Re: Can a foundation member have access to the sponsorship history?

On 6 June 2014 03:52, Germán Poo-Caamaño <gpoo gnome org> wrote:
Hi Fidencio,

I'm short of time at this moment, so I'm sorry I could not make my
answer shorter:

On Fri, 2014-06-06 at 01:00 +0200, Fabiano Fidêncio wrote:

Since I became a Foundation member (1.5 years ago) I've been interested to
understand how does work the process to sponsor someone for an event. I've
looked for some info and found almost nothing about the criterias used to
sponsor someone (apart from: Foundation Member: yes/no. GSoC/OPW student:
yes/no. Speaker/Keynoter: yes/no).

The sponsorship is a privilege for foundation members. Everyone else is
an exception, as stated in

There were some policies that were more relaxed at the beginning, but
less relaxed lately, such as:
      * The one for exceptions who should become foundation members in
        the short time
      * Requiring to write about the event people were sponsored before
        proceeding with the reimbursement

Nothing hard to achieve, to be honest.

So, I'd like to have it clear since now, I do *not* have any specific
complaints about the Travel Committee and I do *not* have any specific
problem about being or not sponsored by GNOME Foundation for an event.

So, why would I like to have access to these info?
Basically because someone could be interested in.

Why would someone be interested in?
1) Learn how the process work

The process is explained here:

2) Learn how the decisions are taken

This is a two fold decision.  The board approves funds, and the Travel
Committee "manages it".

For hackfests, the way it "has worked" as the event planner ask for a
budget to the board, the board approves it, and let the Travel Committee
knows the decision  in order to handle the forms.  Theoretically, the
board (or ED) would find sponsors for the hackfest.

("has worked" between quotation marks, if you read the minutes and
latest announcements, you will get an idea).

At that point, the decision was only taken by the board and the event
planner who decide who would attend to the hackfest. You can look at the
list of people asking for sponsorship for hackfests in:

And the process is documented here:

However, events like GNOME.Asia and GUADEC, the funds available are
smaller than requested. For example, if GNOME Foundation wanted to
sponsor whatever people asked for GUADEC 2014, it would need US$57,500;
but the funds available are US$42,900.  If we think we really need more
funds, we request it to the board, but we have to present a good case,
and... rarely we have gotten more funds.

Who gets priority then? Who are we going to sponsor? and to what extent?
which I think goes in line with, what I suppose, is your original
question: when and why somebody gets sponsored for X% and not Y%?

First at all, for travel fares, if we find cheaper fares and yet
reasonable trips, we will consider that ones as reference (it is
documented in the archives and the wiki page).

This is not black and white, and there are many cases to consider. The
higher priority will be for foundation members who are also speakers.

This does not mean full sponsorship. Because if, for example, everybody
makes an effort and can afford $200 out of what they need (or the
reference fare), with those bunch of $200, we can sponsor more people.

Foundation members requesting partial sponsorship (for example, only
accommodation), are likely to get accepted what they ask for, because
they are already making an effort. For airfares, still the reference
fare rules.

Non-foundation members who have been sponsored in the past, are likely
to be rejected, because they should have become foundation members (at
least there is a good explanation).

Interns (GSoC/OPW) are likely to receive only partial sponsorship.
Usually accommodation, and *maybe* part of the ticket (likely less than
50%). In the past, interns have counted with $500 for event stipends.
Unfortunately, not this year.

Non-foundation members, who are not interns nor speakers, have the lower
priority. If they get sponsored, likely accommodation and *maybe* part
of the ticket.

And people requesting sponsorship after the deadline, lower priority
(and again, considering if foundation, and any other explanation).

And still there are more cases, people who are students, or volunteers
who are taking vacations to attend. Or what happens if contributors
affiliated to a company request more funds (in total) than the amount
the company is sponsoring? And what if the company has divisions, and
they are not part of them? or even if they get no permission and are
taking holidays instead? If the budget is very tight, then: when was the
last time somebody was sponsored? was it full or partial? and so on.
What if they are also organizing a workshop or hackfest? Or if they are
board candidates and must attend to the meetings?

So, many of them are solved in a case-by-case basis.

3) Check if the values spent are okay

Here I am unsure what you are asking for.  I published summaries in the
past regarding to GUADEC, for example (Sorry for my English, it was
rustier than now):

Also at:

If you are asking for details of how much we have sponsored per every
individual, it was decided at the very beginning to keep that
information private.  It was also part of the announcement (see the
links below):

    "Any information you send the TC will be private"

If we provide the names and numbers, there will be missing contextual
information to explain some things.  And this could refrain people of
requesting sponsorship. So, there is a trade-off between transparency
and privacy.

And this is mostly the case for GUADEC and GNOME.Asia. For hackfests,
you still have the wiki page that has that information.  Something that
might change once we start having a fixed amount for the hackfests

Although I'm not the one who would like to dig into these data, I'd feel
really more comfortable knowing that I can do this, if I'd like to.
Does it make sense? Am I asking too much?

Please, as I told before, I'm kind-of new here. So, If this discussion
already happened in the past, please, point me some links and I'll be happy
reading them and trying to understand why this process is not transparent
for all the Foundation members. (Seriously, I'm not trying to put my finger
in anyone's face about how the money is or should be spend. Just would love
to understand how the process works)

The Travel Committee was proposed and discussed in 2009. You can see the
original proposal in the following link:

This was lengthly discussed, see for example the archives of February

And you can see a follow-up on March on a related topic ("Sponsoring

And the announcement in April:

With my thoughts and my doubts, yesterday I approached the Treasurer (who
is also member of the Travel Committee) and asked her about those things
and I'd like to share my disappointment with the answers.
[comments deleted]
After that, I was told to raise it with the Foundation, and that's the
motivation for my email :-)

There is indeed lack of context here. You strongly implied that the
board and the travel-committee was corrupt, which is an opinion that
you have every right to hold. If you do truly think that this is the
case, then it is my opinion that you should indeed raise the matter
with the membership rather than keeping quiet.

Regarding the travel committee issues and taking quotes out of
context, I would prefer to be clear on the matter:

You asked me where the amounts of sponsorship were recorded, I
responded by saying on hackfest pages and in board minutes.

You asked me for exact amounts that every individual has been
sponsored for, I responded by explaining that you can make an educated
estimate from the above two resources.

You asked me why the exact amounts of sponsorship for each individual
are not published, I explained that one of the reasons is that they
would make little sense without context and context is not ours to
publish. I also assured you that they are recorded properly, as that
seemed to be of concern to you, and the board also has access to them
in case the board ever wants to audit them.

I believe you when you say that you have no agenda, but you have yet
to give me a good reason for telling the world (you were asking me in
a public IRC channel) on which service to try guessing a travel
committee member's password and where to look for sponsorship details
which, as Germán pointed out, the travel committee does promise to
keep private. I know that I do use secure passwords and I do make sure
to remind travel committee and board members to do the same, but I
cannot vouch for those others that they have definitely taken the same
precautions as me.

I lack the context for the quotations here, but I assume people mean
well. If this started by asking for naming the people and the amount
funded, I explained it above.

Regardless, when we have taken a decision we try to explain it
-shortly-. And in the rare cases that people require more explanation of
a decision, we try to provide more.

All in all, before 2009, the number of people sponsored was lower for
the same amount of money (reasons likely explained in the links). And
hackfests were uncommon back then.


Germán Poo-Caamaño

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