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Dear Marina, members of TDF,

thanks a lot for the opportunity to take a position. In case of being
elected, here are my answers:

Marina Latini wrote:
1. Do you commit yourself to have enough time and the necessary
technological tools in order to participate to the regularly scheduled board
calls?

Yes indeed. I have participated in all board calls but one in the past
term (IIRC), and want to keep the habit.

2. Do you commit yourself to follow up and work on (at least) the main items
and actions you will volunteer to oversee or that will be assigned to you by
the board?

Yes indeed.

3. What is your willingness to delegate decisions, especially in lack of
time?

It is good practice to authorise deputy directors for cases of
absence, and I intend to do that again (if being elected
director). Also I believe a future board will work best, when detail
questions are sorted out in smaller working groups (which then also
requires trust & delegation).

4. What are your views on the foundation's budget? How should the money be
spent, besides our fixed costs?

Decisions on budgets are indeed probably the single most influential
thing the board is going to do. As such, it is a valid question to
ask, so voters know beforehand what they can expect.

At the same time, it is a difficult question to answer for me, as
experience has shown that spending TDF money can be surprisingly hard
(constraints due to the charitable status of the foundation,
supply/demand issues (budget items really should come out of / with
community backing)...

Generally, I'd like to spend money alongside my visions for TDF:

- growing the contributor base
- staying relevant (technology, attractiveness for contribution, and
  of course doing something that benefits our users)
- professionalize TDF as a leading FLOSS charity

5. Should we work towards broadening our pool of contributors, both
technical and non-technical?

Yes absolutely!

6. What actions do you suggest to increase the engagement and participation
of volunteers from local communities around the world in project's
activities?

What works best in my experience is going via social experiences -
having relatable people meet, encourage & grow a local community.

That was and is certainly hard during Corona times, as personal
meetings are so important; we all hope the next year will be better.

It is beyond that likely that many local communities have specific
needs. It will be important for me to reach out to them and listen.

7. Should the Foundation -as an entity distinct from the LibreOffice project
or the Document Liberation project- engage into growing its influence and
promoting and defending Free Software and Digital Freedom? It is, after all,
an integral part of its mission per its very Statutes. If yes, do you have
ideas on what should be done about this?

I believe we already do that, but of course we can always do more!

We touched on that in the board interview sessions, and my summary
statement would be: we tend to have the largest impact by empowering
our community. Hiring lobbyists is something TDF could do, but likely
not on a global (or even European) scale. So, learning from successful
grassroots lobbying campaigns (like the FSFE is running), and
providing our community with the means & materials to promote in their
local countries would be my plan.

8. What's your idea to let TDF membership become more appealing? Currently,
the only difference from being Community member and TDF member is the
possibility to vote and be voted for TDF's governance, and it's fine, but
can you imagine anything to encourage more Community members to become also
part of TDF?

Obviously the ability to vote is a very important added value,
especially during a board election. ;)

More seriously, TDF and the LibreOffice project is shaped by its
contributors. Some might be very content with contributing to the
project only, others might additionally want a say in elections, and
getting inside information from the members list. Even others want to
shape TDF's fate by being part of the MC, or the board. All of those
are equally valuable.

I don't believe we should be in the business of nudging people too
much into certain roles; instead we should continue to celebrate all
kinds of contributions (to project and foundation). If there are
barriers of course (e.g. language, bad communication, wrong medium
etc) - we should work on overcoming those. The contributor survey was
quite an excellent approach to that question, and we should continue
doing it.

9. How do you view your (potential) role as a member of the board of
directors, given that this position does not give you any specific
functional role inside the LibreOffice or Document Liberation projects?

Indeed. The board role in my view is largely one of representation -
it is important to have the broadest possible spread of people
(locales, sub-projects, mind sets) present there. That way, we can
work out as a board what is best (or at least acceptable) to all our
community, in cases of conflict. Since many interests are represented.

I will not use a potential board position as a lever to assume
authority in community discussion.

10. What is the biggest problem of the foundation in your opinion? What is
its biggest opportunity?

In my view, the biggest problem we have is imaginary - we see too many
of our issues from close by, where they appear rather big. Looking
from the outside instead, I hear people usually admiring TDF and
LibreOffice for it running a very smooth organisation, with releases
churned out like clockwork, stable contribution, and being
comparatively well-off for a FLOSS foundation. We also seem to be
envied for having a nice mix of companies and entrepeneurs in the
business ecosystem, plus a very healthy volunteer community.

There is a danger though, that we focus too much on the day to day
issues, and forget to focus on planning for the future.

Our biggest opportunity is our very many contributors - we need to
nurture and encourage them, and when they're having great ideas,
support them and lift them up. That should include companies.

11. If they will occur, how do you think to handle conflicts within the
board?

I believe having conflict within the board is exactly were it
belongs. With board members representing different parts of the
community, it is the perfect place to solve those conflicts amicably
(instead of having open fights in the community). For that, it is of
course important for community members to express their position,
either towards the entire board, or telling the board member they
would feel closest to!

Beyond that, my recipe for handling conflicts was always: listen a
lot, and be willing to compromise (and also be open to change one's
position). I hope it helps me, that I have been walking in many
different shoes over the course of the past 11 years.

All the best,

-- Thorsten

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