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To: Alec Warner <antarus@g.o>
From: Richard Freeman <rich0@g.o>
Subject: Re: Foundation by laws: new Article V
Date: Mon, 01 Sep 2008 08:55:05 -0400
Alec Warner wrote:
> On Sun, Aug 31, 2008 at 1:24 PM, Chrissy Fullam <musikc@g.o> wrote:
>> Refer to bylaws that were approved in today's Trustee meeting:
>> I cannot understand why a person cannot be on the Council and on the
>> Trustees? We had someone do so in the past and no conflicts or issues arose.
>> What is the reasoning that a person cannot serve on the technical team and
>> the legal team?
> a) Should the member go missing we would be down 1 position in both
> bodies, a subcase of Single Point of Failure.

I figured I'd raise an issue that is probably worth thinking about which 
doesn't appear to have come up.  In the past the largest point of 
failure for the trustees has been simply not having enough of them. 
That being the case, does it make sense to do anything to limit 
potential contribution to this team?  In theory council members are in 
the place they are in because for whatever reason they are willing and 
able to devote a lot of devotion to Gentoo.  They should be far more 
capable of wearing multiple hats than others.  I'm fine, of course, with 
general controls to prevent too much concentration of power - but that 
would apply to individual non-council trustees as well.

Having dual-membership would also help to increase alignment of the two 
bodies.  Ideally I'd probably only have one body (like most 
corporations), but there are good practical reasons for the current 
split (differing expertise/interest required, US residency issues).

In my thinking, if the only thing the trustees did was attend a 5 minute 
monthly meeting, cut the odd check to somebody helping out the 
organization, and renew the annual paperwork that would be a success. 
In order to do that we need a number of bodies for oversight, but not 
everybody needs to be willing to spend 10 hours a month on the 
foundation.  If one or two are willing that is probably plenty - but 
they'll need to avoid being frustrated with others who might only appear 
to be dead weight (but dead weight is better than running into a 
situation where only 1-2 people even bother to run for office).

I think that some of the problems in the past with the trustees has been 
a desire to bite off more than they could chew.  Sure, maybe one or two 
members could have handled it, but if everybody isn't willing to go 
along then what happens is that nobody voices the problem out of a 
desire to go along with the team, but nobody contributes either and then 
1-2 people get burned out carrying the load.  The solution isn't to yell 
at the other non-contributors, but rather to not take on more than 
absolutely essential without fully counting the cost.

Gentoo has some serious manpower constraints.  That doesn't make us a 
"dying distro" or anything - but we do need to be careful about not 
focusing too much effort on non-essentials.  If somebody wants to 
volunteer to do something extra that is great (that is how a community 
effort works), but it is important that we not assign "jobs" to 
volunteers that aren't absolutely essential.

My personal opinion is that the trustees would do best to focus on 
making the foundation minimally functional (ie all essential legal 
paperwork in place - drop anything controversial and focus on bylaws 
that all can agree to).  Then it should really look to try to join an 
unbrella organization that will handle the routine issues.  That will 
actually free up trustees to provide more high-level guidance to the 
organization without getting tied up in administration.

All of this is just my personal opinion and I think the trustees would 
do well to at least think about some of this.  I really don't 
need/demand any reply - you guys are the ones in the hot seat and you 
wouldn't have been elected if the rest of us didn't respect your 
judgment.  Just be careful about limiting help - at the next trustee 
election we might find devs volunteering to run on a platform of "I 
don't intend to lift a finger do do much work, but I don't want to see 
the trustees die from not having a quorum so I'll run" and getting 
elected due to a lack of candidates.  I'm not actually convinced that 
this is an entirely bad thing except that it deviates from what would be 

Re: Foundation by laws: new Article V
-- Roy Bamford
Re: Foundation by laws: new Article V
-- William L. Thomson Jr.
Foundation by laws: new Article V
-- Chrissy Fullam
Re: Foundation by laws: new Article V
-- Alec Warner
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Updated Jun 17, 2009

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