[Members] XSF @ 10

Kevin Smith kevin at kismith.co.uk
Wed Jul 13 11:20:42 UTC 2011

>> 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:

Right, I think these are useful, thank you. What's interesting here is
that, at least for some of them, the problem seems to be a lack of
someone following up to a post.

> * 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).

Right. If he or you can bump this thread into my inbox, I'll try to
make something appropriate happen - ISTR these were commteam issues,
which has pretty much gone dead.

> * 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
> IPv6.

Right - this reply was me, I think. There had been ongoing discussions
with our hosting provider about IPv6, with agreement that they'd be
getting it in place in time for us to use it for IPv6 day. This didn't
happen, and we didn't find out until the last minute, but the iteam
*had* been trying to make this happen. I remember mails coming in
then, although I forget whether they were Ludovic's or yours, that
suggested, at least to me, that the iteam hadn't considered this. I
admit that this wound me up.

> * 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).

Right - ISTR this was me as well, but I think I did say what the
procedure for doing this was, rather than just blocking action, didn't
I accept that I could have been more helpful in this, but I think
there's a disconnect here between intent and perception.

> * 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.

For this, I think you need to chase Bear (Mike Taylor), as the current
chair of the Board, and have him add it to the agenda. He will also be
able to tell you when the meeting will be, and you're able to attend
the meetings as they are (now) public. The Board mailing list is
closed (to me as well), so the only way I'm able to reliably know when
there are going to be meetings is to sit in the room in which they
happen whenever I'm online; this is not ideal.

> 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.

I don't think this is going to degenerate into a flamewar - you've
done exactly what was asked in providing the examples, and I think we
(the membership, not some leadership to which I claim to belong)
needed them to start discussion. My reading of these issues, from
another perspective, is that they're not examples of people trying to
repress new ideas, but situations where things are lost due to lack of
clear ownership, lack of clear ways of getting things done by either
Board or Council, or just general interpersonal vagaries.
As you've brought up the issue of not managing to bring things between
either Board or Council, I think a very sensible first step would be
to have a page on the XSF site for members with a quick note on what's
needed to make sure Board or Council take actions on things.

> 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).

I think members already have more power than they necessarily know or
use. In (most of) the examples above, the power to get $STUFF done was
there, but the path to it wasn't clear or it seemed too hard, and we
should address that.


> 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.

I don't disagree. I also note that this seems to go both ways, too.
Sometimes simple tasks go undone because very few members will
contribute to them (e.g. Will asking for checks on dead links on the
website was a simple request, answered by very few people (and one of
them Peter)), and I think both things need to be looked at.

> 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
> posterity.

Right. I am, incidentally, trying to make available more metrics by
which the membership can judge the performance of Council such that
they can decide whether incumbents have been pulling their weight.
I've recently started documenting in the minutes whether members are
present for the whole meeting, or turn up as it finishes. Over the
last few years we've introduced (or started enforcing) voting periods
such that Council members who don't answer votes will not have their
votes counted, rather than holding up the system (this one
particularly, I feel, has been a success in terms of Council
effectiveness over some previous years). The minutes are always
publicly available, as are the room logs, and the meetings are open.
If there are other things that the membership would like to see to be
able to better able judge effectiveness of Council, I'd be keen to
hear them.

> 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.

Right. There is a problem here if the membership feels that either
Council or Board are failing them. I note that Dave Cridland
pseudo-recently did step down mid term because he felt he didn't have
the time needed to do the best job finishing his term on Council.

> 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.

Yes, I agree with this - as noted above, we have relatively recently
started enforcing voting periods that mean that at least if members
*do* stop pulling their weight, the Council will not be stuck. I'm not
opposed to other solutions - one might suggest that Council have a
similar "If you don't turn up for X meetings you're out of Council"
that members have for membership votes, for example.

> 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.

I don't think this calls for a change of structure for the XSF,
though, although it does require a change of habit. I agree that if
people no longer have the time for their positions that they should
let someone who does have the time step in. It has happened before.



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