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Notes from the Foundation for Public Code community call - 18 November 2021


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One of the gating criteria in the codebase life cycle we have to bring a codebase into our stewardship is that they have an ambition to enable further reuse by meeting the requirements in the Standard for Public Code. But what should we do if these ambitions don’t realize into actions for an increasingly long time? That was the topic of the community call.

Avoiding the situation

One aspect that we talked quite a lot about was strategies of how we could avoid getting in this place in the first place. While we didn’t have any concrete answers, we realized that this is connected to the mandate that we have been given by the community.

Therefore we talked about some strategies on how we can be clear that this is a mandate that we need in order to provide value for the community. Some ideas involved being more proactive and act like we are stakeholder to be recognized as one, another was to be more explicit from the start what role we should have. Clearly, we need to think on, and discuss, this more. One memorable phrase that come up during this discussion was public code by design riffing of other established concepts with similar naming pattern (x by design).

Improving processes

What we came up with related to processes we could implement immediately, the following was a process that we liked.

Once, or perhaps even twice, each year we should have a meeting in each codebase community to do a forward look. In it we would discuss what their ambitions related to closing the gaps and meeting more requirements in the Standard for Public Code will be the next year.

The reason that we thought of possibly two meetings was the notion of having it timed so that it first can feed into their budget planning. Second, it would be good to do a forward look late enough so that the community know their budgets and can give honest answers of what the possibility space is.

At the latest, a forward look like this should happen about three months before our general assembly, and we should be explicit during the forward look that what we collected there would feed into the assembly. A forward look like this could either be part of the regular product steering meetings if such exist, or be separate meetings.

The staff of the Foundation for Public Code would prepare a “state of the codebases” to the general assembly so that the members during it could take informed decisions. Of particular interest would be to possibly prioritize a codebase for strategic reasons, even if they hadn’t made a lot of progress towards standard compliance. Such decision would give the codebase stewards the mandate to continue to practice stewardship. Alternatively, the members could decide to phase out a codebase that don’t present any renewed ambitions.