Re: Questions for candidates - board processes & significance

On Mon, 2011-05-30 at 16:11 +0200, Dave Neary wrote:
> Hi all,
> I was away last week travelling, so I'm coming late to the election 
> campaign. I have almost decided who I would like to vote for, but there 
> are still a few things which are important to me when considering a 
> prospective board member.
> 1. If elected, will you seek a named position 
> (chairman/treasurer/secretary) on the board? If so, why?

I won't actively seek a position. As a new board member, I'll
have plenty to learn. I think it's ideal when a board has a
healthy mixture of veterans and new blood, and the veterans
are probably in a better position to understand what these
positions entail.

That said: if asked, I'll serve.

> 2. Board meetings are minuted, and these minutes are published 
> regularly. However, the board also increasingly makes decisions on 
> board-list with the Apache +1/0/-1 convention. Would you support the 
> minuting of these votes, including recording any -1 votes?

As I mentioned in another email, I get the impression that
most decisions don't even come down to a vote. Board members
seem to just come to an agreement. I don't think there's any
benefit to mandating more process in those cases.

When things do come to a vote, yes, I believe votes should
be publicly recorded (unless the entire topic has to be kept
secret for some reason). Board members act on behalf of the
foundation membership. Their votes should be representative
of what the foundation wants, so I don't think they have a
right to a secret ballot.

> 3. I think financial transparency is important. If you plan on applying 
> for the treasurer position, what changes (if any) would you propose for 
> the budgeting process? How often would you publish financial reports for 
> the foundation? Are you happy with the level of transparency in the 
> board's finances now?

Honestly, I haven't personally had any problems with the level
of transparency in our finances. If any foundation members do
have a problem, I think it's important that we listen to their

>From what I've read, it sounds like we have a mess of too much
manual labor in our finances, and that could impact how well
we're able to publish finances. I hate seeing people do things
by hand that could be done just as easily by a machine. I like
automating things.

> 4. Our relationship with a number of groups has suffered this year - and 
> one of the lesser known ones (but one I'm involvedd in) is the Libre 
> Graphics Meeting organisers (a group of people representing a couple of 
> dozen "free art" projects). Are you aware that the LGM organisers 
> withdrew all the funds that the GNOME Foundation was managing for them 
> this year, because they have been unhappy with the responsiveness and 
> quality of communication with the foundation over the past 2 - 3 years? 
> Do you have any thoughts on why this particular relationship degraded? 
> And will you commit to handling or delegating answers to all 
> time-critical queries which come to the board during your term?

I was aware that LGM stopped using the GNOME Foundation to manage
their funds. I was not aware of the reasons. It's nice that we're
able to offer that kind of service to affiliated groups, but it
doesn't seem like we're really set up to handle it well.

Maybe we should be asking ourselves whether we want to provide
those services. And if we do, perhaps we should sit down with
some folks at the Conservancy and pick their brains. I'm afraid
I don't really know the details on this, so I can't give very
concrete answers.

> 5. In general, as a board member communication is vital to keep people 
> outside the board informed whenever there is a delay or when extra input 
> is needed on something they're working on. For incumbents, are you happy 
> with the level of communication & reactivity in the current board? For 
> new candidates, what would you like to do to ensure that the 
> communication & reactivity of the board improves in the coming term?

I haven't had any problems with reactivity. The board has always
responded fairly promptly to things I've emailed about (mostly
funding requests for hackfests). Ticketing systems (bugzilla,
RT, whatever) can help, but in the end, it's human beings who
have to devote the time to making sure communication happens.

> 6. Board members are ambassadors for the foundation. I think it's 
> important that board members be social, and be nice. Are you nice?

I think I am. I think others would vouch for that. I do try
very hard to be friendly, even when discussions get heated.
(And they do sometimes, unfortunately.)

I spend the better part of my days working with GNOME people.
I'd really rather like the people I work with, and have them
like me. Life's just better that way.


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