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Re: [fab] looking at our surrent state a bit



(My own thoughts, not a mass Board opinion, follow.  In case it's not
perfectly clear, others on the Board may disagree.)

On Fri, 2006-11-03 at 18:12 +0100, Thorsten Leemhuis wrote:
> Rahul Sundaram schrieb:
> > Thorsten Leemhuis wrote:
> >> Rahul Sundaram schrieb:
> >>> Thorsten Leemhuis wrote:
> >>>>  * it's not that much present -- we know it exists, but that's often all.
> >>>>  * seems to meet quite seldom and it's hard to see what it does or if
> >>>> there even is progress somewhere
> >>> We havent had a meeting in the last few weeks due to the release work 
> >>> and other things but whenever there is one, the agenda is posted here 
> >>> and post meeting results are available in the wiki and send to 
> >>> fedora-announce list.
> >>> http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Board/Meetings/
> >>> What else could be done?
> >> IMHO: Meet more often. Get more involved into decisions. Show presence.
> > Please be more detailed. How often do you want the board to meet?
> 
> The plan was to meet all two weeks IIRC. I think that should suffice if
> it would be held in.
> 
> Maybe "meet once or twice a month on IRC, and once per month on phone"
> would be even better.

Not even corporate boards meet so rigorously that there aren't
cancellations or schedule changes sometimes.  This is a volunteer
organization.  We meet twice a month if at all possible.  And IRC
meetings are a complete dud for a governing board like this one, IYAM,
for at least, but not limited to, the following reasons: 

(1) Not every discussion is appropriate for sending over public
airwaves.  This is why real-life boards also have executive sessions;
it's a good management practice and there's nothing shady about it.

(2) With a smaller group of very busy individuals, it's too easy for
conversation to lag on the computer.  Our meetings are able to cover a
great deal of material in just an hour, without wandering too much,
because people are more engaged in the social connection of
conversation.

(3) Members can attend any meeting even if not jacked into their
computer.  (Insert mental image of USB cable dangling from eye/ear
sockets.)

> >  Many 
> > of the people in the board are going to be involved with other work 
> > during a new release.
> 
> Sure. but both things are important.

No one's denying that, but making the schedule more rigorous doesn't
necessarily improve the Board's efficiency.  Flexibility is good.

> >  For the rest of us, its volunteer work.
> 
> Well, Extras and many other community driven projects are able to meet
> once a week. It works quite well there afaics.

For larger scale governance and direction issues, that's too often.  It
would limit the amount of work that Board members can do between
meetings, some of which has to be driven to external entities and
appropriate time allowed for doing the work.  More progress reports
simply for reporting's sake is not a good use of people's time.

[...snip...]
> Where is the agenda for the next meeting? Or a schedule similar to the
> one FESCo has ( http://www.fedoraproject.org/wiki/Extras/Schedule ) so
> people interested in the work can look at the current status?
> 
> Further take a look at
> http://www.fedoraproject.org/wiki/Board/Meetings
> {{{
> Upcoming meetings:
>  * October 3 (10:00 AM EDT, 2:00 PM GMT)
>  * October 17 (5:00 PM EDT, 9:00 PM GMT)
> }}}
> 
> Great work! (Sorry, but what shall I say)

These cancellations happened for a variety of reasons, but chief among
them were the impending release and various scrambles associated
therewith.  I'm not sure why you assume that a meeting cancellation
means we weren't doing any work, but I can assure you sincerely that's
not the case.

> >> Well, phone meetings are okay. That's why I suggested "now and then meet
> >> on irc" -- then everyone can get in contact with the board now and then
> >> while it can still get work done. That gets rid of the "secret cabal"
> >> look that some outsiders might have.
> > See above. There is nothing preventing anyone from discussing the 
> > results when the meeting mins or agenda are posted. 
> 
> "Participating in a meeting" and "looking at the results" are two
> different things.

The Board's meetings are not an appropriate place for mass public
participation.  And since there's no way to invite just some people and
not all of them without creating a further controversy, don't expect it
to happen any time in the near future.  This probably sounds very
arrogant from anyone who is a non-elected Board member (as I and every
other member was), but I would hope this will not change after the
FC7-ish Board elections.  USA-centric analogy:  If every citizen was
entitled to speak in congressional committee hearings, I guarantee their
efficiency would be reduced.

Every single Fedora mailing list is a venue for public participation,
and between all the members here, I feel pretty confident saying we have
all of them under watch.  We don't ignore important issues, but we also
try to avoid elevating more granular issues to our agenda.  That's what
the subproject steering committees do, and they all seem to do a darn
good job of addressing same.

[...snip...]
> Sure, there may be discussions that need to be held in private, but that
> doesn't happen that often (and if, on the private fesco-list).

That's not the case for the Board.

[...snip...]
> >>> Official CD releases are unfortunately taking a longer time but 
> >>>   if various sub projects would require Red Hat developers to work on 
> >>> them  that would essential mean we would have to prioritize the work.
> >> Exactly that's what I'd like to see.
> > That's already happening. If Red Hat has to get involved with all these 
> > projects to make changes happen, where would that leave Fedora as a 
> > community project?
> 
> Well, we're getting rhetorical here. For me it looks like that: Red Hat
> failed to get the community involved properly/to build one up and thus
> contributors wandered of elsewhere. Those stupid contributors like me
> that work for Fedora in their free time are busy with a lot of stuff
> already and don't have time to work on more stuff.

This doesn't make a lot of sense to me.  You're unhappy that a certain
project hasn't progressed, but you don't have time to work on it.  That
will always be the case for everyone who likes to see advancement on
every front.  I have the exact same problem as a Docs contributor --
there are other things not getting done as well as I would like, but I
don't think of myself as "stupid" because they're lagging.  And neither
should you.  Your urge to keep advancing Fedora is very admirable; don't
let your momentum get sidetracked -- nobody can do everything, that's
why we're a community.

The Board has already looked at this particular issue, and when we find
large-scale project gaps, we will continue to do just that.  Making a
blanket rule that Red Hat is responsible for starting any worthwhile
effort gives short shrift to the community efforts that have driven
themselves from the beginning.  If we can't get enough skilled people
working on projects that involve actual coding, that is a different
issue, certainly worth discussing.

Anyway, thanks for your comments Thorsten, and for listening to my
$0.02.  It's good to have these discussions even if they cause some
disagreements -- we all want the same thing at the end, which is a
strong, healthy, and vibrant community for advancing FOSS.

-- 
Paul W. Frields, RHCE                          http://paul.frields.org/
  gpg fingerprint: 3DA6 A0AC 6D58 FEC4 0233  5906 ACDB C937 BD11 3717
       Fedora Project Board: http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Board
    Fedora Docs Project:  http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/DocsProject

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