Friday, March 23, 2007

Should Bjorn and/or Ward attend board meetings?

Probably many folks are just like me and have found Bjorn and Ward to be of invaluable service to the committer community. When I have questions about processes or infrastructure, these are the guys I go to for answers. Their latest work on a new portal is just one fine example; of course they had some help too from people like Karl Matthias and Sharon Corbett. I've often wondered how some of the councils could function without Bjorn's no-nonsense attitude, organizational skills, and personal dedication. Of course I've gotten mad at him before too, and anyone who knows me well knows that I may seem like a nice friendly guy, but when I get mad, it's not a pretty scene. But let's not go there! I'm learning not to do that in public. The point is, at that time I was taken aback by his extremely constructive reaction to my harsh criticism; that really made me respect him a great deal. Bjorn's a very good listener.

So to get to the point, I think it would provide significant value to the committer community if Bjorn and/or Ward could attend Eclipse Board meetings as observers. This would help provide continuity over the years and would help both these guys to understand more about what's going on and hence be even better helpers for our community.

I'm very curious how other folks feel about this?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Howdy Committers!

Hello Eclipse Committers (and community!), this is the inaugural post on the new committer representative blog. There are five newly elected committer representatives this year:
To start things off this term with the theme of open communication, the committer representatives have decided to do two things:
  • Create a blog to keep committers aware of our activities this year.
  • Create a newsgroup to facilitate discussion amongst committers and committer representatives. This newsgroup is meant for committers only and is open to the public for the purpose of transparency. The committer representatives plan to use this newsgroup as a way to work with committers to see what they desire or how they feel about a particular issue. A good example of an issue would be what to do with committer status? Should there be fine guidelines of when a committer would lose commit rights due to inactivity? Should there be different levels of so called committership? This is just an idea but we encourage committers to post their concerns regarding various issues.
In the end, we look forward to working with the committers this year in an open and transparent way. We're all ears ;)

What the heck is a committer rep anyway?

In a comment to Chris' initial committer rep post Eugene asked:
can you please explain what committer representatives can actually do and what kind of activities should we expect from you all?
It's a great question and I'll take a bit of space here to say what I think the committer reps can/should do.

First and foremost we are full and regular members of the board of directors of the Eclipse Foundation, a not-for-profit yada yada, etc, etc entity. We happen to have been elected to that position but that is neither here nor there. As members of the board we have to look out for the best interests of the Foundation. So no matter what committer motivated axes we might have to grind or business models might be funding the work at Eclipse, when working on Board matters, all members must have the success of the Foundation front and center.

Now different people have different ideas of success. That's actually what makes working on the board interesting IMHO. There are some really interesting people and discussions at the board meetings. In general, the committer reps have naturally tended to focus on things that improve the lives of committers as a way of enhancing the Foundation. Good software drives interest in membership and use which in turn drives success/security of the Foundation. Makes sense. Concretely in the past year that I have been on the board the committer elected reps have worked hard on such things as:
  • IP policy changes to create a fast-track process for incubating projects
  • Improvements in infrastructure and uptime
  • The latest rev of the development process in particular the creation of the mentor role and the potential to rejuvenate the Architecture Council
I just picked a random three that sprung to mind. Committer elected reps are free to join the various committees (e.g., finance, IP, ...) that focus on particular areas as they see the need and desire.

So what should you expect from the committer representatives? More of the same I should think. Actually, last year was particularly fruitful at the Foundation level for committers IMHO. The problem is that we failed to communicate effectively what we were doing. This blog is a tangible attempt to address that failing and you should expect to see more information flowing out to you.

It must be said that the communication issue is complicated by the fact that board discussions are confidential until the board decides to publish minutes, results, policies, ... Board members, elected or otherwise, need to take care in communicating board discussions. It comes back to the role of board members -- to act in the best interest of the Foundation. Going off and blogging that we are considering merging with NetBeans would be counter productive. Well that was a joke but you get the point.

Turning the table around a bit, it would be good for us to hear from the committer community at large what you think we can/should do. Some information flow back to the board. Take the workareas mentioned above as template or examples of the kinds of things that board members can work to accomplish. We can't get a particular IPzilla CQ expedited but we can promote ways of streamlining the IP process. We can't go to project X and demand better quality but we can help put in place a mentorship program that would help X be more successful.

The committer elected board representatives are one of several windows the board has onto the committer community and vice versa. We should seek to be as transparent as is legally possible and act as a lens in focusing committer issues into items on which the board can take action.