Sponsoring event attendees
inode0 at gmail.com
Mon Feb 13 20:54:48 UTC 2012
Sorry, this is long. Really, sorry this is long.
For the past couple of years Fedora has had a policy governing this
developed by Paul, Max, and others. At times the process has worked
very well and at other times the process seems rather dysfunctional
and arbitrary. Many of those involved in trying to implement this
policy have at times been very pleased and at other times
uncomfortable about its execution in practice. I suppose that isn't
all that surprising but as some of us look back at the policy after a
bit of a break-in period we are looking for ways to improve things and
I'd like to ask for any comments or suggestions that the Board might
have to that end.
For reference here is the full policy as developed back in 2010.
It is rather long and I'd like to include here the executive summary
of the point of the policy from its beginning.
This document explains the process for obtaining sponsorship for event
attendance. We use this model for FUDCons, FADs, and other events
where the Fedora Project provides partial or total travel subsidies.
Almost everything on this page can be summarized as follows:
* In every case where Fedora Project funds will pay for events,
there is a responsible party -- a person or group -- who will handle
any requests for travel subsidies.
* That party will consider requests based on a number of criteria,
including relevance to the event, how critical that request is, the
specific deliverables it will enable, the proximity of the traveler,
and the amount of the request.
* Decisions are made in an open, transparent process that
complements the rest of Fedora's processes.
While there have been various issues with the formality of requests
and the tracking of results both of those can be improved by the
concerted effort of the "responsible parties" who approve subsidies.
Most of the difficulty that I see and that has been expressed to me by
others revolves around those responsible parties. The section of the
policy that defines them is here
I've received feedback and have personal experience with feeling we
haven't quite lived up to the blurb at the end of this section.
Openness and transparency
Decisions on sponsorships, regardless of who makes them, are made in
an open and transparent manner. All Fedora contributors should feel
comfortable with the stewardship of event funding.
I believe these decisions are made in open and transparent ways, but I
also know that all Fedora contributors are not always comfortable with
the results and I'd like to improve that. More troubling to me is that
not all the people involved directly in the decision making process
are comfortable with the results.
I haven't been involved in FAD funding decisions so setting those
aside I can speak to the process used for FUDCons and other events.
For FUDCons there has been a concerted effort to follow this process
and that much has worked well. Where it seems to break down at times
is in the composition of the "responsible party." That has been a
moving target over time and probably over geographic region. CommArch
originally made these decisions as I understand it, then CommArch
working more in public with the FPL and the team organizing the
FUDCon, then more the FPL with the organizing team, then more the FPL
with the organizing team and whoever (usually very interested parties)
else shows up and starts voting.
For other events in some places funding requests have gone through
FAmSCo. In North America they have normally been approved by FAmNA
directly or delegated to an event's owner. Often this has worked well,
although delegating a travel budget to an event owner is usually
putting the cart in front of the horse when there isn't a clearly
defined need for travel subsidies. I don't think we've done as good of
a job as the FUDCon planners at implementing the other parts of the
process (requests, reports, etc.) as we could and often regional
groups of ambassadors may not be familiar enough with the overall
budget to know where things stand so there is at times the appearance
of a default approve policy.
So we will continue to do our best to improve our execution of this
policy over time at all levels. The one issue that keeps coming up in
all of these situations though is some contributors are not
comfortable with the composition of the "responsible parties." Are
there ways you can imagine where perceptions of fairness or at least
disinterestedness could be improved by some means? Possibly some more
formal notion of who the responsible parties are or how they are
constituted? Perhaps a Fedora Council?
Every time I begin thinking about this I keep banging my head on the
fact that the closer the decision is made to the event the more some
see the decisions as self-interested and sometimes showing favoritism
and the more removed it is made from the event the less the decision
maker understands about the people and needs of the particular event.
Perhaps there isn't any great solution and we will all just have to
continue to do our best. After two years of trying I thought this
might be a good time to look for ways to improve the process for the
I do also want to say that in my personal experience I do believe that
everyone involved in making these decisions does his/her best to make
the right decision for Fedora. I would just also like to see fewer
people questioning that in the end.
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