On Thu, 6 Sep 2018 at 20:43, Per Jessen firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Which is why I think it's a very good thing the Board is elected, because that election is a collective mandate from the project, effectively stating "we the members who voted for you trust you to do the job we need you to do, but can't do ourselves"
I generally agree - except I don't believe that mandate leaves you immune to public scrutiny. "trust is good, control is better". Why are you so opposed to that idea?
Because the only way you could realistically judge whether or not the Board is making fair decisions or not, is if you had all of the information about the contributors and other organisations involved, which the Board are expected to keep private.
We already minute everything we can to the level we can, far beyond that of previous Boards in the project's 13 years. I think this is a good thing, and would hope it fulfils your desires on this topic. If it does not, then I do not see how we can satisify your demands without betraying the confidence of the people who trust the Board with their private information.
That does not preclude a board member from publicly sharing his or her vote on a topic though. As Ana did. We don't even know the name of the local sports club yet nor who asked for sponsoring nor what kind of sponsoring. I personally have no desire to know either.
Ana did not share her vote, in practice she shared ALL of our votes. Without the permission or consent of any of the Board members. The minutes (which we had collectively approved) included the numbers of the votes. Had I known that Ana wanted to share the fact publicly that she wanted her objection known I would have not consented to the meeting minutes having the numbers of the vote. This would have allowed Ana to say that she made "_a_" dissenting vote, still leaving the other votes for the other Board members suitably private.
I would have also counselled her why I think it's a bad idea for her to do that, but in that scenario she wouldn't have been able to expose the decisions of the other Board members without their consent, so it wouldn't have been nearly as bad as it was.
(NOTE: I'm only bringing this up because you did - I have accepted Ana's apology on this aspect of this topic and consider the matter closed)
That is fair enough, I absolutely accept your position. Now shall we bring the proposal to a vote? I mean, let's finish the thread by tabling a motion for the board to vote on. I am not sure if my wording is good enough, I would prefer if someone could help out.
Yes, I would certainly like to know who voted what afterwards. :-)
Answering your question with a question - why should this be something the Board decide on? should we instead consider this as a Membership vote?
Or to put it another way, I could say that I accept your principle, but if there is ever a case where the Board where the Board is deciding something where I am comfortable with my vote being public,
Richard, pardon me interrupting your flow, but why should you, as the Chairman, be uncomfortable with your vote being public? You have the explicit backing and trust of SUSE Linux GmbH, you were appointed not elected, you don't really have to answer to the community. I totally understand why you may feel obliged anyway, but you have no such obligation. Having to make a difficult vote public does in no way detract from your mandate. (possibly if you voted against your backers, but then it might be better to resign).
Fair point, and I wanted to add to my mail after I sent it to address this point - so thanks for asking. I vote as an equal board member. My vote as Chairman is no different than a vote from any other Board member. It carries no additional weight, and my employer is not consulted before any of my votes on any Board topics. When I was interviewed for consideration as Chairman, I made it very clear to SUSE that I would continue the practice that I had as an elected Board member, voting with my personal opinion of what is best for the _Project_, not the company which appointed me.
I do not agree that I have no obligation to the community - the 5 elected Board members can tell SUSE to get rid of me. That's a lot less people than the 20% of the membership that can call to get rid of them ;) So while you could argue there is a level of abstraction compared to my Board colleagues, I would argue that I'm hanging by a weaker thread than others, and therefore I take my obligations to the community very seriously (hence the fact I'm STILL writing on this thread ;))
I think it's an important part of my role as Chairman that I am not granted additional power or privilege over other Board members. I therefore think it's only fair that I share the same freedom in matters that require discretion. And yes, if you are wondering, this means that there has been times I have voted "against" the wishes of SUSE, because I thought the suggestions in question were not in the best interest of the Project.
I do not think it would have been appropriate for me to resign in that case - I'm empowered by SUSE to keep them honest. I'm a champion of the community within SUSE, not a stooge of SUSE within the community. They see my role as Chairman as an opportunity to have a direct feedback loop FROM openSUSE as much or more so than my function as being a loop TO openSUSE. To quote SUSE's CEO "if we screw up this open source stuff, we're f*cked". They're quite happy (though not always comfortable) when I use my position to help them correct things when things go a little awry.
I like to think that SUSE's internal culture is one that would be rather forgiving in the times I individually have voted in opposition to something they wanted, but I think it is more powerful for the Board to have a situation where _the Board_ as a single unified body, decided something, with my voice as part of it. As individuals, our collective power is diluted the more information we provide about who voted for once. Consider a proposal from SUSE which is voted on by the Board and we publicly announce a 5-1 split against the idea. (like we did with vote that triggered this thread) In that case people will assume I was the vote against. If that's not me, that's unfair on me. But people will take guesses and make assumptions, that's an unfortunate aspect of doing things publicly. However if we publish split with names that disclose that the 1 voter against the idea is a community member, not only is it uncomfortable for me, it would be easy for SUSE to argue that the community Board member is more important than me and leave the matter open for discussion, rather than accepting the decision as the clear decision that it would be.
Therefore, I'm happiest when we don't mention the numbers of who voted, nor the names.
While this is theoretical, it's grounded in reality - it's human nature to anyone to try and find a chink in the armour about any decision and use that as an excuse for further debate and ignoring the decision. And that's how mailinglist flame wars start.
And that's actually fine in many cases (discussions are good - like this one has been), but the Board should be the only body in the openSUSE Project that has an environment to be able to make clear decisive decisions. We need Board Decisions to end flamewars, not start them, because we're the ones who's going to be making decisions when others have failed and decisiveness is really required.
All of that said the one exception to this principle the obvious matter of the Veto power of the Chairman position. I don't think I've made it clear enough in a public venue, but when I was interviewed for the Chairman position, I made my feelings on this matter very clear to SUSE. I consider any use of a veto a failure of both the Project and SUSE to resolve the matter by any other means. I will never use the veto without direct ordering of senior/executive management at SUSE. I cannot see into the future, and I can imagine a few hypothetical examples where I might theoretically agree with any order from SUSE to use the veto, but that is a very remote possibility. I think it far more likely I will object to any such suggestion to utilise the veto, therefore such a situation would probably involve my resignation.
Even if it didn't, as any use of the veto will effectively be overruling a decision made by the Board and/or Community, the use of that veto will need to be explicitly public. There is no other way for it could be utilised.
And in that case would expect the 5 elected members of the Board to object to SUSE in the strongest terms, most likely calling for my removal. Something I would almost certainly support. So..yeah...that would be a case of mutually assured destruction, that's a button I want to keep any fingers as far away from as possible. Hopefully sharing my thoughts on that helps you better understand how I see my role as Chairman.
To put it succinctly, I see myself as a Board member with additional responsibilities to keep SUSE in the loop about the Project, and the Project in the loop about SUSE. I answer to the community before SUSE. I've been in the community many years longer than I've been at SUSE or as this Project's Chairman, and I totally intend to continue to be part of the community when any day comes that I'm no longer Chairman or at SUSE.