HOME > GOALS > Developing the Organization > DTO Forward Looking

Background--During the 19 Sept 2011 Developers Meeting, Gordon Clarke discussed the potential to develop a community-owned organization that would become the focus of technology standardization for the international genealogical community. Mr. Clarke subsequently posted various helpful materials to the page, "Developing the Organization," including a set of eight (8) instruction points.
In the 24 Oct 2011 Developers Meeting, an ad hoc committee (herein, "the committee") was created to collaborate about "Developing the Organization" (aka "DTO"). Specifically, this committee will work to expedite an initial proposal for further comment by the BetterGEDCOM membership. The committee plans to work mostly in a restricted GoogleGroup to develop an initial proposal for BetterGEDCOM. This wiki page, "DTO Forward Looking Draft," provides an preliminary organization framework about which members can dialog toward a more comprehensive proposal. Members of the Wiki should feel free to initiate discussions about this material (click the "Discussions" tab). Members who are interested in joining with ad hoc committee and participating in the GoogleGroups process should send a Wikispaces mail message to either GeneJ or Andy_Hatchett.
Submitted by GeneJ, 31 Oct 2011.

Discussion points for an organizational framework

1. Create a name for the organization and use it as the first section of the charter. Ideally, the name will represent the purpose of the organization.

BetterGEDCOM is the current name of the wiki and the blog.

Consistent with Clarke's comments in the 19 Sept 2011 meeting, if broadening the branding appeals to the group, below are some domain names that were recently available:
IGDSD.org-International Genealogical Data Standards Development
IGDSC.org-International Genealogical Data Standards Consortium
DSFG.org-Data Standards for Genealogy
IDS4G.org-International Data Standards 4 Genealogy

2. The second section of the charter should be the statement of purpose. It is critical to understand and keep in mind the strategic importance of the organization. Write out the major objectives of the organization in a succinct paragraph.

[Name of Organization] brings together stakeholders from the genealogical and family history community for the purpose of developing international technology standards to benefit the community. All members ascribe to, and the organization conducts business in accordance with, the [name of organization] Code of Conduct*—we organize ourselves and operate without prejudice toward any existing or future genealogy software program or website, ethnic group, culture or country.

*See addendum A, which is a working draft developed from the ISO.org, “ISO Code of conduct for the technical work”; the ISO materials remain subject its ISO copyright.

3. In the third section, write down the key criteria for success of the organization. What specifically will need to happen in order for the organization to be considered a success?

To the extent our membership and process identifies user requirements accurately within the scope of current and emerging market trends, and standards codified are non-ambiguous and well-documented, evidencing technical excellence, vendors will seek to implement specifications [name of organization] publishes.

Discussion=Independent of the organization, vendors' decisions to adopt community standards are voluntary.

4. In section four, write out the organizational structure. Who are the key members of the organization, and what are their roles and responsibilities? These roles will vary from organization to organization, but some examples include the organization's sponsor, board of directors, finance manager, head writer, marketing director and office manager.

See Wikipedia, "Organizational Structure" for, "An organizational structure consists of activities such as task allocation, coordination and supervision, which are directed towards the achievement of organizational aims. ..." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organizational_structure

The "job" of the organization structure is to develop and manage the resources by which international "user requirements" are learned and become translated into high quality, market-driven technical solutions through a consensus building process.

Membership Committee (aka MC)--works to assure a balanced and active membership; develops, maintains and administers the membership rolls. See addendum B, Membership Committee Proposal, including that the Membership Committee is intended to have the greatest influence over the organization's RULES in the same way that the Technical Committee influences the organization's PROCESSES.
Discussion = The committee proposal should be develop in addendum B and then summarized here. Initial concepts might be: (a) all members of the organization may be a part of the Membership Committee; (b) develops/oversees implementation of the organization Code of Conduct; (b) conducts outreach and communicates with members to develop and maintain a balanced active membership capable of supporting the needs of the organization; (c) maintains lists of current committee and project assignments/roles for all formal organization committees and projects, and such other documentation as necessary to tabulate voting/consensus on all circulars; (d) the Committee may be comprised of a number of membership working groups or sub-projects, but particular progress/action requires consensus among committee members--yet other progress requires consensus among all members of the community; (e) maintains the wiki HOME page, develops material for the Blog, and monitors the non-technical parts of the Wiki; (f) assures the operations of the organization remain open and transparent.* ...

Technical Committee (aka TC)--responsible for establishing and administering standards/specification projects (Technical Projects), appoints Project Coordinators and determining the initial composition of Technical Project Committees (TPC). See addendum C, Technical Committee Proposal, including that the Technical Committee is intended to have the greatest influence over the organizations PROCESSES in the same way the Membership Committee is intended to influence the organization's RULES.
Discussion =The committee proposal should be more fully develop in addendum C and then summarized here. Initial concepts might be: (a) technical work of the organization is led by skilled technicians; only members with technical skill/experience may be members of the committee (but any member may be part of a Technical Project Committee); (b) assures that user requirements are the basis of market-driven technical solutions (not the other way around); (c) establishes the methodology by which major project work is allocated to different sub-projects and working groups; (d) responsible for the creation of formal projects/appoints leadership to each Technical Project Committee; (e) assists the Technical Project Committee in establishing balanced membership that include non-technical members as appropriate; (f) assures that Technical Project Committee's written circulars serve as the basis for the various stages of consensus building; (g) administers the "Requirements Catalog" and Technical Project segments of the wiki ...

Steering Committee - Responsible for developing/refining any organizational "strategic plan" and assures the organization is properly funded/sponsored. The Steering Committee also resolves disputes that may arise between the organizations' other standing committees. The Steering Committee is made up of nine (9) members--three Active Members from the Technical Committee (TCR), three Active Members of the Management Committee (MCR), and three expert members jointly and unanimously selected by the six TCR/MCR members. Members of the Steering Committee are defacto members of any of the organizations' standing committees or project teams; they may comment on any process at any time.

Each committee or working group will include members acting in the roles of (1) coordinator ... to be described ... and (2) recorder ... to be described. Committees may assign other roles as necessary.

Role of the Coordinator-

Role of the Recorder-

*Note--Openness/transparency is also a means to an end. If all members are not able to read and understand the work that is being done, mistakes will be repeated, progress will be thwarted.

5. The fifth section should outline the applicable background information, including an explanation of the factors leading to the creation of the organization. What other organizations, people, environmental influences, market trends, consumer needs, etc., are and will be influential in the creation and duration of the organization?

Benefits of Standardization - Standards support innovation and help ensure quality, reliability and the exchange of genealogical data ...

The following information was extracted from the wiki page, "DTO Starting Summary," but needs to be improved upon by the ad hoc committee.

The existing genealogical data model standard (GEDCOM) is outdated. The lack of a current standard stifles innovation and leads to noticeable loss or corruption in the process of data exchange/sharing. See also the BetterGEDCOM wiki pages, "What's wrong with GEDCOM" (Shortcomings+Of+GEDCOM) and "BetterGEDCOM Requirements Catalog" (Better+GEDCOM+Requirements+Catalog ).

Other Organizations--A group of 21 German-speaking developers have been working to agree on standardizing the usage of GEDCOM 5.5.1 (message/view/home/29434177#31192319)
At least since RootsTech 2011, there have been various discussions in the group about the work FamilySearch is doing on newGEDCOM / new gedccom. See the RootsTech 2012 schedule for a planned presentation (http://rootstech.org/schedule )
SourceTemplates.org (http://sourcetemplates.org/ ), with whom BetterGEDCOM is collaborating is working to standardizing particular source templates used in some software packages.
There are various more independent or region-specific genealogical data models that have been or are in process.

Associated groups and standards—“We” are truly not alone in this increasingly digitally connected world—"we" do not control the ‘net, nor do we control oversight of the vast majority of research and cultural heritage resources around the world. (Though one supposes we can dream.)

Trends—(a) An increasingly globally connected world places more demands on collaborating and sharing genealogy/family history data. (b) Moving “to the cloud” demands flexibility about what, where and with whom they share information—it also brings up important user preferences about privacy. More and more, the user doesn’t ask which one software program will I use—but how many different software programs and platforms want to access. (c) Increasing trends in digitization (and standardization of same) means a remarkable quantity and quality of source materials are available. (d) And then we have more and more tablet and mobile users. Lets not forget cross platform, either. (e) Finally, expanding educational opportunities allow genealogists and family historians access to more scholarly techniques and methodologies.

6. In the sixth section, detail the scope of the organization's activities. What will the organization do, make, sell, sing, etc.? Also, it is important to specify what is out of scope for the organization. This will help keep the organization appropriately focused in the years ahead.

The organization is responsible for developing and maintaining technology standards (see item 7); it provides various forums for input to the development process and actively engages in consensus building on a committee and community-wide basis. ... develops materials/input to support other standards setting development processes.

7. In section seven, write out the processes by which the organization will conduct business. For example, how will the organization implement decisions, changes and partnerships? How will the organization communicate, internally and externally, and what templates, guidelines and quality-control methods will be used? This section will need to be very clear, and should be carefully reviewed and approved by all key stakeholders to ensure the appropriate information is included and accurate.

General Processes and procedures.
(1) Ideas/proposals developed by working teams become recognized when written proposals receive sponsorship by one of the standing committees. Sponsorship generally requires commitment by sufficient members (number and diversity) to work on the project/sub-project proposal and to see projects through conclusion. Each team solicits input and develops more detailed proposals that are circulated in an orderly manner. These circulars allow/require both comment and voting in a consensus building process. Feedback from the circulars is used to refine the work; proposals continue to be circulated until consensus is reach. Circulars and consensus building occur first within the working group or committee, then among all the organizations' committees and finally with the community at large. At each stage, the stakeholder/audience becomes generally larger/more completely represented. See broadly, "Schematic representation of ISO deliverables," especially for the concept of "expert consensus building."

(2) Market-Driven Development. Proposals for development are considered by identifying user requirements/functionality seeking technology solutions. (Rather than the other way around.)

(3) Consensus building is a formal part of the process; circulars and draft standards require comment and voting.
Discussion = Simply making decisions and advancing projects does not build consensus. Conversely, commenting randomly or about matters often ancillary to the proposal at hand also does not build consensus. Some circulars may require commenting only when negative votes are cast; others may require comment regardless of whether the vote is favorable or not--these are among the "rules" that need to be quantified.

(4) Members have a duty to participate in the consensus building process to retain an active status.

(5) Members (technical and non-technical) who agree to work on a Project Committee (Technical Project Committee or Management Project Committee) are Project Members, see especially, addendums B and C (Membership Committee Proposal and Technical Committee Proposal).

8. The final section should discuss finances. How much money will be required to begin work as an organization, and how is it being funded? What income will be required, and how will revenues be invested and/or distributed

This organization will require sponsorship to support access to workspaces and communication tools. ...

Addendum A. Code of Conduct

One or more members of the ad hoc committee should develop an organizational Code of Conduct. It might feature some or all of the concepts below:

[Name of organization] Code of Conduct
This Code of Conduct (Code) facilitates [name of organization]’s work carried out in an international, multi-stakeholder environment. All members of [name of organization] agree to abide by the Code. The draft Code below was developed from the “ISO Code of Conduct for the technical work,” dated 24 July 2011. The ISO Code of Conduct remains subject to ISO’s copyright.

Work for the
 net benefit of the international community
We recognize that the development of International Standards is for the net benefit of the international community, over and above the interests of any individual or organization. We are committed to advancing International Standards within their agreed scope and we will not hinder their development.
Uphold consensus and governance
We will uphold the key principles of International Standardization: consensus, transparency, openness, impartiality, effectiveness, relevance, coherence and the development dimension.
Agree to a clear purpose and scope
We are committed to having a clear purpose, scope, objectives, and plan to ensure the timely development of International Standards.
actively and manage effective representation
We agree to actively participate in standards development projects. We will make our contributions to the work through the official procedures.
Escalate and resolve disputes
We will identify and escalate disputes in a timely manner to ensure rapid resolution. We will uphold the agreed dispute resolution processes.
Behave ethically

We will act in good faith and with due care and diligence. We will avoid collusive or anticompetitive behaviour. We will promote a culture of fair and ethical behaviour.
Respect others in meetings
We are committed to respecting others and the professional culture of international standardization within ISO. In meetings we are committed to:
  • conducting ourselves in a professional manner
  • respecting others and their opinions
  • accepting group decisions
  • ensuring that the views of all (including those whose first 
language is not that of the meeting) are heard and understood

Addendum B. Membership Committee Proposal

One or more members of the ad-hoc committee should further develop the Membership Committee Proposal. It might include features as below....

The Membership Committee works to assure a balanced and active Community Membership, and it develops, maintains and administers the membership rolls. All Active Members of the organization may participate in the business of the Membership Committee. One member of the Membership Committee is appointed as the Coordinator and another member acts as the Recorder. Three members of the membership committee are also members of the Steering Committee. These appointments are made by XXXX. Conceptually, the "Membership Committee" has the greatest influence over the organization's RULES. (In the same way the "Technical Committee" has the greatest influence on the organization's PROCESSES.)


Membership in the organization iis open to all who agree to abide by the organization’s Code of Conduct. There might be categories of membership:

Active Members

Project Members (an Active Member participating in a specific Project Committee)

Advisory Members (by invitation of the Steering Committee, a Project Committee or Working Group)

Observing Members

Requires (1) protocol for circulars and tracking/reporting on circular votes, (2) means of registering valid e-mail address and project identity, (3) concept/mechanism/ability to gauge balance, and to outreach within the larger community to improve balance.

Consensus is a process of voting and commenting

Project Committees develop written proposals that are to be circulated to appropriate Committees or to the full membership. (Generally, this follows the procedures established in the Technical Committee Proposal.) Circulars are distributed by the Membership Committee and returned with votes and comments to the Membership Committee, which is responsible for maintaining a record of the circular and results. (Note: The Management Committee must be able to tract the distribution and return of circulars in order to tabulate results.)

Approvals at the Project Level (allows the measure to pass to the full committee).
No fewer than seven (7) votes; at least XX% favorable votes. No return - a negative vote. (Project members have a duty to vote, so members who do not vote are then no longer a part of the Project Committee.)

Approvals at the Standing Committee level (allows the measure to pass to the full membership).
Not fewer than thirty-five (35) votes; at least XX% Favorable AND, no more than 1/4 of the Project Committee casts an unfavorable vote.

Approvals at the Membership level
Not fewer than fifty (50) votes; at least 51% Favorable, AND, no more than 1/4 of the Technical Committee casts an unfavorable vote.

Addendum C. Technical Committee Proposal

One or more members of the ad-hoc committee should work to further develop the Technical Committee Proposal. It might include concepts as below ...

The Technical Committee is responsible for establishing and administering standards/specification projects (Technical Projects), appointing Project Coordinators and determining the initial composition of Project Committee. Any Active Member with technical experience may be a member of the technical committee. One member of the Technical Committee is appointed as the Coordinator; another member acts as the Recorder. Three members of the Technical Committee are also members of the organization's Steering Committee. These appointments are made by XXXXX. Conceptually, the "Technical Committee" has the greatest influence over the organization's PROCESSES. (In the same way the "Membership Committee" has the greatest influence on the organization's RULES.)

Establishing Projects

Technical Projects are ideas that have been formalized into written proposals (requirements/scope, time and resource factors*) and for which sufficient members (number and balance) of the Technical Committee have committed to perform the necessary work. Technical Projects are then advanced by Project Committees made up of the Technical Committee members who have committed to work on the project and non-technical members (aka End Users) who also formally agree to work on a Technical Project. The recognized members of a Technical Project Team are considered Project Members.

1. Typically seven (7) members of the Technical Committee must commit to work on a measure/project in order for a Project Committee to be created. (Sigh, sometimes it's only five.)
2. The Technical Committee appoints the Project leadership by XXXX, including the roles of Coordinator and Recorder. The Technical Committee registers Project Committees with the Membership Committee (includes the initial written proposal and names of Project Committee Members and leadership).
3. The Project Committee develops additional members--experts and non-technical members, so that most committees are made up of no fewer than XXX members. The names of the additional Project Committee members are also provided to the Management Committee.

Project Management

Stage 1- Technical Project Committees may organize their own workspace and develop their own working/communicating style, reporting regularly to the full Technical Committee. ...
Stage 2 - Project Circular has been approved by the Project Committee and is sent to the full Technical Committee for input and additional consensus building. Additional drafts/circulars may be developed to incorporate comments and advance consensus. ...
Stage 3 - Project Circular has been approved by the full Technical Committee and is sent to the full Membership for input and additional consensus building. Additional drafts/circulars may be developed to incorporate comments and advance consensus. ...

*Should there be a template?