Board Update #2 - Assembly Appointment Process

Board Update #2 - Assembly Appointment Process

Last week we kicked off the process of creating a new community-based governance model. The first step is to appoint a constitutional assembly, tasked to create an appropriate community governance. It is the board’s role to see the process of appointing the assembly through and be accountable for it, but we are also reaching out for community input throughout.

With this update we’re starting to create clarity around the assembly, such as its mission, lifetime, composition and selection processes. Finally we’re asking the community to provide input to certain questions and thank you for the immense input already provided!

What has happened since the last update?

  1. A Zulip instance has been set up to provide us all with a platform to discuss, share feedback, and provide input to the board on the ongoing topics of governance process. We expect this instance to be available for the duration of the entire governance forming process. The role of Zulip is to be the venue for the community to provide input to the board and assembly for specific questions.
  2. Having only been created on Friday, we’ve been overwhelmed with the engagement on Zulip from over 300 contributors writing over 4000 messages. Thank you for expressing all of your thoughts and concerns! We are also aware that the current volume of conversation can over-represent folks that are able to engage with this type of medium and are able to allocate the time for it. Please rest assured that we’re trying our best to align with the entire community. If you’re worried about your voice not being heard, you can also send us a PM.
  3. We’ve been engaging with open source community, governance and project experts (individuals with decades of experience in these realms) both to learn from them and also to explore possible assembly candidates.
  4. Drafting and deliberation on appointing the assembly based on the various feedback (see below)
  5. We held an open call this Monday to connect with the community and answer questions live. The raw meeting notes can be found here.
  6. In order to avoid malicious external influence on the process, we decided that we will “timestamp” the ecosystem on May 1st (everything leading up to may 1st) and use that as the baseline of consideration on the entirety of the process.

What are the next steps?

We have two layers of short term goals: The goal of the board appointing the assembly, and the subsequent goal of the assembly itself.

Our goal as a foundation is to deliver what we have promised: To appoint a constitutional assembly within 14 days (from 1 May - NixOS Foundation board: Giving power to the community). Since we have set out to do so in a shorter timeline, we will work to keep the appointment process simple and agile.


While we are still assessing a lot of the details, here is the overall timeline you can expect:

  • Monday May 6th to Wednesday May 8th - Feedback and community discussion on form for nomination process and criterias.
  • Thursday May 9th - Open nomination applications
  • Sunday May 12th 23:59 CEST - Closing nomination applications
  • May 15th - Appointment of assembly

In addition to the open community call from this Monday, we scheduled more open calls throughout the week, which you can join with this link:

  • Wednesday May 8, 13:00 CEST
  • Thursday May 9, 19:00 CEST

We also expect to schedule more open community calls in the following week. To find the best times for the community, you can enter your availability here.

Appointing the constitutional assembly

Assembly mission and goal

As per the previous statement, the assembly’s mission will be to set up a new governance structure, run by the community, that is capable of serving the community’s needs. While we’re still figuring out more details with feedback from the community, we have decided on some baselines here:

  • The resulting governance structure needs to accommodate all official Nix resources including code, policies, websites, accounts, infrastructure, trademarks, finances, etc.

  • While the assembly is free to choose any form or structure that they think is best for the project, they must ensure that the resulting governance structure’s decisions are representative of the entire community. This also requires defining what the community is.

  • The resulting governance structure should be expected to provide stability to the community for the next 5 years.

Assembly lifetime

Once the assembly has been appointed, they have some amount of time to come to a conclusion and deliver the governance structure. Once the new governance structure is approved by the board, the assembly enters a transitory period to support the execution of the structure before finally disbanding.

The exact duration to produce the governance structure hasn’t been decided yet, but has to be in tension between getting things right, giving members time to read, and leaving the community to wait for the new structure.

This duration needs to be estimated a bit more clearly before we open for applications, so that candidates know what they are getting into.

Assembly relationship with the board

The board members are legally responsible for the governance proposal. Because of that, we will have to evaluate and sign off on the governance proposal before it gets accepted, and we will stay in contact with the assembly as a stakeholder during the process. In addition to the mission, our main criteria of rejection would be if the proposed structure wouldn’t be legally viable for us. Otherwise, we expect this to be mostly a formality.

Assembly composition

Tying back to the mission, the assembly is expected to build a successful governance structure that can stand the test of time and scale, among many other things. Therefore the following structure leans more heavily on the assembly bringing in experience to make that a reality.

We’re finding ourselves in agreement with recent discussions regarding how the assembly makes progress internally: They should primarily seek consensus among themselves, but have a mechanism to resolve disputes if that’s not possible (Voting? Board decides? Make assembly changes? We’re not sure yet and are looking for input).

Taking into account that the assembly should be able to reach consensus, the discussions regarding assembly size, input from experts, and the expected number of applications, we believe that 7 is a good number of people in the assembly. If we end up with a lot of strong candidates that have shown to be able to reach consensus in larger groups, this could be increased, but for now that’s our target.

As their main goal will be formulating a governance structure we are thinking of categorizing the seats into 2 sections. Community and experts.


Long Standing Community: Three members representing long standing Nix community members, individuals who have been a core part of the ecosystem for at least 5 years. Individuals who have a deep understanding of our community, its history, are respected, have taken on projects for the good of the community in the past and have an explicit commitment for the future success of Nix.

General: Two members representing additional areas of Nix not otherwise covered, such as marginal groups, experiences or values, preferably with explicit experience in designing and leading governance.

We are considering compensating community members for their time, since this effort is expected to require a significant commitment that might not be realistic for unpaid volunteers. We are also aware of the potential conflict of interest if third-party companies were to sponsor assembly members.


Two external experts. These members will be directly part of the assembly, and therefore hold accountability and responsibility just like the rest in making this successful. These should be individuals who have substantial experience in building successful open source communities and governance structures, being involved at the highest levels in large and successful open source projects. They will be compensated for this work.


Explicitly barred from the assembly are individuals who are or have recently been part of the board (board members and board observers), since it would go against the spirit of transfer of power.

Assembly application process

We plan to land the form for the public application process by Thursday, May 9th. Once shared, the application process will work as follows:

  1. Join Zulip. If you are external to the community, you can also request to join by sending an email to
  2. Decide which type of role you are interested and best suited for - Community Veteran, Community or Expert
  3. Post the form as a new topic to the appropriate role’s Zulip stream.

While we do intend to allow discussions on applications, this has to be done in a manner that upholds our CoC. We might also set some guidelines beforehand regarding what discourse is appropriate in applications.

The board will close applications on Sunday May 12th at 23:59 CEST.

Assembly selection process

Once applications close, the board will do a final review of community feedback to take into consideration.

The board will then review applications and share updates publicly. Finalizing and appointing the assembly by May 15th at 23:59 CEST.

Board request for feedback

While the feedback, input and energy are immensely appreciated, we also understand the need for clarity on what areas would be most meaningful in each phase. As of today, here are the areas we would appreciate more feedback and thoughts on:

  • How should the application look?
  • What representation of what distinctions do we want to see in the assembly?
  • What criteria should the board consider for appointment?

Thank you again to everyone who is taking part in making this progress.


Next open board call: Community Calendar - #139 by fricklerhandwerk

1 Like

With the volume of messages, it’s hard to even be aware were the discussion is currently at. As someone that doesn’t have time/spoons to keep track of this, is there perhaps someone who is following this that can keep the rest of us updated?


I’ve been closely following everything to be able to serve as a fallback for clarifications based on my own heuristics.

As far as I can tell, the above board statement pretty accurately represents the state of discussion. There are a few threads that seem to converge, and the level of specificity in the top post reflects the degree of convergence. (Note in particular that each topic is guarded with an open-ended question, so there are not many final decisions yet.) The Zulip streams and their traffic are a good indicator of which questions are being discussed and their relative importance or contentiousness.

Some people offered writing an executive summary to capture consensus or “fault lines”, but that is a lot of work. If it doesn’t happen one of these days I’ll probably help out.


I would suggest clicking through the summaries provided by participants.

Some topics also have a final message, that summarizes the result and note that the topic has been covered.