Governance Readiness Working Group

Hi everyone,

in the last days, I’ve been filling the data fields that were missing on the website. I think we can say that we have reached the first final version. As usual, everything can be improved, so feel free to send PR or comments.

With this, I think we can conclude the main line of work of this group, at least for now :slight_smile:

I would like to thank everyone that has been working on this, giving feedback, attending the meetings, participating in the poll, etc.


thank you for keeping this running and putting all together!

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@jlcanovas! This is so great!!

Do you think we could include the list of contributors on the site somewhere? I know you mention making the site and mention Sustain as part of it, but maybe we should call out the Governance working group? Just an idea! But overall I love it!!

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True! I’ve just added a link to point at the Governance Readiness WG webpage.

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Hi all, I just learned about a new webpage that I think can be very interesting to the people in this working group because it offers “an indexed collection of governance documents from Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) projects. A tool for people wishing to learn more about governance in FOSS.”

Read more about the initial idea behind in this short blogpost:

I think it would deliver interesting insights to scan this collection with powerful search and index tools for similarities and conventions between them - in relevance to their respective and chosen governance model.


Hi folks - sorry for the long delay between actions, it’s a challenging time for everyone i assume :neutral_face:

I’ve taken some steps to align the Principles of Governing OSS Commons workgroup output with the output from this group, which I think are different aspects of the same idea.

As mentioned before, the Principles group took Elinor Ostrom’s principles of Institutional Analysis and Design, from Governing the Commons, and translated those jargony principles into language that resonates with OSS communities. In our last workshop, we started developing a matrix in which each principle could be considered across the various layers of resources in an open source community – the code, the documentation, maintainers time, the brand/reputation, etc. I finally found time to go through the questions/checklist from this Governance Readiness working group, to see how these questions might align with the matrix.

See the result here, and in a table in our original source document as well.

Note that I exercised some editorial judgment both in sorting different questions into different parts of the matrix, and also in suggested revisions to some of the questions. (ofc I’m not an authority; I assume these suggested revisions should themselves be subject to review :wink:

Moving forward, I’m eager to hear feedback – does this alignment seem to make sense? Both in the aims/outputs of the two workgroups, and also on a topical basis? How can this be made more useful, and how should we iterate on it?

Thanks! greg


Hi Greg,

thanks for the update and for pushing this collaboration between WGs. I’ll have a look at the document asap and add my comments there.



Thanks @greggish, this is a great step forward!

Where does the cell references in the matrix and spreadsheet point to?

I’d be open to having a monthly meeting or so to advance this more.


Hi @greggish,

I’ve just reviewed the spreadsheet and added some changes (in red). I mostly agree with your proposal and have added the missing questions.

Regarding the alignment between the WGs, I think that the principles provide a framework for the questions we identified in this WG. Actually, we also found the need to give some dimensions to our questions (as the ones used at the report, cf. Annex 1; or the ones at CommunityRule). By relying on Ostrom’s principles, we can leverage in a more robust context.

I think that Ostrom’s principles approach governance from a broader point of view, or maybe it should be called “evolutionary” point of view; that is, it considers the current development status of the project. We were facing these issues when identifying the questions, as some of them are more suitable for specific development phases of a project (e.g., new or old projects). Also, it introduces situations we were not fully considering (e.g., governance on documentation).

I’m open to discussing this in a call if you prefer, @GeorgLink, please join!

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+100 I think we can get some synergies from combining our approaches and move forward together.

When is the next call?

There isn’t one planned at the moment. I can change that, though! I’ll send you three an email.

Anyone else want to join in?


Thanks @RichardLitt for organizing it! :partying_face:

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Thanks @RichardLitt! :blush:

If anyone else is keen on joining, here is the Doodle poll for next week. :slight_smile:

Hi everyone,

we will have a meeting to discuss the last comments of the thread. You are very welcome to join. These are the details:

Monday, November 2nd, 2020, at 11:00 ET / 17:00 CET


These are the main points motivating the meeting, but we are open to any additional one:

Making the meeting effective

  1. To do: Check the matrix produced by the Principles of Governing OSS Commons WG and enriched with the questions created at the Governance Readiness WG.
  2. To do: Have a look at the questions created in the Principles of Governing OSS Commons WG.
  3. To do: Have a look at the questions created in the Governance Readiness WG.

Joining the call

If you wanna join, just contact me or @RichardLitt


I wasn’t able to make the meeting on Monday, but curious to know how it went!


Hi @jwf and everyone, let me make a quick summary of the meeting:


  1. Javier Cánovas
  2. Greg Bloom
  3. Richard Littauer (enabler)


  • Governance readiness questions help complement/enrich the questions proposed by the Principles of Governing OSS Working Group. Also, dimensions from Ostrom’s framework are helpful in organizing governance readiness questions.

  • Proposal to align both working groups into a single effort. Existing working groups will conclude, and a new one concentrated on governance-related issues will start.

  • The new working group could be called “Governance Guide” or just “Governance.” In Discourse, there is already one tag for governance-related threads (i.e., “Governance Readiness”). Maybe we could reuse this title or just changed it to “Governance.”

  • The new working group would include initiatives such as elaboration on principles, a matrix of questions to ask frequently (joining ideas from previous WGs), etc. Any new ideas are welcome.

Open Questions

  • What should we do to make existing resources more useful/accessible? Some ideas include revisions to questions, academic paper, the evolution of the matrix, etc.

  • What other resources should we align these materials with? FOSSGovernance?

Please, do not hesitate to comment on any of the previous points :partying_face:


Hi there – I attended Seth Frey’s talk at the Ostrom Workshop about his research on the emergence of rules and governance in Minecraft communities. It was pretty interesting! (I also recommend this paper of his.)

Afterwards, I was talking with him about our work on governance at SustainOSS, and he invited us to present at one of MetaGov’s seminars.

MetaGov seems like a community of academics that are working on governance strategies in digital communities. I don’t know the structure of the group, but they include some of the folks who worked on Community.Rule and other relevant projects. Says Seth:

We’d be especially interested in your relationship with tech tools that facilitate the governance side, whether you’re eager about them, developing so, or entirely avoidant of them… The format is minimal prep: 15-20 min talk and the rest discussion.

I’d like to bring what we’ve done there and see how it might align with their work. Anyone else interested in joining before I go ahead and schedule something?



Hi @greggish ,

I discovered the MetaGov initiative via Nathan Schneider (developer behind and also attended some of their seminars, they are usually quite interesting. At that time, I didn’t think about presenting our advances in the working group due to lack of time.

I don’t know what you have on mind (maybe presenting the matrix with principles+questions?) but if you need some help, I can give you a hand.


Just want to share here this post from @Dr-G about Internews’ new Open Source Software Needs Assessment Toolkit

The toolkit helps identify the needs, pain points, opportunities, and strengths of open source tool teams. The output of the OSS Needs Assessment is a clear baseline picture of the health of the tool, the top 5 areas of concern for the tool team, and concrete, specific steps the team can take to achieve their vision and goals.

The plan is made available as a printable document at the end of the self-assessment. This document can then be leveraged to develop grant proposals and a clear rationale supporting the project’s need for various resources.

If your team decides to take the self-assessment, I’d love to hear your feedback on the experience!

I wonder if this might be a resource that we could cross-reference – even align with and promote alongside – our Governance Guide materials.