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Re: PostgreSQL Europe statutes : recap

From: Koen Martens <gmc(at)sonologic(dot)nl>
To: "Andreas 'ads' Scherbaum" <ads(at)pgug(dot)de>
Cc: damien clochard <damien(at)dalibo(dot)info>, pgeu-general(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: PostgreSQL Europe statutes : recap
Date: 2008-01-23 11:13:03
Message-ID: 20080123111302.GC16312@dave.dh.sono (view raw, whole thread or download thread mbox)
Lists: pgeu-general
On Wed, Jan 23, 2008 at 11:49:22AM +0100, Andreas 'ads' Scherbaum wrote:
> On Wed, Jan 23, 2008 at 10:53:25AM +0100, Koen Martens wrote:
> > On Mon, Jan 21, 2008 at 06:03:17PM +0100, Andreas 'ads' Scherbaum wrote:
> > > On Sun, Jan 20, 2008 at 05:53:56AM +0100, damien clochard wrote:
> > > > 3- Quorum ?
> > > >     a : Keep the statutes as they are
> > > >     b : Lower the quorum
> > > >     c : Drop the quorum
> > > 
> > > Having a quorum is a nice thing, especially if you discuss and decide 
> > > "hot" topics. In this case a quorum makes sense. For everything else we 
> > > have the fallback with a second meeting without quorum.
> > > So why dropping or lowering he quorum?
> > 
> > Because it is very likely that you don't get a quorum _ever_ on GA's. As
> > explained, I expect that you will have such a second GA where the quorum
> > is dropped most of the times anyway, so it is more practical to drop it.
> Yes, it's annoying, but that's democracy.

Well, their are various interpretations on democracy. I know that in
Belgium you are obligated to vote, but in the Netherlands, no such
obligation exists. There is also no lower bound for the number of voters
that show up to make the elections valid.

A reasonable interpretation of democracy would be, for me, that those
who want to have a voice may have a voice, but that it is not the case
that everyone who could have a voice therefore must have a voice.

Think of the whole ooxml debacle. Apparently, MS has instructed so many
new members to vote for ooxml, members that don't care about any other
subjects the ISO wg is working on. Those other subjects can now not be
decided upon, because the MS members don't show up on meetings and no
quorum is met.

I understand your objection, but i sincerely think it is unneccesary, as
long as you:

- announce the GA widely, guarantee that each member is aware of it
- announce it timely
- have no obstructions to joining the ga

For what it is worth, i have rarely if ever seen an organisation that
stipulates that at least X % of the members must be at the GA for it to
be a valid GA. It just isn't necessary and in this case particular will
mean a lot of extra travelling because you will end up with that second
GA (think of the CO2, travel-budgets of attendants, ...).

> You don't drop elections at all just because you know in advance that no 
> candidate will have a quorum. You make a first vote and then pick the 
> two best candidates and have a second ballot.

Unrelated. You could as well define the quorum to be relative to the
number of voters attending (as is done with most organisations afaik).

> > Obviously, for 'hot' topics ('shall we dismantle') the quorum should be
> > there, yes.
> Who defines, what is a "hot" topic?

The statutes. For example, dismantling the organisation is a hot topic.
There are not that many hot topics, i just mentioned one. Situations
where the board has become disfunctional might entail others. Actually,
only dismantling and changing of the statutes are such hot topics i

You could add a provision, where it is possible to elevate a GA to a GA
with a quorum, for example by requiring 2/3 of the members calling for a
GA with quorum. That way, you avoid the double GA's but still give the
members an emergency break.

> > Again, it is just my experience with how these kind of international
> > organisations work out in reality. Maybe PGEU is different, and you will
> > have all those members show up at the GA. I really doubt it though.
> I'm also in doubt, but that's no reason at all to remove democratic 
> principles. Otherwise we don't need a user group at all and can just go 
> with the board of directors.

I'm not advocating to remove democratic principles. I'm just trying to
get a pragmatic application of them for the PGEU. Rather than saying:
'yes, you _all_ _must_ show up at the GA always' i'd rather have 'you may
show up if you want your voice heard, and if you think a subject is hot
you may call for a quorum'. That way, the democratic principles (apart
from the immense discussion a definition of democratic principles could
lead to :) are safeguarded, but so is the continuity of the group.

Of course: we haven't quite decided on what our forum for the GA's would
be. IRL or IRC. Having electronic GA's might change things, but then you
would have to devise of ways to verify that those present are those they
say they are.

> > > > 4- Takeover protection ?
> > > >     a : Keep statutes as they are
> > > >     b : Add more criterium for the member to satisfy
> > > 
> > > As long as only people from EU can "take over", i don't care much. From
> > > germany i know, that the member base in an association can be replaced
> > > in 2 or 3 years. People join and leave or just join and never leave and 
> > > new people come and do the work.
> > 
> > Letting my fantasy go here: it could also be, say, oracle that wants to
> > frustrate the postgresql eu activities and thus enlists all its
> > employeees to sign up right before a GA where something crucial is going
> > to be decided and force the vote.
> > 
> > Do we care about such a scenario? However unlikely it may be, things
> > like this can happen.
> And? How should we avoid this scenario? If this happens, ok. In this
> case not even a quorum helps.

This is normally tackled by having a 'quarantaine' for new members. Eg,
voting only after first 3 months of membership. Of course, Evil Company
could just wait three months and take over anyway, at least there is
some time to investigate whether the sudden influx of new members is



K.F.J. Martens, Sonologic,
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