[Linux-aus] Inflection Point - A Strategic Plan for Linux Australia

Kathy Reid 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
    Software leanings.

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 [1]. 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;

Kind regards,


-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.linux.org.au/pipermail/linux-aus/attachments/20160105/925f8088/attachment-0001.html>

More information about the linux-aus mailing list