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To: gentoo-nfp <gentoo-nfp@g.o>
From: "William L. Thomson Jr." <wltjr@g.o>
Subject: Re: Section 4.1 Member Classes
Date: Sat, 24 May 2008 19:14:20 -0400
On Sat, 2008-05-24 at 17:59 -0400, Richard Freeman wrote:
> I'm not going to reply to anything specific in this thread,

Then start a new one. This thread exists to get something done. Not to
air everyone opinions, thoughts, etc wrt the foundation as a whole.

> As a Gentoo user, I could really care less whether Gentoo holds any 
> tangible assets.  As long as there is a server to rsync off of I'm good 
> to go - and there are lots of people out there willing to contribute 
> bandwidth because it is for a good cause.

Ok, well there are allot of users interested in release media. So your
thoughts there? Or what about at an event? Ever been by a Gentoo booth
compared to others? Like say FreeBSD? And those rsync servers and
bandwidth cost $.

> As a Gentoo user, I'd rather see enthusiastic volunteer developers who 
> are happy to contribute, than to see Gentoo turn into some kind of 
> corporate atmosphere where those who pay get the features they need (a 
> la most commercial distros).  Sure, it might be a non-profit on paper, 
> but large non-profits tend to be indistinguishable from commercial 
> enterprises - neither is really grass-roots.

Let's be quick to think the worst, never the best. Your thoughts ensure
Gentoo will never be certified on any hardware. We will have no vendor
relationships. That we will always be a grass roots hobbyist efforts.

What does that say to users that run Gentoo in business and depend on it
daily? There are countless big and small business depending on and
running Gentoo. Guess those users don't matter.

> As a Gentoo user, I'd like devs to listen to my ideas, but I recognize 
> that I'm getting far more out of Gentoo than I'm putting into it.

But devs do not have to listen to users. At this point users have little
to no representation or say in anything that isn't relayed or acted upon
by a dev that is interested or cares about the users point of view.

That's providing devs are even available, on irc, email, etc for users
to interact with. Some are only around to commit code and work bugs.
Which bugs and any direct emails are the only contact they have with
users.

> Frankly I'm amazed that so many folks put in so much time to make this 
> distro really great to run - and I don't have to pay a dime for it!  So, 
> when I want to have things my own way, I don't really expect anybody to 
> bow to my needs.  I think that devs should listen to the collective will 
> of the users because it is the right thing to do - not because the users 
> should hold any power over them.

Well we get donations and contributions from users. In fact several of
our sponsors are sponsors because they are also users. So if we have no
users, and we need more gear, bandwidth, etc for you to have fun
committing code. Who will provide that? It's a fine balance, like most
things in life.

> I think that Gentoo should be run by a group of volunteers who are 
> accountable to the volunteers that contribute (whether staff or devs).

Ok, so I guess me being on the board. I am no longer a dev, or a user.
Nor am I am volunteer. I guess I am going to get paid at some point?

> I'd rather not have a foundation with power over trademark, assets, etc, 
> threatening to pull the plug or force a fork if the devs or their 
> elected leadership don't fall in line over some controversy.

That is very far fetched and completely negative.

>   As long as 
> the Foundation and the Council have a common constituency I'm not too 
> concerned about this happening, but when the constituencies are 
> different there is the potential for conflict.

There is only conflict if the foundation overstepped it's bounds. Which
would not and will not happen. If we could ever make progress in the
bylaws we could stipulate such things. Worse case have means for
arbitration if there was some issue or etc. But the two will never have
equal authority over the same matter.

> Personally, I'm not too concerned that Gentoo depends on our sponsors.

Sure because they are there. If we lost one, and you could not commit
code, or go to g.o, or etc. Then I think you and many others would care.
Allot, and very quickly.

> I contribute to Gentoo because it is the right thing to do and I'm able 
> to give back a little of what I'm getting.  I suspect most who sponsor 
> open source projects in various ways do so for the same reason.

Maybe you should look into the reasoning behind each of our sponsors.
Why they are sponsors I have been looking into that with little success.
However there are some that are sponsors only because Gentoo devs work
there. When that is no longer the case. I wonder what will happen then.

>   I'd 
> rather not see Gentoo turn into some non-profit corporation that pays 
> its own way - if we're doing the "right thing" then we shouldn't run out 
> of those willing to help out with a little bandwidth here and there. 
> And we can always solicit donations if we have some kind of a need.

Ok, so Gentoo should be a charity case. And a little bandwidth, funny.
Sponsors for infra services start ~$1k a month. Some provide up to 7
times that each month. I love how on one hand, you think everyone within
Gentoo is so evil. That a stronger foundation or NPO would lead to all
kinds of bad things. Yet you assume people out there, business, are
going to give us thousands of dollars a month in services for what
exactly?

> In my experience one of two things happens to organizations that seek 
> complete self-sufficiency: They tend to accumulate paid staff rapidly. 
> The functioning of the organization tends to become focused around the 
> paid positions.

Um you realized the bylaws now have provisions for board members to pay
themselves. Which is something I am looking to remove/change.

>   After all - they're the only ones who always show up at 
> scheduled meetings and are around 9-5 since they're on payroll.  This 
> tends to make volunteers feel left out, and they tend to leave.

Really, that's odd. I have done a fair amount of volunteering. Food
kitchens, medical assistance, food relief programs, dog shelters, etc.
How about any church out there with a choir, clergy, etc. They all have
a mix of paid and non-paid staff. No issues.

I love how things that work in allot of places in the world. Won't work
for us. Positive thinking surely.

>   Then 
> one of two things happen - the organization either dies out, or it is 
> able to sustain itself in revenue and carries on forever, but usually 
> with a loss of its originally-intended mission.

BS, then the concept of NPO's would have been gone decades ago. Instead
they increase all the time. FYI the PGA Tour golf association is a NPO.
They have paid and non-paid as well. Those that get paid, some get paid
VERY well. But again, no issues, volunteers still show up, do their
jobs, etc.

> Open source is about community - a community of contributors, not a 
> community of voters for whom a vote costs nothing, or maybe it costs a 
> few bucks.

Ok, so FOSS is about community, but that community of contributors can't
vote or have representation or any say. That makes allot of sense in the
same sentence :)

>   None of us started using gentoo because we got to vote to 
> make the devs do what we wanted, but rather because we saw that a bunch 
> of devs had created something that we could really use.  Every 
> successful FOSS project I can think of operates in the same way.

Really, so have you looked at Gnome lately? Or what about FreeBSD? Have
you looked at any projects of our size or near it? What are you basing
your comparisons on? Be specific, providing an opinion with no facts to
reinforce it is baseless.

> I'd really like to see the Foundation aim to involve more of the 
> community and point out when the community is neglected.

That completely contradicts most of what you have said so far.

>   However, could 
> there perhaps be a way to do this without changing the membership 
> structure.

Ok, let me ask this. What is the current membership structure? You do
release the proposed bylaws already have two classes of members.

>   I'm genuinely concerned that this move could have the 
> long-term results of causing a fork which would be very disruptive (or 
> maybe not - just look at XFree86).  I'd really rather not see this 
> happen to my favorite distro!

Again, let's thing about all the negatives. All the bad things that
could happen. That you would even thing a stronger foundation would lead
to a fork in Gentoo. That's pretty hilarious.

I think Gentoo has come close to forks before and it had 0 to do with
the foundation. If something like that occurs, it's for many other
reasons.

The foundation was created for a purpose years ago. It has never served
that purpose, and those that neglected it. Allowed it to be some
pathetic thing, that eventually no one was interested in. So yes, by all
means let's continue down that path. So when Gentoo has a crisis, there
is no one to deal with it. Excellent, and that will keep Gentoo
together.

Worried about forking huh? If we can't commit code, that will cause a
fork right there :) Code will be written, and committed some where.

-- 
William L. Thomson Jr.
amd64/Java/Trustees
Gentoo Foundation

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Foundation existence and behavior (Was: Section 4.1 Member Classes)
-- Luca Barbato
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Section 4.1 Member Classes
-- William L. Thomson Jr.
Re: Section 4.1 Member Classes
-- Richard Freeman
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