Re: Questions for the candidate

> 1. Judging from the comments posted here ( comments
> area), it seems as though most people are confused about the 
> purpose of
> the GNOME Foundation and its board. How will you, as a member of the
> board, try to clear up confusion and outline a clear direction and
> purpose for the Foundation?

You need to keep saying what you are doing, why you are doing it, and
what you will do next. You need to have simple guidelines online, and
link to them often. The release-team had a similar problem, but I think
we've fixed that.

I'd like the Board to keep an online list of all its open issues, so
that people can always see what they are working on and how they can
help. This would show what types of issues the board deals with, and how
well they deal with them. A list of completed tasks would be helpful at
election time. The meetings minutes do most of this already, but it's
not an ideal format.

I would consider opening the board's mailing list, but first I would
have to see what's on there.

> 2. What do you see as the most important thing that the board
> accomplishes, and what do you think is the area of the 
> board's activity
> where you could improve things?

The board does what the community can not do. For instance, it can
represents GNOME to businesses and the press. Other than that it can
provide some positive encouragement and direction, though it's the
individual maintainers who have the greatest influence.

I would try to help the board continue to do this, but hopefully be a
little more obvious and a little more efficient.

> 3. What is the number one priority for the GNOME project now, in your
> opinion? What do you think you can do as a board member to 
> work towards
> that goal?

There is no single top priority. We need to keep doing all the things
that we are doing, and continue to get even better at doing them. I will
try to help GNOME's contributors do what they do best. It's all
important, and it's all working well.

> 4. What do you think is the most important market for GNOME over the
> next year or two, and what do you feel you can do to help get GNOME
> better penetrated into that market?

Most of this is dealt with by companies, such as distros. If we continue
to work closely with them and perfect GNOME's functionality then GNOME
will increase its market share and enter new markets, such as the
consumer market. The market which we can affect directly is the use of
GNOME in the public sector, by national and local governments, because
they are used to dealing with non-profit organisations such as GNOME.

However, it would be better if the new GNOME marketing team learns to
deal with most of this. The Board should only be involved to make
official decisions and to occasionally reinvigorate teams. Sub-teams
such as marketing, translation, documentation, and accessibility have
shown that they are capable of very effective work - we are remarkably

> 5. What unique aspect will you bring to the job?

Impatience, occasional bluntness, and recognition of my own limitations.

> 6. How would you feel about moving to a system of Preferential Voting?

This is of no interest to me, and I don't expect the board to waste much
time on it.

All of the suggested voting methods seem good enough. However, I see no
problems caused by the current (anonymous eventually) voting method, so
I see no need to waste time choosing a new one. If the community feels
that it's an important issue then the community will let us know. And
then the elections team will take care of it, without the Board getting
very involved.

> 7. How do you think you could motivate the rest of the board, if and
> when the other directors have other time pressures?

Board members will avoid involvement if they fear being loaded down with
impossible amounts of work. So, we can motivate them by reducing the
work. We can do this by
- encouraging the board to delegate more work to the community.
- breaking tasks down into smaller sub-tasks.
- setting sensible deadlines for sub-tasks, and ensuring that the work
is reassigned if things are not going well.
- making the Board's work clearer to the community (see 1.), so that the
Board has a greater sense of purpose.
- Encouraging short Board meetings with adequate preparation, and with
detailed discussions punted to a mailing list.

> 8. What one problem could you hope to solve this year?

I expect us to publish the roadmap at the start of every 6-month
development cycle. I expect the community to do this, with our

> 9. What would you do to increase community participation in the GNOME
> community and GNOME elections?

Luckily, projects such as gnome-love are mostly taking care of this.
People will be more eager to participate in GNOME if they believe they
can make a difference, so I will continue to make a fuss about reviewing
patches and mentoring co-maintainers, but we have no direct influence
over these things. 

We also need to reach out to people who are not yet involved in free
software. There are thousands of developers who would like to be more
productive. Sometimes we forget how they suffer, so we forget to offer
them the alternative they seek.

People will be more interested in the GNOME elections if they understand
what the Board should do, and how well it has done it. But, it's very
possible that people have not been very interested because they are
content with the Board's work so far.
> 10. Should Gnome be marketed as a separate component ? Or should it be
> actively promoted as a part of the offerings in a commercial software
> stack ?
> (Separate component in the sense *a DE in its own way and with its own
> ecosystem*)

Yes. No. The question is not clear, so it's hard to answer. Anyway, this
is an issue for the marketing team, rather than the Board.

Personally, I hope that the marketing team builds a strong GNOME brand
that is strongly associated with existing strong brands, such as Linux,
Linux distributions, and free software in general. GNOME is more focused
than any other software on helping users to meet their goals, so it
makes sense for pragmatic commercial companies to promote their use of

Murray Cumming
murrayc murrayc com

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