Board meeting procedure

Benj. Mako Hill mako at
Sun Aug 3 05:12:15 UTC 2003

On Tue, Jul 29, 2003 at 08:53:21PM +0100, Ian Jackson wrote:
> After last board meeting, I said that I think we should change the
> usual procedure at board meetings to avoid them turning into argument
> fests.
> No-one followed up to my email, so I assume people didn't think it
> unreasonable, but this last meeting turned into another collosal waste
> of time and IRC argument.

I would also like to see more concrete resolutions and less talk.

However, I personally I find a little bit of real-time discussion
helpful and not categorically bothersome in the way you seem to.

In particular, I'm thinking about the fact that the couple of
resolutions I have brought to the board in my short tenure generated
almost no responses from the email list but, when voted on, generated
a relatively painless, non-quarrelsome and productive set of IRC
responses that led to a few quick revisions and, in 5 or so minutes, a
more solid resolution. The fact that this resolution at first
generated no response is evidence of what I see may be its major

I hate long bothersome and argumentative meetings but I think that a
little bit of back and forth that leads to a better resolution while
we're all to hash it out should not be categorically blocked.

If we can replace IRC meeting nastiness with more productive email
discussions, I am 100% behind this. If we're just going to create less
discussions without a real increase in the number of productive work,
I don't think we're introducing a real solution. This resolution
simply doesn't seem able to explore any kind of balance in this way.

In terms of your individual resolutions, I can definitely get behind
8, 11, 12 and 13 and to a less emphatic degree (perhaps just wording)
behind 6 and 7.

In terms of 9, I think I've covered my reservations above.

In terms of 10, I think I'm going to, on principle, shy away from any
resolution that calls for "ruthlessness." :)


> 6. Discussion at on-line real-time Board meetings of Software in the
>    Public Interest shall be limited to the absolute minimum necessary,
>    by the specific measures below, and by the active cooperation of
>    the Board and others during meeting.
> 7. No items shall appear on the agenda of a Board meeting that are
>    not accompanied by a firm proposal (or alternative versions, if
>    there's a disagreement) in ready-to-vote resolution form.  There
>    ought to have been at least a week or so for discussion by email.
> 8. Reports of any kind shall be posted in advance to the board list.  They
>    should be accompanied by a standard form resolution like `the board
>    thanks so-and-so, and accepts the report'.
> 9. There shall be strictly no discussion during the meeting.  Anything
>    that requires more discussion than has taken place before the
>    meeting shall be postponed until next meeting or email voting.  If
>    board members feel the discussion has not been adequate then they
>    should vote NO on the relevant motion.
> 10. The meeting chair shall be ruthless in enforcing the rules above.
> 11. The above rules may be deviated from in case of necessity, such as
>    external deadlines, emergencies etc.
> 12. The practice of waiting for guests to state their name during the
>    meeting will cease.  Instead, the Secretary shall start logging the
>    channel 15 minutes before the meeting, and guests will be asked to
>    state their name during that period, or when they arrive if they
>    arrive later.
> 13. The information about the availability of board members for the
>    next meeting will be collected by email in advance of the meeting
>    by a volunteer member of the Board, who will correlate the
>    information and propose a date for approval by the meeting.
> Ian.
> _______________________________________________
> Spi-general mailing list
> Spi-general at

Benj. Mako Hill
mako at

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