Free Tools for FOSS Governance

Governance plays a crucial role in our world by determining and defining acceptable ways of interacting and doing business with one other. When governance is done well, it provides a supportive framework that facilitates interaction and fades into the background. When it’s done poorly, things don’t run as smoothly. The same is true within open source projects, where governance is key to providing overall operating guidelines, defining rules of conduct, and stating specific goals.

To help projects and organizations make informed decisions and craft their own governing materials, VM (Vicky) Brasseur, corporate strategist and author of Forge Your Future with Open Source, has launched the FOSS Governance Collection.

Toward Not Reinventing the Wheel

The FOSS Governance Collection, Brasseur explains, is an indexed collection of documents gathered from free and open source software projects that is aimed at answering the frequently asked question of “how do other projects handle this?”

“Governance is often neglected by many FOSS projects, but not by all of them,” Brasseur says. Additionally, she states:

The communities that recognise that the human infrastructure is at least as important to the functioning of the project as the technical, will take the time not only to figure out how the pieces of their governance work, they’ll also take the all-important step of documenting those pieces.

This type of documentation “not only helps new community members learn how to operate within the project, it also holds project leadership accountable by being very clear about what they should and should not be doing and how,” she says.

The Collection

The collection itself is housed in Zotero, which, Brasseur notes, means the collection is completely catalogued and indexed, so you can easily find information. Each entry in the catalog also comes with a snapshot of the document so you can use the collection offline as well.

Within the collection, you’ll find hundreds of documents on topics including voting, trademarking, privacy policies, and codes of conduct, making it an invaluable resource for individuals, projects, and organizations. 

How to Contribute

The FOSS Governance Collection is an open project, released under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) v4.0 license. You can contribute to the project by suggesting a document to add to the collection; reporting a problem with the collection, project, or website; or by providing feedback and asking questions.