As @carlmead suggested in the guiding principles thread, it makes sense to have a separate thread about governance. I’ve been working in open source for 20+ years, and lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time working on governance, so I thought I would start the thread and chime in with a few ideas.
With governance, you quickly get into a chicken and egg scenario with people wanting to wait until the project has more contributors before setting up any governance, but then who gets to make the decisions about the project in the meantime? Only Amazon? This creates barriers to getting those first few contributors because many of us won’t contribute until we have at least some neutral governance in place, even if it’s fairly minimal.
Several others mentioned putting these forks under a neutral foundation (Linux Foundation or something similar), which I think is absolutely the right step, but this can also take time, and you’ll want to have people from multiple companies involved as you transition into a foundation.
One way to do this is with a bootstrapped steering committee, similar to what Kubernetes had in the early days, with people from a variety of companies. This would allow the project to get started and help people understand how decisions are made, and it allows the SC to make decisions about things like the charter, governance model, and foundation transition. This bootstrapped steering committee can be seeded with a few smart people with experience in similar open source projects from several different companies who will be involved in the fork. It’s also a good idea to set this up with the promise to move to an elected steering committee within 1 year and with a limit on the number of people who can be elected from a single company (again, similar to Kubernetes).
In this type of structure, the SC would typically delegate technical decisions to existing maintainers, so this wouldn’t change anything about the day to day technical decisions involved in contributing to an open source project. With some form of neutral governance, it would make it more likely that the project will be able to get more contributors and begin to grow the maintainer base to include contributors outside of Amazon.
Related docs and resources about governance