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

Stewart Smith stewart at flamingspork.com
Tue Jan 5 15:36:02 AEDT 2016

Kathy Reid <kathy at kathyreid.id.au> writes:
> 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.

It's been the source of considerable bike shedding over the years. When
I was more directly involved with the runnin of LA, my answer was
typically just "no" as there was always enough actual things to be
accomplished, and the Linux name had about 10,000% more brand
recognition in the general populus than *any* alternative.

Besides - when was the last time you saw a rebranding of *anything* and
went "yes, that makes complete sense and was worth all the money and
time spent on it" compared to the 32,767 times that it wasn't the case?

> 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.

I think it's possible - and this is *much* more prominent in the wider
FOSS community than it was back in 2003 with the revitalisation of Linux

>   * *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
>     alienation.

It may not be a problem at all - a bunch of the things that LA would
have to pay people to do there simply aren't enough volunteer hours
for in our community - or it's their day job and they don't want to also
do it on their downtime.

>   * *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.

This can be solved by contracting out things more rather than directly
hiring, like we've done in the past.

Stewart Smith
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: signature.asc
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 818 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <http://lists.linux.org.au/pipermail/linux-aus/attachments/20160105/238ad173/attachment.sig>

More information about the linux-aus mailing list