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NeddySeagoons' Trustee Election 2010 Manifesto

Content:

1.  Overview

Summary

Looking back at my 2008 manifesto I said

Important: The Gentoo Foundation needs to be put on a sound footing and made to operate like a well cared for machine. What is more, it needs to be seen to be operating in this way. As the recent discussions on gentoo-nfp, gentoo-project and assorted blogs show, appearance is very important.

I think all the trustees, including myself, who have served since the 2008 election have mostly achieved the above ... at least, the Gentoo Foundation Inc. has regained the respect and confidence of the community which was lost as a result of the Foundation falling into bad standing at the end of 2007.

The respect and confidence of the community is like the goodwill that commercial organisations work so hard to foster and keep and it is lost very quickly as the events of 2007 demonstrate. Some of the objectives of the board elected in 2008 are not yet complete and I suppose that board had some short term aims and only a very general idea of what to do after good standing was restored, we had recovered our bank account and got the Foundation into the position where it could actually operate as a business.

It all took longer than anyone thought when we started two years ago and there is some unfinished business that I would like to take care of.

2.  My Background

About Me and the Skills I Can Contribute

I repeat my background here as a refresher for those that voted for (or against) me two years ago and for new members of the electorate,

My background is electronics hardware engineering, in which I was formally trained and qualified in 1975 and have practised throughout my career. Early in my career, there were no software engineers, project software was produced by hardware engineers with either an interest or a need. As time passed and I was promoted through team lead, project technical lead, project manager, managing a portfolio of projects all with mixed hardware and software content. I had to develop the soft skills of successfully managing individuals to achieve a common goal. Its a process which others have likened to 'cat herding'

As a trustee, I bring familiarity with hardware, software, business management and people skills, including interacting with customers and officialdom. As applied to Gentoo, you can do some checks for yourself. Read a few of my Gentoo forums posts. As an active forums poster and #gentoo helper I already share my skills and knowledge with users of all abilities, thus am well aware of the views and priorities of our user base. While I do not contribute technically to Gentoo, I do keep up with developments by reading and understanding the technical mailing lists.

Over the last two years I have had some exposure to US corporate law, which any non-US trustee will need to learn. Its not the same as UK business law, which I am more familiar with. Luckily, the trustees had Ferris to help with that until his untimely death in August last year.

There is a rumour that I am Gentoos' oldest developer, which I doubt but I do not deny.

3.  Short Term Goals

IRS Registration of NFP Status 503(c)

This is not complete yet but its well advanced. Registration as a NFP is now late according to IRS rules, so we need to complete as soon as we reasonably can. This will allow US based companies to recover tax on donations or the cost of donations in kind. i.e. It makes the Gentoo Foundation easier to support.

Registering with the IRS will force the Foundation to set and publish budgets, which in turn should push us into fund raising and spending to meet the budgets. The trustees have had very few requests for funding in the past two years - how many is left as an exercise for the reader. They are are all publicly available as are our accounts.

Maintain Communications Between the Trustees and the Council

Council members and Trustees can attend one anothers meetings. I already attend Council meetings and I don't plan to change that if I am re-elected a Trustee.

The present unusual 'two headed monster' of the Council being responsible for the technical direction of Gentoo and the Foundation looking after the Intellectual Property and legal things seems to work for Gentoo so its not something I want to change. The two bodies areas of interest will not overlap unless the Council endorses something that would put the Foundation in a questionable legal position. That hasn't happened yet and provided communications are maintained, there is no reason why it should. There is no mechanism for the trustees to make or enforce technical decisions on behalf of Gentoo, so that case cannot arise. Trustees, as individuals are free to influence the technical direction of course.

The two bodies need to maintain or improve the working relationship that has served well over the past two years.

Improve Communications With Foundation Members, Developers and Users.

The system of regular IRC meetings seems to work. Members are voiced in #gentoo-trustees but few attend meetings and there is little feedback on meetings, either at the time or later.

This is more difficult as communication is a two way process - The Foundation posts logs of meetings, does what the trustees see fit but is in need of members opinions on what it should do. The trustees cannot come up with all the ideas.

4.  Medium Term Goals

Looking Towards the Future

Two years ago I said

Important: There are three options to consider for the Gentoo Foundations future :-

  • We maintain the Gentoo Foundation
  • We join the SFC
  • We join the Software In The Public Interest, Inc (SPI)

Its perfectly clear looking at the history of the Gentoo Foundation, that this is not something that the Gentoo technical developers are interested in. That is understandable, it is not a technical job. For the Gentoo Foundation to be a long term success, we must examine ways of attracting people with other than technical interests to Gentoo, so that they become developers and thus are eligible to become Trustees, or find a way to permit members of our users base to serve as trustees. I'm sure that is a controversial proposal, however it ties in with the Foundations stated objective of furthering the best interests of Gentoo. It will also get users more involved in Gentoo, so it addresses several perceived problems in one go.

Since I'm standing for re-election, its clear that we have chosen to maintain the Gentoo Foundation Inc. The above problem remains to be completely solved. When the by-laws were approved, the trustees put in place a route to trusteeship for non developers. Any Foundation member may stand and anyone can apply to become a Foundation member.

We have had a few short term successes ... but they have become developers and trustees, which has defeated the purpose a little.

Officers

The trustees are the directors of of the Foundation. As such they set policy. The policy set by the directors is carried out by the officers of the Foundation. That's as it is an any corporation. Unfortunately, at present, the Trustees and Officers are the same individuals. This makes the Foundation vulnerable to staffing issues as happened last year when Ferris died and I had real life issues that soaked up a lot of my free time. Its one of my goals to appoint officers to allow the trustees to manage more and work less.

Our ability to attract middle/upper managers from the user base to serve as officers and trustees is key to the long term survival of the Gentoo Foundation as an independent body.

5.  Other Goals

Play a Bigger Part in the Non Technical Management of Gentoo

With the Gentoo Foundation staffed with 'middle management' it is ideally skilled to help the Council, by taking on responsibility for the non-technical aspects of Gentoo. While I hate to cite "matrix management" as an example, Gentoo has grown to such a size that some bureaucracy is needed to ensure the project runs smoothly from both technical and administration perspectives. Provided the Gentoo Foundation can attract people with administration experience, the Gentoo Foundation can work closely with the Council to take on the management these roles. The 'admin' side includes all the 'soft' people related tasks like recruitment, public relations, user relations and so on.

6.  A Final Word to Voters

The trustees have to work as a team - think about that when you vote. They have to get along together and collectively have the skills to manage the Gentoo Foundation. I am standing because I think I have some of those skills. If you decide to vote for me, please also vote for candidates who can contribute other skills. Feel free to ping me on IRC or drop me an email if you feel you need clarification of any of my views and opinions

In closing I would like to thank all the members of the Gentoo Foundation who have served as trustees in the past for getting us where we are today and all the unidentified helpers who have supported them.



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Page updated February 13, 2010

Summary: NeddySeagoons' Gentoo Foundation Election Platform

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