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?
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?
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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