Governance Readiness Working Group

Hi everyone!

I hope everyone is doing well in these crazy days.

I create this thread to have a place where we can continue the conversation from Sustain 2020 about Governance Readiness. I will follow the structure of the Working Group description and a previous post from Justin.


To define a methodology to identify and deploy healthy governance models.

Please have in mind that, as incubating Working Group, the purpose and the goals (described below) are still under consideration and may change. This first version is a general view of the ideas collected from the Sustain 2020 event.


The main goal of the working group has initially been described as:

  • Create a checklist to verify whether open source projects are ready to deploy some kind of governance (or to change their current governance for a healthy one).

Other complementary goals are:

  • Identification of analysis dimensions in open source projects. It may be needed for the assessment of the current status of the project.
  • List of possible governance models (or most used / recommended)
  • Recommendations/fixes to make your project governance-ready

Current status

As bottomliner for the Working Group, I collected the outcome of the session (via photos) and digested the ideas to create a short report. The document also sketches some future ideas and working paths that arisen at the event. These are the resources:

Next steps

I would like to use this first report for the kick-off meeting of the working group, which is planned for mid-April. Feel free to join the meeting. I’ll share soon a link with a Doodle poll to set the final date.

Needless to say that any feedback is more than welcome. Just comment on this thread :slight_smile:


@Nolski recently shared this community governance toolkit with me. I haven’t done a deep dive on it yet, but there is great content here (all licensed under Creative Commons licenses) that could make for a good building block. It might also help to engage some of the folks working on that toolkit since they have obviously been thinking about this for some time.

Also, not sure if the website renders correctly for anyone else, but it seems like something broke for me. I opened this bug on their site to try to figure out what happened.

Looking forward to it! :+1:

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Thanks @jwf! I’ll have a look! As you said, the website renders quite weird :thinking:

Great work @jlcanovas! I have a PR open to clean up the WG page and made your WG active with “Learn More” (@jwf I added you as a reviewer to help get this merged faster)


I was told this was because the website moved hosting providers. Instead, look for it here:

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I was told this was because the website moved hosting providers. Instead, look for it here:

Got it! thanks! Much much better :slight_smile:

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I’ve just created a Doodle to look for a day/hour next week and have our first call in this working group. If you wanna join, feel free to indicate your availability here.

During the call I plan to quickly validate the report and discuss the next steps. I think it’s important to set the purpose, goals an expected outcomes of this working group.

@jwf I contacted the guy behind in case he also want to join and give us a hand. Thanks for the reference!


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Hi everyone,

thanks for indicating your availability for our first meeting, here you are the details.

Kick-off meeting: Tuesday, April 14th 2020 @ 18:00 UTC

For your convenience, some time zone conversions are:

  • California: 11:00
  • New York: 14:00
  • London: 19:00
  • Madrid: 20:00


This is a tentative agenda. Feel free to propose new entries. Being the first meeting, I think the important point is to set the main goal of the working group and identify the next steps.

  • [5m] Welcome
  • [5-10m] Short introductions.
    • What is your main motivation to be here?
    • How do you think you can help?
  • [5-10m] Review of SustainOSS session.
    • Do you find useful/correct the classification?
  • [20-25m] The goal of the Working Group
    NOTE: the current goal is to define a methodology to identify and deploy healthy governance models
    • What do you understand by “governance readiness”? (e.g., ability to be governed, things to change to enable specific governance models, etc.)
    • The Working Group was initially named as “governance readiness checklist”, does it refer to a methodology to identify governance models?
  • [10-15m] What to do next
    • What should be the most immediate target? (e.g., ways to represent governance models, catalog of models, etc.)
    • Should we focus on specific topics? (e.g., community, methodology, etc.)
    • When should we have the next meeting? monthly basis?
  • [XXm] Open questions

Making the meeting effective

To make the most of the meeting, it would be nice that participants have a look at these things:

  1. To do: Check the 2-pages-long report of the SustainOSS session
    Why: It summarizes the ideas of the session and proposes a classification for them.

  2. To do: Think about your motivation and how you can contribute to this working group
    Why: It will help to identify the main assets of our working group

  3. To do: Think about what “governance readiness” means for you
    Why: It will help us to have an agreed definition of the term and also to identify next steps

Joining the call

We will use Google Hangouts for the call. I’ll send the details of the event to the confirmed attendees. If you have not participated in the doodle but wanna join, just contact me.

Looking forward to our first chat tomorrow :slight_smile:


Thanks everyone for participating. This is the video recording of the call and some summary notes.

Watch the recording



  1. Javier Cánovas
  2. Justin W. Flory
  3. Farbod Saraf
  4. Georgia Bullen
  5. Tracy Hinds
  6. Nathan Schneider


Review of Sustain OSS session

  • As issues (i.e., post-its at the session) can be part of one or more categories (decision-making mechanisms, community, methodology and legal) it may be better to consider such categories as viewpoints. For instance, the code of conduct in a project may mainly be seen as a legal asset but also as part of the other categories, with different implications.
  • It is important to consider how the identified categories would work depending on the role of the stakeholder (i.e., contributor, manager, external user, etc.)
  • The category called Decision-making mechanisms is maybe the most important one and may play a foundation role for the rest.

Goal of the Working Group

  • There is a general agreement that Governance Readiness matters.
  • To assess the readiness of a project the idea is to provide a set of questions that can help you to realize the status of your project.
  • To build a language to speak about governance (e.g., helping to identify what a good governance practice is).
  • To pay special attention to how governance may evolve in software projects.

Next steps

  • Identify questions that motivate people to create/identify a governance model.
    • Describe the scenario (e.g., new vs. old projects).
    • Specify the expected role of the respondent.
    • Describe good / acceptable / poor answers.
    • Be careful with assumptions.
  • Collect good/bad governance practices.
    • Identify the main challenges related to governance issues.
  • Explore the advances on communityRule initiative to study possible alternatives for building a governance language. I can also help us to identify the type of questions we can make.

Action items

  • @jwf: Create a document crossing the items obtained from the Sustain OSS event against the communityRule website questions. I can also help with this.
  • @jlcanovas: Have a closer look at initiative (parent project of communityRule). Attend to its weekly meeting to better understand its plan and objectives.

Where do we go from here?

Although this first meeting was a bit loose, I believe it helped to focus the work of the Working Group. Before planning the next meeting, I would like to advance on the action items to identify concrete elements that we can discuss.

I’ll keep you informed about our advances. I plan to create a new poll in some days to choose the date/time of the next meeting.

Thanks everyone who joined the call and made it happen in these crazy days.

PS: If I forget something, please tell me and I’ll update the thread


I made a start on this. This is what I have so far, but might change the template for how people fill it out (columns E-G) before sending it out. Feedback is appreciated too!

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Awesome! Thanks for your contribution. I think it would be interesting to include as well the orthogonal dimensions identified in our report, to later see how they map with the first/second/optional choices. I can give you a hand with this.

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Hi everyone,

let me do an update on the last advances.

Current situation

We have been working on the Question Mapping Exercise proposed by @jwf. All elements identified at the SustainOSS event are now classified according to the sections proposed by CommunityRule. It is still a draft version and it would need more “eyes” to check (and maybe, discuss) that the classification makes sense. You can find the document here.

I have also explored the initiative and attended one of their meetings. Among other things, the initiative is developing CommunityRule, which is directly related to our process of identifying governance models. As you can see, we are currently joining efforts to collaborate in this line. Also, the weekly meetings are an exciting place to discuss governance-related issues.

Can I help?

Yes! It would be great! The document is still a draft version and it would need more “eyes” to check (and maybe, discuss) that the classification makes sense.

For those of you that could give us a hand with the Question Mapping Exercise, please open the document and have a look at questions (column B) and the CommunityRule section (column H). Do you agree on that classification? It may be useful to have a quick look at the CommunityRule sections here.

If you have any remarks, feel free to create a comment in the cell directly.

Is there a deadline?

I plan to collect the feedback by Monday May 4th. Thanks in advance!

Next steps

In the coming days, I will circulate a poll to rank the questions. The point is to identify some prioritization. Step by step. Keep tuned :slight_smile:



Hi everyone,

here I am, reporting the next step in the plan for reaching the Governance Readiness status :partying_face:

Current situation

As commented in the previous post, elements in the Question Mapping Exercise were classified according to the sections proposed by CommunityRule. We shared the classification to gather possible mismatches or concerns. No additional feedback has been collected. As a living document, any future comment can also be considered.

We now want to rate the elements of the Question Mapping Exercise. The objective is to prioritize the elements and analyze if we can focus on a subset of them.

Can I help?

Yes! Please give us a hand! We have prepared a poll to collect your input.

Link to the poll

The poll includes three sections to rate the elements of our exercise and a final section for user profiling (which is optional). Answering the poll should not take you more than 5-10 minutes.

Your help will be more than welcome :heart_eyes:

Is there a deadline?

Please answer the poll by Wednesday, May 20th. Thanks!

Next steps

After this action, I think it’s a nice moment to have a meeting and discuss the results + next steps.


Hi @jlcanovas and everyone else. Thank you for the interesting discussion and the major steps forward you already took. I have a question regarding the poll and I hope I didn’t miss something that makes the question redundant.

When I ask myself “How important is each question in the development of OSS projects?” I think it depends on what stage of development process the OSS project already is. For example in the beginning it might not be so important to think about “Which organization structure is the most appropriate?” or “How to deal with membership?” because you might not yet know if your project will attract enough people in the end to have to think about it.

On the other hand questions like “Which license should be applied?” is of major importance in the beginning and might not be relevant in later stages of development - as you have already decided on this.

So, in sum, I think rating “How important is each question in the development of OSS projects?” depends a bit on the stage of development that has been reached already? Don’t know, however, how to get such an evolutionary dimension into the poll : )

(ps and btw: missed to introduce myself: I am Erik from the Free Software Foundation Europe. I was also participating in the session at sustain summit but missed the last meeting (mainly because I could not write down my email on the wall for further notice before it was removed : D )

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Hi @Dreirik! Welcome! Thanks for your feedback.

I understand your concerns, I’ve received similar feedback from other channels. Another issue is the high number of elements per question.

I admit I identified some of these problems and tried to minimize them as much as possible, but it was pretty hard. I could reduce the number of elements for the questions, but I did not find an effective way to address the lack of context (e.g., the “evolutionary dimension,” as you phrase it).

In the end, I decided not to “pollute” the poll with additional classifications and use the same context we had during the meeting at Brussels. I see now that such decision was not optimal :confounded:

Maybe we could (partly) overcome this situation by specifying that the question rating would refer at the early stages of the development. With this, we are aiming at a subset of projects but maybe the most important ones when deploying a first governance model. ¿What do you think?

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Hey Erik, welcome! :wave:

Lately I think about governance Rate of Change in open source. I agree the value of a governance model is better evaluated on situational context. Governance that what works at the beginning might not work ten years later. (Or, work without a lot of friction.) While license decisions are usually one-and-done, governance models or strategies vary in effectiveness over time.

I think this will be a unique challenge for this Working Group to map. How we contextualize these questions in an ongoing evolution instead of a one-and-done approach is important moving forward, I think.

I suggest finishing the current survey distribution. We should acknowledge the biases and caveats of the data; it is not neutral. But right now, it is early feedback for the Working Group to narrow down and focus on specific governance aspects.

Over time, we might discover interesting topics worthy of their own dedicated exploration. This could lead to new working groups, or new explorations in existing Working Groups.

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Hi everyone,

the time to answer the survey ended yesterday. We collected 15 answers. Thanks, everyone, for your help.

I’ll work on a report summarizing the results. Even if the number of answers is not too high, I’m sure the feedback will help to prioritize the elements we had (and maybe also remove some of them).

As planned, I’d like to share the report with you and discuss the results. I’ll contact the working group members (and people who show interest) to find a timeslot and have a meeting.


I second this. Offering the right questions depending on the different stages of the evolution of a project could be a major contribution that this group can bring into successful planning of governance readiness.

I would be interested in working this a bit more out. Some initial ideas:

  • We could differentiate different “starts”: For example a project that begins with less than 5 persons and without monetary compensation in mind (at least in the beginning) might have different governance concepts to think about than a well-funded start-up with more then 20 employees or similar.
  • From these different starts we could define different levels that can be reached during the evolution. Some metrics that come to mind to define these levels are a growing importance (usage / number of installations / critical applications etc.), the growth of “community” (users, contributions, third-party usages etc.), growth of business, growing dependencies etc.

Without having too many details already, a matrix that offers different levels for different starts and the most important questions regarding governance readiness for each level/status would be something abstract but also pretty useful I can imagine.

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This sounds really interesting. To give some food for thoughts, you can see the current question list here. I would also like to invite you to join our next meeting to discuss this proposal in detail.

From my side, I’ve finished the analysis and the report summarizing the poll results. These are the links:

I think it is time to have a second meeting and discuss the working group’s current status. I’ll share a Doodle among the working group members to set the final date/hour. Feel free to contact me if you want to join the meeting.

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