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To: gentoo-nfp@g.o
From: Roy Bamford <neddyseagoon@g.o>
Subject: Re: Foundation by laws: new Article V
Date: Mon, 01 Sep 2008 16:24:33 +0100
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On 2008.09.01 13:55, Richard Freeman wrote:
[snip]

Richard, 

Thank you for a well thought out mail. Its worth a point by 
point response as it collects a number of issues together and I can use 
my response to air some possibly contraversial solutions to some of the 
problems you recognise.
 
> 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.
I would generalise that to be "too few spread too thinly". However, we 
are where we are, we need to get to where we want to be.

> That being the case, does it make sense to do anything to limit 
> potential contribution to this team?  
Only as far as to prevent conflicts of interest. e.g. The council has 
seven members and the foundation has five trustees. Would you permit 
the corner case of trustees being a subset of council ?

There are so few people interested in Trustee roles because Gentoo 
developers are first and formost interested in software, not business 
administration. In my view, we will find more trustees by allowing 
users to become members, so that they may stand for the role. There was 
a groundswell against this idea but maybe given time, views will 
change. I don't think we will have a shortage of trustees but read on.  

> 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).
I would like to work out a single body struture like most corporations 
too but thats way in the future, after the foundation has shown that 
its not going to vanish from the public eye. The trust from the gentoo 
community simply isn't there yet and won't be for a few years.

> 
> 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.
/me smiles.
 
> 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.
There are two stages to running the Gentoo Foundation. The first is to 
get it set up the way New Mexico, the IRS and ourselves require, then 
to manage its day to day business.

We are mostly there with the first part - we still need to sort out a 
bank account. After that we need to sort out the shop. It still doesn't 
have any Gentoo CD/DVDs for sale. 

> 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.
I don't think we are doing that - if you spot something we are wasting 
resource on, please tell us.

> 
> 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).
The bylaws were agreed on Sunday, 31 August. Its the first time in the 
Gentoo Foundations history that it has had formally adopted bylaws.
That means we now have terms of reference to appoint officers. Until 
now, trustees have doubled as officers but that is set to change. That 
will allow the trustees to revert to their more normal director roles 
and try to attract people to the officer roles that are more skilled, 
have more time etc., for the work. Its officers that do all the real 
work under the direction of the trustees. That will increase the 
foundation manpower. I should also make it clear that Foundation 
offiers need not be Gentoo developers, anyone who is capable of 
discharging the duties as stated in the bylaws can serve as an officer.

<speculation> its likely that any officers who are not already gentoo 
developers would become gentoo staff members, like myself 
</speculation>

> 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.
That is certainly one long term option.

> 
> 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 think we have.

> 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.  
Thats already happened, read some of the trustees election manifestos 
from Feb 2008.

> I'm not actually convinced that 
> this is an entirely bad thing except that it deviates from what would
> be ideal.
> 

I'm surpised that the phrase "No individual shall serve as a Gentoo 
Foundation Trustee and Gentoo Council Member concurrently" has stirred 
up so much interest in the Foundation. I thought there were much more 
contentious bits in the bylaws but I'm not saying which.

The views expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of 
the Gentoo Foundation or other trustees. 

- -- 
Regards,

Roy Bamford
(NeddySeagoon) a member of
gentoo-ops
forum-mods
treecleaners
trustees
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References:
Re: Foundation by laws: new Article V
-- Richard Freeman
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