Re: What do you think of the foundation?


Sriram Ramkrishna wrote:
On Thu, May 28, 2009 at 9:25 AM, Dave Neary <dneary gnome org <mailto:dneary gnome org>> wrote:
    I think that the foundation should be more involved in conflict
    resolution and policing the tone of the community.

What would you do then? I guess ultimately I don't know what happens to change the tone. In general, GNOME does a pretty good job of self policying and there are a lot of decent people who do attempt to change the tone in the mailing list if it does turn ugly. It's nothing compared to the old days when most of us were all a bunch of 20 somethings. :-)

If this was happening satisfactorally on its own, I'd be happy to agree with you. However, based on personal experience and on dozens of conversations which I've had with people (who will remain unnamed by me, but who should feel free to avail of this opportunity to speak up), I've come to the conclusion that both mailing lists and IRC have become unusable for many developers, and that this is something the board is in a position to work actively to fix, if only they position themselves as willing to do it.

There should be some kind of method of releasing a board member from duty due to non-activity and let someone else have a stab at it.

This would probably require a chance in statutes.

    I would like to see consultation happen in such an informal and
    regular fashion that we don't refer to questions from board members
    as "Requests for Comments", which make it sound like you have to
    polish content for an hour and "publish" the "document", going
    through board approval before you go public. I'd like to see the 7
    most frequent posters here be the board members, on lots of topics,
    related to GUADEC, the Summit, hackfests, budget, marketing, Friends
    of GNOME (and I'd like to commend Stormy on the way she's been
    leading on this) and more.

Not sure what you're talking about here.

Having been on several boards, I could point out half a dozen situations where action items such as "write a draft of something we need to ask members for opinions about, and submit for board approval" stayed on todo lists for months.

Some that come to mind off the top of my head:

* OOXML statement
* 2007 budget (that was me)
* Legal group proposal
* Guidelines for planet GNOME
* Academic program for GNOME discussion
* Job description for executive director
* Job description for sysadmin
* Travel policy
* Calls for hosts for GUADEC

All of these invariably end up getting drafted by a board member, and then oushed out to the membership, when there's no particular reason that these couldn't all be discussed among the membership in a very raw format and polished on foundation-list or marketing-list.

I agree. But i don't think foundation members really know what they are supposed to do either. I certainly don't. What is my contract when I'm part of the foundation?

I guess that's what I'm getting at :)

    The KDE eV solution to this is to make the foundation members list
    members-only (private archives) - should we consider doing the same
    thing, if that would allow more board business to be conducted on
    this list?

This seems to be in conflict with the "greater transparency" argument you made earlier. Or are you saying that there are things that the foundation does that is "ears only"?

"greater transparency with members" and "greater transparency with the general public & specialised press & bloggers" isn't necessarily the same thing. One of the reasons that a lot of these discussions happen in private I suppose is because people are conscious that by exposing the plumbing of the organisation in a publicly archived forum, you're running the risk of a slashdot headline about "prominent GNOME member X and prominent GNOME member Y are having a big fight".

Or - another thought - perhaps the board, like so many teams these days, avoid the general membership forums for these types of discussions because they fear endless arguments & bike-shedding, which reinforces my point that the community needs active "policing" (for wont of a better word)? It would be a scary thought if the board were afraid to talk openly with the membership until they'd established some kind of common position.


Dave Neary
GNOME Foundation member
dneary gnome org

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