[IAEP] [Sugar-devel] [SLOBS] SoaS: Searching for Decision Panel volunteers.

Benjamin M. Schwartz bmschwar at fas.harvard.edu
Sun Sep 20 22:10:59 EDT 2009

Philippe Clérié wrote:
>> I don't quite understand this decision panel stuff.
>> Is a different decision panel elected every time there is an undecided
>> issue at hand? Or do we elect one group that remains in place for all
>> unanswered questions, present and future?
> I sympathize since I'm also a bit confused. This is what I would call a 
> policy decision. It's not an administrative or a technical problem that 
> needs to be resolved. It's a choice between several, possibly equally valid 
> ways of going forward.  It's *policy* and that belongs to the board I would 
> think.
> (Caution: I have not read the rules of engagement! :-))

The Decision Panel stuff is in Sugar Labs's Constitution, and the wording
is fairly clear.  The way I think of it,

1.  The Oversight Board's task is to do all the routine administrative
drudgery to keep Sugar Labs running, especially in regard to keeping our
paperwork in order with the Software Freedom Conservancy.  They should be
elected for their diligence, not their insight.

2.  In general, when decisions need to be made, they will be made on the
mailing lists by rough consensus, running code, and sheer force of action.

3.  When a question arises that causes the mailing list to deadlock in
disagreement, and the issue must be resolved in a timely fashion, the
Oversight Board may convene a Decision Panel.  The Decision Panel must
reach a conclusion on the issues in question, and write up a report on
their decision.  The purpose of the report is mostly to smooth the
feathers of those who disagree, so that they can at least see that the
decision, even if it was wrong, was at least made based on a process of
careful reasoning with good intentions.

4.  Everybody goes back to business, and because the Oversight Board was
not responsible for the decision, those whose opinion was overruled do not
have to feel that the project's management is somehow hostile to them.

When people are threatening to fork the whole damn project, this is a good
indication that it might be time for a Decision Panel.  On the issue of
who can say what "SoaS" is ... I think we can afford to flame a little
more on the lists.

--Ben Schwartz

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