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Subject: Proposal: Work ONLY electronically after initial telecomm, exceptwhen we decide otherwise

One thing has become crystal-clear in our attempt to have an initial
teleconference: teleconferencing is a TERRIBLE mechanism for
this group.  We cover a LOT of time zones, we have a lot of VERY busy
experts, and for several members English is not their native language.
For the last group, their written English is much better than their spoken English;
trying to use spoken English is a barrier to participation, and we do NOT
want to create any barriers to participation.

Case in point: If we wait for a time slot when we can all meet,
we will NEVER meet.  Clearly, we need an alternative.

So I propose this: at the upcoming formula teleconference,
we should vote on this proposal:
"As a standing rule, we agree to work electronically except when
we SPECIFICALLY decide otherwise."  I hope that'll pass! If so,
we'll start working using this mailing list, and then via
the mailing list we can decide on the role of the Wiki and other
electronic means as they become available.  We can also vote
when to hold another teleconference or other meeting, as needed.

Below are some details about how I think this would work, based on
my understanding of the OASIS rules. I'll include an explanation for
what I think we need to do so we can comply with all
OASIS rules. That's important; the whole reason to work with OASIS
is to ensure fair treatment to all parties, so while the rules may
be odd sometimes, we want to work WITHIN them to ensure
maximum fairness.  Yes, they're a little creaky sometimes, but so be it.

Here's the short version of the rules as I see them.
Except in special cases, a vote passes if there are
more "yes"es than "no"es AND a quorum of more than
half of the voting members are participating
(they can vote yes, no, or abstain).  You have 7 days to respond
with a vote. If you stop participating, you
lose voting status (which can be recovered by participating again).

Does anyone have a real problem with working electronically,
instead of having constant teleconferences?

Clarifications appreciated.


I've looked over the OASIS rules, and I think we can do this, even
though it's a different mode of operation from the OpenDocument TC itself.
Section 2.13 (TC Voting) says: "... A motion to open an electronic ballot
must be made in a TC meeting unless the TC has adopted a standing
rule to allow this motion to be made on the TC's general email list.
When such a rule has been adopted, motions made on the mail list
must also be seconded and discussed on that list."

If I interpret that rule correctly, I think we MUST have a kick-off meeting
(via telecomm). At that telecomm I plan to propose adopting
a standing rule to allow motions to be made and discussed on
the mailing list, and for voting to happen electronically.  If that passes,
then we can do the rest of the work electronically, because we'll have
discussed and passed a standing rule to allow it.

If someone wants to HAVE a teleconference, they can propose it
electronically (including what the teleconference would cover), and then
we can vote on that proposal electronically like any other proposal.  That
way, we can have teleconferences whenever the group decides it would
be appropriate to do so.  But I see no need for a perpetual teleconference.

My company has committed to paying for a weekly teleconference
for 6 months.  But that doesn't make it a good idea.

For the most part, I don't expect many formal votes.
However, here are the rules for voting when that happens, which
seem simple enough: "The minimum period allowed for
electronic voting shall be seven calendar days; the TC may
specify a longer voting period for a particular electronic ballot.
Any Specification Ballot conducted as an electronic ballot must permit
each voter to choose yes, no or abstain."
In most cases, to pass you need "Simple Majority Vote", i.e.,
#yes>#no.  Although the rules aren't as clear as they should be,
it seems to me that the INTENT is that you must also have a quorum:
  (#yes+#no+#abstain) > (#possible voters)/2

So why should we go all-electronic?  The main reason, in my mind,
is rule "2.10 TC Meetings", which says: "Meetings scheduled or conducted
in such a manner as to exclude the participation of any Member
is subject to appeal."  I think this is a VERY good idea.  Yet if we
tried to schedule a meeting where everyone can come, we cannot
have a meeting at all.  Obviously this makes no sense.  But 2.10 continues:
"Meetings may be conducted face-to-face or via telephone conference
or other electronic media that allow participation of all Members
of the TC. Meeting minutes must be recorded and published to
the TC's general email list and referenced on the TC web page."
Obviously, conducting work via the mailing list meets this criteria;
EVERYONE can participate in the mailing list, and obviously anything
on the mailing list is recorded and published on the mailing list :-).

Some of the OASIS rules talk about "quorums" and "Voting rights";
by reading the rules through, the interpretation of those terms
on a mailing list seems to be fairly straightforward. Here's how it
appears to me:
* For a vote to pass, more than half of the members need to respond
   (with "abstain" counting as a response)... that's a quorum.
* If you fail to vote at all for two different vote periods
  (a 7-day voting period), you lose voting status (voting rights);
   to regain it need to state that you are "present"
   for two successive votes.  I'm not really eager for anyone to lose
   voting status; the purpose of this OASIS rule is probably to prevent
   people from holding up everything if they can't even bother to "abstain".

More details than you can stand (grin) are at:

Note IN PARTICULAR that ALL formal work of this group MUST
be via OASIS-controlled mechanisms.  So if we use a Wiki, it MUST
be OASIS' Wiki (it's MoinMoin).  I don't think OASIS has an IRC
server; if they don't, we CANNOT use IRC.  That's just as well;
we don't seem to have common time slots anyway, and
email is better for asynchronous communication.

I'm not an OASIS rules jockey. I'm just trying to follow the OASIS
rules as I can best understand them while using electronic communications
media as is specifically permitted under the rules.

--- David A. Wheeler

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