[Linux-aus] Inflection Point - A Strategic Plan for Linux Australia
kathy at kathyreid.id.au
Tue Jan 5 11:05:33 AEDT 2016
Thanks everyone for your feedback on the document. I'm delighted to see
the meaningful, intelligent and mature discussion that is unfolding in
the document commentary.
In terms of next steps for Inflection Point, I'd like to propose the
- We provide until Sunday 10th January for commentary on the document
(another five days)
- I'll then take another pass at synthesising or adding sections to the
document based on the commentary
- Clearly indicating which pieces will need to go to formal vote, either
at Council or by Special General Meeting
- And then issue another version of the document to the Community for
- And then formally submit the document to Council as a set of
Recommendations, upon which they can choose to endorse or reject
Does this seem like an appropriate way forward?
Regarding specific questions and suggestions that have been raised;
1 - A more inclusive name (raised by François Marier)
My suggestion, and I realise this will likely be an area of considerable
bikeshedding, would to consider a more inclusive name that reflects the
diversity of our community. In the English-speaking world, it seems that
most have settled on "FOSS" to include people of both Open Source and Free
Firstly thanks for raising this suggestion. In suggesting the name "Open
Source Australia" there were a number of considerations. Within the
Australian context, the concept of 'open' is more widely recognised I
feel than 'free' (libre). While I don't seek to detract at all from the
merits of the free software movement, the name should clearly position
us and allow us to strongly market the organisation. A name with "FOSS"
in the title, or a name which is too long makes this more difficult.
Open Source Australia is close to a number of other names - Open
Australia Foundation (*dips lid to Henare Degan and his amazing
colleagues for their excellent work here*), Open Source Industry
Association etc. However, I feel that it most accurately reflects what
it is that we do and want to be doing.
Is there a way to broaden the name to be inclusive of FOSS while still
making it accessible to a broad audience?
2 - Paid contributors in a voluntary project and the challenges this
presents (raised by François Marier)
The question I have has to do with your observation that LA is lacking
volunteers in key areas and your suggestion that LA pays for some of its
core functions. Bringing paid contributors into a volunteer project is a
challenging problem. Do you have any thoughts as to how LA can do this
successfully? (i.e. without alienating its existing volunteer base)
Again, an excellent point. Bringing paid contributors in to an
organisation or project does represent a number of risks and challenges,
however I feel that with the current level of volunteer capacity and
capability it's the only viable way to advance the organisation. So,
here's how to mitigate those risks.
* *Alienation of volunteers:* Firstly it's useful to outline
expectations. A paid employee is contracted to carry out a set of
responsibilities to an expected standard. If they don't, they are
performance managed, and worst case, they are dismissed from
employment. Volunteers give what they can, when they can, to the
performance standard they are able to. In many cases this is equal
to (or better) than paid employment. In some cases however, it
isn't. To avoid alienating volunteers, the accountabilities,
objectives and performance standards for roles (Volunteer and Paid)
need to be well defined, and pay scales transparent. The added
benefit to volunteers is that by having paid employees, or by
outsourcing some tasks, it can help prevent volunteer burnout.
Indeed, if a volunteer consistently demonstrates high levels of
commitment and achievement, it would make them an ideal candidate
for a role. The other aspect here is that I think we need a
Volunteer Charter - that outlines the rights and responsibilities of
Volunteers - and there are some things that we could be doing better
here such as inductions . Having a more structured approach to
Volunteering with the organisation, along with a more formalised
Volunteer Recognition programme, would also mitigate the risk of
* *Additional overhead: *Having paid employees adds a level of
complexity to managing the organisation, as we become responsible
(and liable) for things like payroll, insurance, Workcover,
supervision, performance management and so on. By having only
Volunteers, some of this risk and responsibility is mitigated (our
insurance for instance covers Volunteers). So, the point I'm making
is that paid employees incur additional overheads than just expenses
- so we want to make sure that the structure and role they're hired
into is well thought through.
3 - Mentoring programmes and student outreach (Nathan Baily and others
within the document)
These are great suggestions, and would be projects in their own right.
My concern here is that as an organisation we don't currently have the
capability or capacity to execute them - not without significant
additional volunteer involvement. They are strong projects, and would
add significant value - but we're not resourced to make them happen.
4 - Paid tier of membership (Tennessee Leeuwenburg and others within the
My feeling on this is that the overhead to collect the revenue would
outweigh the value it would provide - but clearly there are other
viewpoints here. I think this point would definitely benefit from
broader community reflection and discussion.
The link to the document again;
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