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Fedora Ambassador Steering Committee badge

This is a part of the FAmSCo Elections Interviews series. Voting is open to all Fedora contributors. The voting period starts on Tuesday, December 08 and closes promptly at 23:59:59 UTC on Monday, December 14th. 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 Abdel Martínez

  • Fedora Account: potty
  • IRCpotty (primarily active in #fedora-pa, #fedora-latam, #fedora-python)
  • Fedora User Wiki Page

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

My journey as a member of the community of users and active contributors to the Fedora Project began in 2010 when I became Ambassador and helped organize FUDCon Panama 2011.

From that moment, my love for the Fedora Project grew and I decided to meet most of the sub-projects in the project. I made this decision because I would work with technologies that help me grow professionally and I would meet great people that allowed me to grow personally.

Formally, I’m involved in Fedora Ambassadors, Fedora Campus Ambassadors, Fedora Documentation, Fedora Free Media, Fedora Websites, Fedora Packager, Fedora Quality Assurance, Fedora Localization, Fedora Infrastructure, and Fedora Python SIG.

Most of my efforts occur in the Fedora Ambassadors and Fedora Campus Ambassadors. In the other groups mentioned above, I make occasional contributions. I’m not part of the Fedora Join SIG, but I love helping new contributors identify their skills and guide them in the process of getting involvement in various Fedora groups and sub-projects.

Less than a month ago, I organized (with Matej Stuchlik and Ralph Bean) a virtual FAD where the main objective was to increase the number of packages migrated to Python 3, thus contributing to a proposed change that is in-progress for over two years. The result was quite positive for both the Fedora Project and Python. In fact, if you are interested, we are organizing a second virtual FAD for February 2016.

In my home country, Panama, I organize the Release Parties and arrange the participation of our Fedora Panama team within the local open source events (FLISOL, Document Freedom Day, Software Freedom Day, Linux Day, among others).

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

Fedora is a great project that is constantly growing and evolving, which takes into account the trends that are shaping the market today. Consequently, one of the pressing issues experienced by Fedora is to maintain its four foundations (Freedom, Friends, Features, First).

In recent years, Fedora has identified use cases for the operating system (Workstation, Server, Cloud). This divides the effort and decreases the difficulty of maintaining these areas. However, with good momentum and including contributors, the workload can be leveraged.

Another drawback is the throughput of the Project. Clearly, we have a presence in workstations, but what about the government and educational institutions? We lack a formal plan to integrate with the institutions and be an option for implementation and learning.

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

One problem facing the Ambassadors is the lack of uniformity of the transmitted messages. There are topics that are equally shared by the Ambassadors, but there are others where, for lack of interest or knowledge, there is no greater emphasis on its communication. Perhaps in the selection of the message to be transmitted, potential contributors are lost. One way to solve this is through some exclusive Ambassadors newsletter that communicates what they should know. Such information could be extracted from the official channels of Fedora.

In addition, the reports made by the Ambassadors often have no feedback to indicate what went right or wrong in a given event. The absence of any metrics within the reports keep it from being objective, so greater importance is given to the perception of what happened. Without feedback, we cannot enhance our activity. The solution to this is displayed on the Budget.next initiative where we have a delegate (Storyteller) responsible for validating the information published in the reports.

Another problem is related to budgeting. The Ambassadors are aware that there is a budget, but at the very end emerge two situations:

  1. The Ambassador emits unnecessary expenses (not covered by the budget). This can be overcome setting clear rules about the proper use of the budget and raising awareness to these rules.
  2. The Ambassador has no way to receive reimbursement. This problem decreases motivation of Ambassadors that have no way to get back the money they invest in an event. A possible solution involves determining the countries participating in the planning of the budget, then look (prior to any investment) for potential reimbursement methods valid to these countries, confirm with the Ambassadors from these countries on the proposed reimbursement method and, eventually, run events (and then reimburse).

Interest in traditional Linux events seems to be stagnating or even declining. How should the Ambassadors respond to this change? 

We must be aware that events have evolved. Previously the audience had a different perception of what we see Linux today. It is no longer a myth, not a technology guru’s exclusive, but a tool that allows us to accomplish any tasks of our daily life.

Currently, most of the events are specific to any emerging technology that is around a Linux environment.

In this regard, Ambassadors must:

  • Before: Investigate what the event is about and what is the agenda to identify Fedora points of participation in the event.
  • During: Present initiatives that are part of the Fedora Project (Working Groups and Fedora Labs) associated with the main topic of the event so as to engage new potential contributors.
  • Next: Issuing a report (using the official channels) with specific metrics of achievements and shortcomings involving the Fedora participation in the event. This helps us to improving our participations.

Although my focus seems merely technical, this does not mean that users searching only for a Linux distribution to use in their workstation will be ignored.

Here, Ambassadors should emphasize their speech in the GNOME visual characteristic improvements and mention other desktop environments (KDE, XFCE, LXDE, Mate, Cinnamon). In addition, they should consult potential users about the tools they use and propose useful and easy to use alternatives.

The most important thing I think is to give each event (specific-tech, general-tech or end-user) what the audience expects, and to achieve this, it requires some preparation and a subsequent report.

What are your future plans? Is there anything what you can consider as “Mission Statement” in this role?

My future plans as FAmSCo include the following:

  • To know the opinion of the Ambassadors from all regions (through a survey) in order to understand what they feel and experience.
  • Define the strategies necessary for solving the needs identified in the previous idea.
  • Go hand in hand with other committees to implement strategies that are aligned with the overall focus of the Project.
  • Document all changes and impacts found implementing the strategies.
  • Feeding back the cycle with new views and suggestions to refocus the strategy (if necessary).
  • Help bring FOSCo to life.

What I consider as my “Mission Statement” for this role is to establish a link between the Ambassadors and their ecosystem. To do this, it is important to develop complete programs that provide the necessary resources to ensure that the Ambassadors can affirm what the Fedora Project principles are and what initiatives are currently in progress, based on guidelines and best practices. Additionally, making recommendations to the appropriate groups on any activity that may impact on the Project is a must.

What is your take on the recent governance reorganization (Council, working groups, budget, etc.)? 

The Fedora Project, as a complex system, must undergo reorganizations to find improvements. This effort reflects that we as a Project are seeking theoretical and scientific planning, as a consequence of better practical and empirical administration.

I think the key concept in this topic is to expand the integration of the different groups that manage the Project. A modern organization seeks a purpose of using individual efforts together for greater impact. With this reorganization, Fedora is succeeding.

I believe that an additional factor to be considered is diversity, particularly of culture and knowledge. A multidisciplinary and multicultural team that is passionate about Fedora will have better performance.

It seems the Ambassador activities are disconnected from the rest of the project. What is your way of fixing the issue? 

Activities, rather than disconnected, are very isolated from the rest of the project. Why do I say isolated instead of disconnected? The reason is simple. Ambassadors know that there are other projects (they are even involved), but it is not through them that a new contributor could start participating.

While the FOSCo idea is not working, FAmSCo should serve as a link between the Ambassadors and these various existing groups in the Project. Additionally, Ambassadors must know the application procedure for participating in the groups that interest potential contributors.

And we must track progress. What normally happens is that Ambassadors partially help the potential contributors and it really depends on the potential contributor if they continue in the project. We must encourage Ambassadors to ask the contributor (after a while) how was his/her experience in the group of interest and if he/she has encountered any difficulties.

Finally, all this must be documented and published in an official channel in order to identify possible improvements to the process and give feedback to the other groups.

What kind of information should be exchanged between Ambassadors and the other Project groups?

The information exchange between the Ambassadors and the other groups of the project should include information so Ambassadors can properly represent Fedora at some event or situation, and then return feedback to the other groups of the Project so they will know the experience of contributors (and possible contributors).

In this sense, the type of information that Ambassadors should receive includes:

  • Features and changes in the new releases of Fedora (including Spins and Labs).
  • Currently active initiatives happening in the groups and sub-projects.
  • A roadmap where the future of the Project is reflected.
  • Manuals and procedures about how to do tasks (budgeting, swag and reporting).
  • Good practices when reflecting results in official channels.

On the other hand, the Ambassadors must submit the following feedback:

  • Economic metrics (budget spent in detail).
  • Performance metrics (number of possible contributors).
  • Perceptions of the project (ideas resulting from the event).

Are Ambassadors really up to date about new features of the releases? If not, what are you planning to do to keep them up to date?

Ambassadors only know what they have scope of in the project. This scope is defined by his/her participation, connection and understanding. A common perception is that the Ambassador will be updated with the new features if he/she participate in other groups and sub-projects. This is partially true. Yes, you will learn about news (including technical knowledge), but will not have the full spectrum of the entire Project.

Another idea is that the Ambassador should have a connection with participants from sub-projects within Fedora so they can give feedback on what is happening in each of his/her sub-projects. This is an advantage for a non-technical Ambassador. This dependency would depend on the level of contact that the Ambassador manages.

Finally, we have the Ambassador that is updated because he/she reviews the wiki where FESCo indicates what changes were accepted. This source, I think, is the most complete as it provides details of what is happening within the project. The disadvantage of this method is latent for a new Ambassador, who does not know the interiors of Fedora. Here the Mentor should play a guiding role.

What I normally do is to have a combination of the three previous scopes, where I first review the changes that have been approved and then get in touch with members of the sub-projects for details (or I already know the details because I’m directly involved in the initiative).

However, to further facilitate the work of the Ambassadors, I like the idea of creating an executive summary where all changes that were accepted for the new release of Fedora are displayed. This report should include some reference links and the contact person for more information.

Closing words

I do not believe in political campaigns. To me, that is only a dispute of interest. However, in communities such as Fedora, we transcend the concept and we seek to increase our harmony. Therefore, in this election, vote for you, vote for Fedora.