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Re: List of members

On 02.09.18 17:49, Paulo Henrique de Lima Santana wrote:

Can we have a page listing Committee members and teams members (staff?) like video, registration, sponsorship/fundraising, content, and so on?
I believe it's important to know "who is who".

I'm not sure if it should be here:
or here:
or here:

Hello Paulo,

Finally I took some time to answer. Initially I wanted to reply to you via IRC, because it seems there is some incomprehension about teams, but I think it is good to archive the discussion somewhere, so a long boring email.

Note: You will find in this mail my personal opinion (and my personal view of DebConf). Every person see DebConf differently, and DebConf is also evolving every week. So all you find here is just to start the discussion with other people. It is absolutely not to see it as absolute truth.

DebConf has not a very well defined structure, we attempted to give some more structure in the past, but we failed (and this "we" is very personal, I was one of the old delegate who tried hard to try to structure better the DebConf).

The only official team is the committee (or delegates), which are officially delegated by DPL, and they off-load DPL from day to day management. **DebConf is Debian**, so committee check that DebConf is handled according Debian rules, and Debian money is spent in the right manner (Debian is a non-profit organization, so we need some compliance rules). DPL approve large budget changes, but with help of committee (on both side, helping orga team to get a good budget, and to DPL to explain why some number are so). Note: if you look on wiki, you may see "DebConf committee as an other team: the team which "decide" the location of next DebConf (and delegates will confirm such decision). But now the "committee" are the delegates.

The other teams are much less defined.

You listed e.g. "video-team". The membership in such team is open. One just join the IRC channel and possibly the meeting, and s/he is member of the team. There are various roles: during DebConf: locally: handling cameras, directing, sound; and possibly remotely: cut, check, and publish videos. These job are pure voluntary and requires just a very short training. Before DebConf there are a lot of preparation, but the group is very open, just join IRC. There are some leaders, but mostly because they are the people who do most of the work.

Infrastructure is an other special team. Now most of the infrastructure is handled by DSA (so directly by Debian). Local infrastructure is a mix between DSA, DebConf volunteers, local team, local administrators. The ratio of the mix changes every year. But this is one of the team I know less. Local team will be surely involved.

Fundraising: this is also a long term team, because it is easier to have the same contact person with sponsors. There were some talks to move fundraising in Debian. In any case local team must participate: perks and level are defined according local budget; local sponsors need to be contacted by local people (also because of language), sponsorship brochure and in general fundraising is pushed from locals: they have the higher interest to have quickly more money (which helps all subsequent budget questions). Because of confidential information (contact person) and opportunity (not to shame potential sponsors), much information are keep private, so there is a formal membership.

The other team are practically formed again after every DebConf. Usually there is a natural leader: the person who did most of the job on previous DebConf (which often was not the natural leader at the beginning of such DebConf). The old theory: people learn at DC-1, do the real work on DC, and they will mentor new people on DC+1. We are not so formal, but there is a large turn-over of people, so be prepared do start as learner, and become the leader after few months (which is usually bad, because it put a lot of pressure on deciding and on handling errors). Local team must enter on most of the teams. Bid teams are also encouraged to join the teams. Often on global team meeting there are call of for participants (and more often call for volunteers to take over many tasks).

A quick review of teams:

- registration: membership via email alias. Scope: answer people email, help on registration, coordinating special needs and numbers to other teams. There are mail all year around, but most of the member should join before registration open.

- visa: membership via email alias. Handling visa question, writing invitations. Often only locals could sign invitation letters.

- content: main job is to review and rate talks. This should be done quickly after (and maybe also before) closing CfP. Then there is ad-hoc talks and scheduling, which is handled by fewer people.

- bursaries: main job: rating bursaries: Also this should be quickly after closing bursaries registration. Because of private financial information, such team is closed, but there is a call for new member before or during registration. The team should be as diverse as possible. Few members will handle the discussion with accounting and DPL, on getting more funds, and on handling paperwork to get refunds.

- publicity: handle public information. Usually coordinated with Debian publicity team, but locals are needed (either for local media, local language, but also because they are the people who should push for publicity).

- accounting: this is often one person job (and the only orga job of such person). A hard and intensive task. There are many deadlines, so such person should guarantee many hours every week. This is often a local person (being locally is nearly a must, for local payments, handling papers, etc.)

- venue, food, events, etc.: these are mostly handled by local team (but for budget consideration, committee or DPL should approve major expenses).

- wafer: content is handled with salsa, everybody could propose changes (but a local person should preferably coordinate changes, to give a good website structure). Developing: also without a clear membership, one contributes to patches.

- ... and a lot of ad-hoc tasks. Usually one get them by following local team meeting or global team meeting. Often there is no official call for such tasks, but one should volunteer if there is a task that should (or could) be done now, and not assigned.

In general, one person is part of DebConf-team just by following the IRC channel, the email, and possibly the meeting. There is no membership. Decision are often takes after some discussion on email (and usually on IRC meetings), by consensus. When discussion go to long, or no consensus one should take the decision. There is no real definition on who is empowered about it. One should be brave and accept consequences (like paying and not getting money from Debian, inviting 1000 people and not having room for such people, ...). But with discussion, one get idea on worst case, and usually nobody take responsibility of totally crazy ideas. So at the end, also without a fix structure, people behave reasonably. [Worse case, Debian will not pay and Debian will not allow you to use DebConf name, but to reach this point, one should really gone crazy. DPL and committee will try hard not to go so far]

I just recommend organizers not to try to structure too much debconf and teams. Usually it will not work, and orga people should be able to help other teams quickly (in winter local and global people will lose interest. Try to do meetings and some task to keep people interested, but you cannot command real life). Do not be authoritarian: there is a lot to do, and people will volunteers much more if they feel in a team and in charge. Ask help. Early. This is general in Debian: nobody should feel forced to do things. On DebConf we are strict deadlines, so if there is some problem, so no delay too much to ask help, or to ask someone to replace you (you will still considered orga team, and you will find a lot more DebConf jobs later, especially if you were very well involved earlier on orga). Try not to split local and global team (all local are also global team, but "bid team" has some more power to set the style of DebConf. Do not overdo. Most of attendees already participated other DebConf, and they expect some things (WiFi, a sort of bed, some food, talks, hacklabs). You may find a lot of extra activities for attendees, but you risk they they will ignore it (not because these activities are not great, but just because a flame discussion about severity of a bug is occupying all force of developers. Priority is your health, not DebConf... and a lot of other "errors" in previous DebConf. But do not worry: the next DebConf (so for now it is yours) will be the best one. (and unfortunately the sad thing: it will be the best, mainly because of attendees, orga will make debconf less chaotic and more enjoyable, but your attendees are best).


PS: and I should really finish here, merging various unsent mails, and finally sent it (so sorry, no second review of this mail, or it will remain on draft for few months more).

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