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TC Report 18-25

Over the time that I've been observing the TC, there's been quite a lot of indecision about how and when to exercise power. The rules and regulations of OpenStack governance have it that the TC has pretty broad powers in terms of allowing and disallowing projects to be "official" and in terms of causing or preventing the merging of any code in any of those official projects.

Unfortunately, the negative aspect of these powers make them the sort of powers that no one really wants to use. Instead the TC has a history of, when it wants to pro-actively change things, using techniques of gently nudging or trying to make obvious activities that would be useful. OpenStack-wide goals and the help most-needed list are examples of this sort of thing.

Now that OpenStack is no longer sailing high on the hype seas, resources are more scarce and some tactics and strategies are no longer as useful as they once were. Some have expressed a desire for the TC to provide a more active leadership role. One that allows the community to adapt more quickly to changing times.

There's a delicate balance here that a few different conversations in the past week have highlighted. Last Thursday, a discussion about the (vast) volume of code getting review and merged in the nova project led to some discussion on how to either enforce or support a goal of decomposing nova into smaller, less-coupled pieces. It was hard to find middle ground between outright blocking code that didn't fit with that goal and believing nothing could be done. Mixed in with that were valid concerns that the TC shouldn't be parenting people who are adults and is unable to be effective. (Note: the context of those two linked statements is very important, lest you be inclined to consider them out of context.)

And then today, some discussion about keeping the help wanted list up to date led to thinking about ways to encourage reorganizing "work around objectives rather than code boundaries", despite that being a very large cultural shift that may be very difficult to make.

So what is the TC (or any vaguely powered governance group) to do? We have some recent examples of the right thing: These are written works—some completed, some in-progress—that layout a vision of how things could or should be that community members can react and refer to. As concrete documents they provide what amounts to an evolving constitution of who we are or what we intend to be that people may point to as a third-party authority that they choose to accept, reject or modify without the complexity of "so and so said…".

Many of the things that get written will start off wrong but the only way they have a chance of becoming right is if they are written in the first place. Providing ideas allows people to say "that's right" or "that's wrong" or "that's right, except...". Writing provides a focal point for including many different people in the generation and refinement of ideas and an archive of long-lived meaning and shared belief. Beliefs are what we use to choose between what matters and what does not.

As the community evolves, and in some ways shrinks while demands remain high, we have to make it easier for people to find and understand, with greater alacrity, what we, as a community, choose to care about. We've done a pretty good job in the past talking about things like the four opens, but now we need to be more explicit about what we are making and how we make it.

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