MOTU Decision Making Process

Scott Kitterman ubuntu at
Mon Jun 16 20:47:16 BST 2008

It has seemed to me for some time that making decisions about process and 
policy changes at MOTU meetings based on votes of those present is not 
serving us particularly well.  The major problems with the current system, as 
I see it are:

1.  Not very many MOTU at the meeting, so a vote may or may not represent the 
will of the larger body of MOTU (due to time zone spread it is not practical 
to expect everyone to be able to make every meeting).

2.  Due to this risk, MOTU present at a meeting are often unwilling to make a 
decision on controversial issues.

So we tend to get decisions on easy topics and not on hard ones.

I'd like to propose an alternative approach based on the IETF rough consensus 
model.  There are two major features I'd like to bring foward from this model 
for MOTU:

1.  Decisions need to be made by achieving rough consensus rather than by 51% 
vote.  I think working together to develop an answer to a problem that most 
everyone can agree to is a more Ubuntu way than holding a vote that can leave 
only slightly less than half the people unhappy.

2.  Decisions must be ratified on the appropriate mailing list.  Discussions 
at a meeting are good and necessary, but the mailing list has the final say.  
This is important so that all time zones can be represented and missing a 
meeting doesn't leave people out.

If a process or policy is needed, my proposal would work something like this:

1.  Someone makes an announcement to the MOTU ML describing the problem and 
the proposed solution (much like this mail).

2.  MOTU discuss on the ML.

3.  The issue is on the agenda for the next meeting.  It's discussed at the 
meeting and someone other than the person asking for the change is appointed 
to guage the consensus on the issue.

4.  Meeting minutes get published that include the issue, a summary of the 
discussion, and who is appointed to guage the consensus.

5.  More discussion on the ML the selected person tries to guage the rough 
consensus of the group.

6.  That individual announces if rough consensus has been achieved.  If so, 
the change is approved, if not, more disucssion and new proposals.

7.  Anyone who feels strongly that the consensus call was wrong, can appeal to 
the MOTU Council who would have oversight over the process.

For more detailed background on the IETF process, see:

FWIW, I'll add this to the agenda for the next meeting.

Scott K
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