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Re: Status of the Free Media Program

On Wed, Nov 18, 2009 at 4:57 PM, John Poelstra <poelstra redhat com> wrote:
> Hi Free Media Leaders,

I'm not a FreeMedia leader but this program is close to my heart and I
have strong feelings about it so I'll share my perspective of it with

> I ended up on some of the Free Media program pages yesterday as I followed
> some of the release links from
> http://fedoraproject.org/get-fedora
> At first I thought the program had ended (as in permanently terminated)
> because the pages I ended up said the program was closed.  This led me raise
> this as an issue the board should get status on.  Then Paul Frields told me
> privately that the program is very much alive and suggested sending my
> questions to a wider audience who might be interested and able to respond
> here.

You are not the first to think that the FreeMedia program had closed
up shop. I encounter that on a regular but infrequent basis.

> 1) What is the state of the Free Media program and how is it going?

We do the best we can filling requests but it is just a fact of life
that we get overwhelmed if we leave the request form open for very
long. So it pops up early each month and is closed when we have so
many requests we can't handle them all. It normally is only open for a
few days. Can we improve in this regard? I think we can but currently
we are a bit limited by the fact that all contributors can't
contribute everywhere in the world. So when one location is
overwhelmed we stop even when other locations could handle more
requests. We are working on ways to fix this issue now so that going
forward we can keep the form (or some regional form) open as long as
the contributors involved can keep up.

> 2) Do you think the wiki page and the form are getting people to the right
> place effectively and giving them the right information?  I was little
> confused when I ended up at
> https://fedoraproject.org/freemedia/FreeMedia-form.html and it said "Fedora
> Free Media form is now CLOSED" but there was no mention of when it would
> open and there are 90 different people to contact in my country :-/  Do we
> really want random people emailing a random ambassador?

No, we don't want anyone contacting ambassadors directly for
FreeMedia, at least I don't. The closed version of the form used to
suggest trying back again early in the next month and I think it still
should. There are other areas in the world where direct contact of
ambassadors for getting media is more agreeable. I think it is
important to remember that only a small number of ambassadors are
FreeMedia contributors. There is no direct connection between the two
programs. Everyone is welcome to be a FreeMedia contributor. If you
have a DVD/CD burner and are willing to share a couple of pieces of
media each month with others please join us!

> I also wondered if it was a good idea to be pointing people to something
> they can't have or even request on our main "Day of Release" page:
> http://fedoraproject.org/get-fedora ?

Probably not.

> 3) Realizing that all the people giving their time and money to the Free
> Media program are doing this out of their own resources (which I think is
> amazing), do the Free Media project leaders feel that free media is getting
> to the right people--people that can't get it any other way?

Mostly I do. Not very many people are so lazy they would request I
burn one and mail it to them if they could easily get it any other way
(speaking from a North American perspective). A few probably think it
is like a different media program where you get nice fancy pressed
media, but I don't think there is a lot of that happening.

> 4) Lastly, how can the board help drive more participation and involvement
> in the great work that you do in the Free Media program?

I think we need to solve a structural problem (how to manage the
request pipeline regionally) before we need to attract more
contributors. In North America new contributors can get bored quickly
because others fill the requests before they try, and they feel like
they aren't needed and move on to other things. So I really want eager
new contributors to be greeted by open requests that they can fill.
That doesn't really give any clue about how the board can help. But if
you know anyone who would like to help design/implement a more useful
interface to the program we'd love to meet them.


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