Community Council Notes 20081003

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Community Council

The Community Council members are your representatives



Ideas related to the community? Tell us!

Notes taken at face2face Meeting Hamburg, 2008-20-03


  • Martin Hollmichel
  • Matthias Huetsch
  • Cor Nouws
  • Andre Schnabel
  • Stefan Taxhet

Reason for the meeting:

Informal discussion about the status and the future of the council. No decisions should or have been taken at the meeting


Discussion was opened with the question about current problems and reasons for increasing inactivity of the council.

Mentioned problems include

  • lack of time (all council members have several duties in- and outside the OOo project)
  • different understanding about how the council should act (e.g. should it act pro-active in all areas where powers are granted o the council or should the council act on request only?)
  • unclear definition about the activities of the council members - e.g. is it the responsibility of the council members to work actively on proposals (e.g. new council charter or trademark policy) or should the council delegate this work and only vote on well-prepared proposals?
  • Problems in administrative tasks (e.g. preparing agendas, write minutes, review activity items …). Council meetings are often not well-prepared or reviewed
  • It was added to this last point (which in iteself is true) that currently it seems that council members also must be hunted to make them only read discussions/drafts and give their (maybe short) reply

Discussion then went on with ideas for resolving the problems and better definition what the “job” of the council members is. Our findings (loose order):

  • the council should try to hand over more tasks to community members (e.g. working on drafts, leading discussions …)This could either be done by:
    • either finding volunteers, willing and able to work in specific areas. Those community members may get an official status with some powers. These volunteers may act as “Program manager”
    • or – pay professionals to work on specific areas. With professionals it would be easier to assign tasks and get the tasks done. But the work will be moved outside the community. Idea got not much support.Another idea was to increase the number of attendees at council meetings in two ways:
      • allow general participation (without the right to vote) of community members to give volunteers a chance to get involved in council activities at an early stage. Idea got not much support (as it would introduce more and lengthier discussion)
      • allow those people who worked on a proposal / draft to participate in council meetings when it comes to a vote about the proposal (or the proposal is to be discussed by all council members)This one was considered very useful
  • Help with administrative tasks – pay some secretary (may be a student working some hrs. a month) for organizing council meetings, preparing agenda, writing minutes
    • All agreed that this would help a lot
    • problem: it's hard for someone from “outside” to understand what has been (and what needs to be) discussed at council meetings
  • Council should focus on voting about proposals and not on writing / preparing these
    • Council members will act as catalyst for proposals (e.g. initiate discussion, define tasks tasks, help with contacting other council member) but normally not do the work
    • work should be delegated to interested volunteers
    • if there is no interest within the community to work on a topic this topic is considered as not important
    • The council should act on request (re-active) so that important issues brought to the council get resolved. Council should only act pro-active for strategic planning which might involve to initiate certain projects/developments,
  • We should provide some addendum to the charter to describe how the council works and why it works this way. This may help to reduce wrong expectations about the council.

It was acknowledged that changing the charter alone - how important in its self - may not be expected to solve most (let alone all) challenges we face.

Last topic at the meeting was definition of the term “Consensus” in our charter.

  • to most of us it was unclear, what consensus normally means (do all who are allowed to vote need to cast a positive vote to reach consensus or does consensus mean that nobody casts a negative vote?)
  • We agreed, that we need consensus to prevent activities that are against the interest of one of the project groups represented within the council
  • To have no negative votes is enough for this goal (and does not force every council member to cast a vote even if the topic is out of her interest / expertize)- this would imply “consent” instead of “consensus”

Late – evening discussion was about the current draft for changing the charter. Some concerns were discussed:

  • there was some confusion about the fact that with the new proposal “all community members” are eligible for a council seat
  • the reason for that (we need a broader set of eligible people or we would stay with always the same council members) was accepted, but it is still unclear, if the proposal is the correct solution
  • there were some concerns about the idea, that a small stet of people elects council members out of a wider range of candidates
  • the new proposal may break the idea of the current charter, that each group of project leads will be represented in the council (non-programming project lead, non-Sun project lead, Sun project lead …) - all still are represented, but not necessarily by one of his 'own kind'
  • the proposal redefines the role of the development representatives, so that they represent the project (members instead of the project leads)

Proposed activities:

  • go on on with the proposal and include the still open items (election method, definition of Code Contributor constituency)
  • people who have concerns should raise those
  • prepare the proposal for voting at OooCon Beijing
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