[Linux-aus] Re: Constitution Version 6

Bret Busby bret at busby.net
Thu Jan 8 09:42:03 UTC 2004

On Wed, 7 Jan 2004, Leon Brooks wrote:

> Date: Wed, 7 Jan 2004 22:05:34 +0800
> From: Leon Brooks <leon at cyberknights.com.au>
> To: Linux Australia <linux-aus at linux.org.au>
> Subject: [Linux-aus] Re: Constitution Version 6
> On Wed, 7 Jan 2004 16:34, Bret Busby wrote:
> > Okay; how do you stop the political aspects - committee members
> > saying "he is a mate of mine - lets give him a HLM (Honorary Lifetime
> > Membership) - I don't like that one, lets not give her an HLM"?
> By voting in a variety of Committemen. For example, if you were to vote 
> for Jeff Waugh, he'd be an excellent balance for some of my impetuosity 
> (as is Anand) if I'm re-elected. If you were to re-elect Pia Smith, 
> you'd maintain a feminine presence here. You could stand yourself.

That's not my point. Lets say, for example, that I had made some great 
contribution to Linux in Australia (does it have to be directly to Linux 
Australia itself, or, to Linux in Australia?), or, to Linux in general. 
Yet, as can be seen, some on the committee have a great aversion to me 
(some apparently see the merits of my suggestions, but this is not to go 
into that now), and so, could say, "stuff him, we don't care what he has 
done, we don't like him", making the awarding subjective, and not 
objective. When humans are present in decision making, subjectiveness 
occurs, and, can prevail over objectiveness.

And, whilst, at present, the membership fees have been amended (I 
believe), to be nil, if that is again changed, so that membership fees 
are charged, some people will then be receiving lifetime financial 
benefits, at the whim of others, depending on how favourably the 
committee members personally view the award nominees.

> > And, who is to assess who is deserving and who is not, and, using
> > what criteria?
> Well, evidently not Bret Busby, who has not nominated or been seconded 
> and so can't be elected.

Just out of interest - from memory, when nominations were called, I 
believe that it was not stated, that people who were not attending the 
conference, could nominate and stand for election.

Not that I personally would want to stand as a candidate - I have more 
pressing concerns at present.

> > Would it be the person(s) who make the most noise about what they do,
> > or the people about whom no-one hears anything of what they do?
> Yes, maybe, no. All and none of the above. AFAICT, neither of our 
> current candidates fit either profile. If it were so simple, we could 
> write it into the Constitution antead of making value judgements in 
> Committee.
> > I am reminded of an issue regarding the awarding of VC's in the
> > second world war - from memory, only one VC was awarded to a maori,
> > and, that was posthumous, and yet, apparently, the maori battalionm
> > was feared by both sides, and did a heap of damage to the enemy. But,
> > they were the maori, and not worth VC's, or so it appeared.
> AFAICT there are no Maoris on Committee. Since I don't know half of the 
> current nominees, that may change. Don't expect us to second a score of 
> people whose only qualification is ethnicity if not. (-:

It is not an issue as to how many maori are on the committee, or in 
Linux Australia. It is more a matter of how they were regarded, and the 
failure to reward them equally, based on the merits, rather on arbitrary 

> > Many people make quite worthwhile contributions, and, use much of
> > their time, for the benefit of others.
> HLM is not an attempt to reward all of them, just people with 
> significant contributions *to*LA*.

So, for example, Linus Torvalds, as the originator of Linux, would not 
be eligible for an HLM, but a committee member or president might be, 
for their "services to LA"?


That is where I see a problem.

You are aware, for example, of "Rusty" Russell's contribution to Linux, 
with ipchains, David Campbells', with the parallel port drivers 
(including the Iomega Zip Drive driver(s)), if my memory is correct 
about those, and, as I have said, there are many people who quietly do 
things of great benefit to the Linux community in Australia.

Surely, those people are equally deserving of HLM's, if HLM's are to be 

> > So, who is going to say who should, and who should not, get one of
> > these HLM awards, and, using what criteria?
> Up to now, the Committee. That's what we're here for. If you want to 
> forcibly change what we do, get yourself elected or at least make 
> *positive* suggestions on a case-by-case basis. For example, you could 
> write to committee@ and suggest people who have contributed enough 
> *to*LA* to warrant HLM.

And, how is the criteria of "enough *to*LA*", determined? Is it, like 
some of the universities' criteria fro doctorates "having made a 
significant contribution to the field of ", which can be open to 
interpretation, or, is it more explicitly defined?

> > In the end, it will be like parliament and the feral awards - perks
> > for mates of those in power, with nothing for those who quietly go
> > on, helping others and making their contributions.
> I note that you are not going on quietly, which brings me great relief 
> as it implies that we've not overlooked you for anything. (-:

Okay, think about this. In a war, an officer gives a command to attack. 
The officers soldiers attack. The order to attack may have been 
reckless, and, an unnecessary waste of many lives. The soldiers perform 
great acts of self-sacrifice and bravery. As the officer responsible, 
the officer is awarded an award. The soldiers were "just doing their 
job", so get little, if any recognition.

This is the point. There are people who quietly go and do their thing, 
and make their contributions, and, don't proclaim what they are doing (I 
mean by that, they do not say "I am great, look what I am doing", rather 
than, for example, "Do this to help these people (like computer 
angels)", or, "This is my area of expertise - if I can help, contact me, 
and I will do whatever I can, to help"; a bit like Christian, when he 
was on the PLUG list, helping with security issues and advice, and Matt 
and Tony and the others, who provide much help to other people with less 
skills and knowledge).

That is the thing; many people make lots of contributions, in different 
ways, and they all can add up to improvement.

I think that the danger here, is like the thing, where in Australia, we 
have the "eminent people", like Malcolm Fraser, etc, who are apparently 
the upper class, and they are regarded nmore highly than the average Joe 
Bloggs, who peobably makes far greater contributions to the community.

Here in Armadale, WA, even, there is a set of "eminent people", some of 
whom are so, because of being awarded OAM's, but, others in the 
community, make as great, or, greater contributions, without formal 
recognition. And, contributions can be made, without many people, or, 
without "the right people", being aware, so, great contributions go 

> > We will have a ruling elite - an upper class in the Australian Linux
> > community, with these HLM's - perks for mates of the committee. - No
> > question about it.
> I don't feel very upper class. How would I tell if I'd slipped into 
> elitism?

You say that, but, if you, for example, are awarded an HLM (eg, for your 
contributions to educational uses of Linux, and (I think) the 
Educational mini-conferences, then you would be given recognition, and, 
a special, elevated status, above, for example, Matt of PLUG, who has 
done much for Linux, here, and people like "Rusty" Russell, whose 
contributions to Linux security, via his involvement in ipchains, are, I 
think, phenomenal.

I think that people in the Linux community, are aware that Australia has 
many people who have made great contributions, like Rusty Russell, like 
the Australian speakers at the conferences, like the people who put in 
the time and the effort to constructively run Linux User Groups, etc.

I think that it is wrong, to say that any person is more deserving of 
recognition, than another, especially when the decsision to award the 
formal recognition, is or can be subjective. And, I suggest that, 
despite the best intentions, especially at the beginning of such things, 
it is too easy, for such decisions to become subjective, and, to have 
subjectivity prevail.

> > Okay, and, what voting rights, do people not at the conference have?
> Following the SGM, the same as any other member.

That is a good development, and, not before its time.

> > Can people not at the conference, become committee members, or
> > office-bearers?
> Yes. IIRC, that's constitutional right now, but if not now then soon. As 
> I understand it, nominating before close of trade tomorrow will be 
> valid by the AGM if it isn't already.

Okay, as I have said above, I believe that that ws not made clear, when 
nominations were called.

> > What can people who are not at the conference, do, 
> > that they cannot do, if they are not members? Can they particpate in
> > debates at the SGM and AGM?
> Ring up a mate who's attending. No worries.
> What kind of participation did you have in mind? Beating back the 
> Elitist barbarian hordes, or something less political?

As I have mentioned previously, running the GM's across the Internet, 
with voting being done across the Internet.

Running meetings and forums (fora?), or working groups, or whatever, 
including debates and voting, across the Internet, can be done - it does 
not require physical presence, and, it is not too difficult - all it 
needs, is the willingness to do it, and to allow the benefits that it 

A mailing list is set up (let's say, for example, a GM mailing list), 
and, members eligible to participate, are automatically subscribed. If 
they do not want to participate, they can be unsubscribed, or filter out 
the messages from that list. An issue is raised, lets say, for example, 
the question is to be put, "Should LA have awards of HLM's?". Terms of 
reference are defined. A deadline for debate is set. A voting time is 
set, for example, debate is to close at 2400 on 1 January 2004, and a 
poll is to open 24 hours after the close of debate (to allow members to 
consider the submissions), and the poll remains open for a set time (24 
hours, 2 days, a week), at the end of which predefined time, the poll is 
closed, and an appointed returning officer counts the votes and 
publishes the final vote count, on the list, and a resolution is thence 
passed, or the motion defeated. The method of voting allows each member 
only one opportunity to vote, unless, for example, the voting method is 
unclear, in which case a voter can apply to the returning officer to 
have their vote withdrawn and to cast another vote. Voting is doen using 
a password-based web site, and, for exmple, 24 hours (if the voting 
period is a number of days) before the poll closes, a reminder message 
is automatically sent to members who have not voted. The returning 
officer, and, only the returning officer, has a record of who voted and 
how they voted, so that the returning officer can withdraw a person's 
vote and allow the person to cast the vote again, if sufficient grounds 
are given for being allowed to recast a vote.

That process allows meetings and voting to occur over the Internet. It 
can be refined, but, that is the gist of it.

> > What does being a member, mean, and, what does it mean for both
> > members who attend the conference, and, for members who do not attend
> > the conference?
> There's enough on http://linux.org.au/ to define membership in more 
> detail than fits in an email.

The issue is, "if a member cannot attend the conference, is it worth 
being a member?", basically, rather than going into all of the aspects.

> > That appears to have gone by the wayside, as the committee could
> > have more power, by requiring physical presence.
> Can I recommend a thicker, stronger brand of tinfoil?


> Speaking only for myself, I have no interest in bossing people around. 
> Tridge and Hugh are stepping down, which doesn't sound too power-hungry 
> to me. If we were going to surgery the paperwork to cement our power 
> base, why would we leave things so we are forced to submit to election 
> in the same fashion as anyone else? Why not amend things so that our 
> offices are immortal?
> > Why can't the SGM and the AGM, all be conducted, via the Internet?
> Because LA's Constitution does not (yet) allow it.
> > Why can't the elections, be performed, via the Internet?
> Ditto. Read The Fine Minutes, we're fixing that.

As you have said above, that appears to now be scheduled for 
consideration at the SGM (asuming that that is in the now allowed part 
of what is to be determined at the SGM), so, hopefully, after the SGM, 
those problems will be fixed.

> > And, what happens, for example, if a WA member has an issue about the
> > operation of the organisation?
> He mails committee@ just like anyone else. Or talks to his local 
> representative - me. 0409655359

That was not what I meant.

What I meant, was, for example (and, without members of the committee 
getting upset about casting of aspersions, they are not being cast, just 
the possibility raised), if the committee did the wrong thing, or the 
organisation went awry, calling it to account. Like, for example, the 
committee setting membership fees at $100 per member, with existing 
committee members at the time of the decision, getting HLM's, and, the 
committee not taking the issues to the membership.

One overseas organisation to which I previously alluded, for example, 
made a change to overseas membership fees and conditions, that was 
detrimental to overseas members, which decision appeared to be a 
committee decision not put to the membership, or, at least, the making 
of the decision not involving the overseas members, and the staff at the 
headquarters of the organisation, refusing to provide details, on 
request, of the decision-making process involved.

Another overseas organisation (a "professional" organisation), after 
taking a years' fees, only provided six months' membership, then 
required another annual membership, providing only half the membership 
that was paid.

Overseas organisations = no recourse.

Bret Busby
West Australia

"So once you do know what the question actually is,
 you'll know what the answer means."
- Deep Thought,
  Chapter 28 of 
  "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
  A Trilogy In Four Parts",
  written by Douglas Adams, 
  published by Pan Books, 1992 

More information about the linux-aus mailing list