[Linux-aus] Can Linux Australia survive?

Stewart Smith stewart at linux.org.au
Fri Jul 1 13:23:02 UTC 2005

On Fri, 2005-07-01 at 11:08 +0800, Bret Busby wrote:
> However, given that Linux Australia has apparently spent $12,000 on 
> having a linux conference overseas, apparently for Linux Australia 
> committee members to travel overseas, the direction of Linux Australia, 
> and what it is really about, needs to come into question.

You will find that these costs are totally justifiable. If there was
ever a group of people stringent about justifying costs and taking care
of what revenue is generated, it's this committee. We have LCA
organisers, helps, mini-conf people, long serving committee members (for
this and other organisations) and the agreement of the membership (dude,
this organisation is so open it's not funny).

Having never served on a LA committee, you probably are unaware as to
the amount of work that goes in when there are LA ctte face2face
meetings or (in this case) a Ghosts of Conference Past meeting. There is
*no doubt* amongst LCA organisers (past and present) that the Ghosts
meeting is invaluable. Yes, it costs money, but it is excellent
insurance for a good conference (and much cheaper than having a bad one
that looses money).

These meetings are not holidays.

After a long week at work, you get to go to the airport, jump on a
plane, get up early on a saturday morning and then have an all day
meeting. These meetings are exhausting. Why? Because we have varied
views and have constructive discussion. About 5-6pm we'll finish up and
then go and have dinner with the local linux community (whoever wants to
join us) so that they can provide direct feedback to all the committee
members (so, not only is their transparency and communication via
linux-aus, announce, planet, heck - phone numbers are up on the web
site, you can talk to all of us *in person* at the same time).

So, after another full day of work, we then go to sleep and get up on
sunday and do the same thing (often breaking for a late lunch and having
informal discussions over coffee until people fly home).

Then it's back to another working week.

Using the word 'holiday' in relation to any of this (as you have done
further on) is nothing short of an insult.

> There are the different aspects of this issue, the first being the 
> holding of a "Linux Australia" conference, overseas, and, the second, 
> being the use of Linux Australia funds, to pay for committee members to 
> travel overseas, in relation to the conference being held overseas.

This is downright rude (if not more). Get over it. The decision is made,
is final and nobody who has poured their heart-and-soul into LCA is

As i've said, the paying for travel is completely justifiable.

> A great many people, in Western Australia, and, no doubt, in other 
> states, have voiced concern at members of the various levels of 
> government, going overseas on trips that have sometimes been regarded as 
> holidays at their constituents' expense, and, in this context, the 
> propriety of both using the funds of Linux Australia for paying for the 
> overseas travel, and, of the decision making, in deciding that the 
> conference should be held overseas, when the conference being held 
> overseas, appears to involve paid overseas travel for those involved in 
> making the decision, is worthy of examination.

The alternative is to be irresponsible and just hand over the conference
to people who we (probably) saw at the last LCA (but may not have) and
haven't had the opportunity to discuss details with. Hrrmm... that's a
good idea - NOT!

You are arguing for irresponsibility.

> The direction of Linux Australia, and what it is about, also needs to 
> be examined from the perspective of the nature of postings to this list, 
> from the aspects of inappropriate postings, that show the nature of the 
> organisation, at some times, to be childish and disgusting, and, also 
> the use of the Linux Australia list, for postings by ex-committee 
> members and others who have used this list for a long time, that should 
> more appropriately be posted to the poster's local Linux user group 
> list, and, to other lists, as their relevance to the operation of Linux 
> Australia, or to the objectives of Linux Australia, is lacking.

Bret, as inappropriate posters go, you're up with the top. While you
have (occasionally) made a good point, I hardly think this makes up for
the downright rude (and has been mentioned, at least coming close to
accusations of fraud) posts that you are more well known for.

> Until Linux Australia can itself, become mature and start to act with 
> some professionalism (and dignity), I contend that the hiring of staff 
> should be out of the question.

Well, I think we're at the stage where we can talk about it. I don't see
any evidence of being immature, unprofessional or lacking in dignity.
This kind of rhetoric does not help the organisation. 

> It must be remembered, that due to the nature of the postings to the 
> Linux Australia list, which have included offensive postings, and 
> irrelevant postings, some members of Linux Australia, have stayed away 
> from the list, as the list has appeared to them, to be more rubbish than 
> anything of value.

I'm not sure where this is coming from - but we welcome feedback about
the list. There has been no influx of complaints about the content of
the list. But please, if there are problems, let us know the specific
posts. Baseless statements are not constructive - evidence is what makes
an argument.

> Perhaps, if the committee is serious and genuine, about the issue of the 
> sustainability of Linux Australia, it should contact members who are not 
> subscribed to the mailing list, and, get their input, both about the 
> direction and role of Linux Australia and the mailing list, and, their 
> expectations of Linux Australia and the mailing list, and, ask whether 
> their not being subscribed to the mailing list, is due to any 
> perceived problems with the operation of the mailing list.

Read the minutes from the face2face - we discussion communication and
adding people to announce. Raising the structural and direction points
that the ctte has will no doubt go out to the wider membership as well -
the input of linux-aus is always appreciated and may help in formulating
such a wider mailout.

> I have seen mailing lists which are about far more informal topics, and 
> which are not oriented around either the operations of an incorporated 
> organisation, or the promotion of a product or a concept, conducted and 
> administered, far more tightly and professionally, and with more 
> maturity and dignity, than this list.

again, examples?

linux-aus is a rare breed, and the organisation is stronger for it.
People get a say and can discuss things that they usually can't. The
breadth is a strength, not a weakness.

> So, I say that Linux Australia needs to clean up its act, become more 
> mature, and become a bit more professional and dignified, and, 
> explicitly define its role and direction, as these appear to have been 
> left behind.

Where is the input then? Examples? Ideas?

i thought not.

please, be constructive.
Stewart Smith (stewart at linux.org.au)
Committee Member, Linux Australia
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