[maemo-community] maemo.org paid contributors (was Re: Monthly Sprint Proposal)

From: Jeremiah Foster jeremiah at jeremiahfoster.com
Date: Wed Apr 8 13:08:24 EEST 2009
On Apr 8, 2009, at 9:25, Quim Gil wrote:

> Hi,
> ext Jeremiah Foster wrote:
>> Hello,
>> On Apr 7, 2009, at 8:20, Quim Gil wrote:
>>> when it's the time for contract renewals (every six months)
>>> Tero will basically come to you (the council) and ask whether you  
>>> are
>>> happy or not in order to proceed.
>> You have an obligation to be a bit more formal than that.
>> The professionals who work on maemo.org work very hard, they deserve
>> the courtesy and respect of being treated with professionalism.
> I think I'm being as formal as you can be.

In what way exactly? Can you point to processes and documentation that  
might point to the formal relationship between the council and the  
paid staff? Formal processes for defining the roles and  
responsibilities of the paid staff?

> And I think the way of
> working described proofs how big is our respect to your  
> professionalism,
> and to the seriousness of the council as well.
> Nokia would not fund full community salaries in these times when so  
> many
> corporate salaries are being cut


> We will raise the flag if we see something is
> utterly suspicious or wrong. But I'm certain is the community  
> (council)
> who ultimate decides.
> Some examples to be more clear:
> - The council hired you, Jeremiah. They asked for our opinions but  
> they
> decided to hire you. It makes sense that they are the ones deciding
> whether you have worked according to the expectations when hired or  
> not.

This is clear in no uncertain terms, and is as it should be. But this  
also describes a two way street - if the council takes on the  
responsibility of hiring a person, they have the obligation to fulfill  
their end of the bargain and not change terms and conditions with a  
new council. This is exactly what is happening now. When Alan writes  
"I'm still unclear about the council's role in "policing" the paid  
maemo.org team. To what extent are we the team's "bosses"?" he is  
pointing to the lack of a clearly defined relationship between the  
employer and employee. That relationship must be formalized before  
there is hue and cry about "performance concerns, etc..."
"staying on task".

This ought to be obvious to all concerned - before you can hold  
someone accountable, you need to define their responsibilities.

The current council is ignoring this and looking for ways to "police"  
and "boss" before the roles are defined. This is an abrogation of the  
agreement with the previous council, even if that agreement was  
implicit and poorly defined. It is also an implicit criticism of the  
paid staff and of the previous council, for some reason Alan feels  
that the staff need to "stay on task" and need "policing". This is  
more than poor language choice, it points to the desire for hierarchy  
in what is traditionally a flat organizational structure.
> - Imagine the council liked you a lot but we at Nokia thought you
> contract should not be renewed. What kind of emancipated community  
> would
> allow them Nokia to have the veto?
> - Imagine the council disliked you a lot but we at Nokia actually  
> liked
> your work. They don't want to renew you but we want? Same question as
> above + how comfortable and efasible would be your work at the end  
> when
> everybody knows you are 'the guy Nokia wanted to be in the post'?

Isn't incumbent on the council, Nokia and the employee to come to an  
agreement _beforehand_ about how to meditate these type of disputes?

> - Look at Stormy Peters, executive director of the GNOME Foundation.  
> She
> was hired by the foundation board (equivalent to our council) but  
> she is
> paid with the funds donated by the advisory board companies (that in  
> our
> case would be Nokia). It's the board who decides whether Stormy gets
> renewed or not, and any veto coming from any company in the advisory
> board (or all of them) would be probably considered a corporate
> interference in the community life.

I strongly suspect the board is governed by the corporate laws in the  
country in which it is chartered. I strongly suspect her job is  
protected by labor laws, a contract, formal agreements, etc. Oughtn't  
those hired by the council have the same rights and responsibilities  
as their peers in the free software ecosystem?
>> Turning to the council for a judgement of people's performance leaves
>> lots of room for personal opinions and unprofessional appraisals,  
>> this
>> will almost certainly be an area of contention that will require
>> delicate handling.
> Only if you think the council is opinionated and unprofessional.

In some instances the council has been unprofessional, so yes, I do  
think that.

> If we
> would think so we wouldn't give them such decision, nor the trust and
> exposure we are giving them in other areas.
> "Every country has the government it deserves", says an adagio in
> international politics. It can be translated to free software  
> community
> projects as well. We believe the Maemo community is good-willing and
> mature enough to have a mature and good-willing council.

Excellent. By that adagio we will have the council we deserve;  
professional, courteous, and committed to the interests of the  
community. I think we as a community need to work for that.
>> What you both (qole and Quim) seem to forget is that there are people
>> in these positions. Neither of you are being particularly  
>> professional
>> in your ad hoc decision making. I strongly encourage both of you to
>> think about the people involved, how to clearly define the roles so
>> that those in them understand their responsibilities and can execute
>> them, and to clearly define the roles and obligations of the council
>> vis-a-vis the maemo.org staff.
>> If you want greater transparency and accountability, you need to
>> assume greater responsibility for that to happen.
> I wasn't asking for greater transparency and accountability for Nokia,
> but for the whole community (including Nokia).
> I don't think the community (including Nokia) forgets that the  
> maemo.org
> team is made of  people (on the contrary, you are getting much more
> personal trust, understanding and appraisal an average employee would
> get in an average corporate job).

I would like to directly contradict this statement by pointing to my  
personal experience as a professional software developer for Ericsson  
at the Linux Development Center in Stockholm. There the personal trust  
was significantly higher from project managers than I have experienced  
from the current council, appraisals were a formal process based on  
the job description, and understanding of our position was part of the  
project manager's job - they spent a great deal of resources making  
sure we could do our job.

To say I get "much more" of those things from the community and Nokia  
is not factually correct, especially after statements like this;  
"<qole> I agree that the paid people should work for the community. So  
that means that the Council is the "boss" of the paid team, as elected  
representatives of the community. I'm just looking for a word that  
conveys the "buck stops here" role, when there are performance  
concerns, etc..."

Surely you agree that is a direct questioning of the performance of  
the paid staff?
> I think roles and obligations need to be defined, just not by Nokia  
> only
> and directly. The maemo.org team and the council (again, as
> representatives of the community) are the ones driving that. We follow
> and say whatever we feel like saying.

I agree with this completely, we all need to be more active and  
involved in defining the community so we can move forward we the  
things we love to do and not get bogged down in what Ian Murdoch calls  
"process run amok."
> Sorry if my email was misinterpreted. I hope you don't feel unvalued  
> and
> ignored, because actually we think the maemo.org team and the way it
> works is one of the most valuable things this community has.

I don't think I misinterpreted your email, at least I hope not, please  
correct me if I am wrong. I have not felt undervalued by you Quim, on  
the contrary. I feel you have, along with Tero, done a remarkable job  
shepherding the resources of one of the largest corporations in the  
world into a vibrant community with some exceptional people. What  
Nokia is doing is an experiment - it is taking on the distributed  
software development model of the open source world and energizing  
that with resources and openness, there are no real roadmaps for this  
and that it functions so well is a testament to the members of the  
community and in no small part those from the Nokia side who advocate  
inside Nokia for the community. In particular I think Jaffa has done  
an excellent job - he and I may disagree, but he takes issues  
seriously and listens. Tim, Kees, Stskeeps, qwerty, Niels and others  
have been excellent colleagues, the community is enriched by these  

I am thrilled to be a part of it.


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