Constitutional conversations commence

The OpenJDK Governance Board held its first two meetings this past July. The minutes have just been posted (for 2007/7/12 and 2007/7/17); herewith the highlights.

The primary mission of the current GB is to write a Constitution for the OpenJDK Community. These initial meetings served to set the stage, both procedurally and philosophically, for that work.

Process Among other things we decided that:

  • GB meetings will be held privately, but detailed conversational minutes will be posted after suitable review by the membership;
  • All GB discussions will be open-by-default, taking place on the public gb-discuss list unless there is a specific reason to have a private discussion;
  • Formal votes of the GB will require all members to be present, but on-the-record discussions can be held with just four members; and
  • The GB will aim to complete a draft Constitution by the end of this year, to be followed by a discussion period and then a ratification vote in April 2008.

Yours truly was also honored to accept the position of Chair of this instance of the OpenJDK GB.

Philosophy The bulk of our time in these first two meetings was devoted to settling on a set of principles which will guide the drafting of the Constitution. In summary they are:

  • The Governance Board is a legislative and judiciary body; it is not an executive;
  • Community participants are individuals, not corporations;
  • The investments made by the employers of Community participants should be acknowledged publicly;
  • Community privileges are granted on the basis of proven merit, as judged by peers; they are not granted on the basis of one’s employer;
  • One need not have proven merit in order to start participating in the Community;
  • Community privileges do not last forever;
  • Community governance is distinct from project governance;
  • The number of roles in the Community should be minimized;
  • Decisions at all levels should be made by informal consensus whenever possible, but there should also be rigorous voting rules upon which to fall back when informal consensus fails;
  • Participation in the Community shall be free of charge; and
  • All decision-making processes and discussions should be as transparent as possible.

This set of principles is by no means exhaustive, and some of them may seem obvious, but the wide-ranging discussion leading up to it was extremely useful as a means of getting the GB members onto the same philosophical page for the work to follow.

Comments and questions are welcome! Please first subscribe to the gb-discuss list and then send e-mail to gb-discuss@openjdk.java.net. (Messages from non-subscribers are discarded in order to avoid spam.)

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