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I had sent some comments to Wayne by email (since I am not really a part of this community) and he asked me to post it here anyway. For what it's worth, I'd like to share some thoughts based on a similar process I have been involved in at the Open Courseware Consortium. Similarities were that OCSC was also incubated through an institution (in our case MIT) and trying to find ways to move towards community governance. A big difference was that here it is mostly individuals who are involved (and care) whereas the OCWC is a community of institutions (with lawyers), which made everything infinitely more complicated.

I am posting a detailed break-down of what we did below, but that's probably too much detail for this discussion and more relevant for people who feel really passionately about studying the processes of emerging community governance models.

My quick feedback (these are my personal opinions, not the position of the OCWC) is this:

For community run projects, I believe in setting up the least amount of governance structure necessary to keep the community happy and able to do what its members want to do. I am not a fan of committees and complicated voting processes.

I believe that people vote through action, and the structure should enable and reflect that. A spirit of sharing and collaboration is necessary to make the community work, and the governance structure should be as open and transparent as possible to embody this spirit.

One challenge I see for WikiEducators is the question of registration as a non-profit. If that is the goal, then there are legal requirements that have to be fulfilled and they influence the structure. If that is not the case, then the relationship between COL and WikiEducator and its community will need to be carefully managed.

(PS: I find the structure of this discussion forum very difficult to follow, but no one else seems to have that problem.)

OCWC Experience

The OCWC process was very complex, with different stages, different communication channels (telephone calls, discussion forum, wiki, meeting, etc.) There was also a dedicated resource to manage and facilitate the process. Hope some of this is useful:

  • As a first step volunteers came forward to draft example governance models. A list of models is here
  • The model that Joseph Hardin (Sakai) and I drafted is this one. It's based on our experience with open source communities (and was largely not accepted :-): participation model
  • After drafting the models and discussing them in conference calls, we then ran a quick survey to bring out impressions from the community, and the results are here
  • Based on these results, and taking into account some of the work done for the models, we then created a unified draft document, which is here
  • This proposal was then discussed at the recent OCWC meeting, and audio

recordings of the discussions are available here

  • A lot more information about the process and other documents (vision and mission statements) are all linked form this main discussion forum.
Philipp (talk)06:55, 2 November 2007

Hi Philipp,

Thanks for that and I appreciate the time you've taken to upload your thoughts. There are certainly valuable lessons for our WikiEd community from the OCWC experience.

An aside - Threaded discussion is not the ideal vehicle for complex discussions where most posts include many dimensions.

However, we're a passionate and committed bunch and prepared to wade through these tomes in the interests of our community. Transparency and a full record of our interactions is more important than usability at this point <smile>. Liquid Threads (the discussion engine in this Wiki) has a feature where after 14 days the community is invited to write a summary. This will help with navigating the discussion.


Mackiwg (talk)06:55, 2 November 2007