"What is the Fedora Project?"

Paul W. Frields stickster at gmail.com
Wed Oct 7 15:36:49 UTC 2009

** interrupting my longer original response to include some input on
this subthread **

On Wed, Oct 07, 2009 at 10:09:58AM -0500, Mike McGrath wrote:
> On Wed, 7 Oct 2009, inode0 wrote:
> > On Tue, Oct 6, 2009 at 11:11 PM, John Poelstra <poelstra at redhat.com> wrote:
> > >
> > > http://meetbot.fedoraproject.org/fedora-board-meeting/2009-10-01/fedora-board-meeting.2009-10-01-16.03.log.html
> >
> > I'm going to poke my nose in again to let you all know that these
> > discussions fill me with trepidation. Back during previous discussions
> > about the mission statement I asked bluntly if that was the vision of
> > the board or if that was a restatement by the board of the vision of
> > the community? I believe I was told in no uncertain terms it was the
> > latter and that eased my concerns about that discussion. (I still have
> > concern that by codifying the current state we turn it into dogma and
> > the long term effect of injecting dogma into the culture I believe
> > will stifle the creativity and innovation of our contributors.)
> >
> I've said it on the board list so I'll say it here.  I strongly believe
> that volunteers can be lead and I believe volunteers can lead.  Right now
> Fedora is a place for everyone to just come and do whatever they want
> which is harming us in the long term.  There's plenty of room for everyone
> in the Linux universe.  I understand that by narrowing our focus we might
> lose some contributors who disagree with our values and mission.  But
> that's better then not having one and having volunteers work against
> eachother because they joined The Fedora Project thinking it was one thing
> only to find it's something else.

I think this is precisely right.  The reason Fedora works, and can
innovate quickly, is because we are not a popular democracy.  We are a
meritocracy in which leadership comes from people who have the passion
to make their vision happen.  Look at the North American Ambassadors
program in which John works as an example.  The many advances over the
last two years that have happened there, have happened *precisely*
because the people who were interested in the work moved things
forward through their own time and toil.

It would be naive for Board members to think that because of a certain
organizational position, they're somehow going to ignore the community
and force an incredibly unpopular vision on the community.  Everyone
on the Board does understand that there is no magic wand to wave, and
in the end we'll all have to participate in discussing and solving the
issues together.  That's the point of having this conversation here on
FAB.  The Board's mission is to guide and lead[1], and we require
elections for this leadership body to ensure that people on the Board
are empowered to do that by the community.

Over the years the Fedora Project has had a Board, we've never to my
knowledge had the Board take some crazy direction that the majority of
the community found unpalatable.  No one is suggesting that the Fedora
Project should suddenly change its stance on freedom, its desire to
release great free and open source software to the world, or its
ability to provide people of any walk of life a place where they can
build cool communities of contribution.  But we should absolutely not
shirk from a responsibility not just to continually innovate in code,
but also to allow Fedora to shake off current or perceived barriers to
growth and participation.

* * *
[1] https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Board#Introduction

Paul W. Frields                                http://paul.frields.org/
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