This document has now been adopted by the board. Substantiative changes should not be made without board approval.
Loosely speaking, there are three categories of individual affiliation with the Foundation: Participant, Member, and Charter Member.
- The broadest category, that of Participant, is for those who are not formally registered on the osgeo.org website but who nonetheless contribute code, help out on committees, follow the various mailing lists, and otherwise participate in OSGeo Foundation activities. Anyone can be a Participant.
- The second category is simply termed Member. Individuals in this category have the same level of rights to work on Foundation activities as the Participant category, but with the important distinction that these individuals have self-registered themselves on the osgeo.org website. By registering, an individual is "opting in" and publicly acknowleging their connection to the Foundation. This registration process also provides the Foundation with a known, countable membership base. For example, the Board or various Committees may, from time to time, wish to poll the all Members on some important issue.
- The third category is Charter Member. Individuals in this category have the same rights as the above Member category, but with two important differences. Firstly, individuals in this category are not self-selected, but rather must be voted into this category by the other Charter Members. Secondly, individuals in this category have the right to vote in elections for other Charter Members, and for Board Members.
- These two factors are intended to maintain the integrity of the Foundation election processes -- and by extension the integrity of the Foundation itself. We use the term "Charter" Member to explicitly indicate that these members are responsible for upholding the "charter" of the Foundation.
- Without the Charter Member category to serve as a basis for the Board election process, it would be technically possible for a group of self-interested Members to "hijack" the Board and hence the Foundation itself, turning it away from our basic goals and principles.
- We emphasize that the only real difference between a Member and a Charter Member is the right and responsibility to vote at the Foundation level. It is not our intent to make the Charter Members out to be some "privileged" class. Furthermore, the only real difference between a Member and a Participant is the self-registration on the Foundation's website. All mailing lists, projects, committees, and other Foundation activities are uniformly open and available to all friends of the Foundation.
More specifically, each of these three categories can be described in terms of certain characteristics, rights, or responsibilities:
- Eligibility Requirements: who can be a member of this category
- Nominating Rights: what rights are given for nominating new members
- Voting Rights: what rights are given for Foundation-level voting
The categories and their characteristics are as follows:
- Eligibility Requirements: none (everyone is welcome)
- Nominating Rights: none
- Voting Rights: none
- Eligibility Requirements: must self-register on the osgeo.org website
- Nominating Rights: has the right to nominate Charter Members and Board Members
- Voting Rights: may vote in general Foundation polls and committees but not for new Charter Members or Board Members.
- Eligibility Requirements: must be nominated and voted in
- Nominating Rights: same as Member
- Voting Rights: may vote for new Charter Members and Board Members
The Foundation maintains on the website a public roster of Charter Members. The new portal will host a public roster of all members. Those who choose to provide latitude/longitude will be displayed in a map.
"Registration" on the website consists of the following: self-chosen username, valid email address, postal address, optional professional affiliation(s), optional latitude/longitude, and an optional short bio/description.
Also, note that as per Proposed_Board_Election_Procedure, currently only Charter Members may be nominated to serve on the Board.
Other Membership Benefits
At some point, we may choose to allow Participants, Members, and Charter Members certain minor benefits, such as the right to use a logo on their web pages, an osgeo.org email address, etc.
A Supporter is someone who donates money to the Foundation. However, being a Supporter of the Foundation does not give one any specific rights or responsibilities. A Supporter has no more "power" than anyone else.
In return for the donation, a Supporter may receive a shirt, a conference registration discount, etc. In the future, we might choose to have levels of support, yearly subscriptions, etc. A Supporter might get the right to use a "I Support OSGeo" logo or some such thing.
Note that we specifically choose not to impose on Participants, Members, or Charter Members any form of membership fee, as this may present an economic hardship and therefore be a barrier to contributing to the Foundation's efforts.
As a Member of the Foundation, you are expected to act in accordance with the goals of the Foundation. You are expected to act in a professional and responsible manner. You are expected to treat your fellow members with respect and courtesy. Foundation activities are to be undertaken in a spirit of open discussion and consensus.
Membership Change and Revocation
If the Board deems that any member is not acting in the best interests of the Foundation (e.g. by not adhering to the above Membership Responsibilities) they may, by majority vote, revoke the membership of that member.
Criteria for Charter Member Nomination
Nominees for Charter Member status should meet the following criteria:
- The person should have already made a contribution to open source geospatial software.
- The person should be willing to put in time and effort on Foundation activities (e.g. perhaps joining committee(s), or volunteering in some other way that gets the foundation going).
- Members should believe in the general goals of the Foundation. To support and promote the use of open source geospatial software in a collaborative manner.
- Members selected should provide a diversity of geographic representation in the Foundation.
- Members selected should provide representation of a diversity of projects. For instance, we have a strong desire to see the "java tribe" well represented in the Foundation. We don't want the membership dominated by folks from just one project.
- Members selected should provide representation of a diversity of interests (eg. corporate, hobbyist, educational, scientific).
- Members should be prepared to works constructively and positively towards the goals of the Foundation. Good teamwork skills are an asset.
The Foundation is open to all members of the geospatial community. We do not discriminate based on age, gender, race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.
This membership discussion does not cover the following:
- corporate membership or sponsorship; this discussion pertains to "individuals" only
- board member eligibility, elections, etc
- nomination and election process for selecting Charter Members
- exclusion of Charter Members