[Members] proposed bylaw change: membership application periods

Dave Cridland dave at cridland.net
Thu Mar 17 05:05:36 CST 2011

On Wed Mar 16 20:21:25 2011, Peter Saint-Andre wrote:
> Before I forget, I would like to propose a change to Section 2.1 of  
> the
> XSF's bylaws, to be considered at the next meeting of the membership
> (most likely in July).
Gosh, everyone else seems to unreservedly positive, I feel  
honour-bound to be contrary.

> Applications from prospective new members shall be accepted during  
> the
> first 10 days of each quarter (i.e., in January, April, July, and
> October), which membership applications shall be considered at a  
> meeting
> of the Members to be held not more than 14 days after the close of  
> the
> application period.
> Applications from prospective new and returning members shall be
> accepted on a rolling basis, which membership applications shall be
> considered at a Special Meeting of the Members in accordance with
> Section 3.3 of these bylaws.
> (It is almost certain that such Special Meetings will be held  
> quarterly,
> but I'm not sure if we need to specify that in the bylaws.)

I think it's worth examining what we do today, how that differs from  
what we have specified, and what changes we'd like to make.

So, currently, we have periods where we accept - and indeed solicit -  
membership applications. After this period closes, we have a period  
of voting, culminating in a meeting. We do this four times a year,  
and we aim to - roughly - hit the months above, although this doesn't  
always work out quite. We have been known to have more than 14 days  
of voting, I think, and similarly more than 10 days of applications.

One year after you're voted in to the XSF, you have to reapply - in  
practise, we assume that the exact length of your membership is  
aligned with the meetings for those quarters.

So the primary way we differ from the by-laws is in the precise  
timing of events, and there's knock-on from that.

Now, Peter's proposed text does rather more than loosen the timing.

Firstly, it means we don't have to ever have a meeting to accept  
members - while I doubt this would be the case, I don't really see  
that removing a "four times a year" stipulation gains us much.  
Secondly, we accept applications at all times, meaning we lose the  
solicitation period we currently have, and I'm concerned that this  
may have the effect of (further) limiting new applications. Thirdly,  
without the cut-off we have, I'm uncomfortable with the unspecified  
way we'd decide which applications we'd be voting on in which meeting.

Finally, we'd need to adapt the membership term in §2.9 more formally  
to last for a mimimum of one year, after which it would linger until  
the end of the next meeting - but this is one thing we probably need  
to do anyway.

(I note in passing that depending on the timing of the reapplication  
meeting, it's perfectly possible that you may not be able to vote on  
your own reapplication. For instance, if next year's meeting happens  
on the 17th of March, I'd not be able to vote for my own  
reapplication - we may, or may not, want this)

So in summary, while I'm entirely in favour of reviewing the somewhat  
strict timing of §2.1 and §2.9, I don't think that Peter's approach  
is quite right, and takes things a little too far.

Dave Cridland - mailto:dave at cridland.net - xmpp:dwd at dave.cridland.net
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