Skilling for the future: How GitHub is advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within open source communities
In the coming months, we’re scaling, expanding, and launching new programming to further DEI within open source communities.
When you move from 1 maintainer to 1+N maintainers of your project, things can get complicated. Minimum Viable Governance (MVG) is a simple, easy-to-implement governance framework for your free and open source projects.
In my role on the policy team, I hear a lot from developers that drafting project governance is a pain point. For that reason, we made Minimum Viable Governance (MVG), a simple, easy-to-implement governance framework for your free and open source projects. It should work as-is for all projects—those among a few friends or a few mega-corporate rivals. It is open source, so you can modify it to fit your needs.
Things get complicated when you move from 1 maintainer to 1+N maintainers of your project. Suddenly, you need to figure out how you’ll make decisions, how you’ll add other maintainers, how you’ll divide work and agree on a vision, as well as who owns the trademark.
There is often either too little or too much negotiation over these decisions. For volunteer-run projects, people often do nothing until there are problems, and those problems can strain or break the community. For projects with large corporate contributors, lawyers get involved and spend months negotiating heavyweight legal governance structures that slow down real work.
MVG is an agreement between maintainers that is signed and stored in the repository. MVG provides a two-tier structure for a set of open source projects. At the top level (called an “organization” on GitHub), you choose a group of people to serve as the technical steering committee, making decisions about the overall direction and coordination between all of the organization’s projects. Underneath that top level are the individual projects, with lightweight, consensus-based governance among the maintainers.
The agreement covers five things, with the defaults set out below. Since MVG is open source, you can of course modify the docs to suit your needs.
MVG is designed to be simple, yet robust. Once you review and make sure it’s right for you, fork a copy, fill in the blanks, and get to work. MVG is open source, under a CC-BY license, so you can modify the docs to suit your needs and reshare them. Remember these are contracts, so you should make sure they’re right for you.
MVG is meant to be an on-ramp. If your project takes off and needs to hold money for meetups, conference talks, hosting fees, or anything else, it’s easy to take this structure to a free and open source software foundation or other corporate form.
MVG is still in beta. We want your feedback! There are a few alpha versions in use, but like all things, there is room for improvement. We’ll be accepting feedback from anyone over the next few months in the MVG repo before we release a 1.0 version.
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