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Re: Debian participation into GNOME Outreach Program for Women

On Tue, Apr 02, 2013 at 09:26:18PM +0000, Sune Vuorela wrote:
> > TL;DR: we've been invited to participate into GNOME Outreach Program
> > for Women and I'd like to accept the invitation.
> I'm very much against spending debian money on paying for contributors
> time.  While I would love a more diverse group of debian developers, I
> really don't think that using our money is the right thing to do.  So
> please, pretty please, let us reconsider.

Hi Sune, thanks for your feedback. We can surely reconsider. In fact,
while I'd like to go ahead right now with the preliminary organization
for OPW participation (e.g. collecting the internship topics, which
might be useful anyhow), I'll be happy to leave plenty of way outs: OPW
application deadline is May 1st, so there will also be time for the next
DPL to object to this.

And of course I'll be happy to stop this right now, in presence of
substantial objections from the project.  So let's have this discussion
as I think it's a very important one to have, no matter what.


I think we really need to participate in outreach program, of any kind.
Quite some of those programs focus on positive discrimination to
increase diversity and offer some kind of monetary incentive. Let's see
if we have fundamental objections in Debian to that sort of programs.

Back in the days (say, dunc-tank, for those of us who remember it) the
main objection to "paying contributors time" was that it creates
differences in the community. That's a very sensible objection.

It seems to me that we have overcome that objection with GSoC, program
in which we have participated for many many years, and where
contributors are paid. We have done so 2 ways.  One is the focus on
attracting *new* contributors, which is the point of pretty much every
outreach program; we don't strictly enforce the "new" rule, but it is
evident to anyone that contributors won't be GSoC students for long, and
that reduces the disparity.  Another one is positive discrimination: we
realized we need to reach out to a specific class of contributors
(students) and we accept some differences in the hope that they will
remain around in Debian afterwards, when the incentives are over.

My feeling is that the origin of money in GSoC (Google) is not
particularly relevant in addressing the "create differences" objection,
but I might be wrong. I'll be happy to be convinced of that.

(Note, in passing, that we have in the past directed part of GSoC money
to individual GSoC mentors, de facto paying their contributors time. But
that's a detail, which we should probably reconsider in the future, as
there all the above good reasons to ignore the "create differences"
objection do not hold.)

For OPW, the money do not come from GNOME, they ask participating
organizations to provide them (after all, differently from Google, they
don't have anything to gain from the program). Therefore one way to
overcome your objection on the money origin is to seek specific
sponsoring for Debian participation into OPW. We can do that. In fact,
what Ana proposed in this thread (targeting GSoC per-project 500 USD to
our OPW participation) is a possible implementation. Do you consider
that solution acceptable?

If not, we can do mission-specific fund raising, I wouldn't mind that
either, as we do something similar for, say, DebConf already. It
wouldn't be possible, in my opinion, to raise all the needed money
before OPW application deadline. But I'm 100% sure that given few months
we can raise the needed money. Hence, I do not see this as a blocker to
go forward (as long as people believe in my prevision). Would you
consider this acceptable?

Honestly, it still seems to me that the origin of money is not relevant.
For instance, even if in GSoC the money is not Debian's, it is Debian
who decides who get them, and it is Debian who can take them away
(e.g. by failing students at mid-term), under the authority of DPL
delegates. All this seems well-established in our community, even if we
can obviously reconsider that too.

The main point is rather how do we make the disparities created by this
kind of outreach programs acceptable. For OPW I think the path is pretty
clear: do not accept people with significant prior Debian involvement
(e.g. DM or DD, but we might consider other kinds of activities), and do
not accept interns more than once over the years.  But we can *also* do
ad hoc fund-raising (possibly to top left-overt GSoC money) if people
prefer that.

Stefano Zacchiroli  . . . . . . .  zack@upsilon.cc . . . . o . . . o . o
Maître de conférences . . . . . http://upsilon.cc/zack . . . o . . . o o
Debian Project Leader . . . . . . @zack on identi.ca . . o o o . . . o .
« the first rule of tautology club is the first rule of tautology club »

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