This is a part of the FAmSCo Elections Interviews series. Voting is open to all Fedora contributors. The voting period starts on Tuesday, January 10th and closes promptly at 23:59:59 UTC on Monday, January 16th. 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 Robert Mayr (robyduck)
- Fedora Account: robyduck
- IRC: robyduck (mainly in #fedora-websites, #fedora-ambassadors, #fedora-design, #fedora-admin, #fedora-apps but hanging around almost everywhere)
- Fedora User Wiki Page
What is your background in Fedora? What have you worked on and what are you doing now?
I have been using Fedora since release 1b as my only operating system, and in 2005, I founded the Italian web community Fedora Online. Soon, it turned into the place where local users discuss Fedora, get help, and find guides. After a few years, I decided to join the Ambassadors group (I’m also one of the mentors for EMEA). With Gabriele Trombini (mailga), I wrote a book for newbies about Fedora 9 with moderate success, and with Fedora 20, I wrote a similar guide again, but as an e-book.
I’m currently contributing as the main lead in the Websites Team where I work very close with the Design folks. I’m also handling the tasks related directly to websites: builds, scripts and modules on Infrastructure. On Zanata, I’m administrating the source files for all the L10n teams in order to have our web content translated. Speaking about web stuff, I’m one of the admins of Fedora Magazine, and when I have time, I also do some packaging.
Finally, I served the Ambassadors Steering Committee (FAmSCo) for the release of F20 through F23, and I’m actually finishing my term as Council member (F24 – F25).
What are the most pressing issues facing Fedora today? What should we do about them?
Fedora has faced a lot of new projects over the last years, which I see as a very positive point, because it is a sign the Fedora Community is an active community. All these changes need to work better together, actually it’s like having a powerful engine in a car which still needs some adjustments to work properly. Budgeting, reporting, new objectives for Fedora events and new Fedora bodies are just a few examples of what I said before.
We can do a lot to improve these issues. We have some subgroups who don’t have much voice within the project, and other groups who do not use their power enough to drive their contributors correctly. A good communication will help to bring out the best in all the subgroups in the most effective way. CommOps for sure can help to achieve this goal, but all bodies need to play together if we want to have success with the reorganization. Speaking about Fedora outside of the Community, the most important issue we are going to deal with is to have a distribution continuing its characteristic of being bleeding edge. In the same moment, Fedora should try to be more innovative when speaking about effective user penetration. Working together more often with local communities could help here if we want to win this challenge.
What are the most pressing issues facing the Fedora Ambassadors today? What should we do about them?
Ambassadors are depending much less on FAmSCo than in the past. The Regions subsequently took over most of the responsibilities FAmSCo was used to deal with, and having autonomous Regions within the Ambassadors world is a great plus for everyone. On the other hand, budgeting, objectives and event planning has changed since fedora.next, and most of the Regions still did not assimilate this important change. We really need our Ambassadors, but we only need them if they are all driven in the same direction by a committee or a body. Regions can still keep their actual tasks but need to work more closely to FAmSCo or FOSCo to be successful.
What are three personal qualities that you feel would benefit FAmSCo if you are elected?
Life experience: I am not a student anymore and have a numerous family. I was also used to manage about hundred people in my dayjob and I always believed, also in my job, in teamwork.
12 years of Fedora: I know almost everything in Fedora, even from the past. Many things in the past worked well, but the time has changed. We can still learn from the past Fedora experience, even when planning the future of Fedora.
I am not a person looking for short term objectives. I am able to work for long term goals (look at the local Fedora community), which are the most important ones. Actually FAmSCo needs persons with some experience and ability to immagine the Fedora governance also in a few years, not only in 6/12 months.
What is your strongest point as a candidate? What is your weakest point?
My strongest points are having served FAmSCo for 2 years already, the Council for one year, and having attended main Fedora events in all our 4 regions. I know the main problems Fedora contributors are facing around the world and that might be a pro when it comes to plan new bodies and responsibilities.
My weakest point is also a strong one: my family and dayjob: sometimes I could not be able to find the sufficient time to contribute, but for now i have always been able to manage it, more or less…
Interest in traditional Linux events seems to be waning. The motive for a new round of FAmSCo elections was to retool FAmSCo in the new world of post-LUGs and installfests. How do you believe the Ambassadors should respond to this change?
Fedora alone can not solve this problem, but I am saying since a few years local LUGs are more and more dying. People nowadays do other things in the evening than talk and talk and talk about the same things. Users have more specific interests nowadays, all could be related to Linux. Fedora needs to catch these users and be present at specific events rather thank continue talking at LUGs with just a few (old) people. We need a strong body to reach out to the ambassadors in order to organize these kind of events properly.
What are your future plans? Is there anything you can consider a “Mission Statement” as a candidate?
I have a mission statement, which is related to the question above. We need to revisit our kind of doing events, and Ambassadors only are probably not able to reorganize their POV radically. We need a strong body for them, but also for other groups, where to put together different experiences and gather better content for the Ambassador talks. Ambassadors need to work closer to Marketing and Design, they need to get inputs from web and docs and we should improve the communication between these outreach teams. I strongly believe in FOSCo and am convinced it could be a great restart for Ambassadors in all regions.
Are the Ambassadors disconnected to the rest of the project? If so, what is your solution to fix the issue?
No, they are not, they just work differently. Many of our ambassadors are very active and nobody notes that. Some others, that’s true, are disconnected and don’t even update themselves about the Fedora Project. We need to avoid these latter ones (fortunately they are a minority); we can fix this trying to get all ambassadors involved in other main groups, or try to sponsor new ambassador only if they have anough experience or are already in another group. This should not become a rule, though, but needs to be considered case by case.
What kind of information should be exchanged between Ambassadors and other groups / sub-projects?
The first thing coming to my mind are the Talking Points. Not all Ambassadors know they exist, and who is responsible for them. Same for other stuff: ambassadors will face more and more very prepared users, and they need to have at least a general knowledge of what it means being a Fedora contributor, how things are working within the project and why we are doing this rather than that. My actual feeling is, a better communication, also group specific, could be very helpful when speaking to new or potential contributors.
Are Ambassadors really up-to-date with the new features of releases? If not, how do you plan to keep them up-to-date?
Sadly not all of them, but I wouldn’t point fingers against anyone. The question should rather be: who should keep them up to date? Regions are not talking much about it AFAICS, and FAmSCo actually is not strong enough. Actually only ambassadors involved in other teams are really up to date, which confirms the fact we should aim to have them involved at least in one other group.
What are your thoughts about FOSCo? How do you feel it should look like?
I have a clear idea about FOSCo and how it should look like. I also feel that FAmSCo is not the same steering committee as it was years ago, it handed many responsibilities over to the Regions and is facing a new age of doing Linux. People who speak with ambassadors have more knowledge than time ago, questions are more specific and usecases for Linux are much more than 6 or 7 years ago. FOSCo would be able to fix this, involving not only ambassadors.
FOSCo should involve also Marketing, Design, Docs, Web and in the future Globalization. Cooperation between these outreach teams will improve the messages we get outside, specially through ambassadors. FOSCo can also be the collector for regional budget stuff and reporting, which is important in the communication with the Council. As an overall body, FOSCo could also help to improve the communication between the outreach teams and cooperate very close with CommOps to achieve this important goal we are missing totally in the last years. Finally CommOps can also help to revisit the mentoring process of new contributors. Last but not least, FOSCo should also be the only responsible to appoint the “Outreach representative” Council seat.
These are the main points, we don’t need anything else beside the Council, a strong FOSCo is enough, like the well working FESCo we already have.
If a past member of FAmSCo, identify a negative factor you noticed while serving. How would you propose to improve on that for the next cycle?
Negative things should always be fixed, it’s not important if they get noticed by a former FAmSCo member or not. If this question is related to FAmSCo which is not able to take decisions, then my answer is: lazy consensus! It cannot be we have a committee which is not able to take decisions fast. This should be part of the past and not be a problem anymore.
Give a list of goals you hope to have accomplished by the end of your term.
I hope FAmSCo will not reach the end of its term, because I want to see FOSCo active very soon. In the middle of that, the actual FAmSCo has to fix also the question about FAmA, which is another thing we all totally forgot about.
I want to see more people who DO things, discussing less! We should all try to get back to the roots and help Fedora to be more attractive again. A community is made of volunteers, and these volunteers need to have fun (again). That’s why I started time ago and it’s still the reason why I am here.