About Community/Project Governance

Recently a new discussion came up within the Ambassador group, the main topic was "Governance for the NethServer project"
I will try to summarize here some things came out of the discussion

Quoting @robb

a solid governance model is important for the quality of the project. The NethServer community is at a point of maturity that we need to start discussing this topic and come to consensus on how governance should be implemented in our community.

we have to keep in mind that the project has been initiated from a (commercial) company and the company (Nethesis in our case) builds its existence on the project and are by far the largest contributor to the project in terms of code and resources.

On the other hand, we, as a community, have to decide what we think is best for us. How we want to organize it and how we ensure quality and consistency.

Quoting @mrmarkuz

I’d like an emancipatory democratic community, where one can easily participate, which we already are. We have a meritocratic board, where tasks and directions are discussed.

Quoting @stephdl

I’m not sure that the governance should work/go on the dev side, this is not the better skill of this group. We can add, propose, talk about ideas, however at the end, I would propose that the dev team gets free hands. If you have the skill to code, well it is a good thing, but then your place is not in the governance of the community, you might be better elsewhere

I would see a governance more in a community talent finder, to encourage people to volunteering, to put people in the right way to be positive, to organize community event, to spread the world about NS, to be a face to the world.
For Nethesis, and the Project Nethserver, a governance is a chance, to stay as close as possible of its community…just think about zentyal, they cut their links with the community. Sure that it will bring good things

Quoting @davidep

As Dr Thomas Quinton told me during our community dinner at NethServer conference, the community and Nethesis are in a win-win situation. I believe it’s an important point to start with; we should ask ourselves what’s the direction and what are the next moves to grow from here.

Reading this I thinked about the great Alessio’s work as community manager. Nethesis enabled him to do this great work and I think this fact itself tells how much the company wants to see the community growing and being part of it. I see also the Ambassadors group is more and more involved in this task, by welcoming and mentoring people, and making this a comfortable place.

What I fear is a bureaucratic structure today because it would be too heavy for a community of volunteers, where people struggle to find time to contribute.

I’d like to split the discussions addressing two main topics:

1. How can we make complex decisions?

Who can coordinate the process and say the last word?

2. Who can take decisions and move the project forward?

What would we do if

  • Alessio can no longer devote his time to the community. Who can coordinate things during his absence?
  • One of the main devs can no longer fix new bug or implement new feature
  • One of our support experts disappear?

What I’d like to expect from a governance or what I’d like to see:

  • plan our future together where everyone should say: ok, that’s my commitment to the NethServer project. Even small.
    Example: I will test an issue per week or I will reply a support questions per week or I will coordinate the Esperanto language translations.

  • reinforce our teams with: new people, goals, tasks, roles and accountability.
    Example the @docs_team should decide and discuss how to manage and restructure/change/organize our documentation, with total autonomy.

  • Having a clear path of growth for every newcomer. From being a newbie to an ambassador or even a main dev or a community leader. Example: how can I become a @docs_team member?

What I wouldn’t like see:

  • A bureaucratic structure. Quoting @stephdl “A community governance is maybe just an amplification to say it’s good, go ahead, or stop it’s a wrong way.” We have to start small and find a sustainable way.
  • Assigning time-consuming task to the people. We have to be aware that most of our users are occasional contributors every team coordinator sould be aware of that as well.

I would like to tag here: @filippo_carletti @giacomo @ambassadors_group @docs_team @translations_team @quality_team @webtop_team @arm_team @spanish_team @german_team @education_team @dev_team



Normally, there’s no complex decision… If a task, a problem seem complex… There’s something wrong!
It must be divide in any part it need to be simplify, until there not more complexity!

I’m sad to happen this one… I hope he absence will be during a short, or not too long period.

Is Steph can supply this main dev?.. It seem so natural, Steph have all skills to develop for the project…

My thought like I already say:
Organise each group, to have a leader, for a determined duration with a clear task.
All other group member have to help to achieve the task, and natural the choice to continue or stop to contribute to the group.
If there lot of discussion, to normally ask about the good leadership of the group…

I think it’s all for now and for the community size.

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Hello all together,
my opinion is, if we really need a government it should be a group also, where is one member of each other group. They are the delegates of the other groups. But like @davidep said we should pay attention that we don’t get a too much bureaucratic structure.

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It’s just a possible future, I’m not saying that is happening now.
But we have to be ready for that, nurturing and mentoring new people.

It could be a good starting point.

I am sure @alefattorini pointed to possible scenario’s, not actual scenario’s

I think the pragmatic approach to have several teams with a teamleader (or should I say coordinator… I think we should start with equal voices in each team) is a good one. We already have several teams. It would be a good idea to give them a clear mandate.

@m.traeumner Maybe we need a central board, maybe not, that is to decide, but we have to make sure the Governance is not drawing the community into a bureaucratic moloch. I know we are there when we chose for a more structured governance, but I think we have to keep such a scenario in mind and take measurements to avoid that.


That may be a good starting point, define for each team

  • a coordinator that can look for and mentor new members
  • a few “practical tasks” to execute by the end of the year.


  1. @arm_team looks like only @dz00te is still around. Anyone else wants to join it?
  2. @dev_team does it need a coordinator?
  3. @education_team which “concrete” goal we can achieve quickly?
  4. @german_team translations are completed? Any coordinator?
  5. @quality_team we have the coordinator yet but looks like that @mabeleira and @Adam are not around anymore
  6. @spanish_team any coordinator here? @drivemeca is around?
  7. @translations_team @jgjimenezs coordinator? Any goals? @Lincee?
  8. @webtop_team @lucag is the coordinator and they have many goals by the end of the year. Look at the roadmap!
  9. @docs_team no coordinator here. Any volunteer? @WillZen where are you ending up?
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I’m not doing any TPS reports.

Re-read the original post, I see see the [quote=“alefattorini, post:1, topic:8306”]
What would we do if


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Hi Alessio,
I follow the forum and in the possibility of my time (a freelance depends on his clients, sometimes there is time, sometimes not) you can count on my help.


I’m still around alessio helping with the spanish translation, no much time
to help with quality team, but helping as much as i can on the spanish team


I add, in my opinion, create many positions, leads to a slow bureaucracy.
kiss” keep it stupid simple


it took a couple of evenings to read the article you quoted during the discussion among the ambassadors group: THE TYRANNY of STRUCTURELESSNESS


I must thank you for your inputs, I think now I have a better understanding of where we are today. Let me sleep on it, but I think I’ve changed my mind about the “central board” :smiley:

I turn the invite to read it to other members too!

I want to write down a central board proposal :tools:


I would love to help but I have a very limiting schedual at the moment.

However if anyone has any ideas and think that I could be of some help, then please feel free to let me know and I will try to contribute to the best of my abillities.


It might be a bit early, but now we already are talking ‘teams’, put me up for the @education_team since that is where I think NethServer can (should?) shine.


Maybe I understood something wrong, but I think there should be first a organisational chart (aka “organigram”) so there is a clear structure.
For this there must be the dicision how to organise: matrix or strict or flat hierarchically. (there are other forms also). My personal favorite is “flat hierarchically”. The reponsibility of every unit is assinged to one person with one or two delegates, so if the “unit leader” failes, the delegates help out.
After this is clear the persons can be assigned to the individual organisational units.

my 2ct.

PS: I don’t like the titel “governance” to much. It remembers me to a parliament where a lot of guys are talking a lot and nothing can be really decided, only compromises. But this is only a feeling from my guts. :wink:


“The tyranny of structurelessness” article describes how organizations where a formal structure lacks or (even worse) a formal structure is refused are in danger of being taken over by internal elites.

An elite is a group of people inside the organization sharing own visions, private resources and communication channels. An elite is not a bad thing by definition, but can be a risk for the unstructured organization because it centralizes power in a non-accountable way.

After reading the whole article, I see two facts

  • As said before, the community and Nethesis are in a win-win situation
  • Nethesis is an elite in our unstructured Community

As consequence to tackle the future challenges I think we need a formal structure that takes decisions and moves the project forward.

This is my initial proposal; I’m sure it will evolve.

Implement a central board, a steering committee of (say) 10 seats, plus a chairman. Elections every (say) 6 months. Putting “win-win” into effect means “fifty-fifty”, so to start:

  • :speaking_head: chairman seat – @alefattorini Community Manager
  • :bust_in_silhouette: :bust_in_silhouette: :bust_in_silhouette: :bust_in_silhouette: :bust_in_silhouette: five seats for Nethesis people
  • :bust_in_silhouette: :bust_in_silhouette: :bust_in_silhouette: :bust_in_silhouette: :bust_in_silhouette: five seats for other community members

A community governance is maybe just an amplification to say it’s good, go ahead, or stop it’s a wrong way – @stephdl

I agree. For instance I would appeal to the committee for (future, present, past) decisions like

  • Cockpit or Nethgui?
  • Does the community welcome Nethesis paid services?
  • Help stephdl with donations or not?
  • Github or Redmine?
  • Testing category or testing tag?
  • MrMarkuz becomes ambassador?
  • Moodle integration or AD GPO UI first?
  • Docuwiki or Github wiki?
  • Release or not to release NS7?
  • Vulnerability full disclosure or partial disclosure?
  • SOGo and/or WebTop?

There are situations where growing consensus is not enough. There must be an official investment from an approved authority because it empowers individual or groups to take action on behalf of the whole community. This is how a steering committee can give us traction and direction.

Let’s see how such committee can give us protection too. I’d like to see the NethServer project grows into an ecosystem of volounteers, consultants, companies, public agencies (like schools) and so on… Other elites will raise in the ecosystem. A formal structure is a warranty for everyone: we could add additional seats to the commitee, we could strengthen the election rules, we could set up a foundation. For such challenges a formal structure is a requirement to avoid paralysis and a defense against hostile forces.

In the end the “central board” is what we really need today. Individuals can still develop, support, document, test like we’ve done so far. They can raise their hands when they have time for specific tasks, and join a group to receive notifications when a specific help is needed. However I’d see how to implement this after we have delegated to the “central board” the power of taking decisions.


We’re Italian and our parliament talks a looot, of nothing sometimes :slight_smile: so I got the feeling

Uhm I need time to think about it, just off the bat it looks an interesting idea and we have to go further in order to consider pros and cons
11 seats may be too many. I think that 3 + 3 +1 are enough.

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I agree- not to many in the board- makes decision making harder.

I’m happy to hear you and @alefattorini talking about “how many seats” :joy:

Does it mean you both agree with “fifty-fifty”? - that is the point :wink: