The Inquirier on F17

Paul W. Frields stickster at gmail.com
Mon Jun 4 14:51:07 UTC 2012


On Fri, Jun 01, 2012 at 01:06:28PM -0500, inode0 wrote:
> On Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 11:11 AM, "J├│hann B. Gu├░mundsson"
> <johannbg at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Let me try to rephrase this so you better understand what I'm getting at...
> >
> > Why does Red Hat reserve four seats on the board for itself to appoint to
> > whomever it chooses?
> 
> Red Hat used to reserve five and released one to the elected pool when
> Paul was the FPL iirc.

Right, that was something I changed during my FPL time.

> I have in the fairly recent past asked for consideration of shifting
> two additional appointed seats to the elected pool and/or considering
> the appointment process to either be done by the Board or a
> combination of the Board and the FPL. Generally the appointment
> process has been done with the involvement of the Board anyway as I
> understand it. I don't think very much would change either way in the
> end. Very often two of the appointments have been candidates who
> missed being elected by one spot.
> 
> But regardless of who makes the final appointment decision people will
> like it when they like it and disapprove when they don't. Making
> either of the changes above might move the blame assigned to the
> community though which would be a benefit to Red Hat.

The FPL individually is accountable for making appointments.  One of
the reasons we have appointments, in my opinion, is to make sure the
FPL has the authority and opportunity to reach outside a "usual
suspects" group to identify and include leaders that might not
otherwise be elected.  I feel the FPL should use appointments to bring
different perspectives to the Board, and/or include people with useful
experience that helps the Fedora Project reach specific goals over the
coming year.

I can't speak for Robyn, obviously, but I see Garrett Holmstrom as a
possible recent example.  His experience in the cloud area will
undoubtedly help inform larger project work that keeps Fedora relevant
in a cloud-centric environment.  Since I can speak for myself, I would
use Dimitris Glezos (of Indifex) as an example, bringing an
international perspective, as well as I18n/L10n experience, to a Board
that I felt was very North American-centric.

> > What gives Red Hat the right to do so against the community?
> 
> I don't think it is "against the community." There are arguably good
> reasons for appointed seats, one example being to keep some balance in
> the Board's experience and skills that could be lacking if all seats
> were elected. For those who agree a partially elected and partially
> appointed Board is a good thing then it is just a question of how best
> to arrange the details. I imagine in the beginning it was easiest to
> get started by giving the appointments to the FPL and it has worked
> well enough that only a minor change was made a few years ago.

This is a good explanation.  I'd also reiterate that "against the
community" is not supported by the fact that (1) the Fedora community
has chosen to elect quite a few Red Hat employees, and (2) the FPL
continues to appoint quite a few non-Red Hat employees, over the
Board's history.

When I was the FPL, having appointments afforded me flexibility in
finding people I thought lent the Board extra credibility and insight
-- but I always took care that these appointed people supported the
Project's mission and values, thus making them with the community, not
against it.  I think other FPLs have all done the same and I've never
had a quibble with an appointment.

I try to remember meritocracy and democracy are not identical.  Like
many people who've been in a leadership position in a meritocratic
community (as Fedora strives to be), I struggle with the idea that
elections run the risk of becoming popularity contests.  This doesn't
mean appointments should be used to install unpopular people; rather,
they support meritocracy by expanding the experience and capability of
the Board in line with the project's mission and values.

-- 
Paul W. Frields                                http://paul.frields.org/
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