[Members] XSF @ 10

jehan at zemarmot.net jehan at zemarmot.net
Wed Jul 13 10:27:33 UTC 2011


On Wed, 13 Jul 2011 09:24:08 +0100, Dave Cridland <dave at cridland.net>
> On Wed Jul 13 05:39:58 2011, jehan at zemarmot.net wrote:
>> Basically here is my vision of membership as a "simple" XSF member:  > we
>> are just an excuse to have 4 votes for new members a year.
> You should be doing 6 votes a year - 4 for members, and 2 for Council
> and Board - to be pedantic.

Right. But usually the Council/Board votes are in the same time as one
of the member's vote. But you are right. ;-)
> But yes, finding more - and more intersting - things for members to 
> do seems sensible.
>> Since the years I am member, I proposed quite a few things to  > improve
>> the XSF, they are most of the time not even discussed. New things  > are
>> usually not accepted. Also sometimes, and that is really the worst,  > I am
>> just told "there is a procedure, you did not follow it". So yes I  > am not
>> perfectly aware of the whole complicated procedures. I try to be  > but am
>> not. But why did the form totally eclipse the contents? I made a
>> procedure mistake, hence I cannot propose ideas, at least for
>> discussion?
> I don't know what you're referring to - can you give a concrete  example? 

If I look at the recent events on the members list:

* I see a message from Ludovic Bocquet which states several tickets he
opened and that could be easily fixed. Also he mentioned that one ticket
was closed, is actually not fixed, yet he apparently hasn't the Jira
rights to reopen the ticket. Basically his idea is that he'd like to do
things but he has not the permissions to do so. And none answered his
email, nor gave him more rights on Pivotal (I think he did enough since
he was here to be trusted with this kind of power. This is not a root
access on a machine which he asks).

* When before Ludovic wondered what was the status on IPv6 for our
servers, this time I went on on his side, because I think that could be
nice. And the answer I received was defensive and looked as though I was
"attacking" some other people job by assuming they don't do it(?).
Really how my inquiry could be perceived as such an assumption, I still
can't understand. And that was basically the end of the discussion about

* When I proposed to make concrete what seemed a consensus to me (after
discussion on Jingle list) about the MTI audio codec for Jingle, the
first answer I got was that I did not follow the procedures so that
would not be voted. Fortunately Peter came behind and made it happen (if
not for Peter, this point would not have advanced as well).

* When I proposed we could do a Jingle interop event, after the same
discussion on the Jingle ml, and I proposed to help organize this, the
answer was that this should submitted to vote to the board, then get
implementers interested, then organize, etc. Everything I totally agreed
(that's obvious, and that's even why I posted on the members list, which
is our communication medium as members after all). But then once again
the conversation stopped here too. No idea if the proposition was even
taken into account for vote (first step).
Then I tried to see if it has ever been a board meeting's item, but the
last minutes we received were from the meeting of the 25/05 (before my
proposal). Apparently the meeting of the 8th and the one of the 29th
(currently announced as the "next" on the calendar:
http://xmpp.org/calendar/xsf-board.ics) of June were cancelled. No idea
when the next board meeting is (the board's wiki page is totally
outdated). I asked Peter yesterday if he knew the items for the next
board meeting (to check my proposal has been included) or when it would
be, he didn't know (but he is not the board after all).
I was anyway planning to come back further with this proposition, and
maybe ideas on how we could organize it, but I wanted to check first
(not to be accused of being redundant with my query if it had already
been written as a discussion item).And there is such apathy that it
seems like it interests none and I cannot help but feel a little
hopeless in this situation.

And so on.

That's basically how I perceive my membership: when we say things on
the list, we get not answered or thrown away; and later we just fear to
write again but are kept in some dark (why aren't we receiving any
meeting note lately? Etc.). The goal is not to point anyone (so please
let's avoid any flameware and personal attacks). I only gave the few
last concrete examples as I was asked to and maybe the ones who made the
answers did not mean bad. But that still leave a bitter taste and that
illustrates what I feel is a problem.

>> help. Everyone cannot be an extra contributor like Peter, but the  > time
>> we are able to and propose to contribute, this is too bad it is  > wasted
>> on us.
> Just on this point, we should ensure that whatever process we have is
> not gated on Peter. Not only is that making ourselves reliant on 
> Peter's continued dedication, which simply isn't fair on Peter, but 
> it's also going to be a choke point.

I completely agree, obviously. But to allow us to give away Peter's
dependency, as well as any other kind of leadership's too strong
dependency (which means the whole XSF suffers from it when it fails us),
we need to think about diluting power, in a positive way, which means to
give a little power to some normal members. This can include actual
working groups for instance for specific dedicated projects (limited in
time or not).

We have human resources (willing members) and regularly they propose
ideas which could be realized in very short projects. We should be able
to set tasks and assignements in a quick and fluid way without 3 months
procedures (after which the member lost his patience, new priorities
to his life, he thought anyway his idea was abandoned, etc.).

>> So I totally back Peter up on this. We should have a XSF more  > flexible,
>> more open and less procedural, a XSF where the contribution matters
>> (instead of procedures).
> You say that, but even going through the procedures doesn't get us 
> anywhere, at times.
> I don't see that hand-waving around words like "open", "flexible" and
> so on will magically make people interested in making comments on 
> by-law amendment proposals, to pick an example where I *have* 
> followed procedure, and been prevented from taking things further by 
> pure apathy.

Of course that's not just about magic words. But that's how we must
think. In particular "flexibility" should be a focus keywords. Being
able to assign easily tasks to willing members, creating work groups
with a limited leadership on this group, being able to change easily
this locale leadership if it fails us.
Also being able to change the central leadership as well easily could
be a great progress. This one-year vote is good if all voted people are
consistent in their tasks. But sometimes I wonder if some people in the
Board or the Council just wanted the "title" for prestige and
If some people cannot or are not able to assume the task anymore (and
as I said in a previous email, there is no shame on it. I think we all
agree many things came come in which are higher priority than XSF), we
should be able to change them more easily without feeling like we waste
a year.
If well done, that could be a pretty fluid rolling system which should
not look like a shame or failure for the board or council members. If
someone is a very active member and has done a lot of great stuff for 6
months, then new unexpected priority came to him (personal or
professional life), this person should be able to release the seat (it
happened a few times and that was very conscientious from these people)
and we should be able to replace them (if needed) without much hassle.
But we should not end like now (and often in the past) in some
half-vacant/used seats which blocks a lot of things.
And if some people do not release the seat by themselves but do not
give any life sign while they are in an important position in the
Foundation, we should try and discuss with them to see if they have
still time for this role or if we should find a replacement.
That's what I call flexibility.

>> And in particular we should allow people to contribute, whatever  > their
>> "rank" (it is even sad I have to precise this point in a standards
>> organization). Because if each of us cannot necessary give a lot,  > most
>> of us can and want to give at least a little, and that all together  > will
>> be a lot.
> Bear in mind that rank, as you put it, is inevitable. It's actually 
> reputation.

I agree it is inevitable. But I have known quite a few shy or "new"
people, and in same time extremely skilled. In an environment like XSF,
they would be unable to contribute anything. I think we should keep in
mind that reputation matters (after all, Peter proposes a system based
on contribution, that's close) but is not *all*. If for instance you
never able to make any significant contribution because you lack the
reputation, anyone can see the vicious circle here.
> By making sensible suggestions and following them through, you 
> automatically gain reputation. That's fine - it's just a by-product 
> of the way we filter information, and it's the kind of meritocratic 
> thing that apparently has just become all the rage.
> There will be a slant toward assigning a higher reputation to your 
> friends, and so on, but I think trying to solve that is impossible.
>> From the point of view I cited above, it is broken somewhere.
>> Note as I said in introduction, it is not all bad. Actually the spec
>> part is the only one where I manage to contribute (probably because  > in
>> technics, ranks tend to be lessened). Funnily enough that's the part
>> where I don't need membership. But internal organization, I want  > and try
>> to propose things, that's a dead end.
> Actually, in the specification side, ranks are vastly increased, but 
> they're also somewhat easier to get, and the subject matter has more 
> cases of objectively being correct - so it's far easier to spot 
> something that's broken and suggest a reasonable fix, without being 
> in the situation where you disagree whether it's broken in the first 
> place.

Right. I guess it's true.


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