SustainOSS is an initiative created about four years ago to discuss the main challenges in sustainability for Open Source Systems. The yearly SustainOSS event is maybe the most representative activity, but the initiative also supports a podcast and other resources (like a forum or the GitHub repository).

I had the opportunity to attend the latest edition of this event, held in late January 2020. It is an intense day of work with a very precise objective: to discuss sustainability in Open Source systems. While the issue of sustainability was identified in previous editions, this year’s edition was focused on discussing what dimensions affect sustainability. During the event, several working groups were identified.

One of the dimensions discussed included the governance of a software system (also largely discussed in this same blog). As a working group, it was proposed to work on a Governance Readiness Checklist, which I offered as a bottom liner to drive the work, and I would like to introduce it in the following.

The purpose of the working group is to define a methodology to identify and deploy healthy governance models. As it may sound quite generic, let me be more specific: the main task is to create a checklist to verify whether open source projects are ready to deploy a governance model (or change their current governance for a healthy one). Other complementary goals include: (i) identifying analysis dimensions in open source projects, (ii) listing possible governance models (or most used/recommended), or (iii) studying how to make your project governance-ready.

During the last months, we have been working on creating such checklist to drive the definition of governance models. We kickstarted the process with the input collected from the SustainOSS event, where we identified a big list of issues, concerns, and questions regarding governance models. After that, we worked on categorizing, selecting, and prioritizing to identify the most important elements. Finally, we decided to publish the results as a website where you can easily find each checklist element and a short description:

open source governance checklist

We invite you to visit the website and explore our proposal. Any comment is more than welcome.

We believe our proposal can help the community to identify the main challenges they may face when governing Open Source Systems. Note that the checklist is just one useful first step to define (or evolve) your governance models, but we realize that further work is still needed to facilitate this process. From SustainOSS, we plan to continue fostering this line of work, so keep tuned!

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