And here are the promised answers
On 11/01/2013 04:37 PM, Klaas Freitag wrote:
On 28.10.2013 18:19, Robert Schweikert wrote:
First we would like to thank the Election Committee for getting the election process rolling and announcing the time schedule. 
For those of you considering candidacy for the openSUSE Board we thought that the following information may be useful to you.
It is, thanks.
But in addition to these more general points I have a very concrete question: Will was saying in his resignment from the board position: "Thirdly, changes in how the openSUSE project is handled by SUSE shifted many new tasks to the Board."
Maybe I missed it, but I have no idea what this is about. I think this has to be explained a bit more in detail, not by Will but by the remaining acting board, as this affects a potential new board member directly.
What kind of tasks are these?
One of the tasks that is planned is the management of a budget. At the board meeting in April at SUSE it was indicated that SUSE would like to have the board take over some financial responsibility. This is the "financial transparency" topic that has popped up every now and then and is of public record in the board meeting minutes from April. This is a task that can probably not be easily transferred to the community at large. Another task are the events. oSC13 was the first community organized event but SUSE was still heavily involved in choosing the location and deciding that this is the direction things should proceed, i.e. more control for the community. For oSC14 the board initiated the location search and made the decision of the location, rinse and repeat for oSC15. Organization of Hackathons has also been nominally transferred to the community, for those we have not found any volunteers yet to run the show. For any of the events the board does not want to assume organization responsibility, and this is not possible. For the organization of events it will always be necessary to have teams from the community handle the organization in mostly autonomous fashion. We also get a fair number of trademark requests that at some point were handled by SUSE. The unfortunate trend of separation of the openSUSE team from the community that many have noticed and mentioned in private mails to the board ML has also put the board into the position of being a conduit. Something we are mostly uncomfortable with, but that is the current situation.
Why are these board specific and can not be shifted to "the openSUSE community" in general?
Some tasks, such as the first three tasks given above are probably best handled by those the community elected rather than the community at large. Other tasks are being handled by the community, for example the event organization. While the board handled location search and the location decision, the community is in complete control of the organization of the event.
How can SUSE 'assign' tasks to the board at all?
This works on multiple levels. One way to "hand things over" to the board/community is via discussion, at the board level or the ML. Another way is of course by simply no longer performing the task.
What kind of relationship do we have here meanwhile?
A strained one. The transition from Boosters to openSUSE Team has not been easy so far and continues to be difficult. At least some of the community is aware of the difficulties as we have had issues raised on the board ML, we are trying to work on these. We would rather not address these in detail on the list to avoid bikeshedding and mud slinging.
What is the role of the board,
The role of the board is changing a bit but is still predominantly governed by the board charter and guidelines:
- stay out of technical stuff - be a steward of the guiding principles - help with conflict resolution - present community issues and concerns to SUSE as the primary sponsor - be the decision making power of last resort
What is obviously changing is the "decision making power of last resort" as we already have made decisions about oSC14 for example and if the financial transparency plan moves forward there will need to decision made about money.
Although the board has experienced an increase in decision making "power", that does not imply the board is also the executor of actions. As mentioned, in the end it is still up to the community at large to rally around the project, events etc. to make things happen. As such any decisions that can be transferred to the community at large will be transferred. No one on the current board has any interest of building empires or playing any hidden games. In the end the community at large needs to be in control of the project. That a few elected people from the community get together and make decisions about where a specific event will be located does not take away from the fact that the event, in this example is controlled and organized by the community and not those that were elected.
what of the SUSE team
We would like to see the openSUSE Team at SUSE mostly just like any other team in the community. However, the team does have somewhat of a privileged position as there is still a number of things that are directly controlled by the team, or team leader. The SUSE team presents a very concentrated force of people that can work in unison on openSUSE as a directed full time team. Thus, this can easily over power the efforts of a loosely connected group of volunteers that work in their "spare" time. Unfortunately the view about immersion of the SUSE team in the community, that the board feels would be most beneficial to all, is not necessarily shared.
(for example), what other "forces" play a role?
At the moment there are no other forces pulling on the board, or the project that we are aware off.
What is the status quo
That we still have many rough edges and we need to keep working to get to a better state of affairs.
and what is the plan?
We believe the plan of having more community responsibility is sound at its core. But obviously there is a can of worms of details, and a million different ways to get there. The details and the approach is where a lot of work is left to be done.
Hopefully this provides some of the insight you were looking for. We realize that we have been short on details in certain areas. This is in the interest in avoiding flames we probably do not need.
Thanks for raising the question, The openSUSE Board