Determining Your Existing Governance

by Shauna Gordon-McKeon

Many projects, including smaller and newer projects, do not have any sort of explicit, formal governance. This is not always a problem, but it can be confusing to newcomers or even existing community members. It can also be a barrier to collaboration with potential partners who want to understand who they're dealing with and assess if they're reliable.

Signs that a project is running into this problem include:

  • the maintainer feels overloaded, because while other community members are willing to do things, they don't feel empowered to help
  • the community wants to grow or transition the project, but is confused about how decisions should be made
  • the community wants to work with a partner or accept money from someone who requires them to have explicit governance

The goal of determining your existing governance is not to map out how you would like your community to work. It's about writing down how your community currently functions. That said, if you are inspired by this process to make changes, that's great too!