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Re: [board-discuss] MCC questions ..


Hi Michael, Andreas, dear members of BoT,


On 9/4/20 2:17 PM, Michael Meeks wrote:
Hi Andreas,

On 03/09/2020 19:59, Andreas Mantke wrote:
b) TDF currently has 221 members and none of them asked any question to
the candidates!

That's something to think long and hard about. What does this mean to
the democratic culture of the foundation. It was created to get the
members / contributors a voice and a say.
        Fair enough =) good point - here are a few questions I came up with.
Please note - it is trivial to ask more questions in a few minutes than
can be answered in a lifetime - but here are a few things I'd love to know
from each candidate:

        What is the right list for that ? board-discuss I hope.

* many MC members say they want to expand the membership.
   Given that LibreOffice is rather static in terms of its
   number of those involved in development: coding, UX,
   translation, documentation etc.

        + how do you plan to gain lots of new contributors ?

        + Do you think we expand the membership by accpting
          more marginal contributions for membership cf.
          https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/TDF/Membership_Role#Contributing


First of all. I don't think lowering the threshold for membership is a good idea. Bringing people who doesn't contribute to the project regularly, and who probably doesn't follow what's going on, into TDF membership wouldn't bring any value into the project/community, and might even be considered harmful, I think.

So I have two main ways in mind for expanding the membership base:

1- Finding the ones who are already contributing silently, but who are not aware of the importance of the membership, or who doesn't see themselves "worthy" for membership. (Yeah, I've seen such people. They usually don't think what they do is enough for membership. But their contributions are very valuable in fact.) I have already found & invited tens of contributors during my current term in the MC. Some regular code contributors and long-time translators are among them.

I keep an eye on various sources to spot those contributors, but I especially focus on the code contributors & translators because it is more efficient use of time for me (because of my experience/expertise in those areas) as a former translator and current developer.

2- Reaching out to people, especially the young ones, to bring fresh blood into the project/community, mostly through organizing & running events, and helping mentor/onboard/welcoming the newcomers to the project.

I think, of course without neglecting the general public, focusing on the universities & colleges is the most efficient way of gaining new contributors and increasing our project's chances of survival in the future.

For example, I have been applying/experimenting-with a cascaded/layered strategy about this lately: Reach out to as many as possible students/people via large-scale events like conference & presentations etc, to ansure exposure to FLOSS concepts and familiarity with LibreOffice & TDF. That is the first contact. Then through the connection you got, try to engage them in active contribution events like workshops & bug-hunting-sessions etc. And hope for the best. :)

One example of what is described above is the LibreOffice Developer Bootcamp (large scale, with weekly lessons & assignments), and the LibreOffice Development Workshop (small-scale) we run after that. We gained several active contributors from this series, including translators, and developers (2 of GSoC 2020 students of LibreOffice are from here). Now we -yes, started as I, but now it is we :)- are planning for the next run of this series.



        + what effect do you expect that to have on the project ?


1- Improved sense of belonging for the active contributors, and an increased chance for a longer contribution period.

2- A more vibrant/lively community with many active contributors, and hopefully some positive effect on the sustainability of the project. (Volunteer contributors may also become full-time/paid open source developers, so a double win for the community.)



* If you've stood before, approximately how many people have
   you encouraged to apply for membership ?


Tens of people. Probably less then 50.



* How many applications have you voted against ?


Can't tell. Maybe less than 10?

Based on my experience, the approval & rejection decisions have been mostly made unanimously in the MC. I guess that's because opinions and evidence are shared before the voting, so if there is strong evidence against (or lack of any evidence altogether) an application, it gets rejected, and if evidence is in favor of the application, then it gets approved. Of course, there are also edge cases, which are the most difficult ones. So, I expect the "voted-against" number to be similar (but not exactly the same) for all members of the current MC.



* Do you believe we should have a half-way house / badge
   between membership and non-membership that encourages
   a person, and gives the a path via more contribution to
   achieve full membership ?


Hmm. Might be. The recently started initiative of issuing open badges to contributors might be something which can be used in this direction.

Additionally, let me tell you what I do about this for new contributors I spot. I check their contributions, and project the date they would become eligible for membership. Then contact/meet them and try to encourage them by telling about the TDF membership, and telling that they would become eligible for membership if they keep contributing like this until that date.

And other than the new contributors, there is also the case of former/old/long-time contributors. If a person keeps contributing for years as a TDF member, but fails to contribute for ~1 year for some reason (health, work etc.), we have to decline their renewal request. This looks/sounds harsh/unfair/harmful to me. Or there might be some people who have been actively contributing, and would like to / need to decrease their contributions maybe because of a change in life or something like that, but keep their affiliation to TDF & LibreOffice, and show their support when it is possible...

The case described in the paragraph above has been bothering me for a while, and I have been wondering if we should have an Emeritus Member status which doesn't give the voting privilege, but provides a sense of belonging.



* When there are no concrete metrics (such as translated strings,
   code commits, wiki changes, ask comments, etc.) available to
   decide on a person's contribution; what is best practice for
   MC members vouching for their friends' contributions, and how
   should other MC members validate that ?


Easily verifiable, publicly accessible data is the golden criteria for the MC. If such sources are the central/main ones (such as translated strings, code commits, wiki changes, ask comments, etc.), we are the most happy. But if the sources are from the local community, not in English etc. we seek help from an active member of the certain local community. There are sometimes almost no public source, because of the way of contribution, like giving on-site user trainings, user support etc. without online attribution, so in such a case, we again seek info from an active member of the certain local community, and that person becomes the verifier. There is no distinction between an MC member and a BoT member in this regard. So they are both considered as witnesses of the contributions, rather than the friend of the contributor.



* To what degree should the MC's decisions & discussion
   be transparent (ie. publicly available) ?


Some FLOSS foundations like ours use semi-public (accessible by current members) issues to track & handle membership decisions. I see no harm in being as transparent as possible in this regard, to the extent allowed by GDPR & other applicable law. Some possible benefits of such an approach:

- The applicant creates the issue himself/herself, so no need for additional consent (?-need to consult an expert on this) - Other contributors can see the criteria & contribution level needed for the foundation membership by examples, which might also be an encouragement for them (setting contribution goals etc.) - The approved issue might serve as a public profile for the foundation member, thus giving the members an additional way of knowing (about) each other



* How do you believe we can improve the existing election
   system - assuming the statutes can be tweaked ?
        + I'm interested in where we have the situation that
          being too popular can stop you being able to
          engage at all as a deputy - as we saw with
          Miklos/Jona in the last MC election, and Kendy
          in the last Board election.


If I remember correctly, the statutes declares a rule, but doesn't tell how to ensure that, regarding the situation in the example. So a change in the statutes might not be needed, and a change in the way of application might be enough. (?-need to consult an expert on this)

I think an option for an MC member to step down to a deputy position might solve the issue above, but needs careful formulation, and possibly also some consultation to a lawyer. (Like, what happens if all deputies have the same affiliation? Maybe we should apply the affiliation restriction also to the Extended MC -including the deputy members-?)

By the way, let me try to explain the problem/unfairness described above a bit by example, for the ones who are not familiar with the issue:

A and B are working in the company X
C and D are working in the company Y

They all run in the MC elections

A got the 1st position (becomes member)
B got the 2nd position (becomes member)
C got the 3rd position (becomes member)
D got the 6th position (becomes deputy member)

Because of the affiliation restriction, both A and B having the same affiliation, one of them (let's say B) steps down from MC position, and is kicked out of the MC completely. But C and D, although they have the same affiliation, stay at their positions. So B is, in a way, punished for getting too many votes. See the unfairness?



        Thanks for any answers =)


Thanks for the questions. And thanks a lot to whoever got this far, reading the loong answers! Sorry about that. :)

Regards,
Muhammet



                Michael.


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