FOSS United Memberships

Dear community,

While a few of us from Zerodha and Frappe have started FOSS United and have been able to get some activities underway, the vision of FOSS United is to be a broad community organisation. To this effect we would like to open up memberships for FOSS United.

Here is a draft governance proposal.

Why should I become a FOSS United Member?

As a FOSS United member, you can propose to run events, FOSS projects, community outreach, work with education institutes, conduct training events, start and manage policy initiatives, and help in fund raising for FOSS United.

Members will also have the opportunity to be part of committees (including chair) and a vote in the general affairs of the organisation.

How do I become eligible?

You have to be a FOSS contributor - either in code or outreach or evangelist. All members will be validated by the membership committee / board.

We would also like members to commit a minimum of 2 hours a week / 1 day a month (on an average) for FOSS United

Is there a fee?

Just to ensure interest, there will may be a fee of Rs 1000 per year (that can be waived off on case-to-case basis)

Limited Memberships

We also want to make sure that we are able manage things in a sustainable way while defining the culture for the organisation. So for starters we will be taking limited memberships (maybe 15/20 - if we get that much interest!) before we open it up for the larger audience.

We would love to have as many diverse and active voices as possible. Whatever we do will be “beta” till we figure out the right governance as we go ahead.

How do I apply?

Please fill this form to apply

I have questions

Super, ask them on this thread, we will be happy to answer them.

4 Likes

From the FOSS United Telegram group:

A few thoughts if I may.
Comes out of having seen/led/participated in communities since '97.

Taking money upfront is not a good way of filtering. What happens is that the key people who will join will be those who have a vested interest (Orgs, consultants etc.,). A lot of people who are pure evangelists may not pony up.

Orgs such as TIE for example are tainted by the perspective that it is a club of mentors looking for startups to fund.

A more effective way IMHO is to keep it open and free for all and have a more controlled way of getting the best (NPC for example have open lists and they welcome people to the core teams after they have contributed something significant). This has the following advantages:
a. It attracts the curious and increases the “pipelne” significantly.
b. As value is given, the tie-in of the people is a bit subtle - you have gotten value and you want to pay back.
c. Greater contribution allows more contributors and hence greater democratic participation.
d. The ecosystem recognizes the best and automatically encourages and promotes them up the ladder by paying more attention to them. This also acts as a filter of removing those who have other agenda (such as consultants, those trying to do mission capture).

There’s more of course but this is the essence… Hope this is useful.

3 Likes

This sounds promising,

I have two valid concerns regarding this,

  1. Yearly Membership Fee: Everyone who is contributor to FOSS is cannot always spare 1k every year to contribute to community initiatives. And even if we say wavier for specific people on case-by-case basis, everyone would not be ready to open-up and say, “hey, I wouldn’t be able to spare 1k, please give me wavier”.
    My concern is, entry to contribute and take FOSSUnited forward, money shouldn’t be one of the driving factor especially for a non-profit organisation.
    It sounds more of a co-operate driven effort rather than a non-profit organisation effort where working professionals can only do the efforts.

For instance, various open-source organisation (I know community != OSS Orgs), have this way of choosing members: One propose to be a member-> Two current members sponsor their membership-> Propose themselves to be member on General Assembly (GA) -> GA anonymous election-> Elected to be member where they require confirmation yearly to stay as member.

  1. Mandating Weekly/Monthly contribution: It is always expected for a member to contribute to initiates continuously overtime which is nice-to-have for a member, everyone is doing in their free-time, and everyone may not have 2 hours/a day in a month to contribute, which sounds strange, but every week-everytime everyone is not free, so mandating that for a non-profit organisation work in an individual free-time sounds strange in my perspective, but for a community it maybe?
    Edit: Also not exactly sure if it is requirement or just a “nice-to-have”, maybe some clarity on that saying, it will be good.
2 Likes

Yes we will be looking at contributions / credibility before selecting members

We want the membership of FOSS United to mean something, and it is not uncommon for organisations to have a small membership fee. I have seen that it somehow drives more accountability and interest. I have been part of other groups where there were no fees and the interest was very flaky (for the want of a better word). A small annual subscription is also a small “friction” that will help people take a call on being members or not.

Having a small amount will ensure that people will pay more than passing attention to the commitment they are making to FOSS United.

The goal is to have an active member base rather those with a passing interest. We have put a commitment number because some of us who currently volunteer at FOSS United end up spending easily more than a couple of hours a week. There is a lot of work to be done if we have to build a good community - there are lots of incoming requests for projects, collaborations etc and we would love to have a volunteer group that will take active interest.

Its an “average” number based on our current commitments as volunteering and we would like more “equal” volunteers, otherwise the burden of volunteering will continue to fall on a few shoulders!

1 Like

My thoughts on this:

  1. People devoting time to FOSS United via contributions in any form should be valued and respected. Instead of setting expectations in terms of time or contributions, we could prefer members who are more active (in any form). I know that the people behind FOSS United tend to spend more than a couple hours/week for the organization, and the minimum expectations from a new member should be the same as well.

  2. I have a proposal for membership plans (patrons) - multiple tiers could be introduced for donations, each plan has its own benefits. See “Membership Plans” under https://internetfreedom.in/donate/; FOSS United could have something similar like this - the goodies (stickers, hoodies, cups, etc.) serve as a token of appreciation for being a patron for FOSS United; and helps FOSS United in outreach through natural ways (no promotions, etc.) These goodies could be sent to their homes, or for people who prefer privacy, they could wish to have it collected at any FOSS United event (meetups, IndiaFOSS, etc.)

  3. There needs to be a more concrete explanation on where the membership fees gets utilized. There might be some people who might be concerned with the membership fees being 1000 INR.

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These are all valid points, I think we can first select 15-20 members and then let members take a call on the fee and other commitments.

2 Likes

I’m also split on the matter of the membership fee.

More importantly, without someone coordinating and helping members (full time) from FOSS United, sustaining activity is going to be really hard. We need to find a full time person doing just this.

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Is this how the hierarchy would look like?

  1. The Board members/directors (Kailash, Rushabh, etc.)
  2. Core committee (@WishArya and others)
  3. Coordinators(?) (involved in helping members out)
  4. Members (actively involved with FOSS United and its activities)
  5. One-time contributors (not actively involved with FOSS United and its activities)

Coordinators and members should possibly have the same amount of power during voting, etc.

This is a rough draft. I’m open to ideas. I feel that by having more layers in the hierarchy, we can separate concerns tied to a certain individual. This way, contributing back to FOSS United becomes seamless.

Question, are one-time contributor still a member (who may have paid money too)? But was not active in-the-past? Or is it normal Forum/Telegram group member.

Edit: There could be still people who are active in FOSSUnited Activities who do not wish to be member too. Where do they belong, will they be in (5) or something like (4.5).

Secondly, are you saying a)Board/ b) Core-committee/c) Members, all-three have different powers in voting? I do not know if that makes sense, generally all the members (which include board/core-committee) should have same voting powers right, or is some new form of organisation, then we should define how much power board have over members and core-group?

I’m not sure on this. If we tie memberships based on contributions, instead of the membership fee, we have a different definition of a “member”. Remember, the focus is made on the term, not on the individual. Any type of contribution should be welcomed.

Secondly, are you saying a)Board/ b) Core-committee/c) Members, all-three have different powers in voting? I do not know if that makes sense, generally all the members (which include board/core-committee) should have same voting powers right, or is some new form of organisation, then we should define how much power board have over members and core-group?

I have no say in this. This should be decided by the current board members/directors. Could you please suggest an alternative to this? As far as I know, most open-source organizations use the sponsorship-based approach (Kubernetes) for electing new members.

I’m all in for having equal voting power, but we need to decide on how this would work when the number of members increase over time. Would everyone (including past members) retain the same amount of power in voting?

I’m not trying to introduce any sort of power-based play. As an organization, there should be more transparency and less power-driven decisions.

Yes they should decide, generally lot of organisation which I know, have the election where all members have equal powers since board is also a subset of members:) and they will not be holding that permeant, if anyone member like to hold the post of President, they are always open to propose themselves in GA and based on voting it happens.
Anyways, in-those scenarios members elect the board. How it generally happens is, people propose themselves to hold a post, then GA runs voting and decides whether X/Y be holding that post.
In initial days, IIRC people who was active became members (which is small), then people voluntary proposed as board, then saw if all members are okay with them holding that post.

That is a good question, generally, past-members who are not active members(where the membership is renewed yearly with simple no/not said anything (instead of yes)) do not retain to be part of decision making ie. voting.
Edit; Clarity

This can be segregated if a new term is introduced, something like Association of FossUnited/Consortium/Associate Member/something like that for people who will be involved in these activities/Membership based things, because I am fairly certain that, all contributing members would not like to be part of these activities, at least that is what I have seen in the past, some like to stay active but not part of the Assositaiton/other activities related to decision making and running of bodies.

This is chicken and egg. Members should use this forum to co-ordinate all activities and we could have a monthly call where we discuss on projects and initiatives. I can volunteer to be the secretary and take the minutes and post it on the forum till we find critical mass.

I think the first goal would be to find the members who have the right credibility and would be willing to commit time to this effort, in my opinion, we don’t have to worry about hierarchy until there are about 30 members.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We are still a long way before we decide such things. Right now we just need a few more people who believe that a lot more needs to be done about FOSS in India and have the motivation to volunteer some time. The memberships will evolve slowly and the path taken will depend on the members themselves.

2 Likes

There is nothing here that someone interested cannot do on their own already.
(without the “overhead” of a FOSS-United membership and any responsibilities that come with it)

  • Maybe let us first focus on identifying and publicizing 1. What FOSS United can do for you
  • instead of 2. What you can do for / in FOSS United.

Once we have 1, naturally 2 is easily defined.
( 2 = As an initial / founding member, make 1 easier for others.)

Thanks everyone for applying! We have accepted the following members for FOSS Untied Memberships V1:

Kashish Grover
Athul Cyriac Ajay
Aadhav Vignesh
Amit Kucheria
Ravi Arora
Aditya Sujith Gudimetla
Nafeen
Aniket Maurya
Sejal Jain
Prasad Khake
Suraj Shetty
Anand Chitipothu

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Forming a committee which renews every year will be a better approach than collecting membership fee.

If a small committee of chairs are selected upfront, then it can be upto then to drive the execution of the same. This will ensure people will have the interest to work for it rather than mandating 2 hours or x hours.

The committee can then form sub commitees of volunteers… in some other orgs the volunteers are given free passess to some events, which works wonderfully and will ensure that people will compete and earn their position.

2 Likes

That’s a great suggestion - we can discuss this as a “committee” rather than a membership since this is just a trial. We hope people who join are able to sustain the momentum - they find alignment with FOSS United and are able to do things they feel should be done in a community!

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I’m inclined to making this as a “committee” - we can make this more clear in a future call. I, personally, would be happy to commit for long-term goals, instead of short-term memberships. Renewals/re-elections can be done on a periodic basis - this reduces the necessity to mandate, and allows people to be accountable in some way.

1 Like