Board/Project Governance

Josh Boyer jwboyer at
Fri Sep 6 10:45:00 UTC 2013

The Fedora project governance model is pretty straight forward.  Most
groups have a clear purpose (e.g. FESCo is responsible for the overall
technical direct) and most have an elected or volunteer community that
has organized itself fairly well.  This is a good thing.  It shows
people exactly who to talk to and how to get elected and what is
expected of members of that group.

The one exception to this is the Fedora Board.  Before I was on the
Board, I asked several times "what does the Board do?".  The answer
has always been "steward for the Fedora trademarks and high level
project direction."  It's a somewhat nebulous definition, likely
purposely so.  The question hasn't really gone away though.  I get
asked this all the time and it's, at times, hard to answer.

In the beginning times, there was a lot of higher level project
details to decide.  What does the project take from the community, how
can we grow the ability to contribute, etc.  That lead to Fedora
Extras, the establishment of many of the existing committees, the
grand merge of Core and Extras.  All good things.  All essentially
solved, and to be honest all questions that needed immediate answers
so they were low hanging fruit.

Later, in my first term on the Board, we were working on defining what
is now the Target User.  Clearly a higher level project decision, so
something the Board should work on.  Whether it has made a difference
to our project is debatable, but I told myself we were at least
_doing_ something.

We now seem to be at a point where we're again redefining how we're
targeting, what we're producing, etc.  Again, I think this is great.
However, I noticed a difference this time.  All of the current change
and direction has come from FESCo or other community members.  None of
it has been generated or driven by the Board.  That got me thinking.

The Board is assembled from people that get elected, plus some
appointees made by the FPL.  And to be sure, the people on the Board
have always cared about the Fedora project.  But the actual
composition of the Board is essentially random.  It's made of people
that want to be on the Board because the Board exists.  Sometimes this
works.  Other times it can be a hindrance if the Board doesn't have
the expertise to handle a topic it is presented.

So.  What if we could do better?  What if we could make the Board more
representative of Fedora contributors from a composition standpoint?
We have all these other committees and groups already doing the
day-to-day stewardship of the project.  We have the Fedora Project
Lead, basically, leading.  Maybe we can combine them.  Cutting to the
chase, what if the Board was comprised of a representative from each

FESCo, Docs, Rel-Eng, QA, Ambassadors, Infrastructure, Design,
Marketing, and <open>.

Each of those committees, which clearly have a large stake and vested
interest in Fedora succeeding, would chose one member to appoint to
their respective Board seat.  That person would be responsible for
their group's interaction with the Board and the other groups.

Some of you might notice the composition proposed is essentially that
of the Release Readiness meetings.  This isn't by coincidence.  Call
it DevOps or whatever other trendy thing you want, but getting the
stakeholders of something together to discuss the betterment of that
thing just kind of makes sense to me.  It also shares ideas with the
Fedora Council idea, which is by coincidence because I discovered that
after I had thought about most of this.  Still good to see

The <open> seat could be anything.  I don't have a clear group that
should fill it.  Maybe it can be appointed to gain valuable insight in
specific areas (though we can always just ask for that insight
anyway).  Maybe it could be a representative from the new Product
Workgroups that are being formed.

The really astute of you might notice that with a few exceptions, the
_people_ on the Board might not even change that much.  That's FINE!
The proposal isn't about people, it's about the composition of the
Board.  It is interesting to note that under my own proposal I would
no longer be on the Board.  I'm OK with that if it makes the project
better positioned going forward.

I'm curious as to what people think.  I'm putting this out there as a
discussion starter.  Hopefully the discussion it generates is positive
and thought provoking.


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