This is part two of a four-part series recapping the Fedora Council’s face-to-face meeting in November 2019.
In addition to the big topic of the Fedora Project Vision, we used the opportunity to cover some other Fedora Council business. Because it’s a lot, we’re breaking the reporting on this into two posts, kind of arbitrarily — here’s the first of those.
Fedora Objectives and Objective leads
The Fedora Council’s primary responsibility is to identify the short-, medium-, and long-term goals of the Fedora community and to organize and enable the project to best achieve them. Our mechanism for handling medium-term goals is the Fedora Objectives process. We spent some time reviewing this process and the associated Objective Lead roles.
Although Objectives were invented to help bring visibility and clarity to big project initiatives, we know there is still a communications gap: most of the community doesn’t know exactly what it means for something to be an Objective, and many people don’t know what the current Objectives even are. Plus, being an Objective Lead is extra work — what’s the benefit? And why are Objective Leads given Council seats rather than just asked to report in periodically?
We asked the Objective leads how they felt about it. Overall, they found it beneficial to have a seat on the Council. It helps make the work of the Objective more visible and lends credibility to resource requests. The act of writing and submitting an Objective proposal made them organize their thoughts, goals, and plans in a way that’s more easily understood by others.
But it’s not perfect. The Council can do a better job of onboarding new Objective leads by pairing them with an experienced Council member who can show them the expectations. Part of the problem is that we haven’t clearly identified and documented what those expectations are, so we will work as a Council to improve the documentation and process for Objectives. We also intend to become more rigorous about regularly reviewing the status of Objectives to make sure they’re still providing the planned value to the community. We will also begin setting more concrete end dates for Objectives. They’re not intended to be open-ended, and we want to have a defined process by which they’re extended or retired.
Council member expectations
We’re also going to better clarify the expectations for other Council members. The Fedora Council is intended to be a working body that provides active leadership to the community. Part of the expectation-setting is defining a regular schedule for Council face-to-face meetings. Having an extended retreat for Council members the last two years has been productive, both in terms of the output and the improved working relationships of the members. So we want to continue doing this as a regular activity. In addition, one-day meetings before Flock and after DevConf.CZ give us additional checkpoints throughout the year without imposing a heavy travel burden.
This whole post is largely about communication — and we talked about Council communications at the hackfest, too. Recently, we tried an idea where we asked Objective leads, body representatives (Diversity & Inclusion, Engineering, and Mindshare), and Edition representatives to provide regular status reports that we publish to the web. From those status reports, Ben Cotton has been writing summary posts on the Community Blog each month. To be frank, this hasn’t worked so well. For the new year, the Council has asked Ben to develop guidance on how to write status reports and work with the representatives to come up with an update frequency that makes sense for each area. We hope this will provide an easy way to see what key areas of the project are doing at a high level.
Speaking of the Community Blog, we discussed the ways we communicate. Specifically, the Council will use the Community Blog for contributor-focused communication and Fedora Magazine for user-focused communication. We encourage members of the Fedora community to contribute to both of these sites. We’re going to ask those sites to cross-link to each other to help drive traffic. “Do we have anything to announce” will become a standing question in Council meetings, and when the answer is “yes”, we will prepare a Community Blog or Magazine article as appropriate.
On the subject of meetings, you may have noticed that we switched from weekly meetings with varying focus to fortnightly meetings to cover ongoing tickets and issues. The idea was to reduce the burden on Council members who have jobs outside of Fedora. The status reports I talked about above were supposed to replace some of the regular reporting. But it turns out the video meetings we did every four weeks were useful, so we’re going to bring those back starting in February. We’ll do a video meeting on the second Tuesday of every month. When that conflicts with the fortnightly IRC meeting, we’ll cancel the IRC meeting.