Ned Ludd wrote:
> This is a pretty long book you wrote. So I'll just say what I think
> No offense but this seems like a crack heads pipe dream and would
> probably not be a wise use of funds. Dump 300k in hardware, developer
> training, books, etc and we will get a lot more accomplished that make
> Gentoo itself better. Raise 300k and get us all together and you will
> see 250 people with hangovers and a small handful projects that come
> out of it in the end. SoC will probably of proved to be more successful
> (end results) for a lot cheaper.
You call it a crack heads pipe dream. But I say this: why are we the only
major distribution (or, heck, one of the few major open source projects)
that does nothing to get its contributors together offline? How can you
have a real community whose main interaction is bitching at each other via a
puny mailing list? That's not *my* idea of a community.
That's what it comes down to. I'm standing as a trustee, because this is
something I want to change.
PS: Here's the long argument if anyone's interested.
Does that mean that things like DebConf, GUADEC, aKademy, and so on, are
also a crack head's pipe dream? These things happen, and when you add up
how much money is spent on events like these - where hundreds of folks
travel from around the world to be in the same place at the same time -
you'll be looking at probably the same amount of money as a Gentoo
conference will cost.
300K in hardware's not going to make Gentoo better. I'm sure there are
folks out there who could use better hardware than what they have; we all
want better hardware ;-) But, ultimately, it's the time each individual
developer can dedicate to working on Gentoo that makes the difference.
Extra / faster hardware can help by speeding up tasks, but it only helps so far.
You can't dump 300K of hardware on infra either. Sure, infra needs more
money than it currently has - that's indisputable - but lots of extra
centrally-hosted hardware will just mean more boxes that waiting for the
very understaffed infra team to turn their attention to them. It already
takes weeks for infra to get things done, and that's not always for lack of
hardware. (This isn't an attack on infra; it's simply an observed fact).
300K will buy you a lot of books, but do you need it? Has anyone tried
talking to the big publishers, to see if we can arrange discounts on buying
books (and maybe getting copies for free)?
Developer training ... who's going to train Gentoo developers? The only
folks who are supposed to be more expert than us are $UPSTREAM, most of who
we couldn't buy training from if we wanted to. Sure, we could pay for
general C, C++, Python, PHP, Ruby et al training, but do we really need to?
If there's such a skills shortage atm amongst Gentoo developers, how did
they get to be Gentoo developers? ;-) Where will you buy PHP training from
for me? There isn't anywhere that you can. Is it fair that I won't get any
money from you, but others will?
How are you going to decide who to spend the money on? Will you agree to
buy every member of the web-apps team shiny OS X boxes, and pay for Windows
licenses for us all? After all, our work enables folks to put something
useful on Gentoo-based web servers. From a QA point of view, we really
should be testing all web-based packages against the top three browsers (IE,
Firefox on Windows, and Safari).
I believe that the difference between our point of view is that I think you
are measuring "end results" in terms of lines of code. X packages, Y
ebuilds, Z turn-around time. That sort of thing. I'm looking at the
intangibles, such as the effect that a fragmented and polarised group is
having on moving the distro forward, and on general morale. I look at other
opensource projects that I'm involved with, and I see that face to face
contact breaks down communication barriers. It's not a silver bullet, but
social interaction is an important part of a community, and it's something
that Gentoo sorely lacks. Having folks get to know each other offline will
help break down those barriers. I know it has here in the UK, amongst those
who have attended one of the annual UK meets.
300K sounds like a lot of money (especially if you have to raise it), but in
reality it's not. It's the annual turnover of a small business. It's the
annual cost of a small server cluster with a third-party hosting service.
At current exchange rates, 300K US is only 169K sterling. That won't even
buy you a house in many UK cities.
300K is a figure you've plucked out of the air. No-one actually knows how
much this sort of event will cost - and my proposal
Another point to consider. How are you going to raise any substantial sum
of money if you don't have clear targets to focus potential doners on? We
already say "Hi, we're Gentoo, donate to us" today, and the last available
financial report speaks volumes for how well that's working out .
I can't speak for US TV, but with UK TV, it's worth taking a bit of time to
watch the way that charities advertise. Back in the 70's and early 80's,
before the first Ethiopian famine appeals, they used to advertise in general
terms. "Hi, we're foo, and we help blah. Please give us some cash."
Today, the advertising is very focused, very personalised. "Hi, this is
so-and-so village. X pounds a month will give them, and countless villages
like them, clean water for the very first time." Or try applying for money
from any sort of funding body.
> On Thu, 2006-07-27 at 20:50 +0100, Stuart Herbert wrote:
>> Ned Ludd wrote:
>>> What are some of the things you would do to try and
>>> accomplish this goal?
>> In order to raise money, we need a budget - a target to focus folks on. The
>> budget depends on where we hold the event, when, and what we do at the
>> event. We need to tackle that, and build a ballpark figure. It also
>> depends on how many are attending, and whether or not everyone needs
>> financial assistance to attend. There's a lot to do there - including
>> convincing Gentoo devs to attend (not taking that for granted!) - we'll need
>> to build a team to handle the work between us, make sure it's transparent,
>> and that we're planning an event that Gentoo devs will want to be part of.
>> There are going to be folks in the wider Gentoo community who can help make
>> this happen - we'll be looking to engage them, and get them involved too.
>> We're going to need folks on the ground in different countries, because part
>> of the fundraising will probably require meeting donors face to face.
>> Another important point, before we can set a budget, is scope. Should this
>> be a dev-only event, or should it also include something for Gentoo users
>> too? That would change the whole dynamic; the size & content would change,
>> the overall budget would change, and we could use attendee charges to help
>> assist Gentoo devs attending.
>> When it comes to assisting devs ... what are the rules to qualify for
>> assistance? Are they means-tested? Do they depend on what you do for
>> Gentoo, or how long you have been a dev? Should we run an 'adopt a dev'
>> sponsorship campaign, where we ask users to donate to assist a named dev?
>> Is there another assistance scheme we could use instead?
>> I am making a fundamental assumption here that we should be assisting devs,
>> so that they can attend. That needs looking at. Maybe we don't actually
>> need to do so. Maybe we shouldn't be doing so. I think we should, but
>> there hasn't been any sort of debate about this.
>> Once we have our estimated budget, we need to raise the money. Here, there
>> are issues to sort out. I'm unclear about the financial (and, tbh, legal)
>> situation of the Foundation, and I doubt I'm the only one. Even before we
>> start figuring out how to raise the money, we need to ensure that the
>> Foundation has the capability of handling the money, and the financial
>> controls in place to ensure that the money does not get mis-appropriated.
>> Actually raising the money ... we need to identify different sources of
>> money, and pursue the right strategy for each source. Some sources include:
>> - our users,
>> - companies that make money from Gentoo,
>> - companies that use Gentoo,
>> - the wider Linux community, who like our docs and our forums and
>> our willingness to help folks from other distros
>> - the media, and other folks who have things they could sell to
>> folks @ the conference
>> - foundations and trusts that exist to donate money to appropriate
>> - local and national governments and their agencies
>> - folks who don't use Linux at all
>> I'm sure that there are more that we can find.
>> We could just do what the local hospital does ... we put a big
>> target-o-meter in a prominent place, and appeal to people's conscience to
>> help it move up from zero to what we need. Has the advantage of being a
>> clear and easy-to-digest concept to sell.
>> Companies are traditionally tackled through the "sponsorship" approach. We
>> could just hope that companies sponsor our conference out of the goodness of
>> their hearts - it's worked for the UK conferences to date :) - but a more
>> successful approach would be to create a valuable package for a sponsor to
>> buy into. When I say "package", I'm not talking software. I'm essentially
>> talking marketing - taking their currency in exchange for giving them value
>> in return. It'll take us numerous iterations to get this one right, but
>> longer-term it'll be a more successful approach than simply handing round
>> the begging bowl.
>> The Foundation's legal status could have a bearing on the fundraising.
>> We'll need advice on exactly where we can accept money from, and in what
>> amounts. I know Freenode are affected by this; at this moment in time, I
>> don't know whether we are also affected by this or not. It's worth asking
>> the question of whether we should organise this directly through the
>> Foundation, or whether a separate legal entity would be more appropriate.
>> Speaking of which ... simply getting folks worldwide to donate to the
>> US-based Foundation misses out on some sources of funding. The UK (for one)
>> runs a scheme called Gift Aid, where tax can be reclaimed on money donated
>> to UK charities. Although it would create an administration overhead,
>> establishing a world-wide network of local Gentoo Foundations would
>> longer-term increase our ability to raise money. Such a network would also
>> allow us to cast a wider net, and apply for funding from sources within each
>> country, and would also make it easier for local businesses to donate to
>> their national Gentoo charity / not for profit.
>> Let me sell that idea another way. Imagine going to www.gentoo.org/donate/,
>> and being presented with a form for you to donate money. The first page,
>> there would be a dropdown box, allowing you to indicate which country you
>> reside in. When you select your country, we would take you to a second
>> page, which would be a localised donation form for your country, which would
>> take advantage of whatever tax breaks your country offered. We make sure
>> that the money goes into your country's Gentoo bank account, where the local
>> trustees become responsible for it.
>> Establishing this local charity network is a massive undertaking, and it's
>> unlikely to be in place in time for the 2007 conference. But it's worth
>> doing in the longer term, not only because we can raise more money than by
>> having a distant Foundation in the U.S., but also because a local charity
>> can also do local educational things with Gentoo - and that will keep
>> bringing in new blood to our ranks. It's not just about the money - it's
>> about building a global organisation to take Gentoo from the Internet and
>> into local communities. And without having to try and establish a
>> commercial arm, to compete with the other distros. We remain a community
>> distro, and we get to widen our community far beyond the propeller head ranks.
>> To increase the chance of success, we need Gentoo's PR machine fixing (work
>> has started on that today, interested volunteers should knock on frilling's
>> door), and that will probably have a knock-on effect on www.g.o's homepage.
>> We need to make Gentoo more accessible to the folks in the media, and we
>> need to improve the understanding that we are truly a community distro, and
>> all that being a community distro means. We need a PR machine that can
>> create the right associations in people's minds, so that they feel more
>> inclined to part with their money. We need a PR machine to "sell" Gentoo as
>> a concept, and as a movement.
>> One thing I haven't done yet is get in touch with the organisers of other
>> events. There are plenty of people who have been successfully running
>> international conferences for years; their experience and advice will help
>> us a lot too.
>> Why do I think I'm the right person to make this happen? (You haven't
>> asked, but it seems appropriate to include here). First, I'm proposing to
>> act when no-one else is. My apologies if I've missed it, but I'm not aware
>> of any existing trustee, or any candidate for this year's election, who is
>> proposing that we do this. From other open-source projects that I'm
>> involved with, I've seen first-hand that there is no substitute for folks
>> having met and spent time with each other to resolve communication problems.
>> I've never run a legally-formed charity, but I have repeated experience of
>> setting up and running volunteer organisations, and departments and teams
>> within commercial organisations spanning back 14 years. I have run my own
>> business. My roots are in free software. I've been maintaining GPL'd
>> software since 1994; first of which was to create dialog-0.4 specifically
>> for Slackware 2.0.1. (No, this does not mean that I'll be accepting bugs
>> against dialog ;-) dialog is the tool that manages the text-based UI for
>> nearly all Linux text-based installers; lxdialog included in the kernel is
>> derived from it.
>> I setup the successful Gentoo UK conference, which has now been running for
>> three years. I'd like to now take things to the next level, and create a
>> world-wide conference for all our devs.
>> I really believe that we can create an international conference - *if* we
>> want it enough - and make it a recurring event.
>> Best regards,
Stuart Herbert firstname.lastname@example.org
Gentoo Developer http://www.gentoo.org/
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