[CentOS-devel] Minutes for CentOS Board of Directors 2019-11-13 Meeting

Fri Dec 13 19:03:53 UTC 2019
Karsten Wade <kwade at redhat.com>

Hi Patrick,

Sorry I missed this before, just found the discussion when working on 
the current agenda. I'll be sure to watch more carefully in the future, 
part of the reason for sending to this list is to have these discussions.

Rest of my lengthy answers inline below:

On 11/27/19 9:34 AM, Patrick Laimbock wrote:
> That's great news. Will the process be similar to how it's done in the Fedora Project [1]? So with a public list of nominees, published interview with each nominee and public voting results? Is there a way for the Community to (self-)nominate?

Jim already gave a succinct answer, but I thought you might be 
interested in my complete response.

The short metaphorical answer is, where it comes to good transparency, 
the Board is just learning to crawl. As much as we want to begin working 
toward a marathon, we know we need to get through to learning to walk first.

In order to be successful at what you describe, we need more time as an 
active and proper open source project.

Fedora Project existed for many years with a high standard of 
transparency before the original Fedora Board was created. It then 
started as a blend of appointed (like me!) and elected Board members. 
Having been through that evolution, I have an intimate idea of how much 
longer it can take and more complex it can be than the ideal of e.g. 
starting from scratch with a new project.

By comparison, my reckoning is the CentOS Project only began to act like 
a proper open source project around the time the Virt SIG was created to 
support the Xen kernel. Of course, the joining of forces with Red Hat 
was at the core an effort to create a contributor-centric project but 
primarily around the SIGs; we left other parts e.g. core Linux building 
alone as "don't break". Not forever, but for a while, and now that five 
yeas has passed, it's more than time to improve those parts, too.

We've built on that plan with SIGs so now it is possible to contribute 
to a sizeable part of the project. But with the mix of legacy 
infrastructure, technical and governance debt from the last 7+ years, 
and the changing needs of a contributor base ...

Frankly IMO, today we do not have a large enough community of leaders 
who could be nominated, nor a mature enough contributor base to hold 
voting. This is largely the fault of the existing leadership, 
specifically those of us on the Board of Directors. Lack of transparency 
and lack of focus on growing leaders I think are at the core of that 
situation. People have stepped up and tried, and not been enabled or 
supported as well as they could have been.

The project has definitely been moving toward better transparency, to 
the point where the most obvious transparency problems are at the top of 
the governance.

So we need a little more time before holding open elections in order to 
realize things such as transparency norms, consistent and productive 
meetings, and clear evolution.

> For better Community coverage perhaps CentOS Board related postings could also be sent to the centos-announce and centos mailinglists?
I'm a bit on the fence about this because I'm not sure it's on topic for 
centos@, but maybe it's OK and not much noise to add to that list?

What I mean about on-topic is that the Board deals with issues affecting 
contributors, who themselves are the interaction points with their 
userbase. If I were an end user of e.g. RDO, I would find it confusing 
that in addition to RDO leadership there is this group above the Cloud 
SIG making decisions, should I be worried about them, what is going on, etc.

So the norm so far has been to have SIGs communicate with their 
userbases, including the Core SIG and CentOS Linux users. (Don't be too 
confused that some of the people in the Core SIG are also Directors; in 
wearing different hats, we have to be prepared to speak from different 
authority points.)

We can change up that norm, but I think it's worth discussing with the 
SIG leaders how they want Board communication handled for their 
userbase. Does that make sense?

So for this time I'm just sending to the contributor list and posting on 
the blog. Let's keep discussing and see if there is a consensus on if 
and how to include the userbase in this transparency, perhaps as soon as 
the Jan 2020 meeting.

Best regards,

- Karsten

Karsten Wade [he/him/his]| Senior Community Architect | @quaid
Red Hat Open Source Program Office (OSPO) : @redhatopen
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