Hi SC/MC members,
I'd like to blog about the start of the Membership process.
Althoug I'd do this in my private blog, I'd like you to verify some of my comments in the lower part of the post. It targets some questions that we received and might be of interest for a broader audience. It's about our philosophy of merit and how we acnowledge contributing members.
(btw. sorry for the rather long text hope you can get through it before falling asleep).
TDF has new members
The opening of the membership process has been announced last Tuesday (http://blog.documentfoundation.org/2011/04/19/the-document-foundation-is-open-for-members/) and we already received lots of applications. Sophie did a great job scanning those and preparing the list for our first Membership Commitee meeting.
So - on Friday we processed 59 applications (roughly all we received until Thursday midnight). We are very pleased that we could directly approve 23 applications. For 22 more applications we need to have a closer look. We will ask the contacts named in the applications for verification, scan our systems like git, pootle, wiki, mailing lists for visible contributions and the like. Please bear with us while we are collecting the information for our decision.
Unfortunately we had to decline 14 applications - almost all because no information about current contributions were given. Anyway - these people are welcome to send in a new application with appropriate information.
All applicants will be informed within the next days about the status of their application (we are just preparing some mail templates for this). We will also set up a list of accepted TDF members at our website.
What we learned from some of the comments and mails that came in is that we will have to review our application form. Some phrases are not very clear (like the "contact information") and we should provide a link to our bylaws, so that you can check membership criteria as well as rights and responsibilities of our members.
We also received some mails, asking why we need a membership application at all. Let me try to answer to some of those comments.
> Does the mean that unless we are "members" of the "Community" we are not allow to work trade shows, promote, or provide support to users?
This is indeed not the case. Everyone is welcome to contribute to LibreOffice and TDF. And this can be done in various ways. Our bylaws list some ways to contribute, but this list is not totally fixed. The Membership Committee will also value other ways to contribute (we envision that there are many other ways that we even did not think of yet).
So - everyone is welcome to contribute and the official membership is our way to acknowledge these contributions.
> Before the fork members of the Community Council were elected by the members of the community. The only requirement to be a member was to have created an account on the OOo web site.
There are two things two consider.
1st - only one seat at the OOo Community Council was directly elected by the community (defined as above). The majority of seats was elected by project leads who had to be elected or appointed before. So the OOo process is also not open to everyone. Even worse - the OOo process did not give equal rights to contributing members, because of the egalitarian system of project leads. We at TDF clearly stick to the rule, that there is no difference among the accepted members.
2nd - If we would allow anyone to get voting power with "just a click" this would completely invalidate our philosophy of merit. Why should anybody work hard and give continuous user support and then just see, that his voice will be overruled by people who "just found the right button"?
This does indeed not mean that we will ignore the voices of our user base. Especially those people who give support and are in close contact to end user are encouraged to represent user concerns.
> I also refuse to apply for membership in the community. I do not feel that anyone has the right to judge me when they know nothing about me.
This is indeed very unfortunate and a misunderstanding what we as Membership Committee are heading for. We are trying to get to know you to correctly process your application. The information we ask is to help us with this task. My experience is that everybody who is contributing to a community is known within this community. Our obligation as MC is to seek counsel from the community to find the right decision.
The next meeting of the Membership Committee will be in about a week. We are looking forward to receive your applications