IndiaFOSS would be a great opportunity to discuss the future of FOSSUnited and specifically its governance. We can do this either at the end of the sessions or during the sidelines. Here are some thoughts:
So far FOSSUnited is in its early stage. It is registered as a not for profit entity (and a charity) and we have tried various things in terms of the value it can provide to the community.
The FOSS community consists of broadly:
- Contributors (code, documentation)
- Public in general
For this community, we have tried providing services like
Out of which events is where we have maximum traction. We have several city level events where communities are being formed. The hackathons have also been successful.
We have been taking policy positions on things like ending software patents and evangelising use of FOSS at various government bodies at national and state level.
Our education experiment did not fly as expected. We have also decided to stop funding projects as there are various options for projects both from VCs as well as philanthropy.
The funding is mainly done via the platinum sponsors / donors and industry partners and the budget this year is around 1.4cr (FOSSUnited - Internal Meet Summary (5th Aug '23))
The staff currently report to an informal group that consists of members from the founding partners and a few volunteers.
This structure has been great to start off and FOSSUnited can continue to run as a closed governance model, I think we have enough depth in the community to make the governance broader.
We tried making “members” but that was not planned / executed well or maybe we were too early. Maybe it’s time to open this up again. At the last internal meet, we did not come to a consensus either (on whether we should have members or not)
I personally believe that a long term model for running such communities would be a democratic one - where members drive some level of accountability to the organisation. The other models are industry driven or donor driven. The organisation will be accountable to those who provide the funding - right now it’s mostly top down.
I would like to explore if there is some openness to bottoms up funding. We have sold some 1200 tickets at IndiaFOSS. If 500 choose to be members at 10,000 per member, then we will hit 50lakh. At this level the organisation will be truly accountable to the community. Even though engineers are very well paid in our country, this seems unattainable at the moment, as most of us are not used to supporting community orgs.
Let us think about what kind of community do we want FOSSUnited to be. Are you just happy with the kind of subsidised services with closed governance or you want to create a community that is accountable to its members?
I know there are no easy answers. If you are interested in this discussion, please share your thoughts on this thread or talk with me at the conference!
Quick pulse check
How would you like the FOSSUnited community to be:
- Industry driven
- Donor driven
- Member driven
If there was a membership, how much can you give? (Remember we need 10,000 per year to make things run as-is, assuming only few sign up as members)