Re: A question for all the candidates.

On Mon, Oct 16, 2000 at 06:22:38AM +1000, Martin Sevior wrote:
> Dear Candidates,
> 	        One of the duties of the Gnome Foundation is to provide
> "Direction" for the project. In a Free Software environment like Gnome it
> is not immediately obvious how this will be achieved. I can imagine
> several ways in which direction can be provided in terms of strength and
> nastiness. Here are some of them:

Hi, most of these require some sort of "power over projects" from the board,
to the extent that it doesn't have it.  I like the anarchy of GNOME, and thus
if I'm on the board I'd try to keep that anarchy as far as possible.

> 1." This project is wasting resources. It will be removed from Gnome CVS."

I'd be very opposed to any such decision, not to mention that a final say in
this is whoever is hosting the Gnome CVS.  This is something that should be
solved in dialogue with the maintainer and g-h, perhaps the board mediating,
but no more.  No decision should come from the board as far as I'm concerned.
Mostly I think we should just keep projects, unless someone decides to put in
5 gigs worth of porn as part of their project, I think we should just
basically keep whatever is there until the maintainer doesn't want it there
any more.

> 2. "This project is wasting resources, we recommend that no distribution
> (especially Helix-Code) include it in their release". 

Well, distributions can include whatever they want.  The board should NOT
have the power to say "This project sucks".  All the board can do is not
have this project in the overall gnome release.

> 3. "Project X and project Y have the same goals. Have you guys considered
> a merger"? 

I don't think this is the function of the board.  Things like this should
be discussed on gnome-devel and gnome-hackers and between the maintainers.

> 4. "We really think project Y should be supported. Gnomers please hack on 
> it." 

Again, this sounds more like something that should come out of discussion
on gnome-devel and gnome-hackers.  This is a technical decision, and should
thus be handled by the technical crowd, that is, the developers.

Now where the board could come in is if say a company X would come to the
board saying: "wouldn't it be cool if you guys did this", and the board
would just proxy this to the lists. 

Essentially, everybody is free to hack on whatever they want.  If someone
wants to hack on something important, then he should listen to suggestions
from the "important" people.  So again this kind of things should come
out of discussion on gnome-devel and gnome-hackers.

> 5. "We will use our money to provide a prize for the best patch of the
> week to project Z".

I don't think this would be the best use of the money.  It is a subjective
judgement.  It would be better to allocate money to hackers in need of
hardware, or pay travel to conferences for hackers that can't afford it.
This is one of the functions of the board, and things like these should
be decided on a case by case basis.

> 6. "We think this project is so important we strongly suggest that Gnome
> companies consider hiring someone to work full time on it."

The board could proxy a "feeling" like this, but I think this feeling should
come out of discussions on gnome-devel and gnome-hackers again.  Unless of
course, the company perhaps wouldn't want to disclose that they want to hire
someone untile they do.

> 7. "We think this project is so important the Gnome Foundation will hire
> someone to work full time on it."

No.  If the foundation hires someone to hack full time, it will mean that it
will depend on a steady flow of money, this will make the foundation
dependant on the whims of the sponsors.  We need the foundation to stay

> So candidates, these are some of my ideas about how direction in Gnome can
> be achieved. (I'm not saying I agree with any  of these methods.) 
> How do you think direction of Gnome should be achieved? 

Heh, as you see I don't agree with most of them.  Mainly I don't think those
are the functions of the foundation really.  I think you are taking the
"Direction setting" function a bit too far.  GNOME still belongs to the
hackers and contributors that work on it, not to the foundation.  Thus for
technical decisions, it should be those hackers and contributors that do

At best, the board could figure out solutions out of the various discussions
on gnome-devel and gnome-hackers and try to present them there.  However,
they need to get the consensus of the hackers which any such decision
touches, otherwise, the decision is useless.

Now note that my feeling on what the board shouldn't do isn't based solely on
the premise that I think it shouldn't do those, but also on the fact that it
doesn't have any way to "enforce" any of those decisions really.  A board
that does decisions that no one follows will not only be useless, but it will
lose respect in those areas where it has some "authority".


George <jirka 5z com>
   The great masses of the people ... will more easily
   fall victims to a big lie than to a small one.
                       -- Adolf Hitler, "Mein Kampf", 1933

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