This is a draft document, reflecting the discussions held at the June '06 face-to-face meeting.
A version of this document may be formally adopted by the board at some point in the future.
Italics are used for editorial comments or to provide rationale for specific sections of the document.
Loosley speaking, there are three basic types of individual affiliation with the Foundation: Participant, Member, and Charter Member.
- The broadest category, that of Participant, is for those who are not formally registered on the osgeo.org website but who nonethess contribute code, help out on committees, follow the various mailing lists, and otherwise participate in Foundation activities. Anyone can be a Participant.
- The second category is simply termed Member. Members of this class have the same level of rights to work on Foundation activities as the Participant class, but with the important distinction that these individuals have self-registered themselves on the osgeo.org website. By registering, an individual is "opting in" and publicly acknowleging his connection to the Foundation. This registration process also provides the Foundation with a known, countable membership base. For example, the Board or various Committees may, from time to time, wish to poll the all Members on some important issue.
- The third category is Charter Member. Members of this class have the rights as the above Member class, but with two important differences. First, individuals in this class are not self-selected, but rather must be voted in by the other Charter Members. Second, individuals in this class have the right to vote in elections for other Charter Members and for Board Members.
These two factors are intended to maintain the integrity of the Foundation election processes -- and by extension the integrity of the Foundation itself. We use the term "Charter" Member to explicitly indicate that these members are responsible for upholding the "charter" of the Foundation.
Without the Charter Member category to serve as a basis for the Board election process, it would be technically possible for a group of self-interested Members to "hijack" the Board and hence the Foundation itself, turning it away from our basic goals and principles.
We emphasize that the only real difference between a Member and a Charter Member is the right and responsibility to vote at the Foundation level. It is not our intent to make the Charter Members out to be some "privileged" class. Furthermore, the only real difference between a Member and a Participant is the self-registration on the Foundation's website. All mailing lists, projects, committees, and other Foundation activities are uniformly open and available to all friends of the Foundation.
More specifically, each of these three classes can be described in terms of certain characteristics, rights, or responsibilities:
- Eligibility Requirements: who can be a member of this class
- Nominating Rights: what rights are given for nominating new members
- Voting Rights: what rights are given for Foundation-level voting
The classes and their characteristics are as follows:
- Eligibility Requirements: none (everyone is welcome)
- Nominating Rights: none
- Voting Rights: none
- Eligibility Requirements: must self-register on the osgeo.org website
- Nominating Rights: has the right to nominate Charter Members and 'Board Members
- Voting Rights: may vote in general Foundation polls and election (but not for new Charter Members or Board Members)
- Eligibility Requirements: must be nominated and voted in
- Nominating Rights: same as Participant
- Voting Rights: may vote for new Charter Members and Board Members
The Foundation will maintain on the website a public roster of all Members and Charter Members.
"Registration" on the website shall consist of the following: self-chosen username, valid email address, postal address, professional affiliation(s) (optional), lat/lon (optional), and a short bio/description (optional).
Other Membership Benefits
At some point, we may choose to allow Participants, Members, and Charter Members certain minor benefits, such as the right to use a logo on their web pages, an osgeo.org email address, etc.
A Supporter is someone who donates money to the Foundation. However, being a Supporter of the Foundation does not give one any specific rights or responsibilities. A Supporter has no more "power" than anyone else.
In return for the donation, a Supporter may receive a shirt, a conference registration discount, etc. In the future, we might choose to have levels of support, yearly subscriptions, etc. A Supporter might get the right to use a "I Support OSGeo" logo or some such thing.
Note that we specifically choose not to require impose on Participants, Members, or Charter Members any form of membership fee, as this may present an economic hardship and therefore be a barrier to contributing to the Foundations efforts.
As a Member of the Foundation, you are expected to act in accordance with the goals of the Foundation. You are expected to act in a professional and responsible manner. You are expected to treat your fellow members with the respect and courtesy they deserve. Foundation activities are to be undertaken in a spirit of open discussion and consensus.
Membership Change and Revocation
If the Board deems that any member is not acting in the best interests of the Foundation, e.g. by not adhering to the above Membership Responsinbilites, they may by majority vote revoke the membership of that member.
Criteria for Charter Member Nomination
Nominees for Charter Member status should meet the following criteria:
- The person should have made a contribution to open source geospatial software already.
- The person should be willing to put in time and effort on the foundation, perhaps joining committee(s), or volunteering in some other way that gets the foundation going.
- Members should believe in the general goals of the foundation. To support and promote the use of open source geospatial software in a collaborative manner (my words).
- Members selected should provide a diversity of geographic representation in the foundation.
- Members selected should provide representation of a diversity of projects. For instance, we have a strong desire to see the "java tribe" well represented in the foundation. We don't want the membership dominated by folks from just one project.
- Members selected should provide representation of a diversity of interests (eg. corporate, hobbyist, educational, scientific).
- Members should be prepared to works constructively and positively towards the goals of the foundation. Good teamwork skills are an asset.
The Foundation is open to all members of the geospatial community. We do not discriminate based on age, gender, race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.
This membership discussion does not cover the following:
- corporate membership or sponsorship; this discussion pertains to "individuals" only
- board member eligibility, elections, etc
- the board has the right to remove members from the Foundation
- nomination and election process for selecting Charter Members