[Fsfe-ie] IFSO Rules, Draft 2

Glenn Strong Glenn.Strong at cs.tcd.ie
Tue Nov 11 19:39:32 CET 2003

On , November 11, 2003 at 01:23 +0000, Ciaran O'Riordan wrote:
> A few suggestions:

Thanks, Ciaran, useful stuff.
> ?? add preamble to define 1. Free Software and 2. source code),
> ?? (rip from 1. www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html, 2. GPL)
> (similar to what Loic Dachary suggested)

Yep! This is obviously the way to go.
> 2. The club shall Promote and defend the writing of Free Software of
>    the sort advocated by the Free Software Foundation and others,
> 3. Promote and defend the use of Free Software, and
> ?? reduce 2, 3, and 4 to: "to promote and defend Free Software"
> ?? (this covers all of the above without restricting us)

This is fine by me, and it should hopefully mean the same thing. I
cannot think of a specific action that would be allowed in the shorter
form but not allowed in the longer one, though.
> [...]
> 1.2. Membership of IFSO shall comprise Ordinary, Student, and Honorary
>      members. The Membership of Honorary Members may be limited in
>      time.
> ?? remove "Student"?

Well, my idea there was to give the committee discretion to set
different rates for student members, for instance. If this isn't
something we are likely to do then it can be removed (at the kind of
rates we were discussing at the meeting it wouldn't be necessary, but
I was thinking that it might be desirable eventually and we could then
do it without amending the rules).
> 1.3. All new members shall be invited to complete an application form
>      for membership for consideration and approval by the Executive
>      Committee. The Committee shall have the right to reject
>      membership applications. 
> ?? 1/ Person with 20quid approaches Committee Member.
> ?? 2/ Committee Member acknowledges Person and goes off to make decision
> ??    with rest of Committee.
> ?? 3/ Committee Member returns to Person with decision.
> ??
> ?? (what if the rest of the committee aren't present/available?)
> ?? 
> ?? Better: Person gives committee member money, committee member takes
> ?? name, email address, and any other contact info provided. done.

It's still my opinion that the committee should have discretionary
power in this matter, but if there's a consensus against it then out
it goes! Should be allowable that the committee can delegate the task
of course - and someone will have to be keeping membership records in
any event (so they could do it). If we keep this then an explicit
statement to that effect might be required.
> 2.7. Election of officers shall be by a show of hands and in the event
>      of any dispute the Chairman may call for an election by paper
>      ballot or adjourn the meeting for that issue to be determined
>      separately.
> ?? shouldn't we include non-attendees in the voting process?
> ?? how would cork or U.S.-based members vote?
> ?? I suggest a closed paper+email ballot, with all votes published
> ?? after the count.  This system is fully accountable and fair.  It
> ?? lacks privacy, but otherwise we have to either exclude
> ?? non-dubliners, implement net-voting (without a paper trail), or use
> ?? some kind of postal voting with amazing unforgeable, traceable paper.
> ?? voting could take place in the week up to and including the Annual
> ?? General Meeting, with results announced at the AGM.

As a matter of principle it would be best to allow every member a vote
in the proceedings. The exact rules would have to be carefully worked
out, though. It would at least be necessary to specify lead times so
that all nominations are known sufficiently in advance of the AGM that
the members can be notified. It will also be necessary to have a
mechanism to deal with disputed votes published after the count. I
went with direct voting because it requires no red tape and is
unambiguous. Another solution to the problem would be to allow some
form of proxy voting, but that beings its own set of problems. So the
intention was not to exclude, but to simplify.

There is no requirement for the AGM to be held in Dublin, of course,
and we discussed holding IFSO meetings elsewhere so the AGM could be
located in a location that was conducive to getting good
attendance. It could also be combined with other events that would
make it more worthwhile for everyone to travel (talks/conference for
instance). But I'm drifting off topic.
> 2.8. A quorum for a General Meeting held under these Rules shall be
>      ten paid up members of IFSO.
> ?? I presume "General Meeting" should be "Annual General Meeting".

Yes, it should be.
> ?? How about: The Committee plus 15% of membership
> ?? This scales up and down a lot better than "ten".

I know - and I intended replying to Niall about that (sorry Niall,
I'm not ignoring you, honest!). This is a more subtle one, so I'll
explain what I was thinking.

I have known a number of clubs where people join but do not intend
being active to the extent of attending the AGM (they may join to
express support, or to have access to benefits or some sort, or simply
with good intentions). If we set the quorum level as a percentage
without first having some idea what the level of active membership is
likely to be then it is possible that we may find it difficult to get
a quorum at the AGM (which in turn would mean that it's impossible to
take any action).

I therefore suggest that for the first year at least we set the level
low enough that we know that we can achieve it. We might then amend
the constitution to describe a percentage of the membership (as I
expect we would).

The general purpose of a quorum, of course, is to stop a small group
hijacking an organisation, and I expect that 10 would be sufficient
for this. So the intention was to ensure we could manage at least one
quorum at an AGM while still satisfying the basic requirements. I
expect that we would then know enough about the membership patterns to
specify a percentage as suggested by Niall and yourself. I did not
explain that sufficiently (indeed, at all).
Similarly, though perhaps with less justification, for the EGM rule.
> Also, we should add an "IFSO can act on behalf of a member if that
> member requests assistance" clause, as Loic Dachary suggested.

I'll look into exactly what would be required here.

Glenn Strong

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