[thesite] Answers

Lachlan Cannon luminosity at members.evolt.org
Fri Apr 19 08:38:00 CDT 2002

Reading through the leadership topics that have come up recently, it seems
that everyone acknowledges that there are problems with the way leadership
works at the moment, but no one has any answers. I believe a good solution
to this problem would be something like this.

Admin gets turned into something more like BoD. All the activities that have
to do with running the site (answering emails, approving articles) get
broken up and taken out of that group. This way anyone who feels that this
is a way they can help evolt can participate in them (given of course that
they are considered trustworthy enough to speak on behalf of the
organisation - someone else has to vouch for them?).

All seperate tasks to do with running the site, are broken up and given a
leader or a small group of leaders from different timezones (so someone is
always there to make the decisions). They run that task according to a spec
of how they should run it which is decided upon by this body upon setting up
of that task group. If they need help with stuff they can make a to do list
and accept help from people who want to help out with whatever. They are
responsible for all additions though, so they have to review contributions
from volunteers to make sure they work properly. All leaders of the group
will have certain times they have elected to be responsible for - no
overlap, which would result in disputes. Say the day is broken up into 4
periods, you then have one leader from a timezone which is up and about in
that period, who has signed on as responsible for that period. If they can't
do the duties on a certain day they are responsible for finding a substitute
(they could still ask the site or the forum or whatever for volunteers, but
in the end they have to choose who does it). The leaders can have subleaders
for certain tasks if necessary. For example, you could have a leader for
approving articles, and then 'subleaders'. The subleaders could take on
articles when they're submitted, contact the author, fix up grammar, make
minor changes, get the author's approval for bigger changes etc, and then
the subleader deems the article ready. The leader then reads over it for
final approval and either sends it back or allows it through - this way you
can have a bunch of talented people working to help evolt, without disputes
happening. To take another example, subleaders could write replies to emails
and then submit them to the leader for approval.

The task area, as I said earlier would be decided upon by this body upon
formation of the task group - the rules would have to be pretty explicit in
covering what they were and weren't allowed to do, and covering the scope of
their task. for example, if the offer of hosting had come up after this was
formed, it would be the responsibility of the email group to respond to the
emails, but they would have to come to this group for getting their
responses. If it was alleged that the leader at a certain time had broken
the rules laid out for them, then it would be the responsibility of admin to
vote on whether they thought that person should be allowed to continue with
that activity or not. That would be admins sole charging under this new
scheme - thus delivering more power to the community, while still keeping a
tight rein on what happens.

The reason I think we need leaders for is that while groups are fine, they
take their time. there is always a need for decisive action sooner or later,
and if someone takes it without consulting the group then they will be
blasted later, even though the action may be necessary. It is also necessary
to have more than one so there is always one person around who'll be
responsible for that section - eg if a very important email comes through it
might need to be dealt with straight away, or a spammer needs to be removed
from a list immediately.

This system will ensure (I hope) that we don't run into these kind of
disputes again, that there is a clear system for getting things done, and
that everyone who wants to contribute will be able to.

Also, this should help with a move more towards a nfp. The admin group will
be acting more like a bod, and less like a correspondence group. This will
also structure things better for an easier transition.

One other thing - if the current offer of hosting doesn't work, I think we
should start looking for it elsewhere somewhere. While I absolutely
appreciate all the work Dan has done, there are definitely problems with it
being so closely associated with him. If we can host elsewhere, then it
becomes less of a Dan thing - whether blaming or standing up for. Also, when
the evolt name needs renewing, evolt.org should try to be a proper nfp by
then, i think, so that it can be renewed under evolts name. Also, moving the
hosting away should help hopefully, along with merchandise, other
fundrasiing, etc should help with relieving Dan of the hosting costs. This
has the benefit of helping relieve the financial burden from Dan, and of
making it seem more like the organisation - everyone - is in charge. The
face of evolt should be evolt, not Dan, as it is misconceived to be now.
Note, I have no problems with what Dan has done, I just feel evolt needs to
get a more professional face. Becoming an nfp should of course also help
bring in more donations.

Question - if evolt does colo the servers, can we still accept donations of
parts for the servers, or do we get stuck with what we have, and only be
able to take in software / money donations? Problem with this of course
being that without constant upgrades, and with constantly increasing
demands, no doubt we'd need to purchase entirely new machines to colo to
replace the older ones which would add to growing costs.

Problems I can see with this system -

People being jealous of someone else being the leader - this one really
relies on people acting grown up, is all.

People not letting others work in their section - for instance what has
happened with Adrian with the Admin at the moment (no finger pointing here,
just an example). Leaders could deny others access to their groups during
their times. Of course leaders need discretion in choosing who to let work
with them. They may not know someone well enough to trust them, or they may
simply have too many workers for them, after all too many cooks spoil the
broth (why broth, anyway? I'd much rather have chefs working on desserts, or
something *nice*). Maybe leaders could refer people to other groups which
need work liek the person is offering if there isn't room?

Not having enough people volunteer to cover all time sections of a
particular group. Not much you can do about this one.

Overlap of groups. for example, let's say there was a CMS group with Jeff as
the leader, a Database group with Rudy as the leader, and a server group
with Dan as the leader - how much access can Jeff expect, and when does he
start infringing on the others territories? (note, once again no commenting
on things here, just offering this up as a potential problem).

Rivalries within groups. Factioning within subleaders, or with leaders
against other leaders. I think this shouldn't be too hard to solve. It needs
to be understood that this sort of thing won't be tolerated - while it's
fine to disagree on how something should be done, there is a limit to the
disagreement, and how far people can go. If some person goes too far, then
IMO they should be out (depending on vote of Admin group of course).

Unsolved issues with this solution -

the overlap issue again. if dan is leader of servers, and jeff wants access
to servers, does jeff have to ask dan for access?

fragmentation - it's possible that this might fragment the larger groups of
evolt apart too far, which would of course not be good. somehow everything
needs to be broguht back to the central community - maybe theforum / thesite
could act as central hubs for co ordinating activites? or a new seperate
list? of course fragmentation to a small degree can be good, too. small
groups can work far more productively.

I'm sure I had more stuff to add to this, but I seem to have forgotten it
while I was writing the rest out. please tell me what you think, or offer
your own solutions to the problems which have been discussed - but please,
lets keep the problems out of dicsussion, unless they have some bearing on
the solutions. Besides, I think that everything has been said mostly -
everyone is just repeating the same points. Please no one take this as a
personal attack, and can everyone else please stop mentioning names (unless
it's just as examples for a scenario). Mentioning names, even if it isn't
fingerpointing will always seem to come across as it. Also, can we please
not keep discussing what has happened in the past - this leads to 'well I
did this', or 'I tried that' or 'so and so didn't want this', which leads
again to finger pointing, or restating the problems, which really isn't
helping anymore.



note, I've cced admin and thesite, since I feel changes such as these will
greatly impact them as well, and they should have a say if they want one
(and aren't on this list already) sorry for the double post if you're on
more than one.

further note, if you want to quickly clarify a point I've made which you
don't feel is significant enough for theforum, don't email me - I only read
it once or twice a day. instead you should be able to get hold of me on msn
messenger as luminosity at members.evolt.org

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