list of TB contributors and governance

David Ascher dascher at
Tue Oct 23 06:06:13 UTC 2012

On 2012-10-22, at 10:38 PM, Kent James <kent at> wrote:

> On 10/22/2012 9:32 PM, David Ascher wrote:
>> I guess I don't understand why you called out the module ownership module owners as the people who need to make that strategic choice.
> Perhaps because it is in their job description as I read it (the module structure strategic choice)? It is clear though that we both believe they are not going to take the initiative to fill vacant roles, or create and staff new modules for Thunderbird. They will review and approve when others do that, but I don't see who those "others" are.


(yes, i'm explicitly trying to empower you to make such a proposal to the MOMOs)

>> What do you feel would be the right step to empower the community?
> The group that defacto will decide the future of Thunderbird is the "significant contributor" community. That group, in addition to being asked to do most of the work, should have real collective authority over the direction that the product will go. The way I am proposing to achieve that is to have a recognized, managed list of significant contributors who have the opportunity to vote on significant issues that affect product direction, such as project governance. If you look at the list, it includes not only developers, but QA, support, corporate sponsors, addon developers, etc.
> I don't claim this is going to suddenly increase involvement by an order of magnitude, but I do think it is an important step toward letting this community move toward taking responsibility for Thunderbird.

So, if I'm reading you right, you're proposing that the Thunderbird 'module' be governed by a voting process among peers, right?  Furthermore, that the voters effectively commit to a democratic process and will agree to do work that the majority says is a priority.

This implies a bunch of divergences there from traditional module ownership system, for sure: vote of a largish set of contributors vs. single decider; a different set of criteria for who gets to have formal decision-making authority; what feel like more intense commitment to do work that other people may have prioritize (compared to unpaid open source contributions).

My point is simple, though -- if the TB community agrees that something like what you describe is the right way for the TB module to be run, I say ask the MOMOs to hear you out.  I would expect a bunch of skepticism about a radically new governance model, and I expect that getting agreement would be easier if the group appeared to share a vision about the product)

Maybe a thought experiment would be useful -- let's assume there was this governance model in place, with all of the people that you think should have voting rights having voting rights.  What kinds of questions would be up for a vote?  Can we learn something from running such votes in a non-binding way?

Regardless of governance model, if you had 10-20 such 'pseudo-votes' and rough consensus emerged, that would be an incredibly powerful decision-making tool, no?


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