[Ambassadors] EMEA Membership Questions

Christoph Wickert christoph.wickert at googlemail.com
Sat May 10 20:32:52 UTC 2008

Hi all,

first of all I'd like to say thanks to Gerold who called me up early
yesterday morning to dispel my concerns. We talked for more than a hour,
in the end Gerold was late for work but he still did not manage to ally
my doubts. 

Whenever we did not agree it came out to 
      * "This is a theoretical case and will never happen" 
      * "Nonsense" ("Quatsch mit Soße" for the German readers) or 
      * "Bullshit"
On the other hand I wasn't able to expose my problems to Gerold, so I'm
going to outline my concerns once more, maybe somebody else will be able
to meet them.

Am Samstag, den 10.05.2008, 13:19 +0200 schrieb Jeroen van Meeuwen: 
> Robert M. Albrecht wrote:
> > Hi,
> > 
> > Sandro "red" Mathys schrieb:
> >  > Thank you Christoph, I already thought I'm the only guy who's thinking
> >  > something's going terribly wrong there.
> >  >
> >  > +1 on everything, especially the EUR 128.
> >  >
> >  > Even though I can afford that money quite easily, I really have no idea
> >  > how that helps me to save money for travels to events a.s.o.
> >  >
> > 
> > The membership fee is astronomicaly high, thats correct. For many people 
> > or countrys is out of the question. And I think it`s the highest 
> > membership fee I ever saw.
> > 
> > The interessting question is, what happens with this money ?
> > 
> The most interesting question is, what do you think is an appropriate
> membership fee? Without that kind of feedback, I can only guess. Talk to me.

I'm also member of another FOSS support NPO (a German "e. V." just like
Fedora EMEA) and we only have a symbolic fee of 1 EUR a month there. So
far we haven't had any problems with that (except for we don't have much
money, but we hardly have any expenses ether). 

> I can't believe we're having this "discussion", while all I hear is "the
> membership fee is too high". Maybe it is, maybe it's not.
> I know there's reasons for the membership fee to be 128 EURO/year. 

According to Gerold there were two reasons for the 128 EUR:
a) "we are binary people" and 128 EUR equals 2*2*2*2*2*2*2.
b) "we are having the same fee in my local LUG, too"
Honestly I don't think that any of these sounds convincing. Maybe there
are better reasons, but this is what Gerold told me on the phone. 

> Other 
> people agreed with the proposal back in the day when we founded this 
> NPO. We've had new members join since, and obviously they agree with the 
> membership fee. 

How many members from Africa or the middle east have joined and how many
European members does the EMEA have in comparison?

> They think it's important the NPO is doing the right 
> thing for everyone out there more so then they think it's important for 
> the NPO to do what they personally think is right.
> Are you just bluntly disagreeing or is this based on every possible
> argument you could think of? Do you know what it means to have a low fee 
> so that everyone can afford to join, although it isn't necessary, nor 
> required, because decisions made by the NPO and it's members is already 
> supposed to, if not required to, follow upstream, which is you, your 
> peers, or anyone else that does or does not join?

Is the EMEA e. V. really bound to our decisions? I doubt that very much.
And what if ambassadors and EMEA disagree on a particular issue? Gerold
argued, that this won't happen because the main goal of the EMEA e. V.
is the same as the ambassador's: To promote and support Fedora. But even
if we have the same goal there might be different opinions on how to
achieve this goal, so I think sooner or later there might be conflicts.

Imagine this: 5 ambassadors want Fedora to be on Foo-Expo. On the other
hand 5 ambassadors who are also Fedora EMEA members disagree and think
it is better to visit an event called Bar-Con. When it comes down to
voting guess who will get financial support for their event...

> How does one, given a low membership fee so that everyone can join, 
> arraign a General Membership Meeting requiring a two-third majority of 
> all votes cast (not just all attendees)? The consequences of lowering 
> the membership fee are rather obvious, as too many members against low 
> fees will not be able to gather on such General Members Meeting, thereby 
> practically eliminating it's mandate.

I agree this might become a problem, but I think the bigger problem will
be: The EMEA covers three continents, so the distance and the resulting
costs are a much bigger hurdle for the attendees. Of course we could
solve this problem by raising the member fee even more. Why not make it
let's say a 1000 Euros, because people who can spend a thousand Euros
for the NPO can also afford the travel costs the the members meeting. ;(

I think right now we are morally eliminating the mandate by making the
EMEA an exclusive group of wealthy people. As Gerold said the cost
reduced membership is available only for pupils, students and other
people "who do not work full time". This means that the ambassadors from
Middle East and Africa will have to pay the full membership fee too.
This should be reconsidered, because one cannot compare rich countries
in Europe with countries in the Middle East or Africa. 

> What if the membership fee is lowered to anything anyone can afford, and 
> it's members, whom have the ultimate power, start disagreeing with the 
> Fedora Project Board, or even FAmSCo? Do you think that's beneficial to 
> anyone? 

No, but I think 
      * agreement or disagreement is not a question of money or the
        number of members but a question of opinion. 
      * making participation depend on money isn't beneficial ether.

> Don't you think it is really, really important to prevent that 
> from ever happening? Could not be one way to prevent that from ever 
> happening, be, to say:
> "We are an NPO that does RAISE and SPEND money about which we decide not
> on our own, but follow our upstream, our peers as well as report back to
> them, because that's where every single contributor, our target, can
> vote, discuss, elect and be elected, and in order to do so, before you
> become a member of this NPO, you should realize that you are becoming a
> puppet of the community".

In your last mail you wrote that for legal requirements only members are
allowed to vote, but now you say you don't decide on your own. I think
only one of these two statements can be right.

> Not the Fedora EMEA NPO, nor it's board, nor it's members, are pulling
> any strings. Don't forget that. You are. As it should be.
> Now what about that membership fee? Talk to me.

I have no idea, we can only gather suggestions and decide on them later.
If it needs to be binary for me 2*2*2*2*2=32 EUR would be fine.

> I understand you are becoming a member, for which I'm very grateful. 
> Note that this mail is not as much a reply to yours, as well as a reply 
> to everyone expressing similar concerns.

I'm not sure if I will become a member of the NPO. I'd love to but for
now I can ultimately say: I'm not going to spend 128 EUR a year for the
EMEA. Why not? 
     1. I'm already spending a lot of time on Fedora: I'm maintaining
        nearly 50 packages, I'm doing artwork, going to Linux events and
        so on. 
     2. It's not that I cannot afford another 128 €, but for me FOSS is
        not about money in first place but about community and working
     3. I am already spending a lot of money for charitable purposes. 
     4. If I'm going to spend another 128 EUR on charity there are lots
        of organizations who in my eyes need the money more urgent than

> We'll talk some more at LinuxTag, in real life, and when we do, I'm sure 
> you'll appreciate the dedication the people involved have with regards 
> to this NPO, their passion and vision, whether a member of the NPO or 
> not. I'm excited!

Me too. Looking forward to see all of you in Berlin.


> Kind regards,
> Jeroen van Meeuwen
> -kanarip

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