Update on GOSH Constitution progress

Hello GOSH Community,

Hope this finds you well. This is a message from @hpy and myself.

tl;dr An idea for a modular constitution installed by community referendum

We’d like to acknowledge the efforts made by the 10 people who contributed to Constitution crafting in the last 18 months (@Frank_AfricaOSH @akorede @moritz.maxeiner @ebuka @Karl @suleiman01 @ginaleite @goldjian @juul @marinappdf) as well as the coordination efforts by @hpy and myself. Shoutout to everyone who talked to us at the Council table in Panama 2022 and afterwards, such as @dusjagr @gaudi @saadcaffeine @anaj238 @Moe. Past and present Council members have all spent plenty of CPU (aka brain) cycles on these governance topics, as did the original Governance Working Group that laid the groundwork for the Council to be voted into existence by GOSH membership. :fist-bump: Together, we’ve been learning that this type of work requires deep focus, and a lot of time, as you can see by the date stamps on the previous posts in this Constitution subcategory.


  • The detailed election plans alone require 20 pages to fully document and must be updated every year. The documentation of all the Constitutional topics ranging from elections, partnerships, to regional GOSHes, etc. is upwards of 60 pages. It’s just too much, information is not accessible in this format.
  • From the very first Community Council that was seated, GOSH’s elected representatives did not want to directly install a Constitution without community input, because Councilmembers did not want any future Council to hold that much power over the community. Because of this, we’ve been slowly developing a community drafting process, and a new type of voting process – a referendum – so that the GOSH membership can hold this power.

Idea for a new approach:
It dawned on @hpy and myself, that in the interest of time and to increase the likelihood of GOSHers loving their Constitution, we should maybe aim at something shorter and sweeter than the 60 page tome. We started wondering, could there be a Minimum Viable Constitution (MVC), even a modular Constitution?

Imagine a document that defines really high level principles while its constituent components (called “Operational Documents” for now) can continue to be developed by specific working groups as long as those principles are not contradicted. These documents could include things like detailed election plans, operations of the Community Council, Code of Conduct, etc.

In other words, Operational Documents would derive their legitimacy from this Constitution, which is democratically enacted by the GOSH Community through a referendum. In referendums, people directly vote for or against a specific policy, as compared to voting for a set of representatives who then decide policy on behalf of their constituents.

The goal is that someone looking at the Constitution could easily, and quickly, comprehend high level principals without worrying about operational details, while also being reassured that those details will not contravene the principles. This is the UX we’re aiming for. A Constitution focused on the principles for governance in GOSH would start with naming and defining the components of the GOSH community as each Governance Plan has done (such as this one for 2023), and updating the community diagram first imagined by the 2020 Governance Group:

Once the Constitution is installed via referendum, the threshold for amending the Constitution would be higher than that for the Operational Documents because technically, Operational Documents would not be part of this Constitution. Changes to Operational Documents would be up for their relevant working groups to decide. Concerns about the constitutionality of any document would first be adjudicated by the relevant working group, and then by the individual Community Councilors who are coordinating the relevant Governance Domain (such as described in this post), and then, if needed, by the entire Community Council to make the final determination.

Operationally and archivally, this Constitution could be linked to its associated Operational Documents via dedicated forum threads. If and when a document is updated (e.g. an updated Code of Conduct), the link to that version shall be added to its forum thread as a new post along with a summary of changes. This way, each thread would be a version history (“changelog”) of that document.

This has been an update on where we are with the GOSH Community Constitution, thanks for your patience and support so far. We imagine that there might be opportunities to discuss this further in the coming year. Please consider this an invitation to discuss in the replies or with either @hpy, myself, or @anaj238 (current Councilmember who is coordinating the Management/Admin domain)

Liz and @hpy