Board meeting procedure

Ian Jackson ijackson at
Tue Jul 29 19:53:21 UTC 2003

After last board meeting, I said that I think we should change the
usual procedure at board meetings to avoid them turning into argument

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.

So, since just stating my opinion hasn't worked, I'm going to propose
a formal resolution, which I'll ask Wichert to put (as the first
item!) on the agenda of the next meeting.  A draft is below.

Please comment on them now so that we can have a nice argument.

My goals are:

- to save the Secretary from having to write up enormous IRC logs into
  coherent minutes

- to get our routine meetings down to 15-20 minutes

- to improve the quality of our decisionmaking by allowing wider,
  easier, and better discussion

- to improve the accessibility of our decisionmaking by moving the
  bulk of it to email.


1. It is important that board meetings, which require simultaneous
   presence of a quorum of the board, be short.

2. IRC discussions provide less easily read archives of discussions
   than email archives, and require substantial efforts at redaction
   to produce minutes.

3. IRC discussions are less accessible to people who are not available
   at the time of the meeting than email.

4. IRC discussions are more prone to misunderstandings, accidental
   offence, and personality clashes, than email.

5. On-line board meetings via IRC are a poor medium for
   discussion for the reasons given above.


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.


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