Geocaching Australia governance issues
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Post by theheadchef » 28 December 09 11:10 pm

Ok, so far I have established there was a calling back in mid 2008 for a group (Senate) to be formed to discuss a sponsorship proposal. I haven't read evey post on here but have read enough to get this far.

Now I am assuming people nominated themselves for said positions.

So who exactly chose the final list of candidates?
How long is the term on the Senate?
How will a new senate be formed and when?

And what exactly has the Senate actually done other than knock back a sponsorship deal in preference for donations. (and BEFORE you launch a tirade back) I do understand the reasons why the decision was made, and is more than valid and just in the preservation of geocaching as a whole. Surely with that many delegates with the industry at heart surely there has to be a more pro-active approach made to increase the awareness and integrity of the 'sport'.

Seriously I am here to help, so don't go getting on your high-horse.

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Re: Senate

Post by Richary » 28 December 09 11:30 pm

As one of the "Senators" from the time I can provide some input. I hope you don't mind be replaying a little bit of history if you are already aware of it. But it saves others from having to go back through the history.

There was a fairly urgent need to determine if GCA wanted to go down the route of having a sponsor as it needed funding to relocate to a new and bigger server, hosted professionally rather than relying on the generosity of one person. Various fundraising options had been discussed then a potential sponsor came in out of the blue almost, but one that the developers who in reality "own" the site felt may not sit well with all cachers.

Because of that it was decided to get a couple of people from each state who were felt as being fairly representative of the caching community, and various suggestions were made. The criteria seemed to include that the people were willing to find GCA caches and active participants in the forums. This may not have been the ideal way to go about it - but the fact was that time was limited and so it wasn't possible to throw nominations out to the forums and have a vote or whatever.

So that's the past history, and for various reasons (including the fact that the marketing crowd who came up with the idea for their sponsor never came back with concrete details) we decided to go our own way.

As for what the Senate does now? Nothing. We were basically asked for our input on one decision and one decision only. That's done and dusted. And to be honest that's how I like it - if there were further decisions to be made I would prefer a more representative approach with people chosen or elected if you like by others. That doesn't mean I wouldn't be happy to nominate for that role.

Part of the problem (and this is a different can of worms) is that there is no organisation representing geocaching in Australia. Yes there are state organisations at least in Tasmania and NSW but they don't represent everyone, even all the GCA forum users in their areas. As such GCA is privately owned and we rely on the goodwill of the developers and forum moderators that it all runs smoothly (and many thanks to all of those). On the other hand it avoids the inevitable politics that often happens with a large group.

To summarise and answer your questions...

> So who exactly chose the final list of candidates?

From memory people were asked if they wanted to accept the role, and had a short period to nominate themselves in the state forums from memory.

> How long is the term on the Senate?

Technically for that one decision, though I am sure most of us would be happy to offer input on any future urgent decisions.

> How will a new senate be formed and when?

A very good question, but one that perhaps doesn't need to be asked as I don't believe GCA needs a Senate telling the developers what to do. They simply felt this one decision should be made by a larger group than just them so asked for advice. It's their site to do with as they want. Luckily they are nice helpful people who volunteer a lot of time just for the occasional thanks and knowing they are giving back to the hobby they enjoy.

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Re: Senate

Post by caughtatwork » 28 December 09 11:37 pm

The senate has voted on three things of importance to the direction of the site. Not all senators may have been involved in all decisions. We are not a formal entity so we run a little looser than what you would expect from a formal association.

Remember, no one individual owns Geocaching Australia. It is a community pool of resources, code, caches, opinions and feelings. The developers try to keep the code base clean and tidy for the future, adding in options and components that the community deem worthy and we are able to code without a hige drain on the server resources.

The senate was self nominated and we had pretty much the right number of senators per state so each nominee was elected, essentially unopposed. There is no fixed term for the senate and the senate was originally formed for the purpose of discussion about the sponsorship. We probably need to retire the current senate and elect a new set of senators for any upcoming discussions.

The sponsorship deal was voted on after a significant amount of debate with people in the general forums. If you read the various forum threads on this subject there were many position for an against raising the profile of geocaching in Australia. I won't say which side I was on, but I may or may not have voted in the senate in the same way that I was making a case in the forums. It's not possible (that I can tell) whether the community was for or against raising the profile of the game, but there were very vehement arguments made or both sides.

A vote was taken on whether we could use any of the money donated to GCA for the Bushfire appeal in Victoria. The answer was nay as the funds were specifically donated to the site, not for general disbursement.

Some input was made in the decision as to whether to set up own own GCA shop or outsource this to a vendor. The decision was made to keep it in house.

In general terms the senate helps to set the direction of the website with significant community input. They are the representatives of the community, but they are able to vote with their hearts and the community working togethe.

The next thing that the senate will be involved in will be the case for banning or warning about caches in areas where geocaching has been specifically banned. This will be a decision that will impact the future of the website, so will require significant discussions before a final decision is made.

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