Fwd: Steering committee being disbanded?

Hi Tom,

Thanks for bringing this up. I very much think that much more transparency is needed on this topic, and I have been trying to encourage those discussions (which happened so far between the advisory committee and with @Sandra when she was project director) to take place in public.

We set up the advisory and steering committees back when we joined CS&S at the end of 2019. We created those two committees to adopt the sort of default gouvernance structure of CS&S projects.

The steering committee has stayed mostly dormant. The idea with this committee was to have a panel of high-profile people who could advise the project’s general direction, help us knock on the right doors with partners and funders, and so on.
After a few years of operation, it is clear that we have failed to set up the right structure for this committee to meet regularly and for the advisory committee to solicit their feedback enough to make the committee useful.
Hence the interest in cleaning up our gouvernance structures and removing this dormant committee.

At the same time, the advisory committee concentrates too much power and operates in a too opaque way. There is an interest among the current members of that committee (@Martin, @Ainali and I) to reduce the committee’s role to the strict necessary (being formally responsible for the project within CS&S, signing documents…) and creating a more open structure to deal with strategic decisions such as which grant applications to write.

Sandra initiated a move in this direction, which intended to set up an ambassadors’ council. It would draw its members from our user community, representing each sub-community’s interests (such as librarians, journalists, wikimedians…) within the project. Now that Sandra has left this role, the advisory committee has taken over the task of pushing for this, and we have kept this process internal mostly by inertia (in my opinion). I wish this had made more progress but for now we are quite slow.

Overall I have to say that I am quite uncomfortable with the current situation, where I am the only link between those gouvernance structures and the developer community, which gradually diverge from each other. Some months ago, I have offered to leave the advisory committee because of that, as a way of making sure that the committees would then need to really make an effort to explicitly involve the developer community in their operations. Others did not think it was a good move.

This is my personal view on the current situation. I’d be very interested to know what others think of it and what gouvernance structures they wish for OpenRefine.