Constitutional Assembly: Status Report

Hey everybody!
It’s been 7 weeks since we were appointed on May 16th.
We have a lot to get done in the 9 weeks until September 1st, the target date for the conclusion of our work.
We’ve been exchanging a lot of ideas among ourselves and with the community, some of which we’ve described below, along with our next steps.

Administrative

To even get started with our work, we needed to do some administrative chores, such as:

  • Scheduling regular meetings for synchronisation and alignment:
    We’re having two two-hour meetings every week, which we find to be frequent and long enough to make significant progress, without frying our brains completely.
    It’s hard to find a time that works for many, but crab.fit helps a lot with that.
  • Zulip is notoriously unfit for any persistent documents, so we set up both an internal repo (random notes, meeting minutes, personal interviews, etc.) and a public one.
  • Setting up ways to get feedback, such as our office hours and the Q&A.

Meta

There were also a number of discussions on how the Nix Constitutional Assembly (NCA) should do its work:

  • We want to strive towards consensus among ourselves for long-lasting decisions, but have to accept that this might not always be possible.
    For that case we agreed on a simple supermajority decision procedure to fall back to.
  • We agreed on a target date for our work to be done, to get an idea of the time scale.
  • The governance Zulip had a rough start, so we’ve been thinking about how to improve the health of the discussions there while it’s quiet.
  • What is the actual result of the NCA and how do we get it? We agreed to an iterative approach of writing draft proposals, gathering feedback, refining based on the feedback, and so on. Repeat this for some rounds before making a final decision.
    Pretty standard stuff, but how do we actually get feedback? Multiple avenues:
    • For those that actively engage in the governance discussions, the governance Zulip instance is a good place.
      We’ll definitely read all of it, even if we don’t reply to everything. For more directed feedback, there’s also other ways.
    • However, not everybody is actively seeking out governance discussions, so we’re reaching out to some people from the community directly.

Governance

In a previous announcement, we also defined some rough stages for our work.

Stage 1: Getting informed and aligned internally

This stage is just about getting informed and aligned internally, which we’ve now mostly achieved:

  • Everybody has been brought up to speed on the various aspects of the community.
  • We’ve conducted interviews with many people from the community to understand their grievances.
    A set of common questions emerged from these interviews, and we would love to get information from community members on these.
    If you are interested, please fill out and send us your answers.
  • We’ve done a bunch of research on how other open-source community governance structures work.
  • We thank everybody for the Q&A questions you’ve sent, they’ve been prompting us to align ourselves on the requested topic, which has been very helpful.
  • @infinisil and @lassulus had discussions with various people from the community at in-person events: NixOS ZHF Hackathon in Zürich and GPN in Karlsruhe respectively.
  • We’ve mostly aligned on some of the problems to be solved and the tradeoffs involved.

Stage 2: Drafting proposals and getting feedback

Next week we’ll start with the second stage, focused on drafting proposals and getting feedback on them.
We are planning to have at least two proposals:

  • Fundamental values to base decisions on.
  • Initial community governance structure, such as:
    • Who can make which decisions
    • How to implement it
    • How to evolve governance

Last but not least

There’s a lot to get done as we move towards better governance, and we’re excited to be working on it with all of you.
We would love to hear from you through the feedback channels, stay tuned for more updates soon.

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