Re: Desktop Summit Planning


2011/12/14 Lennart Poettering <mztabzr 0pointer de>
On Tue, 13.12.11 21:42, Brian Cameron (brian cameron oracle com) wrote:


> 1. It subtracts momentum from the GNOME brand and community.  With
>    GNOME 3 to focus on, the community needs to more focus on making
>    GNOME 3 a success, less on collaboration.

I ran the paper committee in Berlin. While I was very happy with how
this worked out and there was very little friction between the KDE and
GNOME sides of the committee (the only real friction was between some
folks outside of the committee and the committee, where the committee
stood together very well), I must actually say that I am clearly against
the combined conference, because I think it is not for the benefit of
GNOME, simply on the grounds that the contents of the conference
suffered by having to be "fair" towards the KDE side.

Firstly, we received substantially more GNOME talks than KDE
talks. Secondly, the GNOME talks got consistently better votings by both
sides than the KDE talks. Nonetheless we had to be somewhat fair and
accept a similar amount of KDE talks as GNOME talks. The result is that
we had to refuse a number of good GNOME talks in favour of accepting a
lot of less-than-ideal KDE talks. And honestly, that's something that
made me very unhappy. Ultimately we did accept slightly more GNOME talks
than KDE talks (thankfully nobody noticed, so that this didn't become a
big political issue), but still I found it very sad that we had to
accept some low-quality KDE talks at the expense of higher-quality
GNOME talks.

This is actually made worse by the fact that the focus of the desktop
summit was even wider than GNOME and KDE, and we even included
Enlightenment talks (and the CFP asked for even more), which in my eyes
are even less in the interest of GNOME.

I believe the focus of a conference should be on the talks, the actual
contents of a conference, not on whether it makes the organization
simpler or easier. If we are willing to compromise this much on the
contents, then this hurts GNOME and makes the conference a lot less
interesting to attendees, because attendees come for the talks, not for
the flawless organization.

I think GNOME should really think about what is good for itself, not how
to keep the peace. Effectively, KDE has a lot more to gain from a
combined conference than GNOME has, the benefits of a joined conferenced
are very unbalanced. I strongly believe GNOME should focus on what is
good for GNOME, and much less on what is good for whatever else exists
in the Free Software world. Our interest should be GNOME, and making
GNOME great, and not at all making KDE great too, and Enlightenment, and
whatever else exists.

I'd even go further than this: I believe one of the goals of GNOME
should be to emphasize vertical integration (i.e. considering
integration of our stack, the GNOME OS a core objective), but
encouraging multiple variables on top of this stack makes that much more
complex. I think it is against our interest encouraging KDE and other
desktop environments.

And again, I am saying this purely in regards to the contents of the
conference, personally I believe the KDE folks in the paper committee
and outside of it did a great job, and especially Mirko did an
exceptionally good job in running the entire conference.

> 2. It is hard to measure what specific collaborative benefits are being
>    made possible by the Desktop Summit.  It is hard to point to specific
>    advances that have been accomplished.  Some have concerns that not a
>    lot of collaboration is actually being done.

Judging by the papers we got I must say that this is indeed a major
concern. The talks I think were actrually really relevant to both sides,
one could count on the fingers of one hand. They did definitely exist,
and even though we officially gave about a third of the schedule to them
I honestly believe only a tiny fraction of those which were officially
cross-desktop really mattered to both sides. I am tempted to say that
given that this is the way it is a one day cross-desktop miniconf thingy
would have more than sufficed to handle these. The question of course is
whether this one day needs to take place at the desktop summit, or
whether a forum like FOSDEM (where the cross-project idea is much more
emphasized) might not be the better place to organize this.

> 1. To not have a large combined GNOME+KDE event, and to instead have
>    a smaller Desktop Summit or focused hackfest(s) with a more clear
>    agenda to work on specific and measurable collaborative tasks.
>    GUADEC and Akademy would continue as separate events.

I think this would be best. I'd suggest to organize this collaboration
event collocated to FOSDEM.

> 3. The GNOME community has been having trouble finding volunteers to
>    help make events successful lately.  Some people like Dave Neary,
>    Lennart Poettering, and Ekaterina Gerasimova did a great job
>    volunteering to make the last Desktop Summit a success.  However,
>    the fact that there were too few volunteers engaged caused some real
>    issues.  Many of the things GNOME folks have complained about the
>    last Desktop Summit were caused more by a lack of GNOME volunteers
>    helping than anything else.  For a Desktop Summit to be successful,
>    we need to more clearly see that the GNOME community is more
>    interested to engage and wanting to get involved.

Hmm, I think Patricia Santana Cruz deserves to be named here, and since
she oversaw the volunteers I'd be very interested in her opinion on
this, and whether the lack of volunteers was indeed a big problem. Patricia?

Thanks for mentioning my name here Lennart.

I must say that I am very surprised about what I am reading here. We had 50 official volunteers working at the Desktop Summit this year, not counting all the unofficial people that just came to help during the event and the local team itself (around 14 people I think). The proportion of KDE and GNOME people was very close to be equal, and the number of volunteers that wanted to help was way over the amount of people we really needed to make everything work. We never had a slot of time that was not covered in the volunteers schedule. I do not think that this is really a matter of numbers, but a matter of commitment. The biggest problems we had a few times during the event regarding the volunteers were:

    1. The first day, we did not have enough time to explain the volunteers what they had to do during the event. The Summit starts early in the morning and most of the volunteers are non local and usually arrive in the city late the afternoon before. We have a few hours to explain them everything, show them the venue, introduce to each other, etc... On the other hand, I think this is pretty common in all these kind of events, unless just locals organize it.

    2. Some people came late on time. We just talked to them, and never happened again.

    3. Some people did not come to accomplish their task (this just happened 2-3 times). We had several other volunteers who then replaced them, so this was also not a problem.

Reallly, in my honest opinion, I would not qualify this as a problem at all. I am actually very proud of how all the volunteering part worked out and how the volunteers worked together to accomplish each task, and when I write I, I think I talk on behalf of the whole team.

It would be very helpfull to mention, why people think that "real issues were caused more by a lack of GNOME volunteers". Where did they miss the volunteers? Perhaps this was a problem in the organization and not in the number of volunteers again, regardless if they are coming from KDE or GNOME  :)



Lennart Poettering - Red Hat, Inc.
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