Friday, 7 February 2020

Re: Call for nominations: Developer Membership Board

On Fri, Feb 07, 2020 at 08:37:13AM +0000, Mark Shuttleworth wrote:
> I think public nominations might be more nerve-wracking for good
> candidates than inspiring.

Back when I was one of the people running DMB elections I did think
about this and ended up considering that having public nominations had a
risk of putting people off for two reasons.

- One, and this one certainly would have (still would) applied to me:
if I see that people are going to be running who I think are
stronger candidates than me then it's scary to put myself up against
them and I probably just wouldn't.
- Two, if you can see that enough people are going to be on the ballot
already and you weren't super up for being on the board then you
might not stand which would result in a narrowed field.

Maybe private nominations aren't the best way to solve either of those
issues but it feels on balance to me like it's still the right choice.

> My sense is that we would benefit from more pro-active identification of
> people who 'do things the right way', and reach out to them directly.
> Often, good people don't think of themselves as leaders, they just like
> to do things the right way because that's how they are. Identifying them
> and helping them see that they can have a positive impact through the
> DMB, together with offering to mentor them if difficult issues come up,
> may give them the confidence to step forward.

I think this is really important. I do remember us having similar
problems finding nominees in the past, and I approached some folks who I
thought would be good on the board and gave them some gentle cajoling.
Some of them even got elected and have performed well ;-). I think
having a personal push from someone you know in the community can go a
very long way. So yes, please ask your colleagues directly and privately
if they would like to help the project for two years.

> We might also want to look at the way we structure the work. If it's
> always an hour at the same time, it means that only certain time zones
> will be well represented. Maybe we need to find a way to cover more
> timezones carefully, without pushing anybody into very difficult times.

There are two alternating times for the meetings-

BUT. Having difficulty attending the evening meetings was one of the
main things that caused me to semi burn out of the DMB. I used to get on
my laptop in all sorts of weird places (e.g. the climbing centre) and it
felt like a big chore. In the end I didn't want to do it any more. But
it wasn't that clear to me at the time what the problem was - it just
presented as generally not wanting to be on the board any more. Part of
it was also because we struggled to achieve quorum so it felt like my
presence was necessary all of the time for things to get done. If the
group as a whole is an energised one then this wouldn't happen so much.

Was that just me or do other DMBers feel the same? The procedural parts
of this are within the power of the board to fix if it thinks that it is
a problem: none of it is set in stone and you can devise new ways of


Iain Lane [ ]
Debian Developer [ ]
Ubuntu Developer [ ]