Re: What do you think of the foundation?
- From: Lucas Rocha <lucasr gnome org>
- To: Dave Neary <dneary gnome org>
- Cc: Foundation-List <foundation-list gnome org>
- Subject: Re: What do you think of the foundation?
- Date: Fri, 29 May 2009 23:42:07 +0100
(This is just my personal opinion. No official Foundation Board hat here...)
As I said on irc today, I like your message. It's your way to present
your expectations towards the board and how you think the Foundation
could be better as an organization. I think feedback from Foundation
members is very important and, unfortunately, we don't see this
happening very often...
I preferred to make some comments on the global content of your
message. Didn't get into details.
2009/5/28 Dave Neary <dneary gnome org>:
> So - this is perhaps not the best time to start this discussion, but then
> again maybe it's absolutely the best time. This is a call to foundation
> members who are happy, unhappy or disaffected to say what they think the
> foundation should be doing that it isn't, shouldn't be doing that it is, and
> generally what you've been unhappy & happy with over the past number of
Just a nitpick: when you say Foundation here, I get the impression you
actually mean Foundation Board. All points bellow are about the
> Me first!
> I think that the foundation should be more involved in conflict resolution
> and policing the tone of the community. I have talked to too many people who
> don't read pgo, or have turned off individual blogs, don't use IRC any more,
> or avoid certain mailing lists, because they are unhappy with the tone &
> content of discussions & posts. If someone is behaving in a way which is
> negatively affecting a significant portion of the GNOME community, the board
> should be the place to go where you can complain, and have your complaint
> publicly recorded (in the minutes of a board meeting, for example) with
> anonymity, investigated and evaluated, and if necessary, have the guilty
> party censured and/or punished. Currently, this social policing role has
> been completely ignored by the foundation and its leaders.
I don't see the Board as community moderators. Really. I tend to agree
that some communication channels (especially mailing lists) get a bit
too noisy some times. This makes some highly active contributors to
stay away from certain discussions because of that. But the moderation
in those cases depends on the context. If this problem happens in the
i18n mailing list, the i18n coordinators should do the moderation. If
it happens on desktop-devel-list, maybe the release team should
moderate the discussion. If things get *really* rough, then it's the
case to take this to Board. But even in those cases, it's questionable
what the Board is supposed (or even "allowed") to do on *community*
level. The Board can definitely take action on Foundation level.
Example: the Board could decide to not sponsor a certain person
anymore because of a really bad attitude inside the community.
However, I don't see the Board prohibiting this same person from
participating on daily GNOME development (banning from mailings,
removing git account, etc).
IMO, there's a subtle (but very important) difference between
community leaders and Foundation Board. Board members happen to be
community leaders in a many cases. But that's not necessarily true for
all cases. My impression is that, because Board members are usually
community leaders, some people tend to project the community
leadership to Foundation Board which is a sort of "dangerous"
assumption because it's not the role of Foundation Board to set
direction but to support the direction chosen by the community in the
best way possible.
> I think that the foundation should be more frugal, and I expect the board to
> transmit the frugal values to the membership. I was a supporter of being
> much firmer in asking people to pay part of their travel when being funded
> by the foundation, or to seek other funding elsewhere (from conference
> organisers, for example). I don't think that being funded by the foundation
> should be a due or a reward, foundation funds are an enabler.
> I would like to see greater financial and administrative transparency. I
> don't see any reason why the foundation's gnucash file should be private,
> for example - and if there is, then at the very least there should be a
> quarterly financial update summarising everything that's happened in the
> last quarter. As a donor, I would like to know where my money is going,
> who's had travel funded, for what purpose, and so on. I want to know that
> we're planning to spend 15,000 on conference t-shirts so that I can say
> "hold on, I know a t-shirt supplier who might be cheaper - let me get a
> I want to see seven board members actively communicating, and I want to see
> the board be more reactive when a board member is inactive for long periods.
> There is no procedure for temporarily replacing an inactive board member, or
> if there is, it's never been activated.
> In all my boards, there were 1 or 2 board members who just stopped reading
> (or at least replying to) board email for periods of months. I recall one
> particular occasion where a board member, during a face to face meeting,
> revealed that he hadn't read any of a thread which had been ongoing for 6
> weeks on the mailing list, and asked everyone to wait while he pulled his
> mail and caught up. This year, at least looking at the attendance lists of
> the available minutes, it appears that Jeff was regularly missing meetings
> from March on, and he was replaced in early December. What happened in
> between? How about the other board members - how do you feel about your
> performance this year?
> In short, I would like a board of which the community has the ear, working
> primarily to improve the social and financial condition of the project, and
> doing so in the most complete transparency possible. I would like not to
> have a board member who is so busy that they don't have time to blog, or ask
> for opinions here, or publish minutes & meeting agendas in a timely fashion.
> 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.
> I don't want to pick on anyone here - times change, boards too, but what I
> feel is that the board (any board) currently doesn't really know what its
> role is. Boards take themselves seriously, try to present a united front,
> don't fight in public, and publish/announce/... - in short, broadcast to the
> membership what they're working on. I would like us to move more towards a
> mode where most of the announcements coming out of the foundation are coming
> from the membership rather than the board, and where the entire foundation
> shares in the difficulties that the board has borne on their shoulders for
> the past few years. The GNOME project is small enough & intimate enough that
> we can talk freely, no?
I tend to agree with the general ideas (maybe not with some details)
you bring here: financial transparency, active Board members, better
communication with Foundation members, etc. Those are actually very
old (yet very important) topics that every now and then are discussed
again on this mailing list (especially on elections time). Honestly,
IMO, the Board has been incrementally improving its work over the last
2-3 years. Stormy is making a big positive difference on the
Foundation. I'm sure there's a lot to improve though. I'm especially
interested in your suggestions for improving the daily communication
with members. Even though I think we *are* already communicating very
well with members on several topics in different mailing lists, not
necessarily on foundation-list. Anyway, that's definitely something we
The part I don't really get from your message is that you seem to
stretching a bit on your expectations towards Board. It's like you're
trying to comment from the perspective of a person who has never been
a Board member. You probably know some of the things you suggest are
not realistic. For example: expecting to have all 7 Board members
active all the time during the whole year. We have a job, life,
family, other GNOME activities, other Free Software activities, etc.
This is why we have 7 members: to avoid blocking all pending actions
because 1-2 members are not around. IMO, all members in the current
Board were always very clear about their "down times" and that helped
a lot on keeping things moving forward in general. Anyway, just
something I found strange in your message...
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