Governing Board Minutes: 2011/5/19

The OpenJDK Governing Board met via conference call on Thursday, 19 May 2011 at 15:00 UTC with the following agenda:

  1. Status update on Oracle legal work
  2. Ratification vote
  3. Summary of upcoming process work

All Board members were present: Jason Gartner, Doug Lea, Adam Messinger, Mike Milinkovich, and Mark Reinhold.

One Observer was present at the start: John Duimovich. Andrew Haley joined the call about ten minutes late.

The intent of these minutes is to capture the conversational flow of the Board’s discussion and also to record decisions. If you are interested only in the latter then search for the word “AGREED” throughout the text.

1. Status update on Oracle legal work

Adam reported that he had secured all the necessary Oracle-internal approvals needed for draft 9 of the Bylaws, and a related FAQ document, to be published. John Duimovich reported that IBM had also cleared them. Mark said that he would post the documents as soon as possible, most likely later the same day.

Mike reminded the Board that, as agreed previously, the posting of these documents clears the way for the JDK 8 Project to be proposed using the existing interim governance rules. Mark committed to submit the JDK 8 Project proposal as soon as practical.

2. Ratification vote

Mark outlined the timeline for finishing up the Bylaws: A two-week public review period, some indeterminate time needed make any revisions required in response to that review, and then a two-week ratification vote.

Mark then stated that a key question for the ratification vote is, who gets to vote?

The draft Bylaws require that revisions to the Bylaws be voted upon by OpenJDK Members, so it’s reasonable to say that OpenJDK Members should be the ones to vote upon ratification. The existing interim governance rules don’t define that role but the initial set of OpenJDK Members will, according to the draft Bylaws, be those Contributors previously voted into Group Membership. That set of individuals could, therefore, be considered the electorate to vote upon ratifying the new Bylaws.

The trouble with this approach is that it would exclude many significant Contributors since, under the interim rules, few people bothered to nominate and elect others to Group Membership because there were few tangible benefits for doing so.

Mark proposed that, in order to be as inclusive and meritocratic as possible, the electorate for the ratification vote be defined using an objective measure of actual contribution activity as recorded in the OpenJDK Mercurial repositories. In particular he proposed that anyone who has made at least ten distinct nontrivial commits into any OpenJDK repository be invited to vote upon the Bylaws.

Adam wondered whether some other approach would be feasible, noting that what we’re looking for is a proxy to the eventual set of OpenJDK Members. We could, for example, use the two-week review period to get the existing Groups into proper order. Mark argued against this, observing that the current process for expanding Groups is fairly heavyweight and many Contributors are currently very busy working to finish up JDK 7. Adam asked whether we could use the new rules in the draft Bylaws to expand the existing Groups, but Mark countered that it’s better to treat the ratification vote as a very special case and make an extra effort to be as inclusive as possible.

Doug observed that it will look bad if only Oracle employees vote in favor of ratifying the Bylaws. He doesn’t like that outcome, though he doesn’t think it’s likely. Andrew replied that we shouldn’t worry too much about that: If only Oracle employees vote in favor then the Board is going to have to do some thinking anyway and maybe make further changes. Jason agreed. John added that if that were to happen, it won’t be a surprise; we’ll be able to see it coming by paying attention to incoming feedback during the public-review period, and if there is significant feedback then we can delay the vote and revise the Bylaws further in response.

Several variations of Mark’s initial proposal were considered. Doug suggested it might be better to restrict it to commits over the past year, with a lower threshold of five rather than ten. John said that the main goal should be to have a reasonable number of people voting; Andrew agreed, saying that he liked the idea of inviting a broad set of people to vote. Adam suggested that the formula defining the electorate should produce about 100 voters, if not more; this was generally agreed. John asked whether we should only consider people who have contributed into JDK 7; Andrew pointed out that many, if not most, external contributors have been focused on JDK 6.

The Board informally asked Mark to do a more extensive analysis of the OpenJDK Mercurial logs, trying various time and commit-count thresholds to come up with a reasonable formula for defining an electorate of about 100 contributors.

Mike suggested that the Board approve an explicit resolution to move forward with draft 9 of the Bylaws. It was then unanimously

AGREED: The Board considers Draft 9 of the Bylaws to be ready for a ratification vote, assuming that no new issues are identified during the upcoming two-week public review period.

3. Summary of upcoming process work

This topic was, once again, deferred to the next meeting due to time constraints.

At this point the Board adjourned.