During today's project meeting a discussion about openSUSE membership started, see earlier posts to the list for meeting minutes.
While we have documented procedures (http://en.opensuse.org/openSUSE:Members) on how to become a member, we do not have any guidelines about what it means to be a member in good standing. Additionally, the only way to get pruned from the list of members is to repeatedly violate the guiding principals or actively request removal.
I am suggesting that the conditions for loss of membership are not sufficient. As briefly discussed in the meeting today we have about 500 or so members. Also in a recent meeting it was suggested that we have a large contingent of non active members. This would then explain why we end up with only 200 and some odd votes of 500 members for the board elections.
As probably anyone who is a member of some club or association knows, there is always some condition, often a fee, that assures continued membership in said club or association. No I am NOT proposing a membership fee for openSUSE. However, I am proposing that we come up with a mechanism to prune our list of members and that there is no such thing as a "free" (as in I don't contribute) life time membership.
I propose the following guideline:
" On even years of membership anniversary (that would be year 2, 4, 6...) a member gets an automated e-mail.
- If the e-mail bounces and there is no other means to contact the person than the person is removed as a member.
- If the person does not respond within two weeks, another e-mail is sent. If after 2 additional weeks no response is received the person is removed as a member.
A response to the received e-mail should include a short list of areas in the project where the member was active during the past two years. This can be verified by the membership team. With the response and verification membership continues. "
I realize I am proposing more work for the membership committee, sorry. However, I would hope that this is not too much of a burden. With maybe 300 or fewer active members there would be on average less than 1 verification e-mail per day sent. In addition this is spread out based on anniversary date of membership, thus the additional verification should be small.
Why would we as a project want to do this? IMHO, it is important that our members are active and contribute to the project. There is nothing gained for us as a project to accumulate a large number of members when the members are not active in the project and do not contribute. Having only members that are active also bestows more meaning on board election results and other votes we might have in the project. This goes back to my earlier comment and leads to a question, what does it mean when the board gets elected with a vote count that is less than 50% of the membership? (I am not implying that I am dissatisfied with the board). No direct answer to this question please. If we have only active project participants I would speculate that we will get participation of 80% or more. Last but not least this should create a perceived draw to become a member, as you can only be a member and remain a member if you contribute to the project.
For the discussion, I'd like to ask that people stick to the topic and not go off on some tangent ;)
I have added this as a topic to the next project meeting (Feb 8, 2012) and will provide a summary of the discussion on the wiki. The board can then make a decision on how to move forward on this proposal based on the summary, and hopefully board members will be following this thread.