My previous post, elicted a fairly long clarification from Tejas (thanks) and since a tiny comment box is insufficient for a reply, here goes...

TEJAS: I whole heartedly agree. FOSS.IN is one of many many many indian FOSS events. Many of these FOSS events have a completely different focus than FOSS.IN

ME: Right, different events should have different focus. As I wrote earlier "Maybe the intention is generate more blue-blooded kernel code from India. Good for them". Any private event organiser has carte blanch freedom to decide the focus for his event, even at the risk of alienating the same community which contributes to the distro he uses. I suppose the distro you use would indeed be very usable minus the artwork, translation and other assorted grunt work since they are NOT considered equivalent to "real code".

Freedom works both ways and the Libre community users, contributors, and other by-standers who do the grunt work will either decide to attend if they feel wanted, else boycott the event. It would be their choice, hence freedom (as in speech).

TEJAS: Team FOSS.IN, like the head of other major FOSS projects is a meritocracy. I joined the team after I volunteered in 2005, and was asked to lead the volunteers team in subsequent years. If someone wanted to be on Team FOSS.IN, they should have proven themselves in some way. And in fact, that is how every member of the team was picked up.

ME: Great to know that you have a wonderfully organised event, with due credit to all the organizers. BUT This is the kind of financial transparency one expects in any community event, especially if it is touted as the event of the Indian FLOSS community, because its not really a community event. Feel free to talk to folks across the world who are involved in organising and managing a LIBRE software community event, where openness and transparency is the norm. Be it Debconf, linux.conf.au, or any other Libre SW event, every part of organising the event is always discussed publicly (which usually includes the bidding, finance and sponsorship rates, etc...) within the community and public archived. From what I have heard of foss.in, this is not a practice that is followed -- no transparent financial or organisational election process exists. But being an organiser you would be in a better position to throw light on whether this was (or is) being done with foss.in. So please do provide links (and archive url's on the foss.in mailing list?) to those discussions and I shall update my blog entry to reflect your corrections.

[UPDATE : Being a community project the Gnome foundation openly discusses its budget on the mailing list whilst candidate elections to the board is yet another example of a transparent process. Fwiw, past foundation members include Indians too. Some upstream best practices are worth emulating locally too.]

TEJAS: It isn't elitist arrogance. We are focusing on FOSS development efforts. There are enough and more events all over india focusing on translation and bug fixing and so on and so forth.

ME: Please do define the terminology "FOSS development efforts" AND what they would entail? In your definition, where do people who manage servers, do bug testing, do packaging, backend work or maintain the online communication channels, help out with localization and translations and produce all those funky icons and beautiful artwork ; figure in the scheme of things?

For a lot of people the above is not a part of earning daily bread -- read, they are NOT paid but they do it nevertheless because _they want to_, not because foo-bar MNC is paying them as part of the day job to hack on the kernel or translate 500 strings per day. If people who really work for free (no salary or financial gain) are not welcome, it is propagating the elitist and arrogant stance that only a kernel hacker is a real contributor and the remaining efforts are worthless. While you/foss.in are free (as in speech, not beer) to focus on anything you like, dismissing and insulting contributors by twisting terminology is not very friendly. Feel free to choose to ignore the difference, whence, we are not even discussing things on the same page.

TEJAS: Every event, has a focus. That's what makes it a memorable event. The focus of FOSS.IN has been becoming narrower and narrower, as other events have been coming up.

ME: I've replied to this earlier so wont repeat it.

TEJAS: In 2007, FOSS.IN strictly had no talks that were not related to some FOSS project, and about getting involved (ie, there were no more "How to get FOSS in govt" and "How to get FOSS in education" talks). By this time, there were a stack of other community events, a few of which Team FOSS.IN offered to sponsor (as a silent sponsor)

ME: I know, I attended them.


TEJAS: In 2008, we have reached the stage where there are loads of community events out there, and FOSS.IN can focus on what it wants.

ME: TBH, I would have thought that is a decision for the community to make. Its obviously not  in your case.  Anyway the moot objection is about foss.in's arrogance with 'show me the code' attitude, giving credence to kernel commits (in which case it should be called a kernel-summit), etc.. The objection arises when you start judging others contributions by your yardstick and whether it fits your objective or idea of what a true contribution is. That is arrogant and unfriendly and helps alienate and push the community people away. You are a better judge of your event goals but its NOT acceptable to judge others by your yardstick.

Also, 'Freedom' is no excuse to diss on contributors who dont measure upto YOUR standards. That is negative community karma but if that is the route the event organiser wishes to take, so be it. There is not a single upstream project which discriminates against non-coders so blatantly and all this under the guise of increasing contributions. Either way the Indian floss community will vote with their freedom : to attend or not. Fair enough.

TEJAS: Does the indian public really need one more event on the same thing? It's quite simple.

ME: See above

TEJAS: I think you, like so many other people, are missing the definition of (http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/...) "Low Hanging Fruit"

ME: ah, NOT at all !! Other than questioning the English skills of everyone who protested, questioning their sanity levels and falling short of irreverently dismissing them as 'dumb' or calling them 'stupid', Mr. Atul Chitnis was being his usual arrogant, egoistical and dismissive self. Old stuff, nothing unexpected and I say that from first-hand experience, as the recipient of archived abuse on the Indichix list, in the not too recent past.

TEJAS: I don't see how this is remotely true. Every single detail of this change has been explained in the various lists. Just because we made a decision you didn't like doesn't make us a closed and non-transparent conference.

ME: Feel free to make any decision you like but dont confuse that with openness and transparency in community functionings. For the rest of your charge, Ditto from above ..... BUT This is the kind of transparency one expects in an event, especially if it is touted as the biggest free software event in India, albeit a wonderfully organised event IMO, with due credit to all the volunteers hard work. Well, feel free to talk to anyone across the world who is involved in organising and managing a LIBRE software event, where openness and transparency is the norm. Be it Debconf, linux.conf.au, or any other Libre SW event, where every part of organising the event is always discussed publicly (which usually includes the bidding, finance and sponsorship rates,etc...) within the community and public archived. From what I have heard of foss.in, this is not a practice followed BUT being an organiser you would be in a better position to throw light on whether this was (or is) being done with foss.in. So please do provide links (or archive url's on the foss.in mailing list?) to those discussions and I shall update my blog entry to reflect your corrections.

TEJAS: I'm sorry that you feel this way. I'd encourage you to form another event, with another focus, if you feel that is appropriate.

ME: Thanks for the encouragement, but as you said there are many events and its much more productive to redirect the 600 bucks there instead. I'm sure I'll hear a 'thankyou' at the very least.

TEJAS: Let me just warn you, from personal experience, that leading a volunteer team (which is exactly what FOSS.IN is) is a LOT of hard work. Often working sleepless nights on the CfP when you have an exam next day, and start studying for it at four in the morning. Do you know why we do it? Because at the end of the day, we know that we ARE boosting the contributions from India. Last time we boosted the number of contributors. This time, we are boosting the volume.

ME: Would love to see the latter happen but like others have said people who are contributing will continue to do so, despite being unwelcome at foss.in. Anyway, whatever gave you the impression that another volunteer does not put in hardwork ..... just because its not kernel code?