Re: Candidacy (Michael Meeks)

Although I have no comment about your candidacy, I'd like to respond
to this part of your candidacy statement. While strong representation
of the technical parts of the project is a key goal, most of the
decisions the board makes will not be technical in nauture; pretty
much all technical decisions will still be in the hands of the
individual module maintainers. The nature of the work they will do
will fall in the following categories:

* Organizing the various parts of the project in those instances that
  require overall coordination (for instance, organizing GNOME

* Nogotiating with other entities (corporations, other projects) on
  agreements that help advance GNOME. Being a first point of
  contact. More generally, working with people and organizations
  outside the project.

* Mediation: stepping in when there are disputes in the project and
  helping the various parties come to agreement (note: it's mediation,
  not arbitration, because the board can't force anyone to stick to
  it's decisions).

* Working to promote GNOME.

My impression of the kind of tasks the board will be doing is based
not on theorizing but on what kind of work the current steering
committee has done, and what the informal leadership of the project
has done at various times.

While knowing the ins and outs of GNOME is important, equally
important is having some basic level of organizational skills,
working well with others, and communicating effectively. I have to
tell you that the current steering commitee is not so great on these
fronts, and as a result, work like creating press releases, organizing
the formation of the foundation, negotiating with organizations and so
on, we have not done so great. I would say that even the best people
in organization on the current steercom are pretty inept. As a result,
corporations have often ended up doing stuff of this kind for us,
sometimes without our knowledge or consent, often not doing things the
way the GNOME project would really like.

There has been one unmistakable exception to this trend, and that is
Bart Decrem. Remember the level of activity on this list while Bart
was on vacation? Pretty much zero. And believe me, you don't even want
to know how the foundation would be turning out if it were left up to
just us hackers and the corporate lawyers to work out.

If it were not for Bart's strong ethics and hard work, you wouldn't be
voting for foundation directors at all in a few weeks. Either we'd
have no foundation at all, or you'd be looking at a board appointed by
corporations and structured like an industry consortium. This is not
even remotely an exageration.

So, essentially, we have two choices: get someone that nearly all the
core hackers know and trust, who shares our values and has helped us
make GNOME what we want it to be, to help us with organizational
tasks; or we could watch while corporate managers and corporate
lawyers do these tasks for us, to suit their agenda, not ours. Let's
not let pride make us think hackers can do all these tasks themselves;
instead, let's ask for help from someone who is on our side.

I urge the voters to look at grades in "Plays Well with Others" and
"Good Citizenship" and not just "Hacking" when making their
decisions. Pick people who have contributed (in whatever way, code,
docs, organizational), who believe in the goals of the project, and
who can help us move it forward.

 - Maciej

Michael Meeks <michael helixcode com> writes:

> 	It worries me that so many non-hackers have put themselfs up
> as candidates for board membership. [ _hacker_ hereinafter refers to
> any or all of documenter, UI designer, artist, translator, and coder
> ]. Here is an ( unfortunately negative ) list of people I think we
> _don't_ need on the board:
> 	* Advocacy * - people to tell other people stuff; useful, and
> 	much appreciated but why do they want any executive control
> 	over Gnome's future ?
> 	* Consensus Builders * - people to manage meetings and bring
> 	people to a decision. Surely there will be people among a
> 	group of hackers to perform this role, we are not children.
> 	* Clueless people * - people whose major qualification is
> 	lack of technical knowledge. Clearly it is vital to listen
> 	to users, but I'd rather not be guided in releasing, defining,
> 	funding etc. by people with little technical GNOME
> 	understanding.
> 	I think we do need people like this:
> 	* Hacker [ see above ] * - passionate about Gnome, preferably
> 	with a proven track record of working on Free software for
> 	fun in their spare time. Determined to get GNOME right
> 	without arbitrary commercial interests and time-scales
> 	obscuring the quality of the product and thus end user ( and
> 	hacker ) experience.
> 	I would also venture to suggest that company politics will
> eventually come into play here, and that a Hacker is more likely to
> be swayed by technical concerns than partisan commercial concerns.
> 	I would encourage all the Gnome contributors I have enjoyed
> working with for so long to vote for less well known technical
> contributors than well known not-so-technical people.

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