Process description#


  • “Participants”: The author, all requested reviewers, and any additional discussion participants.

  • “Problem”: A problematic aspect of the proposed solution, whether objective or subjective.

  • “Objective problem”: A problem that does not depend on an individual’s perspective, i.e., something illegal, impossible, or too expensive.

  • “Subjective problem”: A problem regarding a matter of preference, e.g., a choice between two roughly equivalent and usable tools.

  • “Blocker”: A problem with a proposed solution that would cause lasting harm to the project or its contributors.

  • “Fixable blocker”: A blocker that can be addressed by revising the proposal.

  • “Unworkable blocker”: A blocker that cannot be addressed by revising the proposal. In other words, a problem that requires an entirely new proposal to be addressed.

Process overview#

The process is split into a series of rounds with broad expectations explained below. Each step has a particular goal that participants should keep in mind. The decision and continued revision round can repeat as many times as needed, at the discretion of the participants.


Suggested span


Clarification round

5 days

Clarify the proposal; share initial thoughts

Revision round

Author’s discretion

Update the text of the proposal to reflect the outcome of the previous round

Decision round

3 days

Decide whether the proposal can be implemented as is

Continued revision round

Author’s discretion

Work with participants to revise the text of the proposal to address blockers



Mark as approved and create issues to implement the proposal



Indicate that a proposal will not be implemented

Time spans#

The suggested spans are just that: suggestions. If a particular proposal needs more time for any reason, participants should note that and extend the round duration. If reviewers are taken away from reviewing a proposal due to extenuating circumstances like a production incident they need to be involved in, they should note their unavailability on the discussion as soon as possible. This expectation to notify of course does not apply if someone is taken away to deal with life circumstances or other unexpected time AFK.

In any case, participants will work together to decide whether the proposal can wait or if another person should be requested to replace the unavailable person.

Additionally, participants should try to maintain accountability to the agreed-upon time spans. This means responding in a timely manner within the window provided, understanding that authors will also need time to respond to feedback, and following the practice described above to make explicit when they will not be able to do so.


flowchart TD A[Proposal] --> B(Clarification Round) B -->|"Time: ~5 days"| C("Revision Round (if needed)") C -->|Time: As needed/estimated by author| D(Decision Round) D -.->|Fixable blockers identified| E E("Continued Revision Round (if needed)") D -.->|No blockers identified| H E --> D D -.->|Unworkable blockers identified| G G[Proposal tabled] -->|New proposal needed| A H[Proposal approved] --> I((End))

Round descriptions#


While each round includes discussion guidelines and a description of purpose, these are flexible. Participants should use their discretion and should adapt the process as needed for any given proposal. If a blocker is apparent at the start of a discussion, do not wait for the decision round to share it. If a solution is known to be illegal or impossible, share that as early as possible. Additionally, if a proposal document has a structural issue that belies clarification, authors may revise to fix the proposal as soon as the problem is identified.

Clarification round#

The goal of this round is for participants to clarify the proposed solution and share their initial thoughts and feelings about the proposal. We especially encourage reviewers to look for opportunities to share explicit praise where it is due. The broad focus should be on ensuring all participants understand what is being proposed and why other potential solutions, if any reasonable ones exist, were not chosen. By ensuring participants understand a proposal and that the author has a chance to revise any initial problems identified during clarification, we hope to cultivate an increased sense of trust: both that reviewers are reviewing in good faith and that the author’s work is respected and understood to be the best attempt at proposing a solution to the problem.

During this round authors should refrain as much as possible from making large changes to the proposal other than editorial/proofreading ones. This is to help minimise confusion caused by a proposal that is changing while also being reviewed for clarification.


Proposals must all include an explicit “purpose”. Often these are informed by the needs of a particular project associated with the proposal or with a requested discussion as the result of a retrospective or other self-feedback mechanism. However, contributors may, at their discretion, raise proposals for discussion that do not have prior conversations. In these cases, the clarification round is also understood to include an evaluation and clarification of the purpose of the proposal. For regularly requested proposals, however, the purpose is taken to be accepted and should not be the focus of the discussion.

Revision round#

The goal of this round is for authors to incorporate the feedback received in the clarification round. At this time, any changes can be made to the proposal document.

When the round starts, the author should share how long they will need to finish revising the document. This helps give clear expectations for reviewers for when they will need to return to the discussion and also establishes accountability on the part of the author. Together these help prevent discussions from dragging on or having an indefinite “slump” during revision.

Decision round#

The goal of this round is for the participants to decide whether the proposal can be implemented in its current form. The focus of this round should be to carefully consider any problems present with the proposal and decide whether they are blockers or whether they can be iterated on after the initial implementation. If further clarification is needed about an aspect of the proposal that could cause harm, that is automatically considered to be a blocker. If problem is a blocker, then reviewers should request changes to address the issue, if it can be addressed. If the blocking issue cannot be addressed (it is “unworkable”), then the proposal is tabled, though this should be rare. Participants should all work together to help identify whether an issue is truly a blocker or whether it is something that can be iterated on. Objective problems should be given priority, whereas addressing subjective problems should err on the side of avoiding the need for large revisions. If a proposal is founded upon the usage of one tool, but another equivalent tool is also available, it is up to the author whether they feel it is worth reworking the proposal to use the other tool to appease the preference of the reviewer.

The idea behind this specific structure is two-fold:

  • It acknowledges that Openverse maintainers are capable contributors and more often than propose solutions that are workable, even if they sometimes need revisions

  • It makes explicit the expectation that we are looking for “good enough for now” solutions that can be iterated and improved on afterwards

Both of these help decision-making go faster, while also carefully identifying what aspects of a proposal may need special attention either during implementation or after the fact. Both of these are also, however, not steadfast rules. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone can miss big or small details of a problem that lead them down the wrong path. Working together as a team, all the participants are tasked with deciding whether a solution is feasible and finding ways to resolve blockers.

The suggested time span for the decision round is shorter for two reasons:

  1. To encourage front-loading discussion during the clarification round

  2. To acknowledge that the goal of the decision round is to decide whether the proposal can be implemented and iterated on or whether it has blockers

The decision round isn’t necessarily another discussion round, aside from deliberating about whether certain problems are blockers or not. Three days is the suggested span because it allows time for at least one back and forth between author and reviewers to decide whether problems are blockers. Further discussion about the problems should continue during the subsequent revision round between the person who identified the blocker and the proposal author.

Continued revision round#

If fixable blocking problems are identified during the decision round, the author and participants should work together to revise the proposal to address the problem so that it is no longer a blocker. This can be done either by changing the proposal so that the problem no longer exists at all, or so that the potential harm caused by the problem is mitigated. In other words, the problem could still exist (whether objectively or subjectively), but the harm caused by it is either no longer possible or sufficient guardrails or safety measures have been taken to mitigate and address the harm or make it reversible.

After the revision is complete, the proposal goes back to the decision round. The decision round and the continued revision round can repeat as many times as needed until a proposal no longer has blockers.

Proposal approval#

Proposals are approved when the requested reviewers have voiced approval and there are no outstanding blockers.

At this stage, authors will create any new milestones or issues to track the work needed to implement the accepted solution. Milestones should be linked in the proposal text.

Proposal tabling#

Proposals are tabled when unworkable blockers are identified. In cases where a proposal was requested as part of a project, a new proposal should be requested that approaches the problem in a new way to avoid causing the same problems.