. --Sj talk
  • Find if there is precedent for this - what other organizations have a community-representative role on their board of directors, and how are those people chosen?
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