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Re: Usage of Debian's Money

Raphael Hertzog <hertzog@debian.org> writes:

> On Tue, 12 Mar 2013, Moray Allan wrote:
>> If there was general support then we could look at organising a
>> funded program, but I would need a lot of persuasion before wanting
>> to get into the question of Debian picking specific individuals to
>> pay for their work while everyone else is unpaid volunteers.[2]
>> [2] Some of you will remember Dunc-Tank.
> Despite the above statement, your platform mentions “I would seek
> suggestions on how we could try to advance Debian's goals by spending
> money in ways we're not currently doing. While I think we should be
> careful with money, I would be willing to authorise spending to try out
> new ideas from others, where goals can be defined and the success of an
> initiative can be judged.”
> What kind of new ideas would be acceptable? Feel free to invent some
> hypothetical examples to illustrate.
> To other candidates, do you believe that we could benefit from using money
> for other things than hardware and meeting/travel reimbursment? If yes,
> what kind of things?

Yes, I believe we would benefit from using money for other things than
hardware and meeting/travel reimbursment. We already use money in other
ways (sprints come to mind, for example, but one can argue that these
fall under meeting/travel reimbursment).

As I mentioned a few times here on -vote@ already, one of the things I'd
like to see is more events, that are not strictly Debian related, but
rather Debian sponsored. The intent there is to meet people who are not
yet interested in Debian, may not even heard about it, and learn from
them, to help us better understand how we could lure them towards
us. All this under the disguise of doing something completely different.

I'll give you an example!

Imagine a CodeRetreat[1], a day long, intensive practice event (a great
way to learn a lot, meet people, and for a lot of other things
too). This is often done by having ~45 minute sessions, where during
each session, people work in pairs (or well, together with others, does
not need to be only two - point is, never alone) to solve a particular
problem. Each session adds a new twist, and after each session, the
participants discuss the previous one: what they learned, what they
found interesting, how far they got - and so on. Then change pairs, and

 [1]: http://coderetreat.org/about

This, so far is nothing earth-shaking, but meeting with new people,
potential contributors is already a big win: the power of corridor-talk
is not to be underestimated.

However, there is more! We can twist and turn the goal of the sessions,
the problems to solve in many ways, and therefore, we can bend it to our
will, too. We can prepare sessions where participants solve a particular
issue we have (or had) within Debian. Obviously, these need to be
lightweight ones, with whih one can progress far enough within 45
minutes, and where the CodeRetreat facilators can help. So one idea
would be to pick an issue we already solved one way or the other, and
let the participants have at it. In my experience, when this is done
well, participants will sooner or later (and often sooner) dive deeper,
and by seeking more knowledge, contribute in the process. The various
teams (be them packaging teams or other kinds) are in the perfect
position to benefit from these kinds of events.

I will do whatever is in my power, to help them use the opportunity, to
help them organise (and I'm counting on local teams here too - a
project-wide collaboration, whee!).

Another idea - which falls somewhat under travel reimbursment - would be
to have Debian people give guest lectures at universities. When I was
attending a technical university, I loved the guests (that was pretty
much the only thing I loved about it, to be honest, which is one of the
many reasons I never finished one :P), for they showed how things go in
the real world, how even one person can make a difference - and that was
very inspirational. Add to this, that we have able speakers, we have
university connections, we have people from a vast amount of
technological - and non-technological - fields. We should use these to
our advantage, and support those among us who like to speak, and do that
well, so they can do what they do best.

There are countless people out there we could reach, if we only took the
effort to find them and talk to them. Not just at technological
conferences, or as guests lecturers on a programming class - there's
much more to Debian than that.

I'd like to think that money spent on making Debian being known for
something more than a mere distribution (no matter how awesome we are at
that), is money well spent.


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