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---
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title:  "Glossary"
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layout: aside
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---
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## Meritocracy
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In the free and open source software communities, meritocracy is one of the 3
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main governance models in use and is likely the most popular, powerful, and
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successful. However, there is still, at times, confusion over how exactly this
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model works.
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First and foremost, the basic tenet behind meritocracy is that people gain
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merit by their actions and activities within the community. What actually
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comprises that merit is determined by the pre-existing community itself, and so
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there exists an internal, stabilizing feedback system that prevents a healthy
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meritocracy from going askew. This basis of "what is merit" and "how one earns
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it" is self-defined and known within the community and can, and does, vary from
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community and project. For example, one FOSS project/community may value simple
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coding capability above all, and thus heavy-coders will gain merit quickly,
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whether they do so as volunteers or are paid to do so, and whether they work
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well with others or not. Other communities value a healthy balance of coding
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skills with consensus-based collaboration skills, whereas others also include
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the individual's personal stake in the project (how much they are personally
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involved and invested).
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As the above shows, a meritocracy is not, therefore, a democracy proper but a
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pseudo-republic. The wants and desires of the community are weighed in the
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atmosphere of merit that enables access and control.
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## Consensus decision making
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One practice of meritocracy is the consensus-based decision model. From
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consensus_decision-making, "Consensus
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decision-making is a group decision making process that seeks the consent of
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all participants." In practice, it is different from a majority-vote-wins
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approach. In the CentOS Project a discussion toward a decision follows this
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process:
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1. A proposal is put forth and a check for consensus is made.
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   1. Consensus is signified through a +1 vote.
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1. A check is made for any dissent on the proposal.
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   1. Reservations? State reservation, sometimes with a '-1' signifier
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      1. Reservations about the proposal are worked through, seeking consensus to resolve the reservations.
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      1. A reservation is not a vote against the proposal, but may turn into a vote against if unresolved. It is often expressed with an initial -1 vote to indicate reservations and concerns. This indicates there is still discussion to be had.
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   1. Stand aside? No comment, or state concerns without a -1 reservation; sometimes the '-0' signifier is used.
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      1. This option allows a member to have issues with the proposal without choosing to block the proposal, by instead standing aside with a +/-0 vote.
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      1. The stated concerns may influence other people to have or release reservations.
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   1. Block? Vote '-1' with reasons for the block.
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      1. This is a complete block on a proposal, refusing to let it pass. A block is a -1 vote and must be accompanied with substantive arguments that are rooted in the merit criteria of the Project -- protecting the community, the upstream, technical reasons, and so forth.
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Block (-1) votes used as a veto are typically used only when consensus cannot otherwise be met, and are effectively a veto that any sitting Board member can utilize with sufficient substantiation.