Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

Talking About Bylaws

Unfortunately, two of the panels here at SMOFCon I wanted to attend happened simultaneously, and I was running one of them. The one I ran was "Bylaws and What Trouble They Can Mitigate," a small-group (seven people plus me) discussion. The other was "Events Management for Non-Techies," which apparently had only a few more people than the Bylaws discussion. I do not fault SMOFCon programming head Patty Wells for this. I should have noticed the potential conflict and asked for a swap when the draft schedule came out.

I was slightly surprised that anyone at all turned up to talk about Bylaws, but I could talk about them for several hours, not just one. In the first half of the hour, I went over the basic structure of bylaws, using the SFSFC Bylaws as a guide. The SFSFC Bylaws are possibly more detailed than every organization will need, but they're pretty good if I do say so myself (I wrote most of them). During the second half of the hour we talked about what you can do when people aren't following them, or why you should have bylaws, or other implementation details. I did say that much of this is group culture. It's a voluntary group; you have to commit yourself to following your rules. It's difficult to make people follow their own rules in a voluntary organization. And as a practical matter, if you can't muster at least a small number of people (say, one or two) sufficiently with it to follow a relatively easy set of minimal requirements, then you do not deserve to call yourself an organization, because clearly you are not organized. In other words, flakiness is its own reward.
Tags: smofcon
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