Who is the audience for this document? Do we want to make this document be a recipe for us to follow when making decisions? OR Documenting how we're supposed to act so that community members can hold us accountable?
This policy is meant to
- set expectations for Board Members.
Responsibilities for Board decisions
When the Board makes decisions that require work to be done, the Board has a responsibility to see that the people doing the work have everything they need to get the work done. This requires communication between the Board and the contributors doing the work and may also require a time commitment by the Board.
The Board needs to ensure that the relevant parties are informed when a decision is made. When the Board makes a decision requiring followup in a meeting, one person must volunteer to identify the list of people, mailing lists, and tickets, to send a followup to and then take care of sending the information to those places. This person doesn't have to be on the Board but they do have to be present at the Board Meeting.
Using the SOPA decision as an example, once our decision was made, we should have found one member of the Board to commit to emailing email@example.com and pinging mizmo and ianweller (either in person at FUDCon, over IRC, or via email) about the websites update that was needed.
There are three levels of responsibilities that the Board needs to take care of when making decisions that require work to be done.
Board level decisions
Many decisions are made that require some followup decisions to be made in order to fully implement the decision. This might be because new aspects of the problem were discovered once implementation started, the Board seemed to have an idea about the decision but that portion of the discussion didn't make it into the notes from the meeting, or the problem wasn't fully discussed or understood during the meeting. These followup decisions sometimes seem to require Board-level approval in their own right. If the followup is time critical, waiting for the next Board meeting may be too long.
To mitigate this, the Board will take several actions.
- Every decision should have one Board owner who is in charge of making followup decisions.
- If the Board owner is unavailable, the people doing work that requires a followup decision answered can open a new ticket in the Board trac asking that a certain course of action to implement the prior decision be approved. Board members have 24 hours to vote. At the end of the period, a simple majority of the cast votes wins. Board members should vote as to whether they see the followup being within the spirit of the original decision rather than using it as a platform to reopen the original discussion. At least one Board member must have replied in that time.
In case a decision is very time critical, the people asking the followup question can ask it in the ticket right away. All Board members receive email from tickets in our trac. The Board owner of the decision is responsible for seeing that the ticket was opened and responding with a definite decision if they do not want the Board member voting to take precedence.
Good questions should contain a plan of action that the implementor wants to take that can be approved or disapproved simply:
"At the last meeting, the Board voted to have a blackout banner on fp.o in protest of internet censorship however the Board did not decide what the banner should say. I would like to implement the blackout banner with the text 'Internet censorship is wrong'. I would like the Board to vote here to approve this as without any text the banner cannot go live on Tuesday."
Non-Board level decisions
In general, the Board wants to empower the people implementing a decision to make followup decisions. To enable this the Board will endeavor to:
- Make sure to explain the spirit of decisions so the implementors can feel more comfortable that their followup decisions are natural extensions to what we explicitly mentioned.
- If mistakes are made, simply correct them, Don't blame the implementor.
- Default to letting the person driving the change make followup decisions. Make sure that any decisions the Board wants to retain control over are mentioned explicitly.
Sometimes followup decisions will prove controversial. If conflicts arise between the person driving the change and other people about a followup decision (not the original decision), the followup decision can be taken to the Board. If it's time sensitive, use the 24 hour voting method given above. Otherwise, it can be ticketed for the Board to look at at its next meeting.
Board level work
Sometimes a Board Member takes on part of the work to achieve some goal. This has sometimes proven to be a bad thing as the work to be done blocks on the Board member completing it. To try and mitigate this, the Board has set several rules for itself:
- When a Board Member takes on work, they need to make sure they have time for it.
- The Board member taking on the work should set a deadline at the meeting so that other Board Members know whether the work isn't being accomplished.
- If the deadline is missed, other Board members can step up to do it or, in some cases, the people implementing the decision can make a proposal in a trac ticket for Board approval.
Board members should be aware that if they consistently do not have the time to take on Board level work or the time to meet their deadlines when they do take on the work, they probably should consider leaving the Board for someone with more time to take over.