S.C.O.P.E.

Sanic Community Organization Policy E-manual

December 2019, version 1

Goals

To create a sustainable, community-driven organization around the Sanic projects that promote: (1) stability and predictability, (2) quick iteration and enhancement cycles, (3) engagement from outside contributors, (4) overall reliable software, and (5) a safe, rewarding environment for the community members.

Overview

This Policy is the governance model for the Sanic Community Organization (“SCO”). The SCO is a meritocratic, consensus-based community organization responsible for all projects adopted by it. Anyone with an interest in one of the projects can join the community, contribute to the community or projects, and participate in the decision making process. This document describes how that participation takes place and how to set about earning merit within the project community.

Structure

The SCO has multiple projects. Each project is represented by a single GitHub repository under the Sanic community umbrella. These projects are used by users, developed by contributors, governed by core developers, released by release managers, and ultimately overseen by a steering council. If this sounds similar to the Python project and PEP 8016 that is because it is intentionally designed that way.

Roles and responsibilities

Users

Users are community members who have a need for the projects. They are the developers and personnel that download and install the packages. Users are the most important members of the community and without them the projects would have no purpose. Anyone can be a user and the licenses adopted by the projects shall be appropriate open source licenses.

The SCO asks its users to participate in the project and community as much as possible.

User contributions enable the project team to ensure that they are satisfying the needs of those users. Common user contributions include (but are not limited to):

  • evangelising about the project (e.g. a link on a website and word-of-mouth awareness raising)
  • informing developers of strengths and weaknesses from a new user perspective
  • providing moral support (a ‘thank you’ goes a long way)
  • providing financial support (the software is open source, but its developers need to eat)

Users who continue to engage with the SCO, its projects, and its community will often become more and more involved. Such users may find themselves becoming contributors, as described in the next section.

Contributors

Contributors are community members who contribute in concrete ways to one or more of the projects. Anyone can become a contributor and contributions can take many forms. Contributions and requirements are governed by each project separately by a contribution policy.

There is no expectation of commitment to the project, no specific skill requirements and no selection process.

In addition to their actions as users, contributors may also find themselves doing one or more of the following:

  • supporting new users (existing users are often the best people to support new users)
  • reporting bugs
  • identifying requirements
  • providing graphics and web design
  • Programming
  • example use cases
  • assisting with project infrastructure
  • writing documentation
  • fixing bugs
  • adding features
  • providing constructive opinions and engaging in community discourse

Contributors engage with the projects through GitHub and the Community Forums. They submit changes to the projects itself via pull requests, which will be considered for inclusion in the project by the community at large. The Community Forums are the most appropriate place to ask for help when making that first contribution.

Indeed one of the most important roles of a contributor may be to simply engage in the community conversation. Most decisions about the direction of a project are made by consensus. This is discussed in more detail below. In general, however, it is helpful for the health and direction of the projects for the contributors to speak freely (within the confines of the code of conduct) and express their opinions and experiences to help drive the consensus building.

As contributors gain experience and familiarity with a project, their profile within, and commitment to, the community will increase. At some stage, they may find themselves being nominated for a core developer team.

Core Developer

Each project under the SCO umbrella has its own team of core developers. They are the people in charge of that project.

What is a core developer?

Core developers are community members who have shown that they are committed to the continued development of the project through ongoing engagement with the community. Being a core developer allows contributors to more easily carry on with their project related activities by giving them direct access to the project’s resources. They can make changes directly to the project repository without having to submit changes via pull requests from a fork.

This does not mean that a core developer is free to do what they want. In fact, core developers have no more direct authority over the final release of a package than do contributors. While this honor does indicate a valued member of the community who has demonstrated a healthy respect for the project’s aims and objectives, their work continues to be reviewed by the community before acceptance in an official release.

What can a core developer do on a project?

Each project might define this role slightly differently. However, the general usage of this designation is that an individual has risen to a level of trust within the community such that they now are given some control. This comes in the form of push rights to non-protected branches, and the ability to have a voice in the approval of pull requests.

The projects employ various communication mechanisms to ensure that all contributions are reviewed by the community as a whole. This includes tools provided by GitHub, as well as the Community Forums. By the time a contributor is invited to become a core developer, they should be familiar with the various tools and workflows as a user and then as a contributor.

How to become a core developer?

Anyone can become a core developer; there are no special requirements, other than to have shown a willingness and ability to positively participate in the project as a team player.

Typically, a potential core developer will need to show that they have an understanding of the project, its objectives and its strategy. They will also have provided valuable contributions to the project over a period of time. However, there is no technical or other skill requirement for eligibility.

New core developers can be nominated by any existing core developer at any time. At least twice a year (April and October) there will be a ballot process run by the Steering Council. Voting should be done by secret ballot. Each existing core developer for that project receives a number of votes equivalent to the number of nominees on the ballot. For example, if there are four nominees, then each existing core developer has four votes. The core developer may cast those votes however they choose, but may not vote for a single nominee more than once. A nominee must receive two-thirds approval from the number of cast ballots (not the number of eligible ballots). Once accepted by the core developers, it is the responsibility of the Steering Council to approve and finalize the nomination. The Steering Council does not have the right to determine whether a nominee is meritorious enough to receive the core developer title. However, they do retain the right to override a vote in cases where the health of the community would so require.

Once the vote has been held, the aggregated voting results are published on the Community Forums. The nominee is entitled to request an explanation of any override against them. A nominee that fails to be admitted as a core developer may be nominated again in the future.

It is important to recognise that being a core developer is a privilege, not a right. That privilege must be earned and once earned it can be removed by the Steering Council (see next section) in extreme circumstances. However, under normal circumstances the core developer title exists for as long as the individual wishes to continue engaging with the project and community.

A committer who shows an above-average level of contribution to the project, particularly with respect to its strategic direction and long-term health, may be nominated to become a member of the Steering Council, or a Release Manager. This role is described below.

What are the rights and responsibilities of core developers?

As discussed, the majority of decisions to be made are by consensus building. In certain circumstances where an issue has become more contentious, or a major decision needs to be made, the Release Manager or Steering Council may decide (or be required) to implement the RFC process, which is outlined in more detail below.

It is also incumbent upon core developers to have a voice in the governance of the community. All core developers for all of the projects have the ability to be nominated to be on the Steering Council and vote in their elections.

This Policy (the “SCOPE”) may only be changed under the authority of two-thirds of active core developers, except that in the first six (6) months after adoption, the core developers reserve the right to make changes under the authority of a simple majority of active core developers.

What if a core developer becomes inactive?

It is hoped that all core developers participate and remain active on a regular basis in their projects. However, it is also understood that such commitments may not be realistic or possible from time to time.

Therefore, the Steering Council has the duty to encourage participation and the responsibility to place core developers into an inactive status if they are no longer willing or capable to participate. The main purpose of this is not to punish a person for behavior, but to help the development process to continue for those that do remain active.

To this end, a core developer that becomes “inactive” shall not have commit rights to a repository, and shall not participate in any votes. To be eligible to vote in an election, a core developer must have been active at the time of the previous scheduled project release.

Inactive members may ask the Steering Council to reinstate their status at any time, and upon such request the Steering Council shall make the core developer active again.

Individuals that know they will be unable to maintain their active status for a period are asked to be in communication with the Steering Council and declare themselves inactive if necessary.

An “active” core developer is an individual that has participated in a meaningful way during the previous six months. Any further definition is within the discretion of the Steering Council.

Release Manager

Core developers shall have access only to make commits and merges on non-protected branches. The “master” branch and other protected branches are controlled by the release management team for that project. Release managers shall be elected from the core development team by the core development team, and shall serve for a full release cycle.

Each core developer team may decide how many release managers to have for each release cycle. It is highly encouraged that there be at least two release managers for a release cycle to help divide the responsibilities and not force too much effort upon a single person. However, there also should not be so many managers that their efforts are impeded.

The main responsibilities of the release management team include:

  • push the development cycle forward by monitoring and facilitating technical discussions
  • establish a release calendar and perform actions required to release packages
  • approve pull requests to the master branch and other protected branches
  • merge pull requests to the master branch and other protected branches

The release managers do not have the authority to veto or withhold a merge of a pull request that otherwise meets contribution criteria and has been accepted by the community. It is not their responsibility to decide what should be developed, but rather that the decisions of the community are carried out and that the project is being moved forward.

From time to time, a decision may need to be made that cannot be achieved through consensus. In that case, the release managers have the authority to call upon the removal of the decision to the RFC process. This should not occur regularly (unless required as discussed below), and its use should be discouraged in favor of the more communal consensus building strategy.

Since not all projects have the same requirements, the specifics governing release managers on a project shall be set forth in an Appendix to this Policy, or in the project’s contribution guidelines.

If necessary, the Steering Council has the right to remove a release manager that is derelict in their duties, or for other good cause.

Steering Council

The Steering Council is the governing body consisting of those individuals identified as the “project owner” and having control of the resources and assets of the SCO. Their ultimate goal is to ensure the smooth operation of the projects by removing impediments, and assisting the members as needed. It is expected that they will be regular voices in the community.

What can the Steering Council do?

The members of the Steering Council do not individually have any more authority than any other core developer, and shall not have any additional rights to make decisions, commits, merges, or the like on a project.

However, as a body, the Steering Council has the following capacity:

  • accept, remand, and reject all RFCs
  • enforce the community code of conduct
  • administer community assets such as repositories, servers, forums, integration services, and the like (or, to delegate such authority to someone else)
  • place core developers into inactive status where appropriate take any other enforcement measures afforded to it in this Policy, including, in extreme cases, removing core developers
  • adopt or remove projects from the community umbrella

It is highly encouraged that the Steering Council delegate its authority as much as possible, and where appropriate, to other willing community members.

The Steering Council does not have the authority to change this Policy.

How many members are on the Steering Council?

Four.

While it seems like a committee with four votes may potentially end in a deadlock with no way to break a majority vote, the Steering Council is discouraged from voting as much as possible. Instead, it should try to work by consensus, and requires three consenting votes when it is necessary to vote on a matter.

How long do members serve on the Steering Council?

A single term shall be for two calendar years starting in January. Terms shall be staggered so that each year there are two members continuing from the previous year’s council.

Therefore, the inaugural vote shall have two positions available for a two year term, and two positions available for a one year term.

There are no limits to the number of terms that can be served, and it is possible for an individual to serve consecutive terms.

Who runs the Steering Council?

After the Steering Council is elected, the group shall collectively decide upon one person to act as the Chair. The Chair does not have any additional rights or authority over any other member of the Steering Council.

The role of the Chair is merely as a coordinator and facilitator. The Chair is expected to ensure that all governance processes are adhered to. The position is more administrative and clerical, and is expected that the Chair sets agendas and coordinates discussion of the group.

How are council members elected?

Once a year, all eligible core developers for each of the projects shall have the right to elect members to the Steering Council.

Nominations shall be open from September 1 and shall close on September 30. After that, voting shall begin on October 1 and shall close on October 31. Every core developer active on the date of the June release of the Sanic Framework for that year shall be eligible to receive one vote per vacant seat on the Steering Council. For the sake of clarity, to be eligible to vote, a core developer does not need to be a core developer on Sanic Framework, but rather just have been active within their respective project on that date.

The top recipients of votes shall be declared the winners. If there is any tie, it is highly encouraged that the tied nominees themselves resolve the dispute before a decision is made at random.

In regards to the inaugural vote of the Steering Council, the top two vote-recipients shall serve for two years, and the next two vote-recipients shall assume the one-year seats.

To be an eligible candidate for the Steering Council, the individual must have been a core developer in active status on at least one project for the previous twelve months.

What if there is a vacancy?

If a vacancy on the Steering Council exists during a term, then the next highest vote-recipient in the previous election shall be offered to complete the remainder of the term. If one cannot be found this way, the Steering Council may decide the most appropriate course of action to fill the seat (whether by appointment, vote, or other means).

If a member of the Steering Council becomes inactive, then that individual shall be removed from the Steering Council immediately and the seat shall become vacant.

In extreme cases, the body of all core developers has the right to bring a vote to remove a member of the Steering Council for cause by a two-thirds majority of all eligible voting core developers.

How shall the Steering Council conduct its business?

As much as possible, the Steering Council shall conduct its business and discussions in the open. Any member of the community should be allowed to enter the conversation with them. However, at times it may be necessary or appropriate for discussions to be held privately. Selecting the proper venue for conversations is part of the administrative duties of the Chair.

While the specifics of how to operate are beyond the scope of the Policy, it is encouraged that the Steering Council attempt to meet at least one time per quarter in a “real-time” discussion. This could be achieved via video conferencing, live chatting, or other appropriate means.

Support

All participants in the community are encouraged to provide support for users within the project management infrastructure. This support is provided as a way of growing the community. Those seeking support should recognise that all support activity within the project is voluntary and is therefore provided as and when time allows. A user requiring guaranteed response times or results should therefore seek to purchase a support contract from a community member. However, for those willing to engage with the project on its own terms, and willing to help support other users, the community support channels are ideal.

Decision making process

Decisions about the future of the projects are made through discussion with all members of the community, from the newest user to the most experienced member. Everyone has a voice.

All non-sensitive project management discussion takes place on the community forums, or other designated channels. Occasionally, sensitive discussions may occur in private.

In order to ensure that the project is not bogged down by endless discussion and continual voting, the project operates a policy of lazy consensus. This allows the majority of decisions to be made without resorting to a formal vote. For any major decision (as defined below), there is a separate Request for Comment (RFC) process.

Technical decisions

Pull requests and technical decisions should generally fall into the following categories.

  • Routine: Documentation fixes, code changes that are for cleanup or additional testing. No functionality changes.
  • Minor: Changes to the code base that either fix a bug, or introduce a trivial feature. No breaking changes.
  • Major: Any change to the code base that breaks or deprecates existing API, alters operation in a non-trivial manner, or adds a significant feature.

It is generally the responsibility of the release managers to make sure that changes to the repositories receive the proper authorization before merge.

The release managers retain the authority to individually review and accept routine decisions that meet standards for code quality without additional input.

Lazy consensus

Decision making (whether by the community or Steering Council) typically involves the following steps:

  • proposal
  • discussion
  • vote (if consensus is not reached through discussion)
  • decision

Any community member can make a proposal for consideration by the community. In order to initiate a discussion about a new idea, they should post a message on the appropriate channel on the Community forums, or submit a pull request implementing the idea on GitHub. This will prompt a review and, if necessary, a discussion of the idea.

The goal of this review and discussion is to gain approval for the contribution. Since most people in the project community have a shared vision, there is often little need for discussion in order to reach consensus.

In general, as long as nobody explicitly opposes a proposal or patch, it is recognised as having the support of the community. This is called lazy consensus; that is, those who have not stated their opinion explicitly have implicitly agreed to the implementation of the proposal.

Lazy consensus is a very important concept within the SCO. It is this process that allows a large group of people to efficiently reach consensus, as someone with no objections to a proposal need not spend time stating their position, and others need not spend time reading such messages.

For lazy consensus to be effective, it is necessary to allow an appropriate amount of time before assuming that there are no objections to the proposal. This is somewhat dependent upon the circumstances, but it is generally assumed that 72 hours is reasonable. This requirement ensures that everyone is given enough time to read, digest and respond to the proposal. This time period is chosen so as to be as inclusive as possible of all participants, regardless of their location and time commitments. The facilitators of discussion (whether it be the Chair or the Release Managers, where applicable) shall be charged with determining the proper length of time for such consensus to be reached.

As discussed above regarding so-called routine decisions, the release managers have the right to make decisions within a shorter period of time. In such cases, lazy consensus shall be implied.

Request for Comment (RFC)

The Steering Council shall be in charge of overseeing the RFC process. It shall be a process that remains open to debate to all members of the community, and shall allow for ample time to consider a proposal and for members to respond and engage in meaningful discussion.

The final decision is vested with the Steering Council. However, it is strongly discouraged that the Steering Council adopt a decision that is contrary to any consensus that may exist in the community. From time to time this may happen if there is a conflict between consensus and the overall project and community goals.

An RFC shall be initiated by submission to the Steering Council in the public manner as set forth by the Steering Council. Debate shall continue and be facilitated by the Steering Council in general, and the Chair specifically.

In circumstances that the Steering Council feels it is appropriate, the RFC process may be waived in favor of lazy consensus.