[Foundation] Criteria, Voting, Membership What does it mean?

Peter Saint-Andre stpeter at jabber.org
Mon Mar 11 22:24:52 CST 2002

What does JSF membership mean? Here is my ideal:

JSF membership means a *lot* -- it's something that community members
aspire to. You're accepted as a member only if you have created a lot of
value and have really contributed. JSF members are a small, respected
subset of Jabber community members. Promises, wishes, and good intentions
are heavily discounted when current JSF members vote on whom to accept. In
other words, the JSF is a meritocracy, not a democracy.

It's easy for me to say that but not quite so easy to implement. One way
to ensure that JSF membership means a lot is for current JSF members to be
picky about whom they accept as new members. But even that is not enough.
For example, say someone was a strong contributor to the Jabber community
two years ago and was voted in as a JSF member, but has since lost
interest and is no longer active. Is that person stripped of JSF
membership? By whom? Based on what criteria? Right now, as long as that
person continues to vote, he or she can be a member of the JSF for life,
which doesn't seem right.

A standard open-source project is certainly a meritocracy, since your
standing in the project is based on the code (or docs etc.) you've
contributed, but it is not a membership organization and its formal
structure is loose to non-existent. A standard membership organization
(e.g., a club) is more of a democracy since it considers anyone who pays
monetary dues to be a member. The JSF is something in between these. Like
a club it is a membership organization, but like an open-source project
your membership is based not on your monetary contribution, but on your
contribution of code, documentation, assistance to people on the mailing
lists, and so on. A club will no longer consider you a member if you don't
contribute money. Likewise, I think it would make sense for the JSF to no
longer consider you a member if you don't contribute in at least some
relevant capacity.

Would it be possible to come up with objective ways to measure the extent
of an individual's contributions to the Jabber community? Here are some

1. JEPs accepted by the JEP Editor
2. Substantive comments made within the Standards JIG
3. Questions answered on JDEV or JADMIN
4. Documents produced (howtos, whitepapers, etc.)
5. Community services provided (e.g., JabberStudio, JabberCentral)
6. Code contributed (to your own project or someone else's)

I'm not thinking that we would have hard-and-fast quotas here (10
questions answered on JADMIN and you're in), but I am thinking that in the
future we would ask for documentation of specific contributions in each of
the above areas from new applicants (URLs for docs created or posts made
to the mailing list archives, features added or bugs fixed in code
projects, etc.). I'm still not sure what to do about existing members who
have stopped contributing -- for example, I don't particularly want to
require each member to put together a yearly list of accomplishments in
order to remain a member (I must admit I would not be averse to that, but
I don't quite see who would vote on retaining existing members).

You may wonder where this leaves people who have not made public
contributions to the Jabber community -- for example, people who have
created proprietary software. I'm not sure. I'm inclined to say that if
all you have done is create something private and proprietary (say, an
awesome Jabber-enabled intranet for your company) and you have not made
any public contributions to the Jabber community (e.g., by posting to the
mailing lists), then you don't deserve to be a member of the JSF. To
borrow a term from Lawrence Lessig, the Jabber protocols are an
intellectual commons. If you have not contributed value to that commons,
serving instead solely your own private interest, then you do not merit
JSF membership, no matter how significant your efforts may have been to
your own cause. So my proposed criteria would exclude people whose
interest in Jabber is purely commercial (I emphasize the word "purely").
However, for people or more likely companies whose interests are purely
commercial, there is always the option of sponsoring the JSF, as several
companies have already done. (I recognize that there is a lack of clarity
around sponsorship right now -- Andre Durand and I are working to clear
that up soon.)

Anyway those are my initial thoughts on the meaning of JSF membership. I'm
looking forward to discussing these issues further.


Peter Saint-Andre
email+jabber: stpeter at jabber.org
weblog: http://www.saint-andre.com/blog/

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