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Re: Fedora Board Recap 2009-11-19 UTC 1700

On Thu, Nov 19, 2009 at 10:22 PM, Paul W. Frields <stickster gmail com> wrote:
> === FreeMedia ===
> https://www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-advisory-board/2009-November/msg00035.html
> * Thread is public, anything to discuss here?
> * is there some way that we can fund shipping media to people to ship
> out to users
> ** John: if we fund this what would we not be funding? IOW what
> trade-off would we be making?
> *** Dennis: not fund there outbound postage, but provide them media so
> they can ship more at the same cost and give professional media not
> burnt and hand written.
> ** Continue discussion on fedora-advisory-board
> ** Follow-up

I'd like to make a couple of comments about Fedora funding the
FreeMedia program. I was violently against this in the past for
reasons I have explained elsewhere (discussions on the FreeMedia
mailing list) but I have softened a bit.

First I would like to note that Fedora has in the past and continues
to help the FreeMedia program financially although it has been done
more in a hit and miss fashion I think than as a regular funding item.
For the F10 and F11 releases, for example, I have had leftover pressed
media on hand and during the final FreeMedia period I have sent out
fairly large numbers of these to people requesting images through the
FreeMedia program and this cost is being covered by Fedora (both the
cost of pressed media and the cost of the shipping). We don't want to
waste pressed media and this seems to us to be a valuable way use it
when it is available. We don't order pressed media with this use in
mind however.

The two common suggestions for Fedora helping have serious limitations
due to the logistics involved in worldwide distribution being
performed by many people. Consider providing pressed media but leaving
the contributors to cover postage. Postage is fairly expensive for
some contributors, most only send a small number each month (we ask
contributors to try to send at least two pieces of media, some do more
but typically it is probably a single digit number). So, how would we
ship very small numbers of pressed media to hundreds of FreeMedia
contributors around the world so they in turn could send them to
people local in their regions? This is a logistical nightmare and
probably not worth the cost and effort in the end (at least I don't
see how it could be worth the cost involved). And of course there are
delays getting the pressed media and further delays shipping it around
so valuable time is also lost doing this.

The second common suggestion is for Fedora to let the FreeMedia
contributors continue buying their own supplies and doing the work the
way they do now but reimburse their reasonable expenses. This has the
same logistical problem. How to efficiently and without sending Max to
the nearest high bridge would we ever arrange such small
reimbursements to so many people so frequently?

Looking at it with the logistical limitations in mind we could try
picking one or two people in various regions to provide direct help
to. I think that help would need to be in both ways though, pressed
media and postage. We can't ask someone to self-fund $100 a month in
postage. (Some do that but we can't ask them to on a regular basis.)
My general fear about doing this is that it will fundamentally change
the character of the program. Will volunteers continue to contribute
at their own expense when that guy over there is doing it and Fedora
is paying for it? Maybe I'm cynical, but I think that would inevitably
hurt the morale of the volunteers.

So here is what I would suggest at this point in time if the board
would like to try to help fund some part of the FreeMedia project as
an experiment. We tend to have inordinately large numbers of requests
from certain regions (these are large because of need in those
regions). I think we should work with Susmit to see if there is a way
to provide some direct help to a small number of contributors in India
to help with the volume of requests in that region. I think we could
learn a lot by doing that and help where the problem is the most
severe today.


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