Drupal Association Board Elections--Ideas and Input Needed

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This planning document produced a plan for the 2012 Drupal Association elections of at large directors that was approved by the DA board.

The Drupal Association is holding its first round of elections for board members under its new governance structure. See the the elections announcement for background and details. To invite community input on how best to run the elections, we've outlined below some possible suggestions, along with their pros and cons. Please tell us what you think by posting comments, or add your ideas!

What aims should a voting system meet?

To clarify our best options in an election system, it may help to capture goals. What are we trying to achieve?

  • Meet the requirements as set out in the DA bylaws and Election Committee charter.
  • Provide a basis to evaluate the success of this initial round of elections and provide feedback and recommendations.
    Note: We are electing two community members "At Large" to sit on the board of directors of the Drupal Association. We are not voting for a governing body of Drupal. The Board does not "make law" for the Drupal project. The Board is a legal entity set up to administer an organisation whose mission is to "foster and support the Drupal software project, the community and its growth." See https://association.drupal.org/about for the specific ways it does this.

Timeline

In order to get new board members ramped up in time for DrupalCon Denver, the first in-person board meeting of 2012, we need to adhere to the following schedule:

  • Have an open nomination period of 1 week. Potential board candidates submit a form with a description of their qualifications and motivations for applying.
  • Voting period of 1 week. (see below for who gets to vote).
  • 2 candidates are presented to the board for ratification.
  • December 30- January 6 (2 weeks): Voting proposal open for public comment (this post).
  • January 9 - January 13 (1 week): Drupal Association's Election Committee takes community feedback and prepares final voting proposal for Board of Directors, sets up whatever tools are required for election process.
  • January 18: Voting proposal submitted to BoD for ratification (cross-posted to g.d.o). Assuming this is accepted....
  • January 19 - January 27 (10 days): Nomination process.
  • January 29 - February 7 (10 days): Election process.
  • February 8: Elected at-large members submitted to board for ratification.
    That means we need feedback as soon as possible!

Issues to address

Indirect elections

It's important to understand that these elections are indirect. The DA bylaws read:

There shall be two At-Large Directors, who are elected by the community and ratified by the rest of the Board to serve one-year terms.

In other words, the community is electing what are essentially candidates for the board, who are then voted on by the other current board members. The process is similar in this way to the selection of "class directors" by the nominating committee. No formal criteria have been developed that the board might use in voting on either class or at large directors.
In the case of the 2011-12 nominating committee's recommendations, two of the recommended candidates were declined (voted down) by the board. It's entirely possible that one or both of the two community-selected candidates will be similarly voted down. In this sense, it may be misleading to refer to this process as "elections", or at least to refer to it as community elections. It may be more accurate to describe it as a nominating process, to be followed by elections in which the board are the only voters.
TBD:

  • Can/should the DA clarify in advance criteria by which community-"elected" board candidates would be rejected? Doing so might provide greater certainty for community members participating in the process.
  • What will occur in the case that one or more of the suggested candidates is not accepted by the board? Will the candidates with the next most support be put forward? Will there be new elections?

Name recognition

Vote-based electoral systems are sometimes criticized for favouring candidates who are better known, whatever their merits might be. Name recognition alone is said to be a significant factor influencing voting.
In the Drupal community, certain types of community members and contributors may be more prominent than others, giving them a relative advantage going into elections. For example, someone who contributes significantly to Drupal documentation or to local or regional Drupal community organizing may be relatively invisible to the broader Drupal community. In contrast, a Drupal developer who maintains a widely used module or contributes prominently to Drupal core may have a very high profile and broad name recognition among Drupal community members.
Some Drupal community processes exist that may influence name recognition of individuals. These include:
* Syndication on Drupal planet. An individual with a syndicated blog may have higher name recognition than one without.
* Profiling in the Drupal community spotlight.
The factor of name recognition may increase the relative importance of providing means for candidates to become known to the electorate, through e.g. debates, forums, and candidate profiles.

What should be required for nomination?

One facet of the election process that needs to be decided is how nominations happen. Should prospective board members nominate themselves, or should they be nominated by the community? Or some combination thereof?

Criteria for evaluating options

The DA bylaws state:

At-Large Directors shall reflect and represent the Drupal community at large.

Criteria to evaluate nomination requirements might include:
* is likely to identify candidates with the ability to reflect and represent the Drupal community
* is not overly restrictive--does not pose a major hurdle to Drupal community members wishing to run
* can be easily confirmed
Note that existing Drupal Association board members or members of the DA's advisory board are not eligible for election to at-large seats.
Here are some options, as well as advantages and disadvantages:

Self nomination only

Details: Nominations come from individuals willing to run themselves

Advantages

  • This eliminates the possibility of adding someone to the ballot who has popular support of the community, but who is unwilling or unable to serve on the board of the Drupal Association.

Disadvantages

  • May lead to candidates that do not have support of the larger community

Nomination by others

Advantages

  • Would help identify people the community would like to see on the board.

Disadvantages

  • Could end up nominating people who do not want to serve.
  • Requires a vetting process of nominees so votes do not get cast for invalid candidates.
  • May lead to many candidates.

Nomination by defined Drupal community entities

Entities could include:
* Drupal User Groups
* Teams such as security, documentation, infrastructure

Advantages

  • Would help identify people the community would like to see on the board.

Disadvantages

  • Drupal entities may not be set up to make such decisions, especially to do so quickly.
  • Could end up nominating people who do not want to serve.
  • Requires a vetting process of nominees so votes do not get cast for invalid candidates.

Nomination by self AND/OR others

Candidate can nominate themselves, but must be seconded by someone else. Candidate, if nominated by others, must accept nomination.

Advantages

  • eliminates the possibility of adding someone to the ballot who has popular support of the community, but who is unwilling or unable to serve on the board of the Drupal Association.
  • help identify people the community would like to see on the board.

Disadvantages

  • None. Combines the advantages of two of the other options, and mitigates against the disadvantages of self nomination only or nomination by others.

Qualification to vote

Obviously, one of the most important aspects to elections is who has the right to vote on these members. There are many facets that could be used to determine whether someone is a member of the community or not; some easier to check than others.

Criteria for evaluating options

A key question to consider options against is: who are we aiming to identify by our voting eligibility criteria? The DA bylaws say that the at large directors shall be "elected by the community", presumably the Drupal community.
So who is the Drupal community we're trying to capture in our voting eligibility criteria?

  • This is difficult to define, and not necessarily needed at the moment, but should be recognized that this needs to be defined at a later date.
  • Note that there will be additional elections. It's ok to make decisions that apply for the 2012 election and work out better in future elections. (Agile FTW :P) We just need to be very clear about it.

Constituents of the Drupal community might include:

NOTE: decent consensus that the decision for this election will be an interim decision for the sake of time, and that we will continue to define voting elegibility further for next year.

Primary
* Participants in Drupal sites like drupal.org and groups.drupal.org. (ie. anyone with a D.o account)
* Drupal users - who are these? (difficult to define in a tecnical sense)
* DA members (ie. anyone with a indiv or org membership)

Secondary
* Participants in Drupal conferences or events.
* Organizers of Drupal events. (redundant to g.d.o membership)
* Owners of Drupal shops and consultancies.
* Members of Drupal user groups. (redundant to g.d.o membership)
* Contributors of Drupal documentation. (redundant to d.o account)
* Contributors of Drupal translations. (redundant to d.o account)
* Volunteers with the Drupal Association.
* Contributors to Drupal code--Drupal core and contributed modules, themes, etc. (redundant to d.o account)
* Financial contributors to the Drupal Association or other Drupal-related projects.
* Drupal contractors, site builders, and Drupal shop staff.
* Drupal user interface designers.

Additional criteria for eligibility tests:

  • Lend themselves to programmatic determination, rather than requiring a lot of manual confirmation. For example, can be used to construct a site with accounts for eligible voters based on available data on *.d.o sites.
    Here are some possible ideas we could use to identify voters, as well as their pros and cons. Other ideas welcome!

Is an individual member of the Drupal Association by a certain date.

Advantages

  • Guarantees that the person is real
  • Cost for becoming an individual member is relatively inexpensive (inexpensive for developed countries, but expensive for members in developing countries such as China or India)
  • is not overly exclusive

Disadvantages

  • DA membership has yet to have any defined rights and, to this point, has only been cast as a way to support the work of the Association. There may be significant pushback from the community along the lines of pay-to-play.

Is a member of drupal.org

Advantages

  • Broadly inclusive

Disadvantages

  • it's very hard to verify that these are "real people" and not fake accounts.
  • Possible to tarnish the election results by bulk-registering accounts. Though one option could perhaps be to put a minimum time on the accounts, e.g. must be a d.o user for >= 1 year.

Has a "Certified to Rock" rating that exceeds a given threshold

The Certified to Rock algorithm to assign a numerical score from 1 to 11 "based on the strength of contributions to the Drupal community".

Advantages

  • Considers numerous criteria in identifying Drupal contributors
  • Highly refined methodology
  • Broadly recognized in the Drupal community
  • Provides readily processed data

Disadvantages

  • May favour certain types of contributions over others
  • Exact criteria are not visible to Drupal community

Has attended a DrupalCon in the last year

Advantages

  • shows active involvement and interest in Drupal

Disadvantages

  • would exclude people whose input we value who were busy in the last year and/or cannot afford the travel and entry to the event.

Has attended a Drupal meetup

Advantages

  • shows active involvement and interest in Drupal

Disadvantages

  • very hard to track unless we go by self-reporting in which case it's hard to tell they are not fake accounts

Has made commits to Git

Advantages

  • Rewards people who help make our software awesome with a say in the board of the Drupal Association

Disadvantages

  • Leaves out significant portion of non-developer community members from the voting process.
  • Leaves out important contributors to other aspects of the project, e.g. Documentation, User Experience.
  • Not all commits are equal

Has contributed to drupal.org

Criteria could include:

  • Has contributed documentation (link to page contributed prior to a given date).
  • Is a manager of a group on groups.drupal.org (link to group).
  • Maintains a project (link to project page).

Advantages

  • Recognizes various ways to contribute to Drupal.

Disadvantages

  • Relatively difficult to verify--would require either custom data processing or individual confirmation of each voter.

How should the eligibility of voters be determined?

This depends on what criteria we decide to use, but for now here are some ideas.
* On the voting site, programmatically construct a list of accounts for eligible voters based on data available at *.d.o. Assign these accounts a role, "voter", that includes permissions relevant to
* During the elections, provide a means - e.g., an issue queue on drupal.org - for anyone who believes themselves to meet eligibility criteria but has not already been assigned an account to apply for account creation.

How should the community interview candidates?

Once we have the list of nominees, the community needs to be given a chance to ask them questions, find out more about their stances on various issues and particular initiatives they wish to spear-head as part of the board.

Criteria for evaluating options

  • Allows Drupal community members with a relatively low profile to gain exposure.
  • Enables electors to gain information from candidates on areas of concern to electors.
    Here are some ideas. Of course, these are not mutually exclusive and - time and resources allowing - we could use any or all.

Comments enabled on candidate submission forms

(e.g. "Nomination" node form with comments turned on)

Advantages

  • Allows drilling in to one candidate to learn more about them.

Disadvantages

  • questions (accusations, recriminations, etc.) are directed toward a single candidates.

questions should be asked of all candidates and be open to response from all candidates

Advantages

  • having an open forum will, if nothing else, give a measure of a candidate's willingness and ability to express theirself

Disadvantages

  • Might get uneven coverge of candidates, depending on availability.

All candidates meeting

Have a meeting on IRC/phone that allows for "real time" questioning of candidates by community.

Advantages

  • More immediate feedback on questions
  • Better chance to "get to know" prospective candidates.

Disadvantages

  • Leaves out people who cannot be there a given time.
  • Technology may leave some members of the community out entirely.

Where should the elections take place?

Criteria for evaluating options

  • Access to potentially sensitive data is subject to stringent access control.
  • Work required is feasible within the time and resource constraints.
  • Elector accounts can be programmatically created if/as required.

drupal.org

Advantages

  • Easily accessible

Disadvantages

  • Requires vetting a new module for deployment on Drupal.org, will delay election process
  • About 100 people, likely some of whom will be on the candidates list, have administrative access

association.drupal.org

Advantages

  • Already has webform module deployed
  • Fits well, since the elections are for the Drupal Association
  • Easily accessible

Disadvantages

  • Off the "main" site
  • About 25 people have administrative access (though likely none who are eligible for candidacy)

A subsite for atlarge.association.drupal.org?

Advantages

  • Single purpose site with the functionality and security required to run the election.
  • Can install relevant modules without worrying about impact on the functioning of D.O or A.D.O
  • Becomes an historical record of board elections and outcomes.
  • Potentially could be used for other democratic and transparency activities such as plebiscites, referendums, committee elections.

Disadvantages

  • We have to build and maintain a whole site.

Who should carry out the elections, e.g., count votes?

Criteria for evaluating options

  • Only a small handful of extremely trusted people should be able to view who voted for whom. This preserves the ability for people to vote their conscience, even if that means voting against their boss or a co-worker/friend.

d.o infrastructure team

Advantages

Disadvantages

DA election committee

Advantages

Disadvantages

HERE

How should voting work?

Then, finally, on the voting process itself. Here's some ideas, but we welcome others as well.

Edit: Please discuss specifics in this new thread
How should voting work for electing the "At Large" board members of the Drupal Association?
http://groups.drupal.org/node/200143

Criteria for evaluating options

  • Input is maximized from voters--the more voters whose preferences are considered, the better.
  • The vote outcome is clear and unambiguous.
  • The electoral system is comprehensible to those participating in the elections.
  • There are available solutions (Drupal modules) to provide the solutions.
  • The voting system can identify additional runner up candidates, in case this is needed if elected candidates are declined by the board.

First past the post (FPTP)

Every qualified voter gets up to two votes of equal weight. They are not permitted to cast more than one vote for a single candidate. The two candidates with the most votes (simple majority) are elected.
For more information on this voting system see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-past-the-post_voting

Advantages

  • No need to sift through votes and perform calculations on first vs. second choices or similar voting mechanisms, a simple, anonymized count would be sufficient.
  • Everyone universally understands how this works

Disadvantages

  • A candidate with the MOST votes doesn't necessarily represent the MAJORITY of voters.
  • People tend to vote for candidates most likely to win to prevent wasting their vote.
  • FPTP is a widely criticised voting system.

Instant Run Off Vote / Preferential

Voters rank all candidates in order of preference. The candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated, and the 2nd preference of those votes is transferred to the other candidates, and so on, until one candidate receives an absolute majority - or 50% +1 of all votes.
For more information on this voting system see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting

Advantages

  • Ensures the outcome is more representative of the will of more voters.

Disadvantages

  • It is more complex to calculate the outcome (Note: Decisions module has implemented an instant run off algorithm)

Questions for candidates

What information should we ask of candidates? This might form the basis e.g. of an information sheet that all candidates are asked to fill in, with their responses being publicly accessible as a basis for evaluating them as candidates.
* Name
* Where located (e.g., city and country)
* drupal.org user name, if applicable
*

Resource needs

For the elections it looks like we'll need a range of web elements that may include some or all of the following:
* A questionnaire for candidates and a publicly visible display of results.
* Likely solution: Webform module.
* A forum for for candidate questions.
* Core forum module?
* One or more real time meetings.
* Video conferencing?
* A voting system
* If first past the post, ?
* If instant runoff/preferential perhaps the Decisions module?

TL;DR (aka, The Short Version)

We welcome community thoughts on the following questions as they pertain to filling two community-elected board positions for the Drupal Association:

  • How should nominations work? Should interested parties self-nominate for an at-large position, or should we take suggestions from the larger community? Other?
  • Who should be able to vote during elections? Anyone with a Drupal.org account? Anyone who's a paid Individual Member of the Drupal Association? Or some other criteria?
  • What should the community "vetting" process of prospective candidates look like? Comments on individuals' applications? A forum of some kind for the community to raise questions/issues and offer all candidates an opportunity to respond? Some kind of "real-time" meeting?
  • Where and how should the actual elections themselves take place? Webform module, locked down to only a select set of members to view results? A public voting process on Twitter or IRC? What are your ideas?
    Thanks very much for your participation in a very important step for the Drupal Association's community accountability!

Comments

My 3 cents Canadian...

webchick's picture

Disclaimer: I am a Drupal Association board member, as well as a member of the Drupal Association elections committee.

How should nominations work?
I believe that candidates should self-nominate, rather than be nominated by others.

Reason being is because a board member position requires a certain level of comfort (or at least tolerance) with bureaucracy, is a significant time commitment, and also potentially a significant financial commitment if the nominee wasn't already planning on attending DrupalCons for two of the four in-person meetings. (Note that we can make exceptions for funding travel expenses of board members, but prefer not to since it's the community's money and we prefer to spend it on the community. :)) In other words, it's not for everyone, even if someone is a bad-ass code contributor and/or a really smart, passionate person.

A possible hybrid approach could be to only allow nominations that are "seconded" by another community member, though this introduces additional overhead that I don't think we really need. IMO it's going to be pretty obvious which candidates the community is excited about and which they're not.

Who should be able to vote during elections?
This one is really hard. My first inclination is to say we allow voting from Individual Members of the Drupal Association (those who've paid $30 for a year-long membership), since:

a) we know those people are real (an important factor in staving off election fraud)
b) they are helping to financially support the organization they're voting on the leadership of, so one could argue that they deserve a loud voice in its direction.

However, I know many top contributors and other community members who are NOT Individual Members of the Drupal Association, but who I still think more than deserve to be part of the election process. They have their reasons... in some places, $30 is an awful lot of money. They might feel the time they spend improving Drupal itself more than pays for an Individual Membership. I'm deeply uncomfortable with the idea of leaving any of these people out.

So maybe a check like "Is an individual member of the Drupal Association || has a Drupal.org user account for > 1 year with tracker activity"? Not sure.

But big -1 to limiting it to only people with Git commits or something else like that that leaves significant portions of our community out. I actually added that option there just so I could say NO. :)

What should the community "vetting" process of prospective candidates look like?
I like the idea of having both comments/questions to individual candidates, as well as a more "global" forum which allows community members to ask questions of any/all candidates. I'm less into the idea of real-time IRC/phone meetings because they are extremely difficult to coordinate, and no matter when you have them they're going to leave out people. It would give significant advantage to candidates who could make them vs. those who couldn't. Sticking to asynchronous, text-based communication (e.g. nodes and comments) allows for the widest possible network of people to get involved.

Where and how should the actual elections themselves take place?
I'd like to see them on the association.drupal.org site, using whatever the simplest technology that could possibly work is. For example, Webform module for nomination form, comments on candidate submission nodes for individual Q&A, a forum set up for asking general questions, and probably another webform for the elections themselves.

I think it's really important to limit the people who can view the "raw" voting results as much as possible because I might need to vote against a co-worker or a friend. Drupal.org is problematic both because there are literally 100 or so people with admin access, and also because the requisite modules aren't deployed (unless we really want to do this with Poll module :D)

I think the proposal of a maximum of two votes, and you pick the two candidates you want to see fill those seats, is fine. If we start factoring in things like first and second choices, that only makes the election results harder to tabulate. For this round, I'd prefer as simple as possible so we can get up and running quickly, since the time is ticking to get these folks bootstrapped in time for Denver.

That's it from me! Curious of others' thoughts as well.

i agree with all the points

beejeebus's picture

i agree with all the points in webchick's comment, except i'd take this further:

I think it's really important to limit the people who can view the "raw" voting results as much as possible because I might need to vote against a co-worker or a friend. Drupal.org is problematic both because there are literally 100 or so people with admin access, and also because the requisite modules aren't deployed (unless we really want to do this with Poll module :D)

i'd like us to explore anonymous voting results. not anonymous as in 'you don't have to be logged in', but anonymous as in we keep track of the fact that a uid has voted, and stop them voting more than twice, but we don't record the uid against the vote. that really is the best way to ensure people feel safe to vote however they please, and the data is just not there to be misused at any later point.

Love it! That's a great idea,

webchick's picture

Love it! That's a great idea, and much better than only a handful of people (primarily infra team members, but also some DA board members + staff) having access to raw votes.

Is anyone aware of any code out there that does this already? My only concern with this is we don't have a lot of time to throw something together that requires a lot of custom code, unless someone steps up to volunteer to write it (and get it approved by drumm for deployment).

i personally think this is

beejeebus's picture

i personally think this is important enough to put time into it, so consider me an asset to make anonymous data happen.

This was my very first issue

tim.plunkett's picture

This was my very first issue post on d.o: Authenticated Users to Submit Forms Anonymously.

I never finished it, but it was a start.

(edited to give the link a title)

Agree

jredding's picture

I'm really excited that we are getting these community elections off the ground. I largely agree with Angie's direction here and do not have much to add. I do want to point out an important community that I have personally referenced many times when discussing this topic. The New York Tech Meetup.

The New York Tech Meetup has a similar board structure to the Drupal Association and has a community election process.
http://nytm.org/election

I find their nomination and election process to be straightforward and a good template. It is worth a read when defining our own process.

I'm excited to see what we, as a community, come up with for this process. It's a great step forward for the Association.

-Jacob Redding

Voting System Discussion over here now please =>>

kattekrab's picture

Please see

How should voting work for electing the "At Large" board members of the Drupal Association?
http://groups.drupal.org/node/200143

For a focussed discussion of the voting system we should use for the election itself.

Donna Benjamin
Board Member Drupal Association
Executive Director cc.com.au
@kattekrab

+1 webchick

kbell's picture

I'd love to have something super-awesome to say, but honestly I pretty much just agree with everything Angie has just said. I like the self-nom, and the either/or eligibility option. I think voting should be the same. I think voting on the association subdomain makes the most sense. I'd like to see a combo IRC meet-and-greet, informal QA along with a forum to give more thoughtful responses to important questions that face the community.

In short, I think Angie is pretty much spot on.

My $0.02,

--Kelly Bell
Gotham City Drupal
twitter: @kbell | @gothamdrupal
http://drupal.org/user/293443

Financial expectations

zzolo's picture

Expecting people to be able to transport themselves to meetings 4 times a year is a huge burden and will leave out lots of great people. There are lots of people that are very active in the community that can't really afford even DrupalCon, and there are lots of great candidates for these positions that are not huge contributors and don't go to DrupalCon.

I actually like the idea of the Drupal Association membership being the vetting for voting, but saying that $30 is too much for a vote, but requiring 4 travel costs a year seems a bit unfair.

I really think that this expectation of 4 in-person meetings a year is a really negative criteria for these positions and board positions. It really excludes a huge number of people and creates a very un-diverse board.

--
zzolo

From my reply above: Note

webchick's picture

From my reply above:

Note that we can make exceptions for funding travel expenses of board members, but prefer not to since it's the community's money and we prefer to spend it on the community. :)

So if you're an awesome community member and have everything it takes to be a great board member and the community loves you, I'm sure we could make arrangements if financial difficulty is the only reason you aren't applying. But in the case where an individual / company is capable of paying travel expenses, we vastly prefer them to do that, because that's an extra $x,000 we can spend on Drupal.org features and flying key contributors to DrupalCons.

sorry, going off topic

zzolo's picture

Well, for

1) any description of these positions or other board positions that I have seen, has never described this sliding-scale approach, as far as I can recall. Let's make this a bit more clear, as I totally brush off even applying because of how much the description says I would have to be there and fund it myself.

2) I think this is a fair thing to budget for, if an in-person meeting is that necessary. The mission of the DA is to support the community, but it is still an organization that has costs; I would say this is a fair cost to have.

3) Maybe it should be more about sponsorship. Board members should try to get some sort of sponsorship. This is still limiting, but brings the burden off the individual more.

4) Are in-person meetings that important? They are extremely important, but we seem to be a culture that is alright with remote interactions. At least saying just 2 of the 4 meetings are in-person would be a huge difference.

5) Is this the best place for this discussion? I may have brought us off topic. My apologies. :)

--
zzolo

+1 x 100

arianek's picture

I wish I could upvote this x 100. I love that this is an open process and that anyone can nominate themselves or be nominated, but the financial/time/energy burden of needing to attend 4 in person meetings per year is HUGE. It may not seem that big to people who are already traveling all the time (ie. people who are already well known community members who work for top companies), but to the rest of the community it's totally unrealistic and excludes a lot of people who could potentially be fantastic contributors in this sort of role.

I don't see the time aspect

greggles's picture

I don't see the time aspect as a huge additional burden. Being on the board takes a lot of time regardless of where it is.

The financial burden is real, but as has been said multiple times if that is a barrier to participation then a person can get reimbursed.

Energy - definitely the case. Being outside of your home environment is not easy. Bug again, this is a big commitment of time/energy already so I don't feel this requirement is unreasonable.

Let's split this out to http://groups.drupal.org/node/199348 where it can be discussed in a focused manner.

That requirement has been debated a fair bit already, but it's worth debating more. However, it's very unlikely it will be changed in time for this at-large election so it's off-topic here.

At-large positions

jredding's picture

These are at-large positions and are nominated and selected by the community. If the community would like the Association to pay for the expenses of the board then they'll vote that way. Travel expenses are not a barrier, if one brings value to the Association the community will find a way to fund the person.

I don't think that requiring 4 in-person meetings a year (2 of which are at DrupalCon) is a barrier to entry (particularly since funding may be provided) nor do I think it create an un-diverse board.

-Jacob Redding

well..

zzolo's picture

Travel expenses are not a barrier, if one brings value to the Association the community will find a way to fund the person.

Can we make this much more explicit? This thread is the only place I have seen it written down.

I don't think that requiring 4 in-person meetings a year (2 of which are at DrupalCon) is a barrier to entry (particularly since funding may be provided) nor do I think it create an un-diverse board.

Yes, with funding, it is not a huge deal, but again that is not clear. But without, it is a huge barrier to entry, and a direct exclusion of many people.

Just to be more explicit, let me try to break it down a bit. Let's just assume that the cost for travel is $300 (air fare) + $200 (2 nights) + $150 (food and other) X 4 trips a year, this is $2600 a year. I feel that's a pretty conservative number, especially given that DrupalCon's are actually a week long. I personally consider that a fair amount of cost. Now, checkout the average income of people in the US:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_income_in_the_United_States

Pay close attention to the race and sex section. $2600 is a significant part of someone's income. That's ~7% of a female, African American total income for the year, nearly a month of work (sorry to put it in such dry terms).

But just think about this cost if you are not living in a first-world country.
http://www.worldsalaries.org/employment-income.shtml

This has a direct impact on the diversity of the board (and I can go into more detail to prove my point if needed). Yes, the audience of people that even know of the candidacy is not the same audience as everyone in the world, but fostering a full, inclusive community means considering everyone as a potential community member or a board candidate, and some might argue that it is necessary to actively seek out the people that are less likely to find their way naturally.

(Note that I am not even going into how a time commitment will exclude many people as well.)

I hope this "cost" can be more explicitly explained. If the position is on merit alone, then please say so.

--
zzolo

I completely agree with zzolo

catch's picture

I completely agree with zzolo on this, travelling to meetings is costly (and goes up the further away from the meeting you are), as well as taking time away from either paid work (or paid holiday allowance if you get that). If the nominations are restricted to self-selected people with high income and four weeks to burn per year on business-related travel then the question of who the 'constituency' is for voting starts to look like a moot point in comparison.

four weeks The meetings are

greggles's picture

four weeks

The meetings are generally one day long, I'll give you that for a lot of folks it will involve more days of travel, but it's not a whole week just for the board. Plus, 2 of the meetings are at Drupalcons so those are likely to be a marginal 2 days on those events for most board members.

As I just mentioned above, given that this is every unlikely to be changed in time for this election we should move discussion of this point to a separate thread: http://groups.drupal.org/node/199348

Partly relevant

nedjo's picture

While I agree the overall question of a meeting attendance requirement for DA board members deserves focused attention, the part of this discussion that's relevant to our task here is: whether and how a commitment to meeting attendance should be presented as a requirement of candidacy for the at large elections. We'll need to decide on this if and when we e.g. write a questionnaire for candidates.

The expectation of meeting

highermath's picture

The expectation of meeting attendance should be the same for at-large directors as it is for the class directors and the founding director. In the minutes from the last meeting, the board has expressed its desire to have monthly meetings, four of which will be in-person. Two in person meetings will be collocated with the North American and European DrupalCons and the other two will be held at the Drupal Association Portland office.

While I think that it is realistic to expect that not everyone will make it to every meeting, the ideal is to have perfect attendance, and anyone considering a board seat, at-large or otherwise, should be cognizant of that.

...and that's assuming a

kattekrab's picture

...and that's assuming a domestic US airfare.

Flights from way down here at the bottom of Australia to way up there in the Northern Hemisphere cost around $1800 (if you're very lucky and not travelling at a peak time) to $2500 (average) or more.

Flights from Singapore? Flights from Rio? or Cape Town?

Throw in the accommodation and that'll be around $10k per year - and if the DA board was to be MORE diverse - and have not just 1 person (as is now the case) from a different continent, but say 3? That's a big chunk of change that could be spent on code sprints, community grants, infrastructure upgrades, & DrupalCon scholarships.

I understand that if a sponsoring company could fund that travel then that would be ideal.

I understand the Drupal Association board would decide to cover those costs for the right candidates.

But I agree this needs to be made more explicit - as it DOES have a potential impact on Diversity.

Some people won't put themselves forward because they simply can't commit the funds to travel.

Other people won't put themselves forward thinking they aren't worth that kind of expense to the DA.

Donna Benjamin
Board Member Drupal Association
Executive Director cc.com.au
@kattekrab

I understand that if a

catch's picture

I understand that if a sponsoring company could fund that travel then that would be ideal.

I'm not sure about this either. If you're working for a company and they sponsor your travel, then you're ability to fulfil the roll depends on your employment status (and also restricts candidates to people who work for companies prepared to sponsor them).

If the sponsorship is just from the company to an individual, not related to their employment, then their ability to fulfil the role still depends on the sponsorship of that company, which is not really a nice place to be in for an elected position.

I should

kattekrab's picture

I should clarify...

Sponsoring company could be any kind of sponsoring organisation... and may just be some kind of benevolent organisation with an interest in Drupal, Free Software, Diversity... etc that wishes to contribute... not necessarily someone's employer. An organisation may choose to support the DA directly, rather than pay sponsorship for a DrupalCon

But I do agree there is still potential for a conflict of interest.

Donna Benjamin
Board Member Drupal Association
Executive Director cc.com.au
@kattekrab

Why not let the community decide?

jredding's picture

@zzolo @catch @kattekab

Why not let the community decide? Each candidate will have a platform and they can state very explicitly that they'll need their expenses paid for. If the community believes this is a proper use of the community's funds then the Association will have no reason to not fund that individual's travel expenses.

-Jacob Redding

The point being made here is

catch's picture

The point being made here is that the requirement to travel will prevent people putting themselves up as candidates, and that one way to fix this would be to simply remove the travel requirement altogether (not just fund the travel itself), so I don't think "let the community decide" (by an anonymous vote for self-selected candidates which could be made based on any number of criteria) is an adequate response to the concerns being brought up here at all.

Point is clear

jredding's picture

The point being made is clear. However, the general assembly, the board, and the governance committee all previously agreed that four in-person meetings were necessary to move the organization forward. After years of not having this travel requirement this group of individuals decided that getting together in-person was simply more effective and allowed the organization to move faster and to do more. As someone that sat on the board from 2007 - 2011 I can tell you that every in-person meeting would be equal to 4 or more over-the-phone meetings.

As stated in the first elections this is not a steadfast rule but rather an expectation. Candidates that find this to be a barrier should call it out. In our last elections exactly this happened, a few of the folks selected by the nomination committee had financial and/or travel restrictions. The board respectfully worked around these requirements.

I agree that we should not deny great and exceptional candidates simply because they can't fund their own travel. We don't have a history of doing so and I don't think we are going to start now. However, I do think it is a mistake to say to our community that being a board member means that you get free travel, it doesn't. Board members still pay for their own admission into DrupalCon, including Dries. Everyone is equal, everyone pays their own way this is a community organization and the funds should be used in the best interest of the community.

-Jacob Redding

If the community believes

catch's picture

If the community believes this is a proper use of the community's funds then the Association will have no reason to not fund that individual's travel expenses.

Also you're ignoring several other points made here by both me and others:

  • not everyone things four in-person meetings per year are necessary - regardless of who pays for the travel, but is that an option for the community to decide? Looks like not at the moment.

  • travel expenses are not the only expense of travelling - it also includes taking time of work etc. which can be as much of the cost as the actual travel.

  • there are other reasons people might not want to travel four times a year, and those may be unrelated to their ability to otherwise contribute as a board member (for example I skipped DrupalCon London because I needed to make the same trip in October for family reasons and didn't want two lots of jetlag to deal with in 6 weeks, however that does not stop me from contributing to Drupal).

These are great points

jredding's picture

Catch,

These are all very excellent points and you would have made a great addition to the governance committee when they were deliberating and discussing these exact same topics. You're on the right track and perhaps in the future things will change but for this round of board members all meetings have been scheduled for 2012. The four in-person meetings are DrupalCon Denver, DrupalCon Munich, and 2 meetings held in Portland, Oregon.

not everyone things four in-person meetings per year are necessary - regardless of who pays for the travel, but is that an option for the community to decide? Looks like not at the moment.

It is a difference of opinion. As stated in an earlier comment. This decision was made by the previous board, general assembly, and governance committee.

travel expenses are not the only expense of travelling - it also includes taking time of work etc. which can be as much of the cost as the actual travel.

You're correct there are multiple opportunity costs outside of the hard costs of traveling, which, to restate, would be covered if the board member wasn't able to cover their own expenses. In 2011 255 people volunteered their time to work with the Drupal Association on community initiatives, many more people gave their time on drupal.org, and even more went to a DrupalCamp on a weekend, volunteer to host a DrupalCamp, managed a sprint, or contributed to the project in their own way. Each of these people had a similar opportunity cost that was equal to or greater than that of a board member. Whenever you volunteer you are giving up your time, board members shouldn't be treated any differently than those contributing documentation, core patches, or modules.

Nominating yourself for a board member position means that you are fully aware of the time being asked of you. This is how you as a candidate have decided that this is the best use of your skills. There are many ways to contribute to the Drupal project being a board member is only one of them.

there are other reasons people might not want to travel four times a year, and those may be unrelated to their ability to otherwise contribute as a board member (for example I skipped DrupalCon London because I needed to make the same trip in October for family reasons and didn't want two lots of jetlag to deal with in 6 weeks, however that does not stop me from contributing to Drupal).

Then the candidate should decide if this is how they want to contribute to the Drupal project. Being a board member is only one small way you can contribute to the project.

The existing board is being upfront and clear about expectation for all new board members. They want all board members to be engaged and focused on the organization and not time constrained. There are several ways of working with the Association and affecting change, which do not involve being a board member. For example, the DrupalCon Denver team (benswords, c4rl, greggles, and many others) have more influence over that conference than the board does.

Everyone should choose the best position in the community that utilizes their unique skill set.

-Jacob Redding

Community selected positions

jredding's picture

Zzolo,

You bring up many excellent points and I appreciate the research. I don't believe that anyone is disagreeing with you, I certainly am not. However, what we are communicating is that a board is responsible for the organization and that needs to be very clearly understood. A board member can just as easily cut a budget as it can increase a budget. If the board would like to increase its travel spending for board meetings it may do so. The current board is expressing a desire that each board member pay their own way or find a sponsor. If the community would rather place the burden on staff to pay for the board they may choose to do so. At the end of the day the money comes from the community so it's the community's decision. I know that personally many of our sponsors don't want their funds to be used for the travel of board members, they would prefer that those funds go to the community.

These positions are at-large positions and 100% defined by the community. You asked if they are merit based and while I hope that they are no answer exists for that question. The community will define what they want in a board member. It may be merit based, seniority based, or based on pure popularity. As a member of the community you are defining that criteria right now in this thread and later with your vote.

-Jacob

-Jacob Redding

I agree with zzolo as well:

cweagans's picture

I agree with zzolo as well: I'd be very interested in being on the Board, but I cannot afford the required travel. I'm sure that there are others in the same position as I am, so perhaps as part of the nomination process, we should have some sort of "Constraints" field, wherein a candidate could say things to the effect of "I cannot afford travel" or "I live in Antarctica and planes don't fly here very often, so I'll have to attend meetings virtually" or something.

--
Cameron Eagans
http://cweagans.net

Travel expenses should be the

skyredwang's picture

Travel expenses should be the last thing on the candidates' mind. Although, the individual board members are preferred to take the travel expense burden, if the new members have difficulty to secure the budget individually, the Drupal Association certainly will help and won't fail any board members because of travel expenses.

Agreed. I'd rather the focus

webchick's picture

Agreed. I'd rather the focus of this discussion be on finding the right candidates and developing a fair election process. The travel expenses will work themselves out, one way or another. :)

Thank you

jredding's picture

Well said.

-Jacob Redding

Time vs. Money

Crell's picture

I think people are focusing on the wrong things here. Yes, traveling to in-person meetings can be costly. But, yes, as Jacob already noted and webchick noted the money can be found if needs be. Perhaps that needs to be better communicated, but I'm not sure that a big neon flashing "we'll pay for everything, really!" sign is appropriate. :-)

More important, though, is the time commitment. Being on the board is a time commitment. And in person meetings are critically important. Speaking as a former member of the board for the past 4 years, I can say wit confidence that in-person meetings are the most efficient and effective way for the board to get stuff done... just as in-person code sprints and design sprints are 10x more useful than virtual ones.

If a person cannot manage 4 in-person meetings per year, then they cannot be an effective board member. Whether that's for financial reasons, time management reasons, personal reasons, political reasons (refusal to travel to certain countries for whatever reason) -- all of which could be completely legitimate -- it does mean that person would be a less effective board member.

Travel costs are the easy-to-solve question. That doesn't change the fact that if a candidate knows in advance he cannot meet in person as planned, then he knows he cannot be an effective member of the board.

The time commitment and willingness TO travel is a much bigger concern than plane tickets, and I encourage everyone to be mindful of that fact when considering candidates to support.

(Yes, not everything can be predicted; people get sick, volcanoes happen and ground an entire continent, etc. I'm not holding that against someone. But if someone goes in saying "I won't actually be at the quarterly meetings", then IMO they are immediately disqualifying themselves.)

As a former Board member

laura s's picture

...and a member of the Governance Committee that formulated these guidelines, I can state that in-person meetings were deemed necessary because of the sheer volume of DA Board business that needs to be addressed. In-person meetings cover anywhere from 4-10 times the material that can be covered in a 2-hour virtual meeting.

If a person cannot manage 4 in-person meetings per year, then they cannot be an effective board member. Whether that's for financial reasons, time management reasons, personal reasons, political reasons (refusal to travel to certain countries for whatever reason) -- all of which could be completely legitimate -- it does mean that person would be a less effective board member.

I agree with Larry here. Having attended an in-person Board meeting virtually (which has always been a fallback option), I can say that anyone who does not attend is limited in influence in the meeting. You're not in the room. You're not reading people's faces and body language. They are not reading yours. It's difficult to join in conversation. It's often difficult to hear people. Accents are much more difficult if you can't see faces. These are all barriers that hinder one's effectiveness and influence.

One of the main goals of the restructuring was to make the DA more effective, and that means taking the Board's business very seriously. The in-person meetings are a means towards achieving that goal, and are not meant as arbitrary hurdles to eligibility to participate. Taking on a Board role is a very serious time commitment, work commitment, responsibility commitment. Nobody should take that lightly when considering putting their name forward.

Laura Scott
PINGV | Strategy • Design • Drupal Development

Quality vs. Quantity

MicKraft's picture

Frankly I think it should be less a question of "How often the board members" meet, the quality of meet-ups is more important. Based on my experiance 4 times a year is common and meeting F2F is also important. Therefore I would recommend to be first clear, on what is expected to achieve during the F2F meetings and as second priority the organisational topics can be solved.

Voting Criteria

zzolo's picture

Regarding the voting criteria.

Though I feel that the DA Membership criteria is very limiting, I think it is a great first time criteria. It ensures we have real, invested people, and thats where we should start. After this first year, we should explore opening it up, and looking at data; maybe do trials by voting on other things in the Drupal community.

Ultimately, the voting should be open to as many people as possible; people that care will vote, the only restriction we should have is ensuring there is no abuse.

And in turn, voting should be really, really easy. It should be trivial to vote on things in our community. More democracy!!!

--
zzolo

Voting System

zzolo's picture

How we vote and count is important. There are many ways to vote:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_system

I think a simple mechanism this first time around will be alright. But we should have clear goals on what we are actually voting for; the most votes is not necessarily equal to the communities preference as a whole.

--
zzolo

the most votes is not

kattekrab's picture

the most votes is not necessarily equal to the communities preference as a whole.

++++

Is a very very important point. First past the post (most votes) is the worst voting system - only slightly better than not voting at all.

Donna Benjamin
Board Member Drupal Association
Executive Director cc.com.au
@kattekrab

There are worse sytems

micheas's picture

What is worse than first past the post for this election would be to have
at large A and at large B and have two separate elections for each seat.

This approach amplifies the problems of first past the post. Be aware of this, because it shows up periodically as an alternative to first past the post.

But yes, first past the post is one of the worst voting systems.

Qualification to vote

skyredwang's picture

Besides the discussion on the validity of voters, how do you people feel if we require voters to submit their real name, data birth and photo ID such as passport? This additional step will certainly help identify "real people", but might be discouraging to certain people.

Some people don't actually

kattekrab's picture

Some people don't actually have photoID and it can be faked. So it's worth considering, but it's not a silver bullet either unfortunately.

Donna Benjamin
Board Member Drupal Association
Executive Director cc.com.au
@kattekrab

...

silverwing's picture

That's way too much work for the association to go through. And personally it seems too intrusive.

Thoughts of a self-confessed voting system geek.

kattekrab's picture

Note/Disclaimer.
I'm Australian. We were first to implement universal suffrage (well except for indigenous people - shame on us), the secret ballot, and compulsory voting. Australian Democracy is extraordinarily robust.

My gut call at this point is...

  1. Candidates should have 2 nominations from eligible voters - one of which can be a self nomination, but need not be.

  2. The candidate must then agree to stand for election, and write a position statement of why they want to stand, what they will bring to the DA, perhaps who they think they aim to represent? Dunno. Maybe answering some broad questions could help.

  3. Voter Eligibility - member of Drupal.org.

  4. Voting - simple preferential... Number all the candidates, or at least number your first and 2nd preference for the number of positions available - here's an idea - there are currently 4 vacant positions on the board - make this election for all those positions, not just the "at large" ones.

  5. Perhaps a separate site should host the election, so only the sysadmin, and the returning officer can see the votes.
    Secret Ballot is important.

  6. Engage in future discussion on what constitutes citizenship of drupalstan.

  • Donna

Donna Benjamin
Board Member Drupal Association
Executive Director cc.com.au
@kattekrab

Number all the candidates, or

greggles's picture

Number all the candidates, or at least number your first and 2nd preference for the number of positions available

And then what?

I don't think it's open to making this a voting point for the 2 empty fields. We have bylaws and that would be against them.

Engage in future discussion on what constitutes citizenship of drupalstan.

What are your thoughts in this area?

The citizenry of Drupalstan

kattekrab's picture

"Number all the candidates, or at least number your first and 2nd preference for the number of positions available."

@Greggles asks - And then what?

And then http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting
or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preferential_voting or something to that effect.

"Engage in future discussion on what constitutes citizenship of drupalstan."

@Greggles asks - What are your thoughts in this area?

Still unclear I'm afraid. But I do think this is important.

Here's what I said in IRC #drupal-contribute, tidied up, and fleshed out a little.

We need to find a way to define (and test for) drupalstan citizenship.

This has to be done very carefully - because who we exclude says a lot about us.

We don't want to exclude people who can't afford to buy a DA membership.
Or do we?

We don't want to exclude people who can't code.
Or do we?

We don't want to exclude people who use drupal every day but don't necessarily contribute to its development.
Or do we?

Sidenote: When I first joined the DA - I thought hmm - now where do I sign up to vote. I was really surprised it didn't give me a vote for either the general assembly or the board. I then spent some time seriously questioning whether or not I would bother renewing my membership. In the end I decided to think of it more like a donation toward keeping the Drupal infrastructure running, but in truth I -expected- that voting for the governing organisation would be a responsibility of membership.

"Representative Democracy"
Let's stop for a moment to think about this. Why are we voting? Are we seeking to elect community members to represent us on the DA Board? If so, what does representation mean? Is that really what we're looking for here?

How should the two "At large" members of the board represent the community? Some kind of segment? A minority? Should one be a core developer and the other a user? Should they be from Not Europe or Not North America? Who are the constituents of the Drupal community? Who doesn't have a voice right now?

But then... should the DA be trying to represent the community at all? It's really just an administrative, legal entity. It doesn't actually govern the Drupal community. Does it?

So - when we define the citizenry of the "state" of Drupal... we should be clear what that means.

I'm sorry I don't have any firm thoughts on this, but each of the options suggested have their pros and cons - what we don't have, is clear criteria on what we really think we're voting for.

Voting is good. Democracy is good. I'm a huge proponent, and think we should vote for something. But what? and Why?

Update: Note for clarity - the above is responding to "future discussion of citizenry" in response to @Greggles - not current immediate need to vote for 2 new board members.

Donna Benjamin
Board Member Drupal Association
Executive Director cc.com.au
@kattekrab

More on the vacant "Class Director" seats

nedjo's picture

@kattekrab: Thanks for your insights and creative thinking!

@greggles:

I don't think it's open to making this a voting point for the 2 empty fields. We have bylaws and that would be against them.

Some more background and details:

I'm not sure anyone's all that clear on whether and how the two empty "Class Director" seats could be filled. As a member of both the 2011 nominating committee and the election committee, I'm certainly not.

The three-member board declined to confirm two candidates who were selected and recommended by the nominating committee. The governance committee recommendations as adopted stipulated that "If an individual is voted down the nomination committee would be responsible to find another person and present the replacement to the Board for ratification." The board members reportedly decided instead to bring the two declined candidates to the new board for consideration. The most recent board meeting minutes don't include discussion of this topic. Meanwhile, the section on vacancies in the DA bylaws (section 3.8) is restrictive and doesn't unambiguously apply to the current situation.

Still, while the bylaws don't permit electing more than 2 at large board members, we have the option of suggesting that the nominating committee or board take the elections results into account in selecting and appointing two "Class Directors" to fill empty seats, in addition to the two at large ones who are elected.

The board needs to charter a

highermath's picture

The board needs to charter a nominating committee in order to fill the two outstanding seats. This will likely be on the agenda for our January meeting.

Nominating Committee Chartered

farriss's picture

The nominating committee was rechartered for 2012 during the December in-person board meeting. Serving on the committee are Jacob Redding as Executive Director, Dries Buytaert as Founder, the two at-large board members (Vacant until elected), two additional board members (Vesa Palmu, Danese Cooper), three Advisory Board members (Bevan Rudge, Kristof Van Tomme, and George DeMet). Kristof Van Tomme has agreed to continue as chair.

The charter also deals specifically with vacancies: "As time is of the essence, to fill any vacancy, the Nominating Committee shall propose candidate(s) to fill vacant position(s) within a month of notice of vacancy on the Board of Directors."

Kristof was notified of the two vacancies at the December board meeting with the expectation that we would have a recommendation for two candidates at the January board meeting.

Another board member opinion

jwalpole's picture

I am almost completely going to agree with Angie but put it in my words so it doesn't seem lazy ;)

Also, I have the same disclaimer that I am also a current Member of the Board.

How should nominations work?

I believe that candidates should self-nominate for 3 reasons: 1) the individual has to really want to dedicate the time to do it and should be committing to that at the start enough to throw themselves into it and 2) will help to discourage jokes and cons (e.g. someone nominates Chuck Norris and he gets the most votes), and 3) isnt that easiest to implement? Nominations are a nice alternative, but it could waste a lot of time if the proposed candidate isnt interested or committed to the process so lets just let them take the initiative to start the process.

Who should be able to vote during elections?

I don't think that attendance at events is relevant or feasible to verify and I don't think that requiring contributions is fair if we want to be widely inclusive. At a minimum, I believe a vote has to come from a Drupal.org user with an account, but ideally it would be an established (by some time period or activity) to ensure that people aren't creating accounts just to vote or gaming the system. The safest and most fair is to require both an established account AND actual membership in the Drupal Association since technically this is a vote for a member of the board of the Drupal Association not the most worthy community member. The cost of being a member is potentially a blocker, but then again membership does have its privileges…

What should the community "vetting" process of prospective candidates look like?

A public asynchronous Q&A process on Drupal.org seems to be: 1) the most efficient (no IRC/real time method would really work as an inclusive process for logistical reasons), 2) it is the most transparent and 3) the most useful to vetting who is the best candidate for the job. It also has the added value of ensuring the candidate cares enough to spend the time to provide well thought through/worded answers to important questions.

Where and how should the actual elections themselves take place?

I would agree with Angie that the association.drupal.org site is most appropriate for this, using the simplest and most available tools (webform, candidate nodes, etc.)

How should voting work?

Ideally the process is anonymous - meaning no one can attribute a vote from a UID to a candidate but we can clearly ensure that each UID has only voted for a candidate once. I think it sort of doesn't matter whether you can cast 1,2,3 or 10 votes as long as you can't vote for a single candidate more than once. Also, equal weighting is a must if you can count more than one vote. There is simply no way weighted voting isnt going to make it more complicated and increase the risk of a mistake.

Additional thoughts

MicKraft's picture

Agree, it should be an anonymous process and it is less a question, if the candidates get nominated by somebody else or does a self-nomination. Think we need to have two views a.) the candidate need to be clear what it means to be at the board in regards to responsibility and accountability and this is by nature connected with having the willingness to invest time b.) for the people who do the election, it is also important to watch out for the "diversity". As more diverse the board is, as better it will be overall for the community, as this board will really drive for the outcome, being critical and doing the right thing for the community to move to the next level.

Case study

Crell's picture

As a point of comparison, I've been in an online RPG club for years that also has elections every 8 months for our club president, and for our senior "oversight" board. For the past 4 years we've been running on a Drupal 5 site.

We define "member" as "actively has one or more RPG positions in the club". This doesn't map to Drupal fairly well other than "has posted on d.o somewhere within the last X months", which I don't really think is a good way to define the voting pool.

For Presidential elections, we require two nominations from someone other than the presidential candidate. The candidate must then accept the nomination and name a VP candidate (who could be one of the nominators). There's a one week period in which that's allowed. That's followed by 2 weeks of campaigning on our web forum, with a mix of Q&A and "speeches". There's then a primary election (open to all members) for a week, and then the top two vote getters go on to another week of voting. In the end, it's a basic 50%+1 victory.

While candidates have to be nominated by someone else, all serious candidates (and even most of our non-serious ones) plan their nomination well in advance. The theory is that, really, if you can't find two people willing to nominate you then you don't have a snowball's chance in hell of being elected anyway, and we probably don't want you as President. I think that same logic probably applies to Drupal as well.

Nominations may invite some "joke" nominations, but I don't really think that's a problem. Also, there's nothing preventing someone from self-nominating as a joke, either.

For the senior oversight committee, we have a different model. Both the voter list and eligible candidate list is restricted to senior members of the club, which in practice is usually about 20 people. Because we actively do not want "campaigning", people self-nominate, there's a ballot for a week or two, and that's it. In this case we use instant-runoff voting. (We use the Drupal 5 Advanced Poll module, which has built in support for that.) That is, you vote for your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. pick and then the software eliminates the lowest-totalling person and then distributes those voters second choices, etc. until someone gets 50%+1. We have also used that for multiple vacancies. Sometimes that breaks down due to the small voting pool; the tie-breaking algorithm in that module is not very good, and with only 20 eligible voters ties are surprisingly common. (In our case we have an election manager who acts as a silent tie-breaker; that probably would not work as well here.)

IRV is really not as complicated as many people make it out to be, and when you're voting for multiple seats I think it works well. You just keep eliminating until you have the number of people left for the seats you have. There's also no reason you have to announce which of the remaining candidates had more votes, so that neither party feels like they were "better" than their opponent.

End case study. Further editorializing in a later comment.

IRV - not that hard. Really! :)

kattekrab's picture

@Crell says

"IRV is really not as complicated as many people make it out to be, and when you're voting for multiple seats I think it works well. You just keep eliminating until you have the number of people left for the seats you have. There's also no reason you have to announce which of the remaining candidates had more votes, so that neither party feels like they were "better" than their opponent."

Exactly - and we're even getting a computer to do it for us! ;)

And of course for good measure, "there's a module for that"!

Decisions module lets you choose the algorithm for a ranked vote.
- Instant Runoff
- Borda Count
- Condorcet

Instant Runoff - Instant run-off voting, also known as IVR or Alternative Voting, is an algorithm by which the candidate having the least ballots gets its votes redistributed to the other candidates. See Instant runoff voting on Wikipedia for more information. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting

Borda Count - Borda count is an algorithm by which each candidate gets a number of points assigned based on the number of candidates standing. See the Borda count article on Wikipedia for more information.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borda_count

Condorcet - Condorcet finds the one candidate who would beat all other candidates in all possible two-person races. In this implementation, ties are broken using Schulze method. See the Schulze method article on Wikipedia for more information.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schulze_method

I actually think this bit is easy if we can get consensus. The hard parts are designing the nomination system, and deciding whether voter elibility is individual DA membership vs having an account on Drupal.org I've seen good reasons for both and am 50/50 myself because the arguments are valid. It really comes down to how we see the "At Large" board positions.

Here's a thought... IN future, board positions could be elected by all individual DA members, but the "At Large" positions are voted for from a larger constituency - eg having an account on Drupal.org.

Donna Benjamin
Board Member Drupal Association
Executive Director cc.com.au
@kattekrab

I don't get the love of IRV

micheas's picture

In IRV you can vote for your favorite candidate and it doesn't matter. Because they will be eliminated and you will be back to first past the post, but with minorities not having been stripped of their ability to spoil if the majority candidates ignore them.

IRV is worse than first past the post, despite what the marketing people would like people to believe. True runnoffs, historically have the greatest number of minority candidates win. This is due to the fact that the pre runnoff election is for second place not first.

None of the IRV marketing says that minorities get represented, just that they can vote for who they want without spoiling the election, with the assumption that spoiling is bad.

If you look at the propaganda about IRV cynically you will see the goal is nice clean elections where the minority views are politely swept under the rug.

Cumulative voting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumulative_voting has been used to bring locations into compliance with the civil rights act, and is mandated in corporate governance to protect minority investors.

If we are going to argue about being as inclusive as possible in offering suffrage, can we at least stick to voting systems that are inclusive as opposed to exclusive?

Which minority?

Crell's picture

I really feel the need to ask... is there an actual Minority(tm) that we're talking about that needs its "faction" represented, or are we just talking about in general principle? Because I don't see some oppressed religious/ethnic/racial/whatever constituency that "needs representation". I see an extremely heterogeneous community that the DA wants to reach out to, in order to help select people to guide the DA... NOT to "represent" some constituency.

Repeating: A DA board member, class or at-large, who sees their job primarily as "representing" a particular voting block is Doing It Wrong(tm).

You definitely seem to be cynical, I'll agree there. I prefer to be more pragmatic. If you have a large block and a small, more extreme block (Democrats and Greens in the US, for instance, or equally Republicans and Libertarians), then yes, spoiling is a problem because of vote splitting, leading to a non-majority candidate getting a plurality. The advantage of IRV would be, for instance, any party that gets X% of the vote in the first round gets "official" status, rather than X% in the final round only. It also means that the larger-party more moderate candidate can still be elected, who is closer to the majority view, and still know "oh crap, I wouldn't have won without the second-round support of X group. I'd better pay attention." That's less risky than "I nearly lost because of the lack of support from group X" or "I lost because of the lack of support from group X".

That said, it's true that only works if stats are released so the winning candidates know how close they came. And as I mentioned in the parent thread, we probably don't need to publicize which of the two candidates got "more" votes. Again, though, if you or a candidate are approaching the at-large board members as "electing our guy to the board", well, I don't want you on the board. (Speaking as an Advisory Board member, former governance committee member, and likely voter).

Cumulative voting has its advantages as well, and if we went that route I would not be opposed to it. I just don't understand the vitriol about IRV, or the unhealthy obsession with minority representation. As has been said elsewhere, the DA is not a legislature, and it is not a representative body of the community. It's an independent NFP whose mission is to "support and foster Drupal".

The Drupal community has all

webchick's picture

The Drupal community has all kinds of minorities, IMO.

  • Core developers
  • Designers / UX folks
  • Sales / marketing people
  • Non-North Americans and Europeans
  • Women
  • Non-Caucasian people

Each of these groups is, potentially, going to bring very different perspectives to the DA board in terms of how we do things such as allocate funds. I imagine core developers, for example, are going to be extremely pro-developer-focused events at the expense of marketing funding, whereas sales and marketing people might be much more in favour of the DA spending money to get the word out about Drupal at the expense of other things, and non-North American/Europeans might value spending money on thing like global outreach events or supporting camps in new locations over sponsoring US camps.

I don't think it's necessarily a matter of people "representing" a particular "voting bloc" as much as it is bringing their unique perspectives to the table, which is probably why they got elected in the first place. As a core developer, generally speaking, I'll have a much higher likelihood of voting for a core developer than I would a sales and marketing person, because there's a much higher likelihood the core developer understands my POV and shares many of my same values.

As a core developer myself

Crell's picture

I cannot think of any high-level core developers that I want on the board in the first place. That's one of the reasons I'm not on it anymore. :-) I'm looking for a candidate who can understand a broad-base of issues, not just from "their" background (whatever that background happens to be).

Eligibility

Crell's picture

On the eligibility front, to explain my position I should point out something very specific: The Drupal Association exists to support and further the Drupal project and Drupal community... but it is not itself the Drupal project, nor is it the Drupal community. It is legally a 501c3 non-profit organization with a specific mission statement, etc. The DA, in order to fulfill its mission, needs to be in tune with the community and responsive to its needs, but the community exists independently of the DA... and thus the DA is not itself "a representation of the community".

Also, defining "the community" is an intractably hard problem. We run into this all the time in the issues queues or development discussions... Will "the community" accept a given patch, or architecture, or change, or interface, or...? What does that even mean? In reality, what it means in practice is "will the people who happen to post in that particular issue or g.d.o thread not yell loudly about it". That's not ideal, it's not pretty, it's not representative... but it's the practical reality.

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of people who write Drupal code every day but do not even have a Drupal.org account. Conversely, I've a friend whose one and only involvement in Drupal to date is posting one single small patch to a core Novice issue... which means she's now forever enshrined in the commit messages as a developer. Which of those are part of "the community"?

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of people whose only involvement in Drupal is posting one novice question in the forums on d.o that would have been answered by the first result even on Drupal.org's search, to say nothing of Google. There are others who have put in hundreds of hours helping people in forums and IRC. Should both of those people be given equal voice into the DA board? Personally, I don't think so.

So given these two very important facts:
1) The DA serves and supports the community, but the DA does not equal the community nor does the community equal the DA.
2) Defining "the community" in a non-vague way is something we've not been able to do in a meaningful or useful way in the 6+ years I've been involved in Drupal.

Saying that "any member of the community" may run/vote is disingenuous, since it is neither consistent with the structure of the DA nor is it possible to define in a meaningful way.

I believe the only viable eligibility criteria, for both candidates and voters, is "holds an individual membership in the DA". That is, it is DA members (which is very clear and easy to define in a binary fashion) voting for the DA board. The barrier to individual membership is already very low (and we can easily have a period between making that decision and starting the process for people to get or renew a membership). It also means that we are specifically targeting the subset of the undefinable community that is "invested" in Drupal and its success. We can safely assume that DA members are (for the most part) invested in Drupal. We cannot make any such assumption for "people with a Drupal.org account".

fwiw of all the options, I

catch's picture

fwiw of all the options, I agree this one has probably the least potential for abuse. I say this as someone who's DA membership lapsed in 2009 so wouldn't be able to vote, but I'm fine with that if it means avoiding an attempt to define 'the community' in this case, which is a very big rabbit hole IMO.

Member of DA / Travel expenses

Everett Zufelt's picture

Member of DA

I've read through all of the comments here, and have tried to find a way to reconcile my thought that voting should have a low barrier to entry, with the fact that we are, indeed, voting for the position of Member at Large of the DA.

Speaking as one who at one point was not a member of the DA for financial reasons, I do believe that becoming a member of the DA has a reasonably low economic burden of entry. Whether this is fully inclusive of all who wish to become members or not is a good question. And one, that should be dealt with by the DA as a separate issue. At the moment I believe that the barrier to membership is low enough that an individual membership in the DA should be a requirement for nomination / voting.

Travel expenses

I agree that contributing to the Drupal community comes with a cost. Every time we contribute to a project, answer a question in the issue queue or forum, contribute to g.d.o, etc., we are giving of our time to the community. Whether 4 in person meetings are actually required is not an unreasonable question. Since the DA has already decided that they are, then this is not the forum in which that question ought to b answered.

The question of the cost of travel, with at least one intercontinental flight, is worth discussing. It has been said that the cost of travel is not a barrier for consideration as a Member at Large. This is, in my opinion, the correct approach.

I am uncomfortable with the suggestion that candidates disclose their need for financial support for travel as a part of their candidacy. "Each candidate will have a platform and they can state very explicitly that they'll need their expenses paid for" (@jredding).

This seems to me to be very intrusive. After the election, if there is a Member at Large who requires financial assistance, the Member can approach the appropriate person(s) within the DA to disclose their need. This to me seems to be the only way to ensure that the cost of travel is actually not a barrier to election.

Alternatively, candidates will need to disclose their need for travel assistance publicly, and voters will need to weigh this before casting a vote. If a voter says "Candidate X is definitely the best choice, but I will choose candidate Y so that the DA saves on travel costs" then the cost of travel has become a barrier to election. If we assume that voters will not weight the cost of travel as part of their decision, then there is absolutely no reason for candidates to disclose their financial need in such a public forum.

Accessibility Consultant & Web Developer - Zufelt.ca
@ezufelt on Twitter | LinkedIn profile

That seems fair enough to me.

webchick's picture

That seems fair enough to me. I agree that the most important thing is electing solid board members, and financial matters are totally of secondary concern.

However, if a candidate knows for a fact that regardless of financial support they will not be able to reliably make it to the quarterly in-person meetings with the rest of the board, that seems like a fact worth disclosing in their nomination as a factor to consider (so probably just a checkbox Y/N).

I don't think lack of ability to make it to these meetings should rule someone out from applying, but Larry and Jacob are exactly right that these are effectively "code sprints" for the board, setting major policies and direction, and getting a bunch of stuff done in a very short period of time that takes weeks or months to do online. And although we can use technology (phone, video conference, etc.) to help compensate for remote participants, it'll always mean sub-optimal levels of participation compared to being in the room. :\

I don't think that asking

highermath's picture

I don't think that asking candidates to disclose their ability to fund their travel is a good policy. It would certainly make wealthy candidates more attractive, and non-wealthy candidates less so.

The current policy seems to play out as: You can submit your expenses if you want to or need to. I think that this is realistic, fair and reasonable.

I agree. I think if the

redndahead's picture

I agree. I think if the community is going to trust these people to be at large members they can trust them to be as financially responsible as they can possibly be. This may mean they need reimbursement, but I would expect them to try to limit it to only when needed.

We need a system that is

highermath's picture

We need a system that is straightforward and is a fit with our resources.

Anyone with a d.o account should be allowed to vote. This is inclusive, and in line with the Association's responsibility to represent the entire Drupal community. It is not perfect, but it is more perfect than only allowing Association members or code contributors voting rights. The issue with DA members is that there has never been a defined role for them, and while we might want to change that down the road, making membership a requirement for voting in this election would set the wrong tone and send the wrong message.

We could set a minimum tenure on accounts. I think that sometime before the announcement would be good, perhaps 60 days before the vote.

Eligible voters should get two votes of equal weight. The should be allowed to cast no more than one vote per candidate.

Self-nomination has the twin virtues of being both efficient and fair. The requirement should be the same as the voting requirement.

Candidates should be allowed to post statements a.d.o profiles. Perhaps there could be a forum where anyone could post a question, but only candidates could reply.

2 votes bad. 1 ranked vote good.

kattekrab's picture

2 votes of equal weight is a version of first past the post.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-past-the-post_voting

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) outlines a range of voting systems especially for organisations trying to decide what kind of voting system to adopt. http://www.aec.gov.au/About_AEC/AEC_Services/Industrial_Elections/voting...

We should not start using a voting system that many people around the world have abandoned, or are lobbying their governments to abandon.

Don't just take my word for it thought, here's a bunch of sites that critique FPTP voting systems
* http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/first-past-the-post
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plurality_voting_system#Disadvantages
* http://www.fairvote.ca/en/why-canada-needs-democratic-voting-system

It would be better to have a single ranked vote.

Number your two preferred candidates in order - or number all candidates in your order of preference.

Here are a bunch of sites that explain this better than I can
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preferential_voting
* http://www.fairvote.org/instant-runoff-voting
* and http://www.fairvote.org/how-instant-runoff-voting-works

I've set up a D6 site to explore the Decisions module - it seems more recently maintained than Advanced Poll. Both modules claim to allow Instant Runoff. TimPlunkett alerts us to his first patch http://drupal.org/node/228549 - to allow authenticated users to submit forms anonymously, and Beejeebus has put up his hand to get something working.

Discussions with @webchick @beejeebus seem to suggest it would be easiest to run this on association.drupal.org - but I would advocate it's worth at least considering the pros and cons of setting up a dedicated subsite to hold the election, and maintaining it for that purpose. A board election may only take place once a year, but having the infrastructure in place might make it feasible to run regular plebiscites or polls.

Whilst I can't code I'm keen to help however I can.

Donna Benjamin
Board Member Drupal Association
Executive Director cc.com.au
@kattekrab

Develop one or more clear voting options?

nedjo's picture

Hi Donna,

Wow, I'm excited to see some innovative and cutting edge voting options introduced here. Thanks for the great pointers.

For those of us less up on voting systems, though, it's going to be difficult to evaluate a nebulous "other" approach. For all its many flaws, first past the post has the advantages of familiarity and simplicity.

I added a vague option "Voters rank the candidates, 1st, 2nd, etc." to the wiki section on "How should voting work?", but that's clearly not enough to go on.

Are you able to take on developing and adding to the wiki one or more specific and concrete voting options (replacing my "Voters rank the candidates, 1st, 2nd, etc." placeholder), with enough explanation that we can understand them?

RE: Develop one or more clear voting options?

kattekrab's picture

Hey Nedjo,

Are you able to take on developing and adding to the wiki one or more specific and concrete voting options (replacing my "Voters rank the candidates, 1st, 2nd, etc." placeholder), with enough explanation that we can understand them?

Done. :-)

Donna Benjamin
Board Member Drupal Association
Executive Director cc.com.au
@kattekrab

Two new sections added to wiki

nedjo's picture

Thanks all for your ideas and insights so far.

I've made a pass through the wiki trying to integrate some of the comments, but I haven't captured them all. Please review and add in your own points that haven't yet been captured.

I've also added two new sections. One takes up Donna's comment that "what we don't have, is clear criteria on what we really think we're voting for". To address this, I added a section at the top of the wiki, "What aims should a voting system meet?". I added only two very basic points--this section needs filling out.

The second section I added is "Questions for candidates". This could form the basis for an information sheet candidates fill in. Again, I put only a few basic points--more needed.

Voter eligibility

pwolanin's picture

I'm in agreement with Crell, catch, and others that being an actual (paid) individual member of the DA is the only appropriate way to become eligible to vote for a board position of the DA.

The barrier to entry of the $30 is something we can and should debate - a local organization I belong to has a standard dues of $15/year (must be paid to vote in officer elections) but the option to elect to pay as little as $5. We put this in place to try to encourage a greater diversity of membership. Perhaps the DA could consider a similar system allowing people so select e.g "Other amount (minimum $10)" when becoming an individual member? Are there costs to providing the membership that dictate $30 as the actual minimum?

Hm! I like this idea. The

webchick's picture

Hm! I like this idea.

The more I read arguments from various people, the more I'm coming around to the idea of making paid membership mandatory for voting rights, and this would be a way to make voting rights more accessible to more people.

To get away from "pay to play" concerns, there could maybe also be an "I'm chx/sun/whoever" option where you essentially get "gifted" a membership for being a major contributor.

However, that means humans reviewing things and that usually means staff costs, which probably wouldn't exceed what we make in membership dues if we reduce the costs. Hm. :\

I don't think that major

arianek's picture

I don't think that major contributor gift memberships are going to make voting rights less exclusive...

pwolanin's suggestion of having an option of "other" for cost, where someone can fill in an amount they can afford is much more equitable for those who don't normally have a membership because they can't afford it.

There may be people who care a lot about voting who aren't able to put in the time to be a "major contributor", or aren't able to afford the 30$ (maybe the dollar/currency value in other countries makes 30$ way more expensive to them?) - does that mean they should be excluded from helping steer the direction of the project?

It's a fine line between making sure people who are involved are the ones voting, and excluding people who might just not have the capacity to be on our radar but want to be more involved and care about the direction of the project.

Ghaaa!!! Just lost my whole

tsvenson's picture

Ghaaa!!! Just lost my whole comment. Just vanished #WTF!!!!

The $30 membership fee can be low or very high depending on where you live. In Europe, Australia and North America, for example, it is maybe an hour or so of work, while in countries such as the Philippines can equal to as much as 10% of a monthly salary before tax. That is a big chunk!

I took a look at https://association.drupal.org/membership/individuals and found the following (filtered out members where no country was specified):

  • There are 1566 members
  • They come from 68 countries
  • A whopping 772 members comes from the US
  • A dominating 1040 members comes from English speaking countries

I didn't count the totals for high income countries, but I believe its safe to say the count for maybe 90%, or more, of the members.

The domination of English speaking countries are also worrying and needs to be addressed.

I like the ideas presented about offering sliding scales for membership fees and would like to suggest that it is based on:

  1. High average income countries - $30
  2. Medium average income countries - $15-30
  3. Low average income countries - $5-30

Note that the fees in 2/3 are optional, so a member can opt to pay the lowest all the way up to the full amount. However, they will always qualify for a full membership.

I'm sure the UN, or other international organization, have tables with the average income of all countries in the world that can be used.

A similar structure should also be implemented or organizational memberships.

Membership sponsoring

Making it possible for both individuals and organizations to easily sponsor memberships could also be something to look at.

It should also be possible for an organization to pay the membership for its own staff. If that also can be consolidated so they pay all fees at the same time, I'm sure many will quickly jump onboard in this.

Badges showing on the profile pages for sponsors would be nice for this.

Making it easy and transparent

Now when the DA is having bold plans, it is even more important that the number of members goes up. Just under 1,700 paying members simply is not representable of the community.

The easier it is to become a member, the more will do so.

However, users want to get value for they money as well. Being able to vote is on such value, but more importantly is that the DA will have full transparency of what the money is used for.

If users see that they have influence on the DA and that their money is used wisely, then they will join.

Finally, as mentioned above, what is DA going to do about the domination of English?

--
/thomas
T: @tsvenson | S: tsvenson.com

Ghaaa!!! Just lost my whole

tvn's picture

Ghaaa!!! Just lost my whole comment. Just vanished #WTF!!!!

There is a problem with comments on g.d.o now: http://drupal.org/node/1380490
So it's better to make copies of the long comments before posting, for the time being.

I know, I usually do.

tsvenson's picture

I know, I usually do. However, it only seems to happen the times I forget to do so :(

--
/thomas
T: @tsvenson | S: tsvenson.com

The question might be actual

highermath's picture

The question might be actual minimum for what?

I don't know what our overhead is for an individual membership, but the focus of membership to date has been to provide a way that folks (the people who aren't corporations) can support the Association and its goals. Changing that would have implications beyond this election, and is something that requires more time and consideration that we can give it in this context.

More clarity around costs/support

arianek's picture

Echoing a fair bit what's been said above...

I do think how/how much funding might be available is extremely important, and shouldn't be diminished. For example, simply funding say $600 towards a flight is hugely insufficient relative to the costs involved.

To illustrate the point (and just to be clear, I'm not planning on running as I prefer to focus my energies elsewhere, just trying to make this more concrete), someone might consider me a good example of a candidate, but I would not be able to do this without significant funding/support from the DA because:

A) Despite being in North America, travel from Canada is extremely pricey - because I'm on the west coast, somewhere like Portland I might be able to do for $400 round trip. East coast US would be more like $900. Europe is going to be more like $1200. For others who are outside of North America, especially since now the DA offices are further from Europe as well, I can only imagine it's comparable or significantly more for contents outside of NA/Europe.

B) I am not salaried - I work part time and am paid hourly, so despite having a steady job at a good company, even 2-4 days (being inclusive of travel) 4x/year would take a huge chunk out of my annual earnings.

C) There is a limit to how much small to medium sized companies can support their employees for professional development and open source contributions. They may be happy to send someone to Drupalcon, but 4 trips a year is something that only larger companies will likely be able to support.

D) If I had to do 3 annual meetings in Europe that would be extremely daunting - so the chances that someone outside North America would apply for a position where they had to do 3 trips to western US in a year is unlikely. Between the jetlag, the extra days off for travel distance, etc. it's a huge sacrifice.

Yes, I'm reiterating a lot of points above, but I think the costs of this are being hugely underestimated for anyone who isn't both living in the US, and working for a large company. Saying that enthusiasm for the position is the only factor that should be considered is really downplaying some very concrete issues for potential candidates.

From what's been said above, it does sound like it's quite possible that the DA can cover these costs if needed, which is fantastic! But I don't think anyone in my position (which is already pretty lucky/well supported as far as I'm concerned) or in more need of support would even consider applying without much more clarity around what costs can be covered. Support "in theory" really isn't enough when stepping up to make such a large commitment.

And as a last point, I think it's extremely important that we enable more people to be eligible for these kinds of positions. We have a lot of room to be more inclusive of anyone who might be an effective and passionate candidate, and it'd be great to see more diversity among those who make decisions that affect the entire community.

The costs of travel CAN be

webchick's picture

The costs of travel CAN be covered. I'm not sure how much more clearly this can be stated, but it has been stated multiple times in this thread:

http://groups.drupal.org/node/199178#comment-657183
http://groups.drupal.org/node/199178#comment-657458
http://groups.drupal.org/node/199178#comment-657468
http://groups.drupal.org/node/199178#comment-657648

The reason we don't pay everyone's travel expenses by default is that a lot of people make a lot of money off of Drupal. If you're one of them, you're asked to pay your own way (or find a company to sponsor you in exchange for marketing, etc.) so that we can use the DA's money to help people with real financial hardships and/or those who are key contributors get to DrupalCons, development on major Drupal.org improvements, etc. If you're not one of them (or have some other reason you can't pay your own way), and the community elects you to a board seat, we'll figure out a way to cover your hard travel costs.

So many threads! Instead of

arianek's picture

So many threads! Instead of crossposting again... http://groups.drupal.org/node/197558#comment-658363

Please fill out times available for meeting

nedjo's picture

While the aim is to work out as much as we can using this wiki, I want to book one or two meeting times in case they're needed.

If you would like to participate in a meeting to review and select options, please fill out this Doodle poll: http://www.doodle.com/ikfvwp5g8p2wct8a. Be sure to select your own time zone. I put daytime hours in North America as options because that's where the members of the elections committee are located, but kept them as long as feasible (7 am to 10 pm Pacific) to have the best chance of working for those on other continents.

When we've got a sense of who wants to attend and what times work for them, I'll post one or more meetings as events here, noting that they are, for now, placeholders in case they're needed.

Thanks!

Meeting scheduled for Wed. Jan 4 at 20:00 UTC

nedjo's picture

Based on responses to the Doodle poll, I've scheduled the meeting for the only time slot that worked: Wednesday Jan. 4 at 20:00 UTC. See the event post for details. I'll post call in info to the event post once I confirm it.

Please mark the call on your calendars and help move this planning process forward!

[Edit: corrected the day to Jan 4th]

Reminder: update the wiki!

nedjo's picture

Thanks all for your input. Please try to update the wiki when you post a comment. We've got lots of comments so far but few wiki updates, suggesting that a lot of what's been brought forward is not yet captured in the wiki.

DA membership requirement

laura s's picture

Disclosure: I am a former Board member, I served on the Governance Committee that worked up the guidelines for restructuring the DA, including these at-large Board member elections, I served on the Nominating Committee, and I am currently on the Advisory Board. I'm also a paying member of the DA, and have been since the DA was first publicly announced.

Personally I feel that a DA Membership is only appropriate for eligibility to vote, as well as eligibility to run for a Board position as an at-large member. This is for the Drupal Association, which serves the Drupal Community, and while paid membership may not have a ton of privileges, it does have some, and being able to vote for at-large Board members seems a natural benefit of membership.

As to "pay to play" concerns, that is something that always concerns me, and I have raised them in other contexts. But here I do not see it as a concern, as this is not a matter of paying more to get more influence, or having to come up with a big pile of money. Some of the suggestions for alternative means of acquiring DA membership sound great to me, and I hope the ED and Board will take them into consideration. But having membership of some kind in the organization strikes me as a quite reasonable requirement for one to vote on the leadership of that organization.

Laura Scott
PINGV | Strategy • Design • Drupal Development

In its opening clause, the

highermath's picture

In its opening clause, the current bylaws specify that DCI has no members. I think that this would have to change before we could use membership as a qualification for voting.

If that is done, I would also like to see a clear policy on proxies. Specifically, I wouldn't want to see an establishment oriented proxy system (U.S. folks, think AAA or REI) that would take the at-large-ness out of the at-large positions.

Bylaws silent about membership program participation

farriss's picture

The DCI bylaw statement about the organization having no members is a legal designation that essentially means that the DA is not controlled by members (either directly or via a board it elects), but rather is controlled by the board. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonprofit_organization#Formation_and_struct...

A board-only organization typically has a self-selected board, and a membership whose powers are limited to those delegated to it by the board. A board-only organization's bylaws may even state that the organization does not have any membership, although the organization's literature may refer to its donors as "members".

Although the Drupal Association is a board-only organization, our by-laws delegate the power to nominate two at-large director positions to "the community", however we choose to define that. In no way, do the bylaws preclude the DA from creating a membership program that among its membership benefits has voting rights on the two at large seats.

Personally, I support requiring participation in the membership program as one of the voting eligibility criteria. I also think that only those who are members before the elections are opened should be able to vote to prevent any shenanigans or vote rigging.

Community definition

zzolo's picture

So, the Drupal Association (DA) needs to define the Drupal community. Any non-profit that serves a group of people defines that group up front. This should be written down and possible part of the mission statement. This does not have to define the Drupal community for everyone, just the organization that is the DA. It is very important to keep in mind that the DA != Drupal, but the DA serves the Drupal community.

IMO, The Drupal community = anyone that is interested in Drupal(aka anyone that wants to be).

Everyone else is just a potential community member. This is where diversity and inclusiveness come in; it takes a very specific effort and direction to ensure that those potential community members become members. That is why it is very important to ensure the board is made of members that represent this vast, diverse community (and potential community).

I hope the DA can define (or start a discussion to) what it considers the Drupal community is. Only from there can you start to have the discussion of who is to vote. I think most people here are thinking too much in engineering terms of the mechanics of voting instead of thinking of the actual community of people.

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zzolo

I agree with the crux of this

heyrocker's picture

I agree with the crux of this post, but I also believe that the only real reasonably criteria of who can vote is 'Anyone who is a DA member'. This idea is reflected in organizations worldwide. It is only citizens who can vote on representation, it is only shareholders who can vote on important issues for publicly traded companies, etc. It is very common to require putting up a 'stake' of some sort in order to qualify for this benefit.

I think the resolution to the concerns about diversity is to spend more time concentrating on outreach to communities that are under-represented. This can be done a variety of ways, and I think it is important that the DA's membership director (whose name escapes me at the moment) is made clear that this is a priority. I think this will alleviate a lot of the concerns raised here.

I take the broad view that

highermath's picture

I take the broad view that the board serves and represents the greater Drupal community. This includes anyone who touches Drupal. While we don't have much to offer the ultimate end user. We do have a responsibility to everyone above them. This is more philosophical than practical, and can perhaps be more clearly expressed as our having an obligation to represent folks we never see, like a site builder who never gets an account on d.o and never participates in the community, with the same dedication that we give to the owner of the largest, most involved Drupal shop.

I do not believe that we have an obligation to reach out in some exceptional way to all the folks we never see, but we do have an obligation to reach out in a reasonable way, using the tools we normally use -- the websites. I suggested that we use d.o accounts as the requirement for voting because they are the minimum practical way of managing the process. My issues with using membership as a requirement are not blockers, merely considerations.

The board does have a diversity goal as part of the nominating committee charter, but this only covers the class board seats. I feel that any attempt to curate the at-large seats will only make them less at-large.

In regards to in-person meeting costs

zzolo's picture

In regards to in-person meeting costs, I am pretty sure most people are in agreement that there are high costs to this requirement. I also feel that it is pretty important to the DA, and rightfully so, that in-person meetings happen. I'd like to push this actionable item immediately:

1) Please, please, please update the description around the in-person meetings. I, as many others, have completely blown off the possibility of being a board member because the current description does not mention any ability to have help with funding. Something along the lines:

The DA has 4 in-person meetings a year that we highly suggest (read as required) that you attend. We understand the costs of this may be high, and that this requirement will exclude potential candidates, but there is currently some level of funding provided to make this happen.

This is very similar to job descriptions that say "We would love someone to work in the office with us, but will consider remote candidates if they are fully qualified."

The following would be super cool of the DA and would not be difficult to start doing soon:

2) Acknowledge that this requirement excludes certain people. I am not sure where is the best place of this, but I think it is important.

3) Create new Board Member positions or something similar that would allow for remote participation in DA decision making. (Arguably) the vast majority of the Drupal community cannot make it to 4 in-persons meeting a year, so this means that the DA Board is not actually representing the Drupal community. This needs to be resolved.

4) What would really be nice is if the DA had some documents/committee/initiative around outreach and diversity.

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zzolo

Posted a backgrounder wiki on the DA's governance

nedjo's picture

To help community members gain perspective on where the at large elections come from, I've begun to pull together some background on the governance of the DA, including the 2011 restructuring.

The wiki page is here: http://groups.drupal.org/node/199613. I'm hoping this summary and the resources linked on it may be useful reading for people contributing to the planning of the elections.

Please add in what I missed or correct what I got wrong.

I really like Webchick's

kepford's picture

I really like Webchick's comment on the voting process.

To summerize:

How should nominations work?
Candidates should be self nominated.

Who should be able to vote during elections?
Voters should only be Drupal Association members.

What should the community "vetting" process of prospective candidates look like?
I like Webchick's suggestion of a "global" forum that would allow us to ask questions of the candidates and also allow the candidates to ask their own questions.

Where and how should the actual elections themselves take place?
Association.drupal.org using the most straight forward method we can find. If that is Webform then great.

New sections added to wiki

nedjo's picture

In preparation for tomorrow's meeting, I've added two new components to the wiki.

First, I added a section on "Issues to address", including subsections "Indirect elections" and "Name recognition". These are not areas requiring planning, but may lead to questions we need to research or influence decisions.

Second, for each decision to be made, I added a section "Criteria for evaluating options". For example, I suggested some criteria that we might refer to when deciding between different voting systems. What I captured was only rough ideas from discussions so far--review and additions needed. The idea is that if we can gain clarity and consensus on criteria, we'll be much better prepared to weigh the relative merits of different options.

Thanks for all your additions and comments. Keep them coming! And I look forward to talking with as many of you as can make it to tomorrow's meeting--where firming up criteria will be an important part of our work.

Polical risks

develCuy's picture

Disclaimer: I'm an Advisory Board of Drupal Association.

I personally like the idea of having 2 at-large board members, they will be people that represents the community. That is what should happen in a perfect world. But is certainly complicated due to technical limitations, unfortunately not every person has born with an RFID... but that is "just" an (big one) issue.

Let's think about what might happen in the real world, perhaps the way that crisis arise in all communities, because we are human beings, unique persons linked by one word: "Drupal", but certainly and naturally different. Then:

If somebody is elected because the community expects that such person will change something in Drupal Association...

1) At-large frustration: What if the Board does not elects the candidate? Does the community would think that DA does not wants that change to happen?

2) At-large shame: What if the Board elects the candidate but the community does not sees that the change happening? would that be a DA fail? an At-large board fail? both?

Now multiplying by two:

3) At-large division: What if the two At-large boards disagree at some point and move move each side of the community against the other?

4) At-large incompatibility: Does every person in this community lives in territory with democracy? nop, how those regions will find themselves identified with all this election process?

OK, OK, so much evil mindset for today...

If all these are real risks, then the community needs to be educated about what to expect from the At-large boards. Also, the At-large boards might state publicly that they clearly understand what they will be able to do. And of course, the Drupal Association should communicate carefully, transparently and regularly about the progress.

All this is about people, and they use to change their minds, so lets be responsible and do vote with responsibility, thinking on our beloved community which is the one that should be benefit from all this at the end of the day.

--
Un drupalero latino,
Trabajando en Dilygent y
Blogueando en http://develCuy.com

Issue opened for finalizing elections plan

nedjo's picture

I've opened an issue on the Drupal Association project on drupal.org, http://drupal.org/node/1398302. We'll use that issue to capture the plan for conduct of the Drupal Association's 2012 elections of At Large board directors. As individual decisions mature, either here or through the related posts on groups.drupal.org, we'll follow the process outlined in #1398302 to confirm them as part of the plan.

There are at least one or two initial pieces of the plan that are probably ready for this step--maybe more. Please go ahead and start identifying them and posting issues. Thanks!

And if the process I'm putting in place isn't clear, or if you have suggested improvements, please post your questions, comments, and suggestions as replies here.

On representation

highermath's picture

The duty of an at-large board member is to represent the entire community, including all constituencies and sub-divisions. They must not go in with the goal of representing only a specific group or sub-group to which they might belong.

The same thing is true of class board members as well. At the most abstract level, we represent everyone who has an interest in Drupal, regardless of what accounts and/or memberships they might have.

Status and next steps

nedjo's picture

Thanks all for your work so far on this! I haven't been able to give as much time to the elections planning this week as I'd hoped. Angie, thx for your post to the issue I created to try to pull together "maturing" decisions. The process I put out may be way too complicated--create an issue for each decision, get it RTBC, then add it to the draft plan, then.... Anyway, things are going okay but we've got our work cut out for us getting from where we are to a concrete plan we can present to the board.

I'd like to set up one or two more meetings to help the process along, including one not long before the January 19 DA board meeting, so we can on the spot with whoever shows up make the remaining decisions we need to firm up the proposal. I'll post a link here to a doodle poll soon so we can figure out meeting times.

The biggest piece outstanding seems to be voting eligibility. My hunch remains that we need to tackle the question of what approach are we taking to capturing "the Drupal community" before we can really choose between the two main options: (a) drupal.org account holders (or a subset representing active members) and (b) DA members. I tried to frame some options here in the thread on voting eligibility but probably more clarity is needed.

Doodle poll posted for next planning meeting

nedjo's picture

Hi all,

Posted a doodle poll: http://www.doodle.com/w3fa6uycdbptp9y2

If you can help finish up this proposal for holding DA at large directors, we'd love to have you. Please fill out out the poll and I'll schedule a meeting. Thanks!

2nd and (gasp!) 3rd meetings posted

nedjo's picture

We have two more meetings scheduled to get this plan finalized for the Jan. 18 (thx webchick for the date correction!) DA board meeting:

The Monday meeting is "if and as needed"--if by some miracle we're totally on top of things, we'll update the Monday event post to note the meeting is cancelled.

Everyone who's contributed so far, and those of you who haven't yet but want to: your participation and help getting the plan finalized would be great. If you can make it to one or both meetings, please do!

Just a quick correction. The

webchick's picture

Just a quick correction. The board meeting to sign-off on the community election plan is January 18th, not 19th.

Draft proposal

webchick's picture

Here's a rough draft of a proposal to the DA board at http://groups.drupal.org/node/201753 which I think reflects consensus where it exists, and outlines where there isn't and I had to make something up. There are also links to where discussion is actively ongoing on a couple of the hotter topics—e.g. who should be able to vote, and how.

Comments/corrections much appreciated!

Looks like a pretty good

kattekrab's picture

Looks like a pretty good summary to me.

Donna Benjamin
Board Member Drupal Association
Executive Director cc.com.au
@kattekrab

Based on today's discussion,

webchick's picture

Based on today's discussion, we tweaked http://groups.drupal.org/node/201753 some more and think it's pretty close to final now. Reviews welcome!

Nominations extended, elections timeline adjusted

nedjo's picture

Very few nominations have come in, so the election committee decided to extend the nomination period. Details: https://association.drupal.org/node/14403.

Would be good if this could

tsvenson's picture

Would be good if this could go out on the planet to reach a broader audience...

--
/thomas
T: @tsvenson | S: tsvenson.com

Yes.

nedjo's picture

Done.

Communication failure?

tsvenson's picture

I know that the discussion about the election and things have been going on publicly for some time. However, when the nomination process etc was officially announced, the time to the deadline was quite short.

That might be one reasons few self nomination has come in. After all this is a pretty big commitment for those that will have to travel. Plus, they needed time to really think it through. Its one thing being nominated by someone else, but a much different thing to step forward and nominate yourself.

Once the dust is settled I think it would be a good idea to analyze the whole process and what we could have done better.

My personal opinion right now is that one cause could be that we need to have much better communication channels that are clear for the members in the community. Most of the updates I have seen is from posts here in the group plus the mentioning of it in the DA January 18th newsletter.

We know how important this is, but those who haven't been directly engaged in this discussion are most likely not seeing the importance of this election for DA and the community. Simply because it looked like any other email alert you get from groups, issues and other stuff you get from d.o.

DA really should have sent out one email just about this for example, not hide it amongst other updates in a monthly newsletter.

How else has this been communicated to reach those within the community that would be the best candidates?

--
/thomas
T: @tsvenson | S: tsvenson.com

Good questions and suggestions

nedjo's picture

One thing I'm wondering is the impact of having just held the nominating committee process. Lots of people came forward as board candidates and went through a long and involved selection process, including in some cases multiple interviews, questionnaires, etc., only in the end not to be selected--not because they didn't have a lot to offer, but because we as a nominating committee were trying to balance so many different factors. There were many people we talked to who I personally would gladly see on the board. Those dozens of community members and leaders who already applied might well hesitate to put themselves forward again, especially since this time are only two board positions open and the process might look even more involved and daunting--public discussions and debate, the difficulty of getting one's name known.

I'm talking with Kristof who chaired the nominating committee about reaching out to these folks.

Re evaluating afterwards, absolutely. This is our first time, and we'll have a lot to learn from how it went.

Cultural obstacles

tsvenson's picture

Oh, didn't know about that happening, but do see that might have made them reluctant.

Maybe one reason they don't apply is that due to that process they don't really feel they have the support needed to take the initiative and nominate themselves?

In many countries/cultures self nomination is a big step. In Sweden for example we have something called "jantelagen" (the law of jante). Basically it means that you should not think you are better than anyone else. In this case, self nominating is seen as just that and even on the highest political level you seldom see anyone go out and say they want to be the leader of a party unless there is many that are pushing them to do it.

It is slowly changing, but I think we need to factor in these cultural obstacles as well when we analyze what changes are needed for the next time. If we can find a model where members of the community better can express their support to make it easier for people to step forward, I am sure that will improve things a lot.

--
/thomas
T: @tsvenson | S: tsvenson.com

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