Geocaching Australia

governance of the website
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Author:  Bronze [ 02 July 06 2:15 pm ]
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Just one...

I have given this quite a bit of thought in the past and it has on more than a few occasions been a topic of discussion around our camp fire for Geocaching globally and within Australia. [i]I will add that the debate was well fueled buy port which I have not part taken in this morning. Although I have had a few cups of tea.[/i]

I read this topic yesterday and thought I'd sleep on my suggestions before posting. After 1/2 a nights sleep, some dishes listening to the Oil's ([i]They know about organisational structure[/i]) and finally a few diagrams I've come up with this but first:

[color=blue]The term governance deals with the processes and systems by which an organization or society operate. Frequently a government is established to administer these processes and systems.[/color]


[color=blue]An alternate definition suggests that governance is:
the use of institutions, structures of authority and even collaboration to allocate resources and coordinate or control activity in society or the economy. [/color]


Succession is [i]i![/i] giving up the ownership (read control) of the Geocaching Australia Website and passing the responsibility onto another person or persons to take control and lead the direction of the site. This can be of course determined by that person themselves without consultation of those who use it "Autocratic" and a consultative systems at the other end which of course is "democratic". Modern day comparisons would be that a small business has an autocratic governance with the bank and a marital partner taken out of the equasion. A company is also autocratic but many people advice and decide of the correct course - usually referred to as a board. A city council is a democratic mean of governance which as we all know can be successful or not just like a small business and companies.

[b]So what is the best for of governance for something / somewhere like Geocaching Australia?[/b]

We'll thats what your being asked. I'll give you my thoughts but they will be no means right and the way to go. Consider them a catalyst to debate and discussion. Really this should be the hottest topic in the forum but why isn't it. We'll there are lots of reasons but the biggest is really Australians don't care for organisational structure be it in government, business or non-profit organisations. Yes some will say I care but they (we) are really a minority and this is why the democratic process fails in some cases. There are a loud enough minority to get what they want because the majority dosen't know what's going on in the background. That's how things like the recent IR laws were changed and people are now going "What the?"

Like I said, feel free to challenge me on this, and it will only further prove my point if no one does add to this or suggest other means because I will discuss three on a continum of what is potentially an infinate number of ways to run an organisation / service / facility.

[b]Should Geocaching Australia be fully democratic in its governance?[/b]
Well no I don't think so. This is a good structure but relies heavily on interest which I have mentioned and good, not I will rephrase 'excellent' communication channels. As we know the forum is ok for communication but simple conversations can take a long time and polls, ideas and explinations are often clouded with other discussion. I don't think GCA has the numbers of the channels of clear communication to be an effective method of governance. Other can come up with other reasons but I think these are the two biggest hurdles.

[b]Should Geocaching Australia be fully Autocratic in its governance?[/b]
We'll it could be but this is a gamble. One is that you need to have faith that the leader/s have a good understanding of what direction the site should be taking and that the decisions they make are not just based on their own knowledge, understandings and skills. Secondly if the new autocratic leader does not listen to the populace (the people it provides for) they won't have a say in its direction and what it looks like, its improvement and changes for suitability the serve the people to its best end. This system has proven itself successful but its biggest failure is the change in the leader over time as a result of the power, authority and high status. Power struggles are often few but the worst thing about autocratic governance is its limited ability to adapt to change and reinvent itself quickly. One person cannot come up with the sudden change in direction that is needed when there is a competing force or a falling out with followers.

[b]So where lies the happy medium? What should GCA adopt for the website?[/b]
I suggest a variation on a council based system that has both benifits of democratic and autocratic structures and yet has contact with the populace and can change direction quickly based on need. Here is how it looks and is structured. Normally I'd draw a diagram but I'll try to explain it and have attached a diagram as a simplified graphical way of explaining all parts.

Basically you have three bodies. Some or all can be made up of either individuals or small groups of no more than I would suggest seven, ideally five or four.

The pivotal member who is usually alone. This person we will call a [color=red]"Clerk"[/color]. All councils have them and they are a key advisor with the best interests of the community at heart but they do not have to do much work. In our case the clerk would hold the data, the passwords and registrations for the site and have ideally been a long term member of the development team thus far. The Clerk teachers and advises only and maintains contact between the other two / three groups.

The Council, Board, Directors (from the Australian word "direction") or Executive. what ever you want to call them. They are either volunteers or elected however you want to stand them up and they act and decide in the best interests of the body. For clarity sake we will call them the [color=red]Honchos[/color]. They are trusted to steer the site and discuss and decide on the changes. They cannot make changes themselves but are charged with listening to the populace (the plebs) and from that cry of demand discuss and decide on what the change is going to be. Who it will affect, good or bad and how best to implement it. Most importantly the Honcho if voluntary should change individually after a set amount of time. This ensure a smooth transition and dosen't upset the process of the governance. If they are elected so some other system they should have a term. Being internet based I think this term should be short but that is impractical. It shoudl be long enough for the Honcho's to be creative and enact a major change and many small changes but short enough to for them to not become static and full of themselves. A term of three years would be a suggestion. Most really active caches have a shelf life of 2-3 very active years and settle into a pattern of some finds or leaving altogether.

The [color=red]"IT gurus"[/color]. This is the third and in my personal opinion the most important group. You can make all the decisions you want but these guys (and gals) make it happen. The clerk hold the keys to what these guys can and can't do and makes sure one person can't sabotage the whole thing. The clerk holds the backup data, all the html files and images gallery, but the IT gurus get to change it all on a regular basis. They say what can and can't be done and have the challenge of making it work. This team can be big or small. The advantages of a big team is less work but higher levels of communication are needed so everyone understands what is wanted by the Honcho's and the head IT dude. A small team has more work to do but they are better able to cope with problems and design of what is needed how.

As I said the Clerk must hold the history of the site and remember what has and hasn't worked in the past. People can suggest it and the directors can direct it but the clerk can say we tried that and then it didn't work but it could work now if you did this. (an advisory role like I said). This prevents the system dooming it repeating past mistakes and tearing itself apart over and over.

A fourth optional advisory group can be made up from parties that have an interest in what the site does, provides and how it generates income if any. This groups can change at will and comprises of the vocal minority who care and have good ideas and suggestions. They are the conscience of the site and are the first to complain when it dosen't suit them in some way. In society we would call these unions. They can have a representative which acts as a liason from on the honchos but it usually causes more trouble than it is use, especially in small organisations by not allowing the Honchos to work though the problem to a suitable decision. Usually a compromise is struck before creative thought can be allowed to happen.


[b]In summary:[/b]
[list]* A clerk who advises and trains the Honchos
* The Honchos who think there important but really only drink tea, listen and talk a lot.
* The IT Gurus who donÂ’t have time for tea but use Port for creative inspiration.
* The whingers who have good ideas and care but are to scattered to be effective. [/list:u]

Other names - Clerk = Administrator ; Honchos = Creative team; IT Gurus = Nerds; Whingers = Mix and, well you get the idea!

I have drawn up a small diagram to best support my explination. I hope this sparks discussion. The structure might seem over kill to most since some will have the feeling that "[i]it's just a website, not a bloddy country[/i]" but to me it's an important website because that geocaching is an important part of my life. I don't want to see it fail and I'm sure many who contribute after me don't either. I vote and I swing when I do because I like my rights, freedoms and my opportunity to give an opinion. I am quite happy to pay taxes that do or will in some way benifit me and my family.

[b]The Bronze.[/b]
[size=75][i]Red Ochre Caching[/i][/size]

Author:  Cached [ 02 July 06 4:42 pm ]
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I shall think on this some more before offering comment. I think the bronze has proposed a solid basis of a model, which can fit our circumstances well.

Author:  caughtatwork [ 07 September 06 8:38 am ]
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A few months later is there additional input?

Author:  Cached [ 07 September 06 9:15 am ]
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I was giving this some thought on the long trip across the hay plain last week. Now I just have to remember what I came up with.

I still like Bronze's idea though.

Author:  ideology [ 07 September 06 9:38 am ]
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one key aspect will be to avoid the situation of where they had lots of what bronze calls "honchos" but nobody to actually do the work. this resulted in some fabulous policy-making but zero implementation.

in our view, the reason nobody wanted to help with the actual coding was that all the fun stuff had been done by other people: the dreaming about where it could go, how it would work, etc had been done, so the only thing do to now was the grunt work of coding it.

so in our view, the "IT gurus" need to be "honchos" as well, otherwise they will lose interest and nothing will get done.

Author:  The Ginger Loon [ 08 September 06 11:18 am ]
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I think what Bronze has proposed is fairly well thought out and could be a starting point to base a model on. However I think there needs to be a few modifications to make it work.

To me The Honcos are more like your Local MP in that they represent the General Populace. They are charged with working for them and working for the common good. They represent us and put forward proposals based on requests from the population. For example Mary requests a playground in her local park for the kids to play on. The Local MP takes the request, asks for public comment on the proposal (does anyone else want a playground), perhaps forms a commitee or a consultative group to look into the various aspects of the project (do we have the resourses to build one, would it be feasible or even safe) before giving it the thumbs up or down.

The IT Gurus are like a Technical Group that have the ability to implement the project (they know how to build playgrounds) but also provide feedback to the Local MP as to the feasability of the project (the park has too great a slope and the playground would be unsafe). To me there has to be a two way dialogue between the Local MP and the Technical Group.

As far the length of tenure for the Local MPs I think 3 years is too long. In a parlimentary system 3 years is a good time, but for something like GCA I feel it is too long. People come into the game with great bursts of enthusiasm but fizzle out and disappear just as quickly. To me a 1 year tenure would be good. It allows people to have a go and it helps keep the whole thing fresh with new blood coming along to keep it alive.

I think Bronze pretty much has it right with his concept of The Clerk. But it's obvious to me that all these people (whatever you want to call them) need to be active and enthusiastic, except for the General Populace who can be as active or apathetic as suits their purpose, just as in regular society.

Another thing that I think needs to happen is the production of a Charter or Mission Statement. This is a publically listed document that outlines what GCA is, what it stands for and what it hopes to achieve. It would hang off the front page of GCA so all can see it so visitors and indeed ourselves have a clear idea of who we are.

This is by no means the perfect sytem either, there is probably quite a few things I haven't throught of, but I am throwing these things out there now as it's better to face the problem square on, discuss it, come up with a solution and implement it rather than bury our heads in the sand and hope it goes away and then wake up to a rude shock one day and be left wondering "Wha Happened...?"

Author:  Geof [ 09 September 06 11:46 pm ]
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If the site (or any organisation) is to be a success there needs to be:

A purpose for the site.

Reasonable certainty of it's future .

With the purpose is to fill the pocket of Jeremy and for that reason I can see a reasonable certainty of it's future.

A few meters away from my chair is the container for my first GCA cache. Given recent anouncments the certainty level has sliped a notch but isn't gone by any means.

To date I see that the benevalant dictator (thats a complement btw), i! has done great things for australian caching.

i! makes a good point about incentive for the IT gurus. It seems that the site as progressed the most when incentive was there. In this case not $ incentive but 'guidelines detestment' (is that a word) incentive.

This begs the question what is the incentive that IT gurus need? $ works in the comercial world. Enjoyment in acomplishment works for some. Defiance of the statisquo works for others. Recognition - what else?

If you want dicisivenes the less at the top the better and on the other extreem end of the scale if you want 100% concensis on everything nothing will ever get done.

I hope a balance can be found.

Author:  CraigRat [ 10 September 06 4:15 pm ]
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Geof wrote:
i! makes a good point about incentive for the IT gurus. It seems that the site as progressed the most when incentive was there. In this case not $ incentive but 'guidelines detestment' (is that a word) incentive.

This begs the question what is the incentive that IT gurus need? $ works in the comercial world. Enjoyment in acomplishment works for some. Defiance of the statisquo works for others. Recognition - what else?

Actually, theres literaly thousands of hours worth of new code awaiting publication on the main site as we speak.

The good thing we have in the IT team as of now is the fact that people are willing to code the non-sexy stuff as well as the sexy, shiny new stuff (some iof which will make you drool :lol:.

Speaking for myself, I'm doing it to give something back, I don't need any 'payment' (other than getting that axe above my avatar :lol:)
I see it as me paying back :D
It is done purley for the love of the sport and the spirit of open source coding.

The IT gurus only need $$ now for new hardware... this has to be organised.
All monies raised should go into apool to ensure the longevity of the site, not into the pockets of a few, that just makes us like the other commercial sites.

I think the L()()ned one has some good points about short terms etc etc, and some kind of statement or charter would be nice.

Theres also the issue of stuff like the publication of caches/logs and what license they will come under. Current thought is Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 (The wiki and the code for the site is published under this).

Lots to talk about, lots to sort out!

So, how do we nominate vote for Honchos etc??

Author:  Magpie [ 10 September 06 7:46 pm ]
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I'm only very new to geocaching, but have been around this type of forum for years now. Every forum I've seen go democratic goes down the tube in a hurry. People simply do not agree and even if the vote goes against them, they hold a grudge. I don't know any of you, but I say if you can find someone willing to take it on, hand it over lock stock and barrel and have it as an autocracy.

Author:  caughtatwork [ 10 September 06 7:48 pm ]
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CraigRat wrote:
Theres also the issue of stuff like the publication of caches/logs and what license they will come under. Current thought is Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 (The wiki and the code for the site is published under this).

This is already the licence. If you check the bottom of the cache listing page when you submit a new cache, you are already agreeing to this.

Author:  zactyl [ 11 September 06 1:17 am ]
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caughtatwork wrote:
CraigRat wrote:
Theres also the issue of stuff like the publication of caches/logs and what license they will come under. Current thought is Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 (The wiki and the code for the site is published under this).

This is already the licence. If you check the bottom of the cache listing page when you submit a new cache, you are already agreeing to this.

You just don't have to put a tick in a box to say so every time you edit the page... :roll:

Author:  Bronze [ 11 September 06 7:06 pm ]
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Keep it coming. :lol:

Author:  Cached [ 11 September 06 8:42 pm ]
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If the cutters can also be represented in the honchos, then there should be a given amount of cutters representing the cutters group, there should always be no more than half of the honchos group who are cutters.

My thoughts/

Author:  ideology [ 14 March 07 10:35 pm ]
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any more thoughts on this?

Author:  Geof [ 01 April 07 9:59 am ]
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It may be the best idea if the domain owners choose who they will hand it over to then ask them. At the rate things are going nothing will happen if just left.

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