Sunday, March 21, 2010

Maemo Community Council: Candidates Getting Grilled

The Maemo Community Council election is drawing near, and the nomination process is closed.  As you have probably heard by now, the candidate list is quite strong, comprising former and current Council members, community veterans, and relative newcomers with strong community contributions.  With the hype surrounding Maemo, the N900, MeeGo, and our uncertain future, this is the hottest political arena that our community has ever seen.

It is therefore with great honour that Mobile Tablets! is presenting this unofficial Q&A with the candidates as part of the lead up to the election. 

Background to this Q&A:

All candidates were contacted personally to see if they would take part in a Q&A.  All agreed, however, due to some confusion in the instructions (for which I apologize deeply to them), it was unclear to some where and how to respond to the questions that I posed.  Most of that was resolved, however, I did not get Andrew F Black's (andrewfblack) responses at the time of this writing.  As I wanted to get this post out before elections started, I humbly apologize to Andrew F Black that the post had to be published without his responses.  I will commit to ammending this post with his responses if and when they arrive.

And now without further delay, let the grilling begin!

1. What is motivating you to run for Maemo Community Council?
Randall Arnold (Texrat): This time it's to help maintain continuity from one council to the next, as well as to help facilitate transfer of successful assets and projects to MeeGo while acting to calm the concerned membership.
 Cosimo Kroll (zehjotkah): To help out where I can.
Arek Stopczynski (hopbeat): I believe that for this election, there should be 1-2 (fairly) new community members elected. The worst thing that can happen to the Council is if only 'old' members are elected (the ones that already have been in the Council or close to it). Or the other way round.
I think that I can bring this new energy and approach into the Council, something which is and will be extremely important in those times. 
I consider Maemo/MeeGo to be an important player on the market, because of philosophy ('root access'), user experience (more desktop-like) and developer perspective (Linux development for mobile phones). Being interested (also professionally) in all those three aspects, I would like to see the platform flourish. Community is an important part of Maemo and future MeeGo, and Council is an important part of this Community. Having the best possible Council is then important for me personally. If you want something done right, do it yourself.
Ryan Abel (GeneralAntilles): A lot of things. This is an exciting time for mobile Linux and, I believe, the beginning of something that people will look back on in 10 years as the time when mobile computing changed forever. I see it as an incredible opportunity to be involved with this and help shape the direction things take towards the future.

Plus, I just like helping to make good things happen. ;)
Javier Pedro (javispedro): By the time I was nominated, I felt that a certain trait was missing from the set of nominees that previous councils (or at least, previous council elections candidates) had. Clearly, this is no longer the case -- this trait is now covered both by me and candidates nominated after me. Still, my views are of course not entirely shadowed by any single other candidate and as such the original motivation still stands.
Andrew Flegg (Jaffa): I've been a member of the Maemo community since I first read about the 770 in May 2005, and rediscovered it a couple of months before launch. With many others, I started hanging out at and subscribed to the maemo-* mailing lists. I found that I could add value in letting the forum folk know what was going on on the mailing lists and so grew into a very active member of the Maemo community.

With the launch of each successive device, I'd like to think my contributions have increased. But in early 2008, Nokia were increasingly asking the community questions of the form "should we hold a summit?", "should we open source X?" and no-one in the community felt empowered to answer. I proposed the creation of a community council to speak on the community's behalf - and the idea's proved successful.

After two terms on the council, I felt it was time to step down and give another set of candidates a go. These last six months have given my a fresh perspective and I hope to combine that with my experience and leadership qualities as we face the single largest change in Maemo's history: MeeGo.

Attila Csipa (attila77/achipa): The Community Council is in front of a crossroads, and I feel that the future of the Council as an institution will largely depend on what it does (and how successfully). Change is inevitable, and I believe I can help this period be transitioned, solving current problems with a mindful eye on the future. I think that it is very important that the Council has 'doers' in it's ranks, people who can and will commit time and effort to achieve goals, and are better at solving problems better than lamenting about them.

Andrea Grandi (andy80): I already manage a smaller community (the Linux user group of my city) and I think I could reuse some of the skills I learned and apply them in Maemo Community. I also have a couple of ideas to get more developers involved and to make the whole Community stronger.

Steven Yeager (YoDude): I always believed that the Community Council we elect should have some representation from the average customer/user base. I also believe that the forums are, and will continue to be the communication means of choice for many engaged users.
At the time of my declaration a current council member who I had voted for in the past recently had posted…  
“It always frustrated me that the decision makers often chose to marginalize the forum users because they were too many, too unruly, too... unmanageable.  By doing the important business on the mailing lists and IRC instead of the forums, it kept the noise down, but at the expense of losing a huge pool of resources."
… I share his views on this issue. Unfortunately, for personal reasons this councilman had decided not to run for reelection.
I was his decision not to run that motivated to me run this term. At the time I believe only 2 other candidates had declared and I feared that these views might not be represented by the future council.  Since then the slate has filled out nicely.  I hope that through the publicly viewed discourse that you have provided here on your blog and any subsequent posts on the forums, the issues that are important to me and I believe many others, will also become part of the platform of all candidates.
If that becomes the case, these views will be represented by the council no matter who is elected.

2. Effective Council representation requires a commitment of significant time and energy on your part. How are you planning to fulfill your Council duties, while maintaining all your other personal, professional and/or academic responsibilities.
Randall Arnold (Texrat): Same way I did last term: commit to this being a part of my life.  It wasn't easy last term but this work is important enough to me to make the time. 
Cosimo Kroll (zehjotkah): Good management. Currently I'm making videos about the N900 and I'm very active in the community. The activity in the community will fusion with the activity as a concil member. If then is not enough time, I can still decide to not make a video on this day. 
Arek Stopczynski (hopbeat): I am a busy person, both working and studying. I however feel that there is still place in my 24 hours day for involvement in Council works.
On personal (and practical) note, I do have very flexible schedule in both my academic activities and work, both regarding hours of the day (and night) and days of the year. Neither real-time conferences nor trips should be a problem (as they have never been). Due to my work, I live in two time zones anyway (Europe and US). Living alone, I don't have to worry about working at night or weekends. I guess everyone who has been a student knows how this works :)
Ryan Abel (GeneralAntilles): Same way I always do. ;) Invest the free time where I have it. Sometimes there's more of it and sometimes there's less, but I try to be as productive as I can as often as I can.
Javier Pedro (javispedro): Well, like every other community member :). This will still be a in-free-time-only activity, and I think that the sprint system promotes the search of proper available free time slots.

Andrew Flegg (Jaffa): As I've been on the council twice before, including once as chair, I'm aware of the demands on the time that it entails. I wouldn't have stood if I was confident I could make the time to give the role the dedication it deserves.
However, I also have thoughts on how to reduce the burden, in particular with the monthly sprint meetings. Currently, these are run by the council chair, but I believe that it would be more efficient, more transparent and more effective if the Council and Nokia both provided input into the meeting and then it was run, and chaired, by the team lead: Niels Breet.

Attila Csipa (attila77/achipa): A formal Council representation would only give additional legitimacy to my current efforts and agenda, which I'm already representing and investing considerable effort into. I don't want a Council hat for the vitrine, but to put it to good use - if I can't, I will return it for other folks to be able to pick up, I think that is the only fair thing to do. That said, I would have never accepted to be a Council candidate if I doubted I will be able to commit time and effort to it.

Andrea Grandi (andy80): I'll simply play less to Playstation and online games, dedicating more of my spare time to something really useful :)

Steven Yeager (YoDude): I work in the physical world and away from a connected desktop computer for most of my day.That is what attracted me to Nokia’s Internet Tablet concept in the first place.  Like anyone else, I don’t undertake a task to be less than successful. In the pursuit of this success many of us have seen our work week increase to 60, 70, or even 80 hours. Fortunately because of my professional success and the position that I hold, I have been able to secure commitments from my employer and co-workers so that I can limit my employed work week to 40 hours for at least the next 6 to 8 months.
Of course prior commitments, vacations, and other family events like the birth of a child will always occur, but that is one of the reasons why there are more than one council member I would think.

3. The current Council has been criticized for lack of formal communication on their activities. What formal methods and frequency of communication do you believe are appropriate? Should all Council members share this responsibility or only a select few?
Randall Arnold (Texrat): There were lapses in every medium.  The main formal methods, email and the forum, work well when used.  The challenge is making sure every council member engages, at the very least to say "I can't be bothered right now".  Frequency can be on an as-needed basis as well as regular meetings, once every two weeks working for the latter I think.  All members should participate.
Cosimo Kroll (zehjotkah): I think only one or two council members should have the responsibility to inform the community. That does not mean, that the others are not allowed to inform as well. But these two members have to inform the community in form of a weekly/monthly report.
Arek Stopczynski (hopbeat): I agree with the statement that there is not enough formal communication about Council activities. Whether this should be done by chosen persons or by all members, depends on the structure of elected Council, both regarding personal issues (this formal channel should not be monopolized by one fraction) and chosen responsibilities division (if any, in a natural way persons responsible for certain aspects should be the ones communicating them).
There are two main methods of communication that could be useful in this situation. Formal reports from the works of Council published in set intervals and (less formal) Council blog, an aggregator for all the members. I should definitely see the second option being done, the first one (for example in a form of two/three weeks wiki pages reports) depends on the actual works of the Council and if the results are suitable for such reports.
In short: make the community aware that there is a Council, that it works on something and may even sometimes ask for help. 
Ryan Abel (GeneralAntilles): When I served my first two terms on the council we made a lot of use of the blog on I think having at least one member pushing a sort of "state of the community" post at least once a month would be helpful. But, much like the paid staff, frequent communication and open working methods are a necessity from all council members.
Javier Pedro (javispedro): When I was still considering whether to accept or decline my nomination, one of the first things I did was to try to search which kind of activities previous councils did. I found the awful parts (the council blog still talking about the emulators, which means it's nearly as outdated as my own blog which is very, very outdated) and the better parts (like the public logs of the sprints). While all community members should still take care of communication and, more importantly, leaving logs of their own actions, more formal methods of communication will be useful but not necessarily on a timed basis. For example, Jaffa's MWKN covers much more than what the council blog covered (and he's not a council member!), and is currently a much more useful resource, up to the point that the council blog's usefulness seems diminished.

Andrew Flegg (Jaffa): I think all council members should be communicating with, and participating in, the community. That doesn't mean that everyone has to participate in every medium - however, some must.

One thing I think would help is that when key issues are facing the community, a single member is identified as the coordinator. These half a dozen issues could be presented as a table on the council
homepage and could, currently, say "VDVsx: extras testing & QA"; "gcobb: optification"; "Texrat: community outreach". This wouldn't preclude anyone else (either within, or outside, the council) participating but it makes clear who's responsible for pushing it forward.

Indeed, the coordinator need not even be on the council. Valerio Valerio (VDVsx) asked the first council's blessing to start the ball rolling on's first Google Summer of Code and this kind of high-level task ownership is something I'd like to see encouraged.

Attila Csipa (attila77/achipa): I would like to see a Council weekly, much in the vein of the Maemo Weekly News. Ideally this would be a rotational duty (so everyone needs to write a single short report of 'what happened to/in the Council' less than once a month). While not a 'fun' idea and the word 'report' makes a lot of people uneasy, I agree that more communication from the Council is welcome, even if it's a 'nothing happened', just to keep people in the loop. Nokia has a very tight disclosure policy - but we don't have to (nor can afford to). Sprints are supposed to help this, but it is hard to see what's really going on in a continuous matter unless one is keeping a close eye on things - which is largely unnecessary as that is one of the tasks of the Council.

Andrea Grandi (andy80): Improving the communication between the Council and the Community is a must. My idea is that the Council should only schedule and coordinate the activities. These should be completed by Community members, awarding them with karma points. Of course there will be activities that cannot be shared but this is another story.

Steven Yeager (YoDude):
All elected representatives of a community share the responsibility of communicating their activities with the community who elected them. However, formal communication from the council either with the community or with Nokia should be agreed upon by the council in total, in advance. The council should speak for the community as one “voice”.
A formal communication with the community should be required on a monthly basis in my opinion.
In keeping with the councils stated goals to…
“At some point, the maemo-community mailing list will be integrated with the Community subforum at Talk. Until then, the Council will use the Community subforum and link to important items in maemo-community, identified by using the [Council] tag”
…found on the Wiki page located at  >>
I believe the council should use the forums for these communications as much as possible.
I hope to expand on this further in my answers to the following questions.

4. The Maemo community has grown large, especially since the introduction of the N900. With that, the issues the Community is facing has grown in stride. Presently, there has been no formal division within the Council, other than identification of a Chairperson. Should members of the Council have roles or portfolios? If yes, what portfolios are large enough to warrant a Council member to devote a majority of their time to them?
Randall Arnold (Texrat): Absolutely.  Each member should champion a cause or causes and perform as a community facilitator for activities involved.  Project manager may be a better term.  I can answer the portfolio question best with examples: application testing as Valerio has championed, community outreach as I have, etc.  Size of the project should not be as much a focus as impact on the community.
Cosimo Kroll (zehjotkah): Yes, I think the community members should have specific roles. For example as I've said one or two should be responsable for the community communication. Again one or two should be the contact for Nokia, and later, as we will have meego the contact for Intel, too.
And the last one is thecontact for the linux foundation. So we have splitted tasks for every council member.
Arek Stopczynski (hopbeat): If any roles in the Council should be introduced, those should be more about being coordinators for certain tasks than being one and only responsible for various things. I think that this is a good idea, allowing people to focus on certain responsibilities and making it clear for the community who is the right person to contact.
Regarding the scope of the tasks, this will be something life will tell. I think that those can be both large blocks (like sprints coordination, extras testing process, meego cooperation) and small, well defined tasks within this scope.
Ryan Abel (GeneralAntilles): To a certain extent, people seem to fall into the role that most suits them, but I don't think this process should be formalized beyond, perhaps, having council members pick up certain pet projects they're particularly interested in and act as a go-to person for them.
Javier Pedro (javispedro): At this point I don't think that any portfolia is large enough to warrant a permanent Council member to it. As with any previous councils, there will be a natural tendency for each candidate to concentrate on the "roles" they prefer, which may actually be the reason the community chosed them.

Andrew Flegg (Jaffa): I don't believe specific roles to be necessary, apart from the single point man. Obviously, different members will have different interests, but the main point of the council is to empower people (who are already participating and contributing widely to the community) to speak on the community's behalf. Therefore, the main thing a council member has to do is "carry on doing what they're doing".

Attila Csipa (attila77/achipa): Not every Council member has the same skills, and I think that delegating tasks to particular persons can be a good thing if there is an agreement and general trust on the side of the Council. Since the election platforms are not role-specific, this would happen on formation of a Council, depending on it's actual members. In effect, these things could (and in a way, already are) done as particular tasks in the Sprint process. I would not even shy away from the Council delegating certain tasks to community members or creating task groups (within legal and technical limits, of course) - it should not take a Council membership to be able to push a certain agenda. Again, the Sprint process already provides a way for this, but it is largely unused/underutilized.

Andrea Grandi (andy80): I don't think there should be any particular division. The Council should simply work together to the tasks and, of course, if someone is more skilled in any particular task he could choose to lead it.

Steven Yeager (YoDude): Reoccurring tasks such as communication with Nokia, developer relations, member relations, forum administration, council elections, or whatever additional responsibilities that the council may have could be managed by committee with reports required sometime before each formal communication.
I realize that given the size of the council these committees will likely have only two members, however it is the committee concept that should be used to provide coverage overlap, manage responsibilities, and help identify the right people for the right jobs.

5. Current terms are 6 months. Is this sufficient time for having impact, or is it too short or too long?
Randall Arnold (Texrat): I think it was okay up to now but believe 12 months will make more sense with MeeGo.
Cosimo Kroll (zehjotkah): I think that the time is just right, because the community, devices and personal situations are changing very fast.  If the period would be shorter, the council would have no chance to achieve important projects. If the period would be longer, maybe someone would not be happy with the council.
Arek Stopczynski (hopbeat): I believe that in current situation it may prove to be too short of a period. It is however a matter of how many members of the Council are re-elected, so the continuity is preserved. I think that cadence of 9 months would be better.
Ryan Abel (GeneralAntilles): 6 months feels a lot longer from the other side, trust me. ;) Council members are free to run again as often as they like. Assuming a candidate remains popular, they have as much time as they need to push whatever agenda they'd like to push, but the 6 month period leaves the option open for members who don't want to continue their obligation (for whatever reason) to step down, while offering a much lower barrier to entry for potential candidates. 6 months is a much more reasonable obligation period for most people than a full year.
Javier Pedro (javispedro): In computing, a decade is an eternity. In this very dynamic handheld devices world, 6 months is half an eternity (Nokia releases a new (not-necessarily-Maemo) device every few months!). I think that 6 months is enough.

Andrew Flegg (Jaffa): Before the MeeGo announcement, I was considering running on a platform based around three principal changes:
  * paid contributors to become more empowered and accountable.   * Council terms to be made 12 months.   * Council members able to resign.

I've reconsidered that position in light of the changes which will affect the community in ways of we're not yet sure. However, all three were interrelated: my empowering the members but having a well-defined and concrete mechanism for feeding in requirements (on the same footing as Nokia) would put the council in a position to be involved in performance reviews. By having a 12-month term, there would be enough continuity and knowledge within the council to make this feasible. Also, a 12-month term would mean a single council would be responsible for the yearly summit, and be in a position to be involved in Nokia World.

However, in the current council, we've seen that high-profile community members with the best of intentions can - for various reasons - not have the time necessary to devote to the role. Therefore, council members should have the ability to resign; especially when having to commit to the role for 12 months. This should also encourage more candidates in the election, as there'd be a clear mechanism to decide, after the fact, that it wasn't for them.

Perhaps, with the MeeGo transition, this lengthened term would be a good idea. I'd be interested in hearing other people's thoughts on the topic.

Attila Csipa (attila77/achipa): It's certainly not too short. 12 months could be an alternative, but given how fast the community is changing, I think 6 months is a better choice. We already have a problem of bringing new blood to the council (or even the activities surrounding it) lengthening the term would only make this worse.

Andrea Grandi (andy80): I think is a bit short, I would prefer 12 months, but even 6 months are ok. We just have to hurry up to be sure to do all we want to do.

Steven Yeager (YoDude): Although changes to the council charter I believe is currently beyond the scope of what a new candidate can expect to accomplish, this is another item that could be examined and reported upon by a council committee.
Using the committee approach to better manage council activities itself may require longer terms. Or perhaps term overlaps should be examined to help provide continuity and to keep the election process in the forefront of our communities collective conscience. This in turn could promote more community involvement with the election process which in turn will benefit all.

6. The Council is privy to certain knowledge that a normal community member is not. For you to function in your role, this is understandable. However, the situation may arise where a subset of the Council may be made privy to some knowledge, as happened recently with the MeeGo announcement. Do you agree with Nokia's decision, or do you think the entire Council should have been given the same information at the same time, and under the same restrictions?
Randall Arnold (Texrat): Even given the explanation, I disagree with the decision.  Not simply because only one member was privy, but because the one who was could do nothing with the knowledge.  That made it pointless.  Either inform the entire council or none.  If information security is so big a concern, make it none... but be prepared for a challenge afterward.
Cosimo Kroll (zehjotkah): I'm fine with that IF it does have good reasons. I think Nokia had good reasons to not let everyone know the meego release. 
Arek Stopczynski (hopbeat): Nokia should not create such splits within Council. Not because the members are entitled to any information, but because this is harmful for the Council and community: if there is a reason why some members should be excluded from certain information, it means that the system Nokia-Council-Community doesn't work and needs to be fixed. 
I however do not know the particular case with MeeGo announcement and, as I appreciate that there may be extraordinary situations in Nokia-Council contacts (the above is my opinion about those contacts in general), I cannot just write 'it was wrong', as I do not know. However, the less it happens the better.
Ryan Abel (GeneralAntilles): I don't particularly agree with Nokia's decision with the MeeGo announcement, but I can understand it. Unfortunately hedging like that just ties the hands of whoever actually gets told. At least when the whole council is involved they have an opportunity to plan for whatever big announcement is coming down the pipe, but a single person doesn't have many more options available than sitting and waiting.
Javier Pedro (javispedro): Note that one of the usual Council FAQ answers is "No NDAs were signed". Since the council represents the community, I don't believe that the council having more information than the community to be "right thing". Clearly, for organizational purposes, this may be required; ideally only for short periods of time.

Andrew Flegg (Jaffa): In general, the council operates best when it knows the same information the rest of the community do. I'd certainly be wary of having wide-ranging and long-running NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) which could hamstring the ability of a council member to do their job effectively.
However, if an NDA is for a specific event, I think it can be considered individually. For example, when the N900 was about to be launched, Nokia emailed the council saying they'd like the community to be involved in the launch; however they couldn't tell us when it would be. We decided between ourselves that Alan Bruce, Tim Samoff and I would sign a time-limited, specific NDA; whilst Kees Jongenburger and Ryan Abel wouldn't.
I think this provided a good balance; I'm not sure I'd ever agree with the whole council signing an NDA at the same time.

Attila Csipa (attila77/achipa): The biggest problem is that this currently seems to be decided on a case-by- case basis. I certainly would like to avoid situations where only parts of the Council know about something, as it creates points of conflict, and also defeats the point of the Council - one of the fundamental tasks of the Council is to act as a bridge between the community and the other stakeholders, hardly possible if the Council is separated into knows and know nots. Having an appointed liaison to particular companies or issues is a different matter - it's always good to know who is the point of contact and ultimate source for something, but limiting him/her in what can (not) be disclosed is pointless.

Andrea Grandi (andy80): It would be nice if at least all the Council members had the same level of knowledge, of course after signing a NDA, but this is not a decision the Council can take. If Nokia and Intel think that more people could share these knowledges then it wil be fine for me.

Steven Yeager (YoDude): Nokia is a business.  The decisions that it makes are the essence of its success and survival in a very competitive market. I have no problem with how it chooses to communicate events to the council that may affect that business.
An individual councilman doesn’t have control over that and here again; the committee approach may also help. A “steering “committee by nature would be a subset of the council.

7. It seems that this term of the Maemo Community Council will be a busy one with MeeGo unfolding, possibly a new device rolling out of Finland, and of course, organization of the annual Summit. What priorities do you think the Council should keep during this term?

Randall Arnold (Texrat): Main priority is ensure the health of the current community while migrating to MeeGo.  That won't be easy.  We have already seen the anxiety MeeGo has introduced.  We need to 1) push Nokia to answer hard questions about the future of the N900 vis-a-vis MeeGo and 2) listen with empathy to member concerns and see what we can do to address them.
Cosimo Kroll (zehjotkah): Unify the community. Help to form a big community with talented people.
Arek Stopczynski (hopbeat): As the MeeGo will be approaching to day one, it will be Councils priority to ensure panic-free environment. Many members of Maemo community will get afraid that their n900 is going to fell apart (metaphorically speaking [mostly]).  If this happens, it will have a very negative impact on the Maemo community as well as the newly forming MeeGo one. It must be clearly stated that we are experiencing evolution (raaapid one), no one is going to be left behind, MeeGo monsters will not take over and so on. This will be a difficult task for the Council, but with (hopefully) unified views of the members it can be achieved.
This Summit will be a crucial one (exact weight will depend on Nokia and Intel timing). Good organization and giving people reason to participate will be the most important task. If at this point (active) members will get apathetic, not seeing reason to participate in a summit of a soon-to-be-dead (in their thinking) platform, the community will fail. 
Ryan Abel (GeneralAntilles): Depending on Nokia's decision regarding MeeGo-on-N900, of course, but, primarily: making sure the existing infrastructure is in top-shape to carry support for the Maemo platform for as long as is necessary, helping to smooth the MeeGo transition as much as possible, and bringing as many of the good parts of Maemo and to MeeGo as we can.
Javier Pedro (javispedro): The priority is IMO representation of the existing community. Note that at least every other term has been "interesting", with either the N+1 iteration of the ITOS unrolling, a new device, or summit happening -- and the priority has been the usual one. During this term

Andrew Flegg (Jaffa): There are still various tasks around; particularly around quality assurance and Extras that need to be completed. However, I think the main task of the council will be trying to ensure consistency and continuity as Maemo evolves from Maemo 5 on the N900 to Harmattan on a MeeGo-branded device to actual code-drops of MeeGo.

Attila Csipa (attila77/achipa): The answer is in the question :) The upcoming Council is largely a preparatory one, with the actual transition happening probably in the following Council's term, but it is very important that the upcoming Council has a firm stance on the relations of the present Maemo and future MeeGo communities (with the obvious 'using a MeeGo device' dividing them).
Harmattan's Maemo roots will make things really a challenge for communities - it's not the N900 and Fremantle that are really torn between two worlds, but the Harmattan device - so close to MeeGo, but still Maemo. Integrating these people into the community is very important (we certainly don't want the will- MeeGo-run-on-my-Harmattan-device and Harmattan-is-obsolete-even-before-it-was-released thread fights all over again).

The Summit is an important event in community life and since there won't be a Maemo Summit, but a MeeGo summit, it is an excellent opportunity to bring and transition Maemo and Moblin people to Meego. This Summit will arguably will be the harder to organize as the number of stakeholders increased significantly, but a good Council approach can help that, too.

Andrea Grandi (andy80): I think that our priorities should be involving more developers and organize the best Summit ever.

Steven Yeager (YoDude):
Our Maemo community has been a process of evolution. From manufacturing, to operating software development, to independent application development, and finally the end user experience.
As manufacturing and operating software activities begin to wane more resources should be committed to maintaining and promoting independent development and enhancing the actual user experience.
How our community handles the user experience will have the most effect on the evolution of the developing MeeGo community, IMHO.

8. There are many strong candidates running in this election. Some have had open disagreements with each other in the past. How do you propose to overcome such interpersonal differences while carrying out your Council duties?
Randall Arnold (Texrat): Separate the personal from the professional.  I have recommitted myself to this recently, and hope other candidates do as well.  We won't have time for pettiness.
Cosimo Kroll (zehjotkah): I've never had PERSONAL disagreements with any of the others, so no problem. But IF there would be one, communication is the key. Every human is different, with different opinions. We have to agree on one decision before communicate, to form a strong community council.
Arek Stopczynski (hopbeat): Personal differences will happen always (now, that's something new), especially among individuals that are supposed to be leaders. I don't really believe in any sort of system solution in this case, it should be all based on individual talks. As Buddha said, Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace. In short: I don't know nor dare to propose any system that would guarantee solving such differences. We will deal with them when they arise :)
Ryan Abel (GeneralAntilles): We'll just have to work together to be civil and ensure productive collaboration. Whatever challenges disagreements may bring with them (polarization and entrenchment are major issues), they force you to continually evaluate your own position and prevent you from becoming complacent in your views.
 Javier Pedro (javispedro): The 5 members will be the most voted for ones, thus "the most loud voice" (as in, number of persons) is a nice approach.

Andrew Flegg (Jaffa): Two of the biggest strengths of the Maemo community are the passion, and diversity, of its members, This leads to positives like a commitment of both time and energy in making the platform better; but
even the occasional disagreement can have a positive force in the end.

The thing we should always bear in mind is that these disagreements come from a fundamental desire to make the platform better for everyone and that that, amongst with many other things, holds us together more than anything divides us. The wide range of people making up the Maemo community means that outcomes of a discussion can be better than any one person could develop on their own.

On a practical basis, approaching communications from an "I'm OK, you're OK" position - what Randall would call "listening without prejudice" - can help smooth over perceived slights and jibes when most of the community is largely communicating electronically. Physical meet ups whenever possible also help enormously - it's harder to bear a grudge when you've shared a beer.

Attila Csipa (attila77/achipa): Disagreements are not necessary problems - Council members are chosen to represent the community, and if there is a disagreement in the community, that easily translates to disagreement in the Council. What *is* dangerous, is, however, if the disagreement, instead of being solved or even being compromised on, turns into conflict. It's the conflict that is really detrimental. While there are a lot of very strong candidates, I am really sorry to see that there very few candidates whose primary area of expertise is 'people skills'. In times of conflict, it's often very difficult to overcome this from one's own efforts and help from other Council members could be very helpful.

Andrea Grandi (andy80): Personally I didn't have any disagreement with current Council members. Anyway I think that we all should work for the Community, forgiving any past disagreement.

Steven Yeager (YoDude):
Simple, open flame war's culminating in a winner take all mud wrestling tournament…
Just kidding!
In reality differences and disagreements will always occur. We have overcome our disagreements in the past and directed our attention productively toward goals for the common good of our community. I don’t see anything preventing us from doing so in the future.

9. Previous Councils have put together proposals for new resources or improving existing community resources. An example of this is the creation of the role of Distmaster. What resources would you propose requiring improvement, and why? What new resources would you champion if elected?
Randall Arnold (Texrat): Given that MeeGo already has a robust structure, starting with the Technical Steering Group, I am assuming we can expect a more professional approach with MeeGo.  This is not a slam on; we had extremely resourceful people doing the best they could with what they had.
Cosimo Kroll (zehjotkah): More moderators because the community is growing very fast and will be growing even faster. Then we should have a contact from Nokia/Intel just for developers.
Arek Stopczynski (hopbeat): Regarding resources, the most important issue at the moment is lack of good documentation. We need to resolve this issue with Nokia (so they deliver it) and create a well organized layout, probably similar to the one known from Java or Qt documentation. Current wiki pages acting as documentation are to inconsistent, information is hard to access etc. This should also be a priority for MeeGo community, from the day one.
Another issue is a structure of some parts of, where to many pages are presented to the user without clear logic (an example can be overview of the packages and trying to access voting site for a package). At some point it is easier to go back and ask google about given site than to navigate on
If elected I would like to see improvements in the packages promotion and handling on the Nokia's inability to implement framework for paid applications for n900 in Ovi Store is now apparent, the least that can be don eon the community side is to have a unified system of donations. Providing real security framework is probably outside our possibilities, so we should not go for a 'real' paid applications; instead system of donations closely linked to the application overview and good promotion of the best ones should be implemented. Large part of community would actually show their support with donations, we should promote this and make it as easy as possible.  
Ryan Abel (GeneralAntilles): To be honest, I don't believe there's a lot of long-term benefit investing resources heavily into unless they translate well to MeeGo (and hopefully even less of one if Nokia decides to do the right thing). For my part, my pet projects have always been the wiki and bugzilla, improvements to the software and processes of both offer concrete and easily-translatable benefits for MeeGo.
Specifically, I'd really like to improve the approachability of bugzilla with improved and simplified bug views for new users and more-helpful bug-submission forms.

Javier Pedro (javispedro): One topic that I'm personally interested in is localization. We have a i18n team, a interesting i18n platform, and even then, when a user goes to, all he gets is an English page with an English description of a entirely-in-English application. Being a person that gets often emailed from other Spanish speaking only members, you can understand this is something which I really think needs improvement.

Andrew Flegg (Jaffa): The direction of MeeGo will have a large impact here; especially since Intel has community focused resources like web resource and experts in RPM packaging. Hopefully our existing paid contributors will be able to continue to contribute (and put dinner on their tables) with involvement in Maemo and, increasingly, MeeGo.

In the short term, as I outlined above, I think the the should become more responsible - and, as a consequence, accountable - through them clearly setting their own priorities after taking input from three sources:
 * Their customer, Nokia  * Their customer, the community (through the council)  * Themselves, and their expert domain knowledge

Atilla Csipa (attila77/achipa): The single biggest improvement on current resources is better feedback. There is a lot of effort put in the community resources, but people often get nervous and disenchanted with the procedure more because the lack of *easily* followable statuses (I believe the Sprint logs and a semi-hidden Qaiku simply don't cut it at these scales). As for new resources, I have lobbied a while back for a QAmaster position (not necessarily paid, more important here is the authority). Testing is often perceived as a chore, and IMO a even a single can person could make a difference channeling the QA efforts. The testing squad was a first step, and the introduction of soon-to-be moderators a further large step in the right direction, kudos to Valerio et al for pushing the testing agenda. Improving feedback is vital, but if the only result is that the developer gets 100 bug/enhancement requests, he'll be swamped. That's why I believe a QA person/team could validate (moderate, if you wish) the tester conclusions - we have the problem of testers downvoting the app because of factors that had nothing to with the app and interpreting what's a blocker and what not. Also, in my vision, the QA team/person should actively HELP the developer (especially new ones) resolve blockers (not everybody has mad coding skillz like qwerty12). Not write code instead of the developer, of course, but with pointers to documentation, code, examples, linking him with other developers, etc. This way we could also avoid the situation of the developer being handed a huge A, B, C, D list of issues and a 'deal with it' note, hoping that he will not loose motivation while he hunts around how to resolve those (maybe well known) issues. Another aspect is an active watch on the testing repo, or even whole process. There is a number of initiatives of improving feeback in general (like the current efforts of the Extras-Assistant team, Randall Arnold's proposed feedback framework, and my own humble AppWatch application). I would like to see these efforts receive more attention, possibly integrate on official level.

Andrea Grandi (andy80): as I already said, we should improve developers tools. For example we should provide someting similar to "Google Code" bcause the actual Garage is not enough for a developer (all main projects migrated to Gitorius, each project host its webpage externally ecc....).

Steven Yeager (YoDude): With an eye on maintaining and promoting independent development and enhancing the actual user experience, I believe more effort should now be placed on the forums.
The forum culture is much different than the mailing list culture. The enthusiasm that grows from within a forum can be almost immediate and is very contagious.
An example of this for me is that although I use and am very happy with a community developed mapper program on my N810 while in my car, I just made an impulse purchase of a new Navigation program for my N900. This was not so much because I needed it, or because I planned to use it in the near future. It was because I wanted to explore the application and participate in the enthusiastic threads that popped up recently on the forum.
Quite a few developers have also found that in their personal development sprints, many active and willing real world users are available to them for testing any time of day by simply opening a thread on the forum. Feedback with useful information is almost immediate, and more can be done in the time that they have for these personal projects.
The forum needs to be developed more and I believe there are plenty of members who will volunteer to do this if given the opportunity. In order to provide that opportunity I believe these volunteers will need to be managed outside the perceived influence of our council members.
I believe some things are done best when done autocratically. I believe our forums administration is one of these things. The forums need to react swiftly to changes but be stable in nature.
 That is why if elected I will push for a Council appointed forum administrator who will have autocratic control over the forum and its moderation.
The term should probably be no less than a year or no more than 3 years without reappointment. The details of which can be determined by Council vote I hope. He or she would also be subject to recall of course.

10. MeeGo is our future. The future is unfortunately unclear at the moment. The Maemo Community requires strong leadership at this time.  Can you provide a summary of your leadership style? What do you think the Council's challenges will be with respect to MeeGo in the coming 6 months, and how are you planning on addressing them?
Randall Arnold (Texrat): I tend to be a cheerleader or coach at the beginning of an undertaking and a "lead from the shadows" sort once the ball gets rolling.  I prefer to motivate rather than micromanage, and to clear paths rather than give orders.  I also think any project should have fun elements.
The second is such a big question it's difficult to answer concretely.  But in summary the main challenges I see are tackling "FUD", keeping members engaged and incorporating lessons learned into what we do with MeeGo.  I see these already happening so I am encouraged by the leadership so far.  Quim Gil has been a relentless presence here, tirelessly posting and emailing and making sure the conversations stay on track and produce respectable results.  Tero Kojo has also done this on email lists.  I will take cues and follow their lead as best I can.
Cosimo Kroll (zehjotkah): My leadership style is cooperative. I first read/hear, then think about and last talk about it.
Nobody can tell what the future brings, but I can imagine (only one example), that we will see a lot more average user in our forums, who don't understand the Linux style of life. We have to integrate them, and encourage them to participate. Only a active community is a good community.
Arek Stopczynski (hopbeat): As I have already written several times, I see myself as a man of dialogue. It is this Council's responsibility to make this community available for as many users as possible and in order to achieve this, it is necessary to understand various groups present in it. The Council is elected to represent community, not to rule it. It however doesn't meant that it can be pushed around, in those interesting times the leadership must be strong. But it must reflect the aggregated needs of the community, not an effect of fights between those groups or even Council members.
In short: be able to see the groups in community; listen to them; get from this what is good for community/community wants and implement this forcefully. There is time to talk and time to act.
Ryan Abel (GeneralAntilles): Full of spit and vinegar, hopefully with a bit of insight thrown in? ;) I'm a person who likes to get down to the detail work and help make things happen. I'm not the type of person to sugar-coat anything and rarely shy away from a good discussion (sometimes a negative point). I love this community and I love this platform and my goal as a leader is always to help make it the best it can be.
The most unclear issue, and the one that will have the biggest effect on the transition in the coming months, is MeeGo-on-N900. It's a question that will need answering before we can be certain of our path to the future. Until it's answered, though, I believe we have to assume the worst and keep working to make as strong as it can be.
Javier Pedro (javispedro): Defining MeeGo. For example; do we want to ensure that every single feature is replaced with a full working alternative in Will cover all of the older devices services and
community? The current answers seem to be 'yes', but still seems early to be sure. Will the new meego community not be a directly superset of the community, and thus it may actually be sensible to keep a "community subset" around? The ultimate method is to set a course and try to reach a destination; if it was not possible, try another course :).
Andrew Flegg (Jaffa): I'm not sure I'd say the council needs to "lead" the community; the council are representatives of the Maemo community, elected to speak on the community's behalf. The strongest way I'd put it is to give a strong, guiding hand. The council rarely, if ever, make decisions within themselves: in all circumstances which come to mind, the community have come to consensus, with the council facilitating and arbitrating.

The council's challenges with MeeGo will be ensuring that Nokia don't sideline Maemo, existing devices and existing resources as MeeGo ramps up. This will be less of a risk if MeeGo on N900 and N8x0 is a realistic day-to-day prospect. However, if it's not, the council will need to find a way for the Maemo community to continue and thrive as its corporate backer starts looking elsewhere.

Of course, the promise of cross-platform development and deployment from Qt will help with Maemo 5, Harmattan, MeeGo and even Symbian, Qt applications running on existing devices; giving longevity and strength to the community at an applications level, even if we can't achieve it at an OS level.

It's an exciting time for Maemo, and I look forward to being part of it; whether elected to the council or not!
Thanks for taking the time to put these questions together. If you, or any of your readers have any more questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch.


(aka Jaffa)

Attila Csipa (attila77/achipa): The future will certainly be challenging, many of the choices being made as further aspects of MeeGo get revealed. The crucial thing is to be able to see and determine courses of action that could transfer the experience and all the good things we have at onto MeeGo, at the same time preserving all the resources needed for devices and people not being able to (or simply interested in) going MeeGo for now. A forum and mailing lists can always be made anew, but is far more than that (sometimes even we take for granted), and people not familiar with the Maemo community can overlook or dismiss that way too easily. We (as in Council) need to be open AND firm if we wish to function, and that is also my stance on leadership style.

Andrea Grandi (andy80): this is not an easy question. We cannot guess the future and there is no mathematical rule to address all problems. A person should be trained to resolve unknown problems not aready known one.

Steven Yeager (YoDude): I believe the strongest leaders lead by example. I agree that this term will have an effect on how the MeeGo community develops and eventually evolves. However, I am not running for the Meego community council. The example our council can make is how we will maintain and promote independent development and enhance the actual user experience for members of our community.
I want to thank you and your readers for this opportunity to express my views and I now look forward to answering any additional questions that our membership may have regarding my views as a candidate for election to the Maemo Community Council.

'Post'-Mortem by EIPI:
Andrew Flegg (Jaffa), a two-time Council member, and a current Council Candidate contacted me via the -community mailing list to see if I was interested in grilling the candidates to give some exposure to this election.  I immediately agreed, but being on vacation at the time, I did not have the continuous attention that this endeavour required.  What I thought was a fairly straight-forward task, ended up being a bit of an organizational nuisance!  For that I apologize to the candidates. 

I think this type of 'debate' has its place in the Maemo elections process, whether official or unofficial.  However, I know that if I had to do it again, it would be organized and administered differently.  Continuous improvement!

Finally, the candidates are very strong this time around (why does that sound like an Emperor line?), and I wish each of them the best of luck!

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1 comment:

timsamoff said...

Thank you. This is very helpful.