On Thu, Mar 26, 2009 at 6:14 AM, David Nalley <david(a)gnsa.us> wrote:
Yet another warning that this is likely to be a long email.
In the course of our discussion on the FAmSCo list, Joerg has
convinced me of the logic behind raising the barrier to entry. (Note
that of the three issues that Max presented, this one only deals with
raising the barrier to entry.)
I don't object to raising the barrier but I want to be very careful
how we do it.
Essentially it comes down to who we place the initial burden on.
Mentoring is needed, but if the current virtually non-existent barrier
remains it means that our limited supply of mentors will be incredibly
taxed, and possibly with precious little gain.
In the course of that discussion a number of things were suggested as
prerequisites - a few of which are listed below (not all of them as
honestly the discussion is 38 pages worth of text at this point (sans
prior email quoting)
- has to be a Contributor to another Sub-Project inside Fedora where a
sponsor is needed
I very strongly disagree with this idea for two reasons.
(1) The notion of a sponsor is inconsistent across Fedora groups.
Some, like the art team, don't even have a notion of a sponsor. For
the ambassadors our sponsor, kital, guides new folks through the
process and then approves them as members. In packaging, as I
understand their process, the sponsor basically vouches for the new
member's competence to create packages properly (i.e., has
demonstrated appropriate skills) and recommends that the community
accept the new member into the group (which is done by vote). In
infrastructure as I understand that process the sponsor vouches for
both skills and trustworthiness.
Due to the inconsistent role of the sponsor across Fedora groups I
think this requirement is arbitrary and meaningless. Being on the art
team is no less meaningful or important than being a bug triager in my
(2) While I will not deny that being a member of other FAS groups is a
good thing, I don't think it defines in any way a good ambassador.
Someone who spends 90% of his Fedora time helping other Fedora users
solve their problems in a positive way on IRC and 10% of his time
promoting Fedora at his local user group meetings deserves in my mind
to be an ambassador every bit as much as anyone else even if he
belongs to no other FAS groups. And requiring him to join another
group that he doesn't want to join just seems silly to me.
- is recommended by a Contributor to another Sub-Project inside
who will take mentorship for that person
Being recommended by another Fedora contributor is a fine endorsement.
But how can the contributor be the ambassador's mentor when the
contributor isn't an ambassador?
- has contributed to Fedora on a event before
Has contributed to the Fedora community in some demonstrable way
before? Has contributed in the role of an ambassador previously in
some demonstrable way? I don't see any reason to elevate events above
other ways of contributing.
The idea being that this isn't a newbie group.
So lets first look at the definition of what a traditional ambassador is:
a diplomat of the highest rank; accredited as representative from one
country to another
In Fedora's case an Ambassador is a liaison to the general public and
the open source community and represents the public face of Fedora.
While charged with promoting Fedora, Ambassadors are more than PR
droids as inherent in bearing the title of Ambassador comes the
authority and expectation of getting things done and not just being a
I still want to allow people to contribute in ways they find
enjoyable. So if someone wants to be a PR droid by blogging
incessantly that is cool with me. If someone else wants to do every
single thing that an ambassador could possibly do that is even cooler.
I'm ok letting the ambassador decide in what ways they are happy
contributing. Not everyone can be the Ambassador to the UN. Someone
might just want to be the Ambassador to Fedora, South Dakota.
Looking at the more traditional examples of Ambassadors we find them
to generally be experienced statesmen. They are the highest ranking
diplomat sent to foreign entities.
The problem that I perceive, and I believe others do as well is that
these representatives of the Fedora Project aren't living up to the
same level of quality that we expect of Fedora as a distribution, or
of the contributors in other portions of Fedora. We have high
standards for packagers, art people, etc, and yet we don't for the
representatives of the project?
This is a very compelling statement. Maybe one place to start turning
this tide is by expressing this point more effectively on the wiki.
Ambassadors are critical to the mission of the project. Begin to set
the expectation of what an ambassador is in the first place people
read about ambassadors.
I fully believe that a portion of the problem is our failure to
communicate the authority which the Ambassadors are given. Max quoted
me in saying that we have a large percentage of people who haven't yet
realized that they can take ownership of things in Fedora and I fully
believe this to be the case.
But more specifically, I perceive a problem in the following areas
with a good percentage of new Ambassadors:
1. Lack of knowledge and understanding of the Free/Libre Open Source
Software movement and it's philosophies and principles.
2. Lack of knowledge about the Fedora Project, it's goals,
foundational believes, structure, and organization.
Also all points I completely agree with.
Please don't misunderstand me, I am not trying to create an
group or proposing that we remove existing Ambassadors because they
'aren't up to snuff'. What I am saying is that going forward we need
to be able to provide a minimally acceptable quality. Every other
subproject has work standards one must meet before being accepted. Why
should we not hold ourselves to that same standard?
I unfortunately fear that left unchecked our organization will devolve
into a social club.
Currently, the most arduous task for someone who wants to be n
Ambassador is that they acquire a FAS account. I can't imagine many
arguing that is enough to qualify them as the highest envoys in the
I agree with this sentiment but tempered with the realization that
many ambassadors do all their work in very localized areas and we need
to not set barriers that prohibit such an arrangement.
Thanks David and others who are working on this issue. It is really a
very important enterprise and one I hope we get right. The result of
this is critical to the smooth functioning of our group as we continue
to grow in numbers. I think you are definitely heading down the right