CP Org. Term Limits


#1

I’ve never found term limits to accomplish anything. Forcing committee members to take a hiatus every fourth year makes sense to get some new ideas into project and break up little empires, but setting a limit on the total number of terms will only remove your best visionaries. If someone is doing a bad job and you can’t vote them out, you have a different problem. Having competent people serving on the committee for extended periods is not a problem.


February 5th Committee Meeting
ClassicPress Organizational Structure
#2

I agree here, setting a hard max can force good committee members out.

PS. I moved this to a new thread.


#3

I agree with this… however,

This is a very common failure mode with any system of governance that I’ve ever seen. Seriously, if you can name a counter-example from any real-life or online governing body then I’d be interested to hear it.

Note also that our current structure doesn’t prevent someone from remaining a team lead after their committee terms have expired.

So I think we should remain open to revisiting this in the future, but I think the current rule also makes sense.


#4

I do agree with those remarks. While I understand the good intent behind such limitations, I do not think that they would do good to the project. There are obviously some key players who have to be part of the core, as long as they are willing to and the is no conflict with other committee members. In case the limitation is kept for some reasons, then the committee should be able to extend a standing invitation to people not belonging to the committee, but considered as essential for the continuity of the project.


#5

There are definitely a number of ways we can modify the org structure as we move forward to address some of these concerns. Initially, those members rolling off the committee would be Founding Committee members, and those members do retain special status as advisors, so their collective wisdom and insight will be carried forward for some time.
We can elect to keep future committee members active on an ex-oficio basis as well.

Succession is an issue in any organization but it’s necessary to bring fresh insight regularly so that the organization doesn’t stagnate. “Little empires” is what we’re trying to avoid with term limits, but if there’s an alternative to it, then I’m happy to hear suggestions too.


#6

I would ask the opposite question. When have terms limits ever improved governance? Certainly not here in the US. We get a new corrupt administration every eight years because our election system is broken. That’s the different problem I was referring to. Every eight years it’s different people carrying out the same policies because term limits did not break up the internal forces behind those policies.


#7

I think in the US we would be much worse off without the term limits. At least right now we have the semblance of a choice, even though there is not much accountability over what positions are actually taken or even how the votes are counted.

Then look at Venezuela, which has effectively abolished term limits. They don’t even try to pretend they have fair elections. All of this is standard, expected behavior with a leader who is attempting to consolidate power.

ClassicPress is not a nation, and real-life and online governance are very different things. Still, I can draw at least 2 conclusions from this allegory:

  1. The next few years are going to be interesting.
  2. We should probably keep the term limits.

There are other ways to make sure good people stay on (advice from a founding committee member who is also still an active team lead, for example).


#8

You may be right about this; however, the US and Venezuela are both failing political systems. I think don’t think planning for failure is the best strategy for CP.

I don’t mean to be harsh, but term limits are like putting a band aid on a sucking chest wound. Once a system has degenerated to the point where they are needed for damage control it’s very difficult to turn it around. Keeping any electoral system healthy requires the active vigilance and participation by everyone involved. That’s something we don’t have in the US, but CP does a much better job of facilitating this through the forum and so forth.

If certain key people are important for the success of CP then why not just allow them to stay on the committee if they can get re-elected? I still think term limits are going to adversely affect the stability of CP leadership.


#9

Failures are inevitable in any complex system, whether technical, human or a mix. The best way to minimize the failures and their effects is to design the system to be resilient against smaller failures at multiple levels and in multiple ways.

If we find in the future that we’re failing to retain talent due to term limits, then we should re-evaluate our policy.


#10

This is very true; however, there is a difference between have a contingency for a particular failure mode and structuring your whole system around that failure. I think you and I have some strong options about a lot of things and this debate is as old as America itself. We may not be able to find common ground on this issue so I’ll just make one more point.

I believe terms limits indicate a lack of trust in the electorate. If something has gone wrong in the participation of the electorate then that is what needs to be addressed, not putting rules in place that remove good people from key positions. It’s more of an issue of correctly identifying the root cause of the problem and addressing rather than instituting a blanket policy that incurs a lot of collateral damage.


#11

I believe it’s best to do both: plan for success, but also for potential failures.

For now, ClassicPress has term limits due to our committee vote on Jan 22, and fairly extensive discussion in previous public meetings. I see no problem with potentially changing this before they actually take effect, but that would need to be a consensus-based decision.

Still, we definitely agree that effective, constructive participation of the electorate is key. We’re always looking for ways to improve this. Posting our nascent organizational structure and inviting further discussion here on our public forum is one way.


#12

What you forget is that democratic system relies on educated and actively participating public.

US is failing because public is neither educated nor willing to participate.

Same goes for WP. Decisions are made by a small group of people that are actively participating in the project. Yes, they choose to ignore the feedback from the community but that’s also a sign of why term limits are necessary.

You can’t remove greed and self-interest from human psyche. That’s why systems need checks and balances, term limits, and punishment for gaming/abusing the system. Term limits have positive effect on the system, rather than negative.

What can go wrong, will go wrong. That’s not pessimism, that’s just the reality. Air planes have redundant systems to prevent failures from bringing down entire plane and killing everyone. Term limits is that redundant system. If one item isn’t working, it limits damage and switches to another without destroying the system.

If that item expires without breaking, you replace it with a new one. If it breaks, system limits damage and replaces it.

That’s the beauty of redundant systems, like term limits.

Would I have liked to have Obama in office for more than 2 terms? Yes.

But the benefit of limiting Trump to 2 terms outweighs having Obama for more than 2 terms.

WP community isn’t active in governance, CP should prepare for the same. It might be different, but probably won’t be.


#13

‘If someone is doing a bad job’
Shouldn’t there be a committee-level means of removing someone who is doing a bad job before their term ends? And what does ‘doing a bad job’ mean? Being destructive to the community or project, maybe? In which case, cause would have to be shown and votes taken. And after, perhaps an appointment made from the community to fill the remainder of the term.

I think term limits are important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is broader democratic representation. Exactly how term limits work are details that can be worked out.