[Members] XSF @ 10

jehan at zemarmot.net jehan at zemarmot.net
Fri Jul 15 18:01:00 UTC 2011


On Wed, 13 Jul 2011 12:20:42 +0100, Kevin Smith <kevin at kismith.co.uk>
>>> 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.

Yes that's clearly part of the problem.

>> * 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.

I will make sure he sees your message, in case he hasn't already.

For the commteam being dead, I kind of noticed this as well. It seems
the leadership got absent lately. That's basically a perfect example of
what I write about flexibility. That's not normal that we are leaving
one team dead for months while some people inside are still trying to
make it work.

It lost leadership? => Then we must choose someone else among the ones
still doing things; we should ask who would like to take the seat; and
then choose among people doing things for the commteam, not the ones
who have the greatest charism or "reputation" (unless the goal is only
to show off).
A vote should not wait that long. This is *obvious* the leadership is
absent. The current leader can step again for the place if he wants to
keep the role and considers he can be back active, and a new vote
should be done.
Let's be agile on leadership.

>> * 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.

Yes. Basically Peter said: "But no, the admin team did not get
about this, nor push our hosting service into getting organized
And I answered: "No need to get into crazy deadlines, but if for
instance you say our hosting server does not provide IPv6 yet, we may
want to begin to ask for it."

So I *did* go on on the idea that Peter introduced (still leaving the
"for instance" doubt) but that was not to be taken as an attack and
never meant to be. Even if the iteam had not (the iteam did, but
*even if*) "been trying to make this happen", I am none to judge this
and this definitely wasn't what I intended to do.
So basically sorry if you took badly my comment. I'll be more careful,
me as well, on the words I choose.
Let's say we should, all of us, think that what matters is to make
things go forward. So let's all not react defensively or aggressively
such topics (and also choose our words wisely so they don't look like
aggressive). Instinctive behaviors do not help the XSF.

>> * 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?
> I accept that I could have been more helpful in this, but I think
> there's a disconnect here between intent and perception.

No you did not *block* the action. True. In fact after your email, I
was planning to try and understand what were the steps you were
mentioning. But I was indeed a little hurt by the way it had been done.
It could have been done more helpful and comprehensive. So I was not
going to abandon on your sole email, but Peter clearly showed very
after what is a faster and flexible (going over the slow bureaucracy
solution) way to go forwards. He clearly "led" my proposition in the
right way.

>> * 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.

Ok I will contact Bear directly. But I think there should be an "open"
way (like a ml) to contact the Board and the Council, other than
contacting directly their members in private. And I thought this was
one of the purpose of the members@ list. If I was actually wrong on
this (sorry for this), then I think the communication tool is
missing (and as a consequence that's quite a gap created between
"leadership" and "members" if there is no easy and open contact

>> 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.

Right, I agree that I went a little far on my wording, probably on
purpose to "hit" the mind. I don't think the "leadership" of XMPP
actually wants to repress ideas or block progression. That would be a
pretty weird idea for such an organization based on voluntarism.
But for most of it, the leadership does not help and
sometimes, without even wanting to do bad (this was your case, I
obviously don't really think you wanted to do bad in the above
examples), they somehow are unhelpful or even interfere to new ideas
instead of being flexible and to *guide* the ones who don't know well
the procedure, which is after all a major role of leadership in my
opinion: being guide rather than master. Appointed leaders should
be aware of this.

I think my idea was to really show that there is still this deep and
huge issue: *as members* we seem to be able to do nothing at all. All
the things I managed to do for XMPP were without XSF support. That's
symptom of quite a problem in my opinion.

> 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.

That would be indeed a very good first step. But later, more steps are
to be thought of, all together with members, in more open discussions
how to improve the XSF, like this one.

>> 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.

Indeed. That's, I think, the "guide" part.

> <snip/>
>> 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.

I totally agree. I don't want to put the full blame on leadership
(let's say that was just the topic I raised *this time*). Members also
could be more active. Let's see for instance simply that in this
discussion, or other ones in the members@ list, it is nearly always the
same people who answer.

>> 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.

There should definitely be a page summarizing all the tools and data
accessible to us all to improve the internal XSF mechanisms. But we
should not rely on pure metrics only. Some things cannot be counted.

>> 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.

That's a good idea. But we could also have some council/board members
coming to meetings once in a while (enough for not being ejected) and
not doing anything out of these meetings.

Once again, I am not saying that only leaders are the issues but right
now I don't feel anyway we have much weight (as I said, I feel like I
able to do nothing as a member, though I try regularly). Also I don't
want either that we go into a repressive system where we begin to check
stupid metrics and consequently act stupidly. That's what do many
governments with crazy laws based on metrics and that usually ends up
bad. We are not governments, XSF is not a country. Let's act in a human
way. For instance about meetings missed, one could imagine a Council
member having a lot of issue to go on meetings, because for instance it
is usually in the middle of the night for him (that's a reason why I
fail to participate most of them myself. Meetings are usually in the
of afternoon UTC which is in my timezone plain night, even like
beginning past 1 or 2 AM sometimes), so you can imagine that can be a
problem. So I am one to perfectly understand that relying only on this
kind of metrics can be misleading if for instance some have to make
extra efforts to be at meetings at crazy hours.
This is why I say flexibility is the key: not think like machine (if
missed meetings > 2 then revoke($member)) but like humans that we are.
We have the capability to distinguish between someone who goes on every
meeting but does nothing and an active member putting a lot of good
will, but sometimes missing a meeting because he got other (last-minute
or not) imperatives.
Let's use this capability to make our decisions.
I think that's what I have been calling flexibility since the
beginning: think and act as human and have rules which makes us do so,
instead of extremely strict rules whose role is to *think for us* (with
metrics computation).

>> 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.

Yes but one of the problem is that some do not step down and become
ghosts instead.

Anyway I am not sure how far the XSF structure should be rethought. I
am opened to see the various propositions. But the one from Peter (which
involves quite a change of structure) seems quite appealing as well.
Let's the discussion continue for this.

But as I read on someone else's email: please let's do it here so that
members can read and participate. This is important, in my opinion.


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