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This is a part of the Council Elections Interviews series. Voting is open to all Fedora contributors. The voting period starts on Tuesday, July 19 and closes promptly at 23:59:59 UTC on Monday, July 25th. Please read the responses from candidates and make your choices carefully. Feel free to ask questions to the candidates here (preferred) or elsewhere!

Interview with Justin W. Flory

  • Fedora Account: jflory7
  • IRC: jflory7 (found in #fedora-ambassadors, #fedora-commops, #fedora-design, #fedora-diversity, #fedora-mktg, almost any Fedora channel)
  • Fedora Wiki User Page

What is your background in Fedora? What have you worked on and what are you doing now?

I began using Fedora as my primary operating system originally on Fedora 20. I began the journey as a contributor during Flock 2015. My first experience with the Fedora contributor conference was at last year’s Flock, which was conveniently placed near my university. Through Flock, I was introduced to the community and had an inside view to the values and meaning distilled behind the project. My experiences there helped lead me on to getting more involved across Fedora.

Over the past year, I have spent the most time between the newer Community Operations team and the Marketing team. Community Operations is where I began contributing under the guidance of Remy DeCausemaker. Through my experiences there, I started to have a bird’s eye view of the entire project. It helps me see the project holistically, or in other words, I have a strong grasp for how the several different components, groups, and projects happening across Fedora fit and connect with each other. My work with other members of the Community Operations mostly focuses on how these parts actually work together – almost like oil to several gears. We aim to improve communication across the sub-groups, improve on-boarding methods and practices used project-wide, help with the elections process, and plenty more. You can view the report on CommOps at the 2016-06-13 Council meeting video.

In Marketing, I began contributing as a Fedora Magazine author and later editor. I began participating more with general Marketing tasks as well, beginning with organizing the first meeting in February (after no consistent meetings in years). Since then, I have led the Marketing meeting each week and helped go through the existing queue of tickets in our Trac. There’s still a lot of work to do in Marketing, but I believe that we have made notable advances already.

What are the most pressing issues facing Fedora today? What should we do about them?

Communication, on-boarding, and overall unity as a project stand out as three major categories for me.

  • Communication: How we communicate and share information with others outside of our own sub-groups remains one of the largest issues to me and is why I wanted to get involved with Community Operations. Sometimes, each sub-group can feel as its own entire team, separate from other parts of Fedora. Sharing information outside of those sub-groups is challenging if you’re not sure where to look or who to ask. I envision a project where a contributor in one area can easily access information and resources describing another area as well as how to get involved there.
    • Implementing this is something already a work in progress. Platforms like the Community Blog help give a uniform place for project members to share information. Fedora Hubs will be instrumental in improving communication and it will be a large part of Fedora’s strategy towards creating a better experience for contributors.
  • On-boarding: Bringing in new contributors to the project is not a new discussion. But it’s an important discussion and there’s new opportunities available than there were in the past. Making on-boarding simpler for various sub-projects is in the interest of anyone involved with Fedora. Just as important to bringing in new contributors is also retention. We want those getting involved to also stay in the project too.
    • Like with improving communication, working on making on-boarding simpler is another work in progress both with Community Operations and Fedora Badges. Fedora Hubs also fits into this strategy too. Part of Fedora’s overall strategy should look at how we are bringing in new members to the project, what areas of the project need more help, and working on making it easier to bring new people in for places that need help.
  • Unity: This aim combines both of the above. The Fedora Project is many things: an operating system, a place for innovation, somewhere where anyone can make an impact. But above all, it is a community. As a community, it encompasses all of these different things together. Working towards a project that feels more cohesive and together, as compared to modularized and separated, improves the experience for new and old contributors alike. It fills the work we’re doing with more meaning. While it is right to have an operating system modularized and separated into smaller components, a community should not be this way. That goes with saying that I don’t believe it’s like that now, but I want to work towards a more united project in coming years.

What are your interests and experience outside of Fedora? Which of those things will help you in this role?

Outside of Fedora, I am a student at the Rochester Institute of Technology. I have been involved with open source communities since 2011. My first project I spent time with (and still do) is SpigotMC as a community moderator. At my school, I am heavily involved with the Free and Open Source Software movement on campus. I’m also the incoming president for the Rochester Institute of Technology Linux User Group.

With all of that said, my experience puts me on the younger side of the spectrum. Through my personal experiences both as a student, Linux user, and Fedora contributor, I hope to have a special vested interest towards contributors of various age ranges. Having entered the project early on in my time as a student has given me the understanding for what it’s like to get involved as a student. Sometimes it is intimidating! As a result, I hope to represent various age ranges in a seat on the Council.

In my other free time, I spend a lot of time listening to and categorizing music, which has brought me to idle in the GNU FM project channel and make occasional contributions to MusicBrainz.

How do you plan to help solid communication between the Working Groups?

In the past year, I think we made significant strides in improving communication. Community Operations plays a large role in helping with this. I think addressing this specific question fits into my earlier statement about how to improve communication project-wide.

What can the Council do to attract more packagers and other contributors? How should Fedora change in this regard?

Packaging is an area I am not as informed in. From my perspective, the existing resources and documentation available prove to be helpful and FESCo effectively focuses on this area as well.

Attracting contributors towards other non-programming areas of the project is something I think could be improved. Improving existing on-boarding methods is one way that this will be helped (as explained before). I believe improving awareness for these areas would be most helpful.

What area would you most like to see improved collaboration among the Linux distributions? What would you do to help increase collaboration?

With the recent creation of the Diversity Team, led by the amazing tatica, I’ve noticed cross-distribution collaboration there already, specifically from Arch Linux and some Ubuntu contributors. After seeing how easily that came together, I believe that identifying common goals would go farthest for uniting developers and contributors from the greater Linux community.

The nature of distributions is competitive. It’s inevitable, and arguably healthy for innovation. I don’t see competition as a problem within itself. But at the end of the day, we’re all doing the same thing, just different in some ways. There are plenty of opportunities to collaborate and build together on projects, tools, or resources that benefit multiple communities. I believe setting goals now to bring everyone together is premature. But I would like to encourage and remove the idea that cross-distribution collaboration is impossible. Opening our minds to the prospect of working with other communities is the first step towards making it a reality. Discouraging snide remarks or comments about work happening in other communities is one small step towards bringing us together.

Closing Words

This is my first time running for an elected position within Fedora and I am excited about my nomination by aikidouke for the opportunity to run. Through my own experiences and knowledge of Fedora since I started contributing, I hope to offer my share of perspective and opinion to the Council and overall project until the end of my tenure, if elected. Regardless, I urge all voters to pick the candidate that they feel has the merit for the position and to look at past and current contributions. Langdon is an experienced candidate, and if I’m not elected, Fedora will still be in very good hands.

If you have questions, ideas, or comments, my inbox is always open. You can message me on IRC (jflory7) or drop me an email (jflory7 [ at ] fedoraproject [ dot ] org). Thank you for your consideration!