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Re: Question to all Candidates: Project Funds and donations

Le Sat, Mar 13, 2010 at 12:02:59AM +0100, Martin Zobel-Helas a écrit :
> The Debian Project receives quite a number of monetary donations as well
> as contributions in kind via several umbrella organization like SPI,
> ffis, debian.ch, etc. 
> a) What do you think are valid goals to spend this money on?
> b) How would you think is a valid way to thank (hardware) contributors?
> b) What qualifies a contributor to become a "Debian Partner"? What
>    qualifies a "Debian Partner"?

Hello Martin,

The discussion initiated by Steve about how to use our money did not reach a
conclusion, and I think that it shows how delicate that subject is. From this
thread, I personally conclude that direct donations (hardware, bandwidth, booth
space, time, meeting rooms, …) are much more valuable for a project like
Debian, whose do-o-cratic traditions do not accommodate with open questions
like how to spend our money. Direct donations are in essence more focused, and
very importantly are more rooted to reality: we get what our sponsors produce
or use; what they give to us influence how we grow. That is a much more
intimate relationship than money exchange.

So to answer your first question, I think that the Debian money is best spent
on what we can not receive by donation. The biggest examples that come to my
mind are shipping hardware between private locations and helping people to
travel and meet. In particular I will not agree with paying to develop
software. Also if we do not manage to spend our money in a meaningful manner, I
think that we can modify the donations page of our website to reflect that
direct contributions have a much more immediate effect than sending money.

Our project does not accept non-voting members nor legal persons (companies,
associations, …) as members. In the long term, I think that it would be useful
to re-open the discussion on membership, and that would be a good opportunity
to give a more formal definition of what a Debian Partner is. I suppose that
the concept was created before I joined the project, because I do not remember
a discussion on the subject.

There is a detailed description on our website
(http://www.debian.org/partners/partners) and I am sure you know it, so I
suppose that you are also asking what the candidates are thinking of this
definition? I agree on its core, that the partnership must be an ongoing story.
It does not mean that point contributions are not appreciated, but I think that
only with this criterion (contribution that is ongoing), we can aim at
maintaining an accurate list of partners. Of course, thanks for past partners
or point contributors are much welcome as well. If tomorrow we receive a large
donation, we can make a press release together with the sponsor; this press
release will have even more echo than being listed on our Partners page.

After visiting our website, I saw that the Partner Program is listed in our
organization page, with names of active persons. I admit that I have no idea if
they are DPL Delegates or not (and I intent do make a general ping and
inventory, but that is off-topic here). I think that the role of the DPL is to
make sure that teams that take decisions in our name are doing so in a
consensual manner, but I do not think that the DPL has to be intrusive on the
details. So I will not comment on the details on the Partnership Program.
Therefore, the answer to your questions are that what qualifies a Debian
Partner is currently decided by the Partners team, and as a simple developer
I am not aware of major disagreements about their work. 

I note however that the page describing Partners is not completely up to date
(Financial Partners from page http://www.debian.org/partners/ are not described
in the partners/partners page). Perhaps if that team had more visibility (it
has no description on http://wiki.debian.org/Teams either) it would attract
more contributors? In a separate part of my platform, I will propose to give
more detailed delegations and collect them in a single reference point, not
only to avoid misunderstanding on who does what, but also to advertise teams
that are lead by DPL Delegates and help them to attract manpower.

Have a nice week-end,

Charles Plessy
Tsurumi, Kanagawa, Japan

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