Changing Rasterio's governance

Sean Gillies

Dear Rasterio Contributors and Users,

Since 2013 I have been the sole arbiter of the Rasterio project. I consulted the project’s contributors on changes but had the final say over the scope, schedule, and features of the software. Eight years later, geospatial computing and software has changed and grown and expanded greatly in scope. Being a good enough “benevolent dictator” is an increasingly hard job. I don’t feel like one person can have enough domain experience to make all the right calls anymore and that the old way of running things puts the project at risk. Therefore, Rasterio will adapt and become a fully community-owned project with decisions made by community consensus. The new approach will look a lot like NumPy’s and be not radically different from those of GDAL and Python.

Community consensus means that project contributors seek and provide review of changes and that all contributors have the right to veto changes. NumPy’s governance document summarizes important points of consensus and I will quote it here.

In this context, consensus does not require:

* that we wait to solicit everybody’s opinion on every change,
* that we ever hold a vote on anything,
* or that everybody is happy or agrees with every decision.

To help the consensus process work there will be a Project Steering Council (PSC) made up of active contributors with a history of significant work. The PSC’s responsibility is to make transparency, institutional neutrality, and consensus work, and to keep the project on track. It may override contributor vetoes if necessary.

The initial members of the PSC will be Alan Snow, Sean Gillies, and Vincent Sarago. This is effective immediately. Others may be added in time.

Consensus democracy can, in theory, slow down development of a project. We’re going to be spending more time creating consensus. But Rasterio’s development has slowed already. We may be able to go faster in the end. Let’s find out.

A more detailed description of Rasterio’s governance will be added to the project repository. Watch for changes to the CONTRIBUTING doc or a new GOVERNANCE doc.


Sean Gillies