Governance Model / ACPGM
#1
Hi all

Could you please check out this proposed governance model and provide your feedback?

https://github.com/assaultcube/AC/blob/r...ERNANCE.md

Thank you very much in advance
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#2
Feedback from SKB:

* it's not clear if platform and devs are part of community and require 25usd membership fee
* 24 usd would nicely round to 2/mo
* Devs have control over vision but yet need approval, might be a big point or friction
* strategy / vision is not really a dev role, might need a separate role. I'd say chairman but that might be too much control, idk
* might want to draw a "company tree" to illustrate this whole thing
* is marketing part of platform? Who should collect various social accounts?
* who's doing the books? Need to keep track of people paying, and do other admin things
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#3
Quote:* it's not clear if platform and devs are part of community and require 25usd membership fee

You are right, it's not clear. I think people should be member of the community and paying the fee and then some of these people are either part of the committee, dev team or platform team. I understand the argument "I am already spending so many hours to work on AC, why should I pay?" The problem is that if you exempt certain people, for example dev and platform team, from the fee then you create additional unfairness: There are other people that invest a lot of time in AC and would still pay the fee. It would be unfair to them. So to avoid such discussions the most simple solution is to have everyone who wants to have a stake in AC pay the same fee. It is better to reduce the fee than to create exempts I think.

Quote:* 24 usd would nicely round to 2/mo

Makes sense.

Quote:* Devs have control over vision but yet need approval, might be a big point or friction
* strategy / vision is not really a dev role, might need a separate role. I'd say chairman but that might be too much control, idk

I think if you want a high performance team you need to give them a lot of freedom and not reduce them to mere execution of a strategy/idea someone else has written. I am aware that this is contrary to certain corporate business practices. I think creativity, ideation and leadership should come from within the dev team ideally. And dev team does not mean programmers, it means a good mix of programmers, artists/designers, testers, etc. I see the committee more of a control function than a leadership function.

Quote:* is marketing part of platform? Who should collect various social accounts?

Good idea, I think having another separate team is overkill so this should go into platform.

Quote:* who's doing the books? Need to keep track of people paying, and do other admin things

A committee member having the Finance/Cashier role would be pragmatic.

Quote:* might want to draw a "company tree" to illustrate this whole thing

Good idea.
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#4
First: Forgive me if some of these thoughts are a bit disorganized or somewhat irrelevant. Unfortunately this is how my brain works and I haven't put a bunch of time into editing and refining this post.

What is the intention to the yearly donation? It feels like a barrier to entry which doesn't seem prudent. Perhaps this is because this org proposal doesn't outline how others can contribute code, assets, ideas, and debate while not being part of the org.

One thing that makes sense for me is drawing a line between development and operations. Relating this to open source projects with paid platforms (companies like Hashicorp, Grafana, Gitlab fall are similar) makes sense to me. Anyone can download and run the code that backs their product offering. However they have a paid cloud based solution that allows them to employ a team, maintain their cloud, and turn a profit. Naturally AC's goal isn't to turn a profit, and our platform offering is currently fairly light (it needs to be to run on donations). Additionally we aren't bringing in substantial money so we can't have employees, we can only have volunteers.

All of this to say, I think it would make sense to have an understanding of someone who is incorporated into the organization (our "employees"), and people who are outside but contribute in meaningful ways. The contributors send in patches, and can contribute to discussions and whatever else. However the organization determines what patches to accept, what the direction of the project is, and decisions about what the platform offering will be.


Community
I don't like the name of the "community". This is because the community can also just mean the playerbase. I might look at other opensource projects, non-profits, or co-ops for inspiration for a better name.
Quote:
  • If the committee excludes a community member, the community members can reject this decision.
Excludes from what? Further down it indicates its the right of the committee to exclude community members



Quote:
  • Applications for joining shall be addressed to the committee which shall decide upon acceptance or non-acceptance.
So process to join the "community" is to put in an application, the committee then votes to approve? After approval the applicant then has to donate (this feels less like a donation and more of a membership fee) in order to make it official? Can someone be booted from the "community"?

Do various team members (of the committee, platform, and dev teams) need to be part of the community and therefore require the donation?





Committee
I don't fully understand the roles & responsibilities of the committee. This could be spelled out a bit more. Maybe something like:
  1. In conjunction with the dev team decides the direction of project. This could be something where the committee could "veto" a feature contribution.
  2. Decide fund allocation for the project
  3. Financial accounting 
  4. Organize events and the community (playerbase, not the organization's "community")
Additionally I feel like the name of this is a bit confusing. Committee feels synonymous to "team" so I might lean towards calling this the administrative committee or oversight committee.



Quote:
  • The committee may invite or exclude community members any time.
  • The committee may invite or exclude platform team members any time.
  • The committee may invite or exclude dev team members any time.

Exclude from what?

Dev Team

Quote:
  • Publish an AC release at least once a year [2]



I like this for the reason you specified.


Overall I think the dev team needs more clarity into if this is the only way to contribute to the game itself. I'd hope we could continue to take contributions from outside of the organization.
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#5
Is the Community a seperate group of players? As this sentence "Community members shall donate USD $25 per year through the existing donation mechanism to pay the bills for hosting " is something i dont like. If this is a group of players that is elected to represent the community then sure. But if this is just the normal playerbase, you wanna force people to pay 25 a year? to play AC?
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#6
No, nobody needs to pay in order to play AC. But those who want to own AC and get the additional privileges/rights would pay.

Maybe the term "community" used in the document is not ideal.
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#7
So people would pay 25$ to own AC, but can get excluded at any time?
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#8
Not 25$ as a one-off payment but 25$/year.

Yes, that's correct. However, exclusions can be rejected by majority vote of the community.

An other approach is to have no fee at all and have some individuals pay the costs. It requires less administrative overhead but it's not particularly fair.
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#9
(04 May 21, 06:31PM)driAn Wrote: An other approach is to have no fee at all and have some individuals pay the costs. It requires less administrative overhead but it's not particularly fair.

I understand your train of thought, however: How fair is someone paying 25 a year for ownership, with potential to just be excluded at any time? You pay for 'ownership' that can be taken away at any time. Seems a bit odd to me. Just trying to get the full picture here
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#10
I understand your point.

The idea is that the organization has a way to "cleanse" itself. If the committee does not have the rights to exclude members then what other body could have that authority?

You could argue that the proper body would be the community members. In this case you would need to perform a time-consuming community vote each time. So assume you want to drop 5 members who do not reply to messages for six months and/or do not pay the fee for a while - you would need to perform 5 fully blown community votes in order to be actionable and fix the situation.

You could argue that the committee does have the right to exclude but only under certain well defined conditions. In this case you would invent new rules to handle that and the governance might get bloated and bureaucratic.

If you have a pragmatic idea feel free to share it.
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#11
Very valid point about inactive, that option makes sense. I was more worried about excluding 'active' community members
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#12
It is interesting: it goes in the right direction fixing the paradox that makes now Ac resembling at the same time to an anarchy and a dictatorship.
But lets be honest: 20 members are almost the full player base. Maybe you thought to that number taking the expenses as a reasoning base and setting a low fee?
I see a parliament of 10-12 more doable.
How much are now the full expenses? Would be nice to know. I see 50$ per year still acceptable.
Also the way this "parliament" (what you call "community") will be formed is not clear. It should represent the player basis & the major clans as well as the devs. As it is by now it is by application and approvation/cooptation from the committee (which is also unclear how it will be chosen).
I know, it is complicated. But I appreciate the effort toward a wider representation.
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#13
I myself do find the community consisting only of personally selected members of the community odd, and dare I say somewhat bias. I understand that paying to be a member has membership perks... But it also comes across as a mafia scenario.

What I propose is a more diverse setup of committee members. Membership by individual clans, and the selected clan must be around for over at least a year. That being said, each clan that pass those requirements will internally vote on their own members to nominate one, singular, representative.

This may sound like a senate, probably because most modern government is setup like this. Besides. The only other solution is dictatorship. And we don't want that. Right?

The developers would get less complaints from the gaming community if they felt their voices were at least being heard in a equal, yet mutually controlled environment. And hey, at least if they don't like something it would probably be on them for misrepresenting their case supports.
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#14
Quote:I myself do find the community consisting only of personally selected members of the community odd, and dare I say somewhat bias. I understand that paying to be a member has membership perks... But it also comes across as a mafia scenario.

I understand that you dislike two things:
a) the fact that new members need to be approved first
b) the yearly fee

I would like to better understand your position. Could you please elaborate what leads you to this opinion? What downsides or risks do you see?

Maybe I should provide some more material on where the proposed structure comes from. I derived this simplified governance model from the 'Associations' legal entities in Switzerland. There are more than 100k such associations in Switzerland (non-profit organizations). For example myself I am member of an association that has the sole idealistic purpose of renaturating a river that flows nearby where I grew up. It is a very common concept that the members pay a yearly fee to the non-profit that they support. It is a battle proven concept. It is the same story in Germany and many other European countries.

This is a good read:
- Purpose of Associations
- Sample Articles of Associations

From your statements I understand that you would prefer to have additional hierarchical levels in the form of clans. I am not sure I fully understand what you mean by this. What are the rules and what overarching goals are better served with your approach?

In any way, thanks for sharing your ideas.
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#15
Quote:b) the yearly fee

That is actually not one of the problems, at least for me. I have money, jobs and work to handle that. But that doesn't nessarily mean I'm ready to start making judgement calls on the behalf of the community... That is actually one of my topic supports... Who is qualified exactly? The developers and their team? That actually nicely transitions to my earlier statement quoted below.

Quote:The developers would get less complaints from the gaming community if they felt their voices were at least being heard in a equal, yet mutually controlled environment. And hey, at least if they don't like something it would probably be on them for misrepresenting their case supports.

Instead of the developers making the call of who is on the committee, let the clans decide who is on it, less hassle for the developers and less complaints from the community, it's a win win for almost everyone.

Quote:From your statements I understand that you would prefer to have additional hierarchical levels in the form of clans. I am not sure I fully understand what you mean by this. What are the rules and what overarching goals are better served with your approach?

Think of it this way, the developers want honest, helpful feedback, and the community wants to be heard out fairly. Why can't we do both in a mutual way, that being my suggestion to have a committee of clan representatives. I'm not sure if you know how US/Europe country government works, but we have mayors, governors, and senators, and of course, the president. All of these positions of power are gained by voters who have chosen a candidate of their choosing, kind of like clan players choosing their representative for the community.
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#16
Quote:Instead of the developers making the call of who is on the committee, let the clans decide who is on it

I think this is a misunderstanding. In the proposed governance model the community members elect the committee.

Quote:Think of it this way, the developers want honest, helpful feedback, and the community wants to be heard out fairly. Why can't we do both in a mutual way, that being my suggestion to have a committee of clan representatives.

If you want to increase the power of the individual then adding hierarchy levels between the individual and the commmittee works contrary to that goal.
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#17
Quote:Instead of the developers making the call of who is on the committee, let the clans decide who is on it, less hassle for the developers and less complaints from the community, it's a win win for almost everyone.

Quote:I think this is a misunderstanding. In the proposed governance model the community members elect the committee.

My fault, I meant to say "developers team", e.g committee. It's still not a democracy if others choose who gets to say what as a representative. The community should be choosing the spokesmen, not the committee/team.
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#18
So you would prefer the chairman and the team leads to be elected by the community.
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#19
No, not the developer team. The clans might vote a totally incompetent team member that way. I suggest that the community choose the representatives. The representatives would not be part of the team in ways of assignments, but rather as trusted sources that the developers and team can rely on for honest, constructive feedback from the community in a less chaotic and bias setting.
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#20
I'm really glad to see the old-school devs are back and finally there is a plan from those who really care about AC  to organize the game. The model seems to be nice and wise, but I believe there are some errors in the syntax that lead to a big error. I'd assume two most predictable scenarios below :

Scenario 1 (Pessimistic) : driAn and other active devs and close friends take the leads on all the community, committee, platform and the dev teams and everything works well as it's planned for the probably first 6 months or a year(until driAn leaves) and the chaos starts when a group of "rich kids" decide to own the game. They don't necessarily need to be the majority at first. Actually I believe 5 rich kids are enough to influence the game by taking the Committee leads and influence the other members of community to change the game to their own personal benefits. Every year on Feb there will be a fight of rich kids to own the game with $25. Soon the other "poor kids" get frustrated to change AC to better and leaves AC, the rich kids soon finds a game without actual players but themselves and las long as they would lose nothing but a few dollar, they'll leave AC to die. The End. 

Scenario 2 (Optimistic) : again driAn and the friends leads the game, until he leaves and gives AC to others according to the model. The community decides for changes but as long as the dev team is working for free, they'd prefer to work on their motivated fields. The community vs the devs team.
The community has two options now: 1.To exclude the dev team members or 2.To stay deal with the dev team members and let them do whatever they like. Both options lead to failure since we are already lacking coders in the community and even if community finds another coder to replace, sooner or later scenario 2 would be repeated again. Somehow in an optimistic scenario with sufficient amount of coders, a minor update each year can be predicted and by this dropping amount of players each year, the end of the game is so predictable in less than a decade.
In case option 2 happens the community loses its power and there will be noone who would like to pay $25 for nothing back.

Personally if we were back to 2009  and I wanted to pay $25 for a game like AC, I'd rather to download CS and own it fully instead of paying $25 per year. IMO, this method is against AC's moral which is an absolutely free game.
As long as there is no money for the devs, noone can expect them to dedicate their life to AC. In fact all they're doing now is all from the passion and love for AC. A model that guarantees the consistent revenue to maintain the masterservers or even more to compensate their efforts might be the answer.
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#21
In your two scenarios you are describing things that can happen. Any well functioning hierarchy of people i.e. a hierarchy predicated upon competence can degenerate into a corrupted hierarchy, that is a hierarchy predicated on power. You see that in families, businesses, institutions and nations. This may also happen to AC. However I do not think that this risk can be completely mitigated by the governance model. In the end the level of integrity of the individual who participates will decide if things move towards the greater good or degenerate.

I hear that the idea of a yearly fee does not resonate well so far. I understand that it might be perceived like a stock in a company or like a license - instead of a support of an idealistic cause. The idealistic cause being the nourishing of a game and allowing others to have the same profound experience you've had. For me that would be the experience of creating great stuff in collaboration with others and mastering challenge by challenge. It was a time that I consider valuable and I see value in enabling future generations to experience this as well. Everyone has his/her own personal experience they consider valuable and worth passing on. Anyway, I think we need to remove the fee and fund the infrastructure people by a yearly call for donations, that might work better.

I think it is fair to compensate for external costs such as infrastructure or assets that are needed for the project success but I do not think effort in hours should be compensated. If you would start compensating hours, even just on small scale, you would act immoral towards those that have invested their hours in the past. In my perspective it would also defeat the idealistic cause. Another approach would be monetizing the app - however this is currently not possible due to licensing and it is also a moral topic.

There are conflicting interests between the people that use a product and those that develop it. I think this is natural. You can mitigate this partially with money but money creates other problems. The question is can you manage to establish a healthy relationship between the parties and can you have an implicit or explicit agreement on the sacrifices you are willing to pay for certain goals.

Thanks everyone who shared their perspective. I will update the governance model and incorporate some - but not all - of the points and ask the committee for approval. We need to start somewhere and we need to be courageous enough to start badly.
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