[Linux-aus] Council Meeting 2011-02-17

Anthony Towns aj at erisian.com.au
Tue Feb 22 00:15:13 EST 2011

On Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 10:52, John Ferlito <johnf at inodes.org> wrote:
>> Isn't the best time to seek feedback while it's a work in progress?
>> Especially for anything anywhere near as fundamental as a "values
>> statement" for the organisation.
> I probably wasn't clear enough. We do want feedback from the community
> but the document is just a couple of ideas thrown down on a bit of
> paper at the moment.

That's great. But again, why not publish them as is? If you get no
feedback, you're no worse off than you are now; if you get good
feedback, you're better off. If you get feedback you decide to reject,
at least you'll have time to think about it in advance of making the
decision, and, if appropriate, can address it directly. And any which
way you'll have been engaged with the community and the membership
right from the start.

> Yes. We will send out the reports along with the announcement of the
> SGM which without looking it up I believe needs a months notice.

14 or 21 days according to 26(1)/26(2). You could, of course, choose
to provide a month's notice anyway.

>> Will the draft figures be posted to this list at the same time as
>> they're sent off for the audit, then?
> As you mention, there probably isn't much point sending the audit
> draft to the list as it is most likely a fairly high level document.

It's more than has been sent to the list so far. If transparency is a
goal, shouldn't the default be "post publicly" with exceptions only if
some secrecy/discretion is required?

>> Yes, I appreciate that. For grants, LA requires a proposal, a clear
>> statement of how it benefits Linux in Australia (or some other
>> aspect of LA's goals), and public discussion, and limits the maximum
>> amount to $1000, the idea being that that way there doesn't need to
>> be too much review because not too much money is at risk.
> Is that written down somewhere?

Not that I can find easily. The most recent statement in my mail logs
is a post by Jon to the committee list dated 24th Jan 2007, which

>>> Our budget for the Grant Scheme is $2000 / month, ie: $24,000 / year.
>>> Our expectation when starting the scheme was that we would probably
>>> approve 2 grants per month on average of about $1000 each, with some
>>> being for larger amounts and some for smaller. In 2006 we approved only
>>> 5 grants with a total value of $6750, which is far fewer than we had
>>> expected and is a little disappointing. On the other hand, the requests
>>> that did come through were generally of a very high quality and well
>>> worthy of Linux Australia's support.

> While I don't disagree at all with the
> process above, if it is in fact the process then we've already broken
> it at least twice in terms of the size of grants given in the last 12
> months. At least two of these exceeded $1,000.

Right. I don't think there's been a problem with grants over the past
year; that's been as good as it's ever managed to be. On the other
hand, there's also some history of council pet projects having much
less review than projects proposed by members.

> I'll add a TODO to the council's F2F work to write up a similar
> policy for grants along with all the other policy work we are
> currently undertaking.

Huh? There's already a grants policy; and it's not really a lack of
policies that's the problem.

>> It was on the list of things to focus on last year too; afaics it
>> ended up with a rough copy of a budget page from the wiki made up in
>> 2005 or so and hasn't been touched since...
> Yes it was, and we didn't get around to it, we are hoping to do better
> on that point this year. It will also be published once we have.

In my experience, small groups of volunteers usually have lots of
great ideas to focus on, and often don't end up getting them all done.
It'll be great if you get a budget and manage to follow it; but if it
doesn't happen this year, because the council doesn't end up with as
much time to spend on it as hoped, or because what time it does have
gets spent on other projects instead, that's no big deal.

But, again, when I asked about this, your response was "Details will
come in due course. We need to put a budget together for this year
before we can make a final decision. Watch this space!" -- which would
have been fine too, if it had actually turned out that way. But you
and the council then decided that you didn't want to put a budget
together first, and just went ahead with whatever you liked anyway,
apparently without it even crossing anyone's mind that this mightn't
be the best way to do things.

And I realise the saying goes "It's easier to ask forgiveness than it
is to get permission", and that it's especially applicable when doing
things in the open source community, but easier isn't always better.


Anthony Towns <aj at erisian.com.au>

More information about the linux-aus mailing list