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Tor Community Council

To facilitate harmonious collaboration within our internal community, the Community Council is an elected body with the following responsibilities...

  • mediation of intra-community disputes
  • enforcement of enacted policies like the code of conduct
  • provide Tor Project Inc with community representation it can consult

The council's jurisdiction includes the set of people on our official communication channels (email lists, irc, trac, developer meetings, etc) as well as those places themselves. The Community Council has co-authority with the Tor Project Inc. (TPI) with the exception regarding Tor Project volunteers, who are not subject to TPI's authority.

Who is on the Community Council?

There are five members on the Community Council, with membership an elected position of a one year term (from April 1st to March 31st). Election of council members is conducted as follows...

  • Vote is started with a one week call for volunteers. Any tor-internal@ member interested in having this responsibility can add themselves to the running by writing a few sentences to tor-internal@ about why they'd like to join the Community Council.

  • This is then conducted as a standard two week vote with two questions...

  • List up to five of these individuals you'd like to see on the new Community Council.

  • Would you be uncomfortable having any of these people adjudicate your issues?

If at least 1/4 of voters name a person in the second question they're dropped from the running. The top five individuals become the Community Council.

If we lack five acceptable volunteers for the new council then the council size can be dropped to four or three.

If we lack even three acceptable volunteers the Community Council is suspended until more volunteers step forward.

Council members have a term limit of five consecutive years, after which they must take at least a full year off. Partial terms (being appointed or ending mid-year) counts as being part of the council for the whole year.

The Community Council needs to represent the breadth of the Tor community to function effectively. As such, the Community Council must include at least one female-identified person. If we lack a female-identified person before the councilmembers are voted on, the vote can be delayed up to one month and another call for volunteers will be sent out.

We recognize the need for other kinds of voices that were not well represented in our community at the time these guidelines were ratified -- namely, a diverse set of racial, geographic, linguistic, and technical backgrounds. Since we currently lack enough current contributors to make representation of those identities a requirement for this council, we will acknowledge here the priority of getting better representation in our community as a whole.

Can someone be removed from the Community Council?

Any tor-internal@ member that feels uncomfortable with our Community Council may request an early election of a new council. Council members themselves might do this if they feel one of their number needs to be replaced (for instance due to ignoring conflicts of interest or behaving unethically).

Early council elections will be conducted if requested by five tor-internal@ members. If a new vote is conducted none of these five individuals can request another early vote until the term of the new council expires.

How can I contact the Community Council?

The Community Council can be contacted at...

Members of the council will make their contact details and PGP keys available on the wiki along with copies of public decisions. The wiki address is here:

To request for the council to get involved with a dispute contact the above list or any of its members. Complaints should include...

  • Names of the individuals the complaint is related to.
  • Details of the specific issue.
  • Relevant parts of the community governance documents if applicable.
  • Offer ideas for resolution.

  • Can this issue be discussed openly on tor-internal@?

  • Can this issue be discussed with Tor Project Inc leadership?
  • Can information about this issue be public (ie. posted on tor-project@ and the wiki afterward)?

The council must honor requests for matters to be private. If they feel they cannot do so (for instance they're being barred from talking with TPI but properly handling the complaint would require them to do so) then they may refuse to handle the issue unless that restriction is lifted.

If the complainant wishes, they may withdraw their complaint at any time during the investigation.

Community Council procedures

The Community Council will contact relevant parties then confer at their discretion (either privately or with the relevant parties) on how best to resolve the situation. All councilmembers involved in resolving a particular issue must be involved in council communication on that issue (no backchanneling).

Council members must recuse themselves if named in the complaint or there is a conflict of interest identified by at least five community members.

If this is a lengthy issue the council will provide weekly updates to all parties involved.

Can decisions be appealed?

Yes. Decisions can be appealed with the Community Council. If individuals reach an impasse with the council they can appeal the issue with Tor Project Inc.

What authority does the Community Council have?

The Community Council acts not only as a mediator in intra-community disputes but to provide our volunteer community with an elected voice the Tor Project Inc can consult. In practice topics are expected to fall into two camps...

  • Topics that are neither confidential nor time sensitive will be put forward to our tor-internal@ community at large. The council's role here is to lead the discussion, and possibly conduct a brief vote or make a decision if the community cannot come to a timely consensus.

  • For topics that cannot be put forward to the wider community the council will deliberate among themselves.

Some examples of questions Tor Project Inc might defer to the council on are things like...

  • Should this person be excluded from the upcoming dev meeting?

  • Should email list membership of a person be revoked?

Either Tor Project Inc or the Community Council can grant, suspend, or revoke tor-internal@ membership, with the other party acting as a point of appeal. Please note that the council cannot handle issues with legal ramifications, such as embezzlement. Those issues must be referred to TPI instead.

How will decisions be announced?

All public Community Council decisions and appeals will be posted on tor-project@ and archived on the wiki. Private decisions will be posted on tor-internal@ unless the nature of the issue requires it to be confidential.

The Community Council must keep a public issue register listing each issue. For public issues the register include its status, description, parties involved, and relevant dates (initial contact, decision, appeal, and last status update).

If the issue is confidential an issue number may be used instead, with the council and parties involved deciding what information it can safely provide and when it should be released.