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Old 05-06-2010, 07:08 PM
Bill Nottingham
 
Default question for board members

(This didn't quite make it into the IRC meeting today, so sending here...)

I don't want to start a re-hash of the devel@ thread, but for those board
members who chose not to stand for re-election... why?

Bill
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Old 05-06-2010, 09:18 PM
Mike McGrath
 
Default question for board members

On Thu, 6 May 2010, Bill Nottingham wrote:

> (This didn't quite make it into the IRC meeting today, so sending here...)
>
> I don't want to start a re-hash of the devel@ thread, but for those board
> members who chose not to stand for re-election... why?
>

I debated whether or not to ignore this but if people want to know, in the
interest of openness and transparency here goes.

I joined the board on the platform that I wanted to bring focus to the
project. I felt and still feel that our lack of a unified vision has
caused anyone and everyone to join the project. Now that they're here and
have conflicting views on what Fedora should be, we're seeing lots more
in-fighting because of it.

In pushing for this unified vision I think I've accomplished just the
opposite. The more we as a project thought about the whole "what is
fedora" "Who is it for", the more divisive a subject it became. Everyone
thought their version of Fedora was the right one. We went in the
opposing direction of unity.

We've seen the project continue to grow but scale poorly. Our packagers
used to be able to do anything they wanted, now have to follow a process.
People don't like being told what to do, regardless of if its better for
the whole or not. Our processes have gotten more complex and difficult to
follow, especially for causal packagers while some needed processes still
don't exist.

During this time I also discovered that, in general, Fedora's install base
seems to be shrinking. F12's numbers -
http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Statistics show a 2% loss. While that in
itself isn't great, considering the current market share growth of the
Linux universe that's a significant loss. More and more polls have
confirmed my fears. We're going to see even more loss when RHEL6 comes
out and I've struggled personally with what this means.

I've enjoyed working with the board members but it ate at my soul. To the
point where I thought about leaving not just the board but the project as
a whole. The board deals with highly complex and high level issues but
has no means to actually implement those changes. Several people in the
project openly oppose any change at all. I've had FESCo members tell me
that FESCo doesn't actually report to the board. Ideas, talking,
meetings, we've tried to answer the who's and what's, but this is the same
Fedora I had a problem with a year ago. No matter how many questions we
answer or ideas we come up with, it's going to stay that way because it's
the implementation and change part that's lacking. Those facilities just
don't exist so we're stuck here.

Being on the board was a major distraction from my real job of being the
Infrastructure Team Lead. It also put significant strain on several
relationships I have formed in Fedora over the last few years. And for
what? I really don't know that any actual good has come from it.
Fedora's Infrastructure is at a pretty critical juncture right now in
deciding its future. The work and effort it would take for me to continue
to be on the board would be a distraction from my primary role and a
disservice to other team members. So I'm not re-running. Without
significant changes to The Fedora Project's governance (in policy,
organization, and structure) I can't imagine I'd run again.

I'm not the type to beat around the bush or hide opinions. I hope my time
on the board is remembered for being direct and and open, not
disrespectful and reckless.

-Mike
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Old 05-06-2010, 10:07 PM
Jesse Keating
 
Default question for board members

On Thu, 2010-05-06 at 16:18 -0500, Mike McGrath wrote:
> I joined the board on the platform that I wanted to bring focus to the
> project. I felt and still feel that our lack of a unified vision has
> caused anyone and everyone to join the project. Now that they're here and
> have conflicting views on what Fedora should be, we're seeing lots more
> in-fighting because of it.
>
> In pushing for this unified vision I think I've accomplished just the
> opposite. The more we as a project thought about the whole "what is
> fedora" "Who is it for", the more divisive a subject it became. Everyone
> thought their version of Fedora was the right one. We went in the
> opposing direction of unity.
>
> We've seen the project continue to grow but scale poorly. Our packagers
> used to be able to do anything they wanted, now have to follow a process.
> People don't like being told what to do, regardless of if its better for
> the whole or not. Our processes have gotten more complex and difficult to
> follow, especially for causal packagers while some needed processes still
> don't exist.

To add to this, it seems to me that we as a project and as project
leaders are too afraid of turning away those that joined under the
'anything goes' time, or rather the time without direction. When trying
to decide on a direction and goal and vision, we seem just too unwilling
to tell people that what you wanted out of the project just isn't what
we want, and just isn't where we're going. We're too afraid to turn
people away.

People say that Linux is about choice, and that Fedora should be about
choice and anybody should be able to do anything they want with Fedora.
I pretty strongly oppose this view point. To paraphrase Adam Jackson a
bit here, Linux is absolutely about choice. You can choose to build
your own distro, or to use and participate in one of the existing ones.
Fedora does not and should not be about that level of choice. Fedora is
but one choice in the vast sea of options. And if you don't like them,
but like some of Fedora, we make it very easy for you to take Fedora and
make your own thing out of it, outside of the project. I strongly feel
that in order for Fedora as a project and community to continue to
scale, we need some hard direction and real ability to say no, and to
put certain goals above all else. We may lose some people, and that's
OK, there will be somewhere else for them. What we will gain is shared
vision, a common goal, and much less infighting about the little things.

When we continue to try to be all things to every person, we continue to
deliver poorly and disappoint everyone nearly equally.

--
Jesse Keating
Fedora -- Freedom˛ is a feature!
identi.ca: http://identi.ca/jkeating
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Old 05-07-2010, 11:28 AM
Michael Schwendt
 
Default question for board members

On Thu, 06 May 2010 15:07:51 -0700, Jesse wrote:

> On Thu, 2010-05-06 at 16:18 -0500, Mike McGrath wrote:
>
> > We've seen the project continue to grow but scale poorly. Our packagers
> > used to be able to do anything they wanted,

What does that refer to? The sheer size of the package repositories?

Fedora's Packaging Guidelines and Policies are so overwhelming, they
have always frightened off potential contributors. And still, Fedora
has opened the flood gates by focusing on "package review metrics" --
quantity instead of quality -- which made some reviewers approve niche
market packages, which in some cases are not even used by their packagers
on a daily basis. Later, Fedora has made it easier for packagers to ignore
bug reports by simply waiting for automated scripts to close them.

> now have to follow a process.

... which isn't well-defined yet and will have to prove that it will
be an improvement and will not be circumvented whenever some "leaders"
like to.

> > People don't like being told what to do, regardless of if its better for
> > the whole or not. Our processes have gotten more complex and difficult to
> > follow, especially for causal packagers while some needed processes still
> > don't exist.
>
> To add to this, it seems to me that we as a project and as project
> leaders are too afraid of turning away those that joined under the
> 'anything goes' time, or rather the time without direction.

The issues you see, are they being discussed in some public place?

> When trying
> to decide on a direction and goal and vision, we seem just too unwilling
> to tell people that what you wanted out of the project just isn't what
> we want, and just isn't where we're going. We're too afraid to turn
> people away.

Who exactly is "we" here?
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Old 05-07-2010, 01:39 PM
Mike McGrath
 
Default question for board members

On Fri, 7 May 2010, Michael Schwendt wrote:

> On Thu, 06 May 2010 15:07:51 -0700, Jesse wrote:
>
> > On Thu, 2010-05-06 at 16:18 -0500, Mike McGrath wrote:
> >
> > > We've seen the project continue to grow but scale poorly. Our packagers
> > > used to be able to do anything they wanted,
>
> What does that refer to? The sheer size of the package repositories?
>

To me this refers to several seemingly unrelated problems that all, upon
closer inspection, really seem to be scale issues and includes everything
from how often pushes break, to how often rawhide breaks, to how often we
slip releases to confusion about "what to do next" when joining Fedora to
many team's inability to come to a consensus to how bad we are at
predicting and meeting deadlines.

All of this stuff both worked better and was simpler when we were smaller
which is why I call it a scale issue. Calling it "growing pains" might be
more familiar to some.

> Fedora's Packaging Guidelines and Policies are so overwhelming, they
> have always frightened off potential contributors. And still, Fedora
> has opened the flood gates by focusing on "package review metrics" --
> quantity instead of quality -- which made some reviewers approve niche
> market packages, which in some cases are not even used by their packagers
> on a daily basis. Later, Fedora has made it easier for packagers to ignore
> bug reports by simply waiting for automated scripts to close them.
>

One could say the quality vs quantity thing applies our volunteers too.
I've seen WAY more turnover in the last year then years past on the
Infrastructure team despite lots of work to do and lots of work handed
out. At least there I don't know that we're attracting the right kind of
volunteers. I'm worried our "every user is a potential volunteer" push
might be back firing a bit. Fedora's a large free software community, I'm
not sure it's the biggest but it's a big one.

-Mike
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Old 05-07-2010, 01:55 PM
inode0
 
Default question for board members

On Fri, May 7, 2010 at 8:39 AM, Mike McGrath <mmcgrath@redhat.com> wrote:
> One could say the quality vs quantity thing applies our volunteers too.
> I've seen WAY more turnover in the last year then years past on the
> Infrastructure team despite lots of work to do and lots of work handed
> out. *At least there I don't know that we're attracting the right kind of
> volunteers. *I'm worried our "every user is a potential volunteer" push
> might be back firing a bit. *Fedora's a large free software community, I'm
> not sure it's the biggest but it's a big one.

I very strongly agree with this observation Mike. The vast majority of
users probably just want to be users but they can be swept up with
enthusiasm about contributing and in the end most consume resources
from other contributors while trying to get started and then
disappear. It is sad to see people who express interest and some
effort leave, it is really sad to add up the opportunity cost that the
project suffers in that process.

Seeing massive startup failure among new contributors is one reason I
think the project should focus more on targeting contributors
directly, rather than hoping to siphon them off from an increase in
the user base. I see potential users and potential contributors as
largely disjoint sets at this point. There are reasons to target both
audiences, but I think they need to be treated as different target
audiences.

John
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Old 05-07-2010, 02:43 PM
Bruno Wolff III
 
Default question for board members

On Fri, May 07, 2010 at 08:55:12 -0500,
inode0 <inode0@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I very strongly agree with this observation Mike. The vast majority of
> users probably just want to be users but they can be swept up with
> enthusiasm about contributing and in the end most consume resources
> from other contributors while trying to get started and then
> disappear. It is sad to see people who express interest and some
> effort leave, it is really sad to add up the opportunity cost that the
> project suffers in that process.
>
> Seeing massive startup failure among new contributors is one reason I
> think the project should focus more on targeting contributors
> directly, rather than hoping to siphon them off from an increase in
> the user base. I see potential users and potential contributors as
> largely disjoint sets at this point. There are reasons to target both
> audiences, but I think they need to be treated as different target
> audiences.

Maybe we should try to collect exit interviews and find out why people
give up?

We also might not be doing a good job of explaining minimum time (or other)
commitments up front.

It is easy to sucked into more stuff. That has been pretty much my entire
experince with Fedora for about the last 1.5 years. (I had wanted to do
some packaging before that, but that's when I got sucked in.) At this point
I need to be very careful, as I have a number of things I want to work on
(and other things I see need doing) and my time is pretty close to maxed out.
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Old 05-07-2010, 02:47 PM
Matt Domsch
 
Default question for board members

On Fri, May 07, 2010 at 01:28:08PM +0200, Michael Schwendt wrote:
> On Thu, 06 May 2010 15:07:51 -0700, Jesse wrote:
>
> > On Thu, 2010-05-06 at 16:18 -0500, Mike McGrath wrote:
> >
> > > We've seen the project continue to grow but scale poorly. Our packagers
> > > used to be able to do anything they wanted,
>
> What does that refer to? The sheer size of the package repositories?
>
> Fedora's Packaging Guidelines and Policies are so overwhelming, they
> have always frightened off potential contributors. And still, Fedora
> has opened the flood gates by focusing on "package review metrics" --
> quantity instead of quality -- which made some reviewers approve niche
> market packages, which in some cases are not even used by their packagers
> on a daily basis. Later, Fedora has made it easier for packagers to ignore
> bug reports by simply waiting for automated scripts to close them.

I don't see the "package review metrics" as focusing on quantity over
quality. I see it as a way to reward, albeit merely with a "thanks
for stepping up", for people who review packages. It's an otherwise
thankless task, and we have a backlog of package review requests, so
clearly someone is using those packages (if only we could have a legal
way to get a feel for how many). Sure, it's possible that some
reviewers might push through with a poor review just to bump their
review stats, but I'd be surprised if that's a big problem.

>
> > now have to follow a process.

The increase in packaging guidelines, and other bureaucracy, I think
reflects the "scale" problem Mike brings up. I don't think we've
overwhelmed contributors with bureaucracy, but we have established
higher quality goals than in the past, both in packaging guidelines,
and the change in updates philosophy. These may viewed as negative by
contributors who were used to the "anything goes, as often as you
want" philosophy, which has led to a poor end user experience in too
many cases.

When we had ~100 packagers, and ~3000 packages, if something broke,
one of the 100 would either fix it themselves or quickly find the
owner and get it fixed quickly. Those 100 kept up their quality due to
the BPB ("brown paper bag"). We're over 2400 packagers now, and
quickly approaching 10k packages (so quite an increase in scale), and
there's also less "shame" if a packager or package breaks something -
"the automated tools should have caught it". Only they don't.

Personal responsibilty has gotten us quite a long way, but it isn't
sufficient at scale. Guidelines, AutoQA, and "think before you push
an update to each branch" are there to help us get the quality
reputation back where it's historically been.

Thanks,
Matt
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Old 05-07-2010, 03:28 PM
Ralf Corsepius
 
Default question for board members

On 05/07/2010 03:55 PM, inode0 wrote:

> Seeing massive startup failure among new contributors is one reason I
> think the project should focus more on targeting contributors
> directly, rather than hoping to siphon them off from an increase in
> the user base.
Fully agreed. It's the contributors who supply the bricks the distro
consists of. If the hurdles imposed on them become too high or if the
distro diverges too much from their needs, they will leave (or never
enter/abstain).

> I see potential users and potential contributors as
> largely disjoint sets at this point.
Agreed, contributors in first place contribute something because they
have own interests in what they contribute. The fact, "normal users" may
find their works useful or that their works may add a to making Fedora
more useful, in first place, is a by-product.

> There are reasons to target both audiences,
> but I think they need to be treated as different target
> audiences.
Agreed. The claim of "every user" being a "potential contributor" does
not apply. These groups and their interests partially overlap, but are
far from being identical.

Ralf
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Old 05-07-2010, 04:01 PM
Ralf Corsepius
 
Default question for board members

On 05/07/2010 04:47 PM, Matt Domsch wrote:

> The increase in packaging guidelines, and other bureaucracy, I think
> reflects the "scale" problem Mike brings up. I don't think we've
> overwhelmed contributors with bureaucracy,
Try to put your self into the position of a complete Fedora newcomer.

You started with an arbitrary Linux-distro some years ago, some time
later discovered Fedora and were told there are possibilties to
"contribute packages". After having gone pregnant with this thought for
some time, you decide to do "dive into it".

Initially you will start with visiting "http://www.fedoraproject.org"
... At this point the "fun" starts ... dive through the wiki, be
confronted with FAS, bugzilla, FPG (and dozens of subdocuments), bodhi,
koji, packagedb, dozens of mailing lists,
mentors/sponsors/proven-packagers etc.

Later you'll be greeted with a confusing review process (e.g. flaged
reviews), divering, sometimes contradicing opinions and sometimes silly
advises.

I seriously wonder how a real new-comer can ever make it through this
"forrest". As I see it, what is in dire need is an "easy to use",
"unified" package submission-/package administration GUI.


For Fedora-old timers" the issues with Fedora's packaging processes
somewhat overlap, in particular with regard to the heterogenious nature
of the current packaging infrastructure.

But there are additional issues:
* many tiny usability issues in interacting with the infrastructure
causing inefficiencies in their work-flow.
* waiting for package pushes/struggling with chain builds.
* struggling with "what I am I allowed to do and what not".
* changes in packaging conventions.
* Struggling with the "process" and changes to it.

Ralf
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