[IAEP] quarterly or semiannual financials/vibrancy/transparency around Sugar Labs' 1st hire

Adam Holt holt at laptop.org
Sun Apr 3 18:49:46 EDT 2016

Just a quick apology that I will be voting against the role as currently
outlined at http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Translation_Community_Manager as
it does not as of now
contain quarterly or semiannual reporting structures with teeth, as Chris
Leonard outlined to me during a more-than-hourlong telephone call on
February 25th 2016, and as Walter Bender co-suggested during April 1st 2016
Oversight Board meeting.  This is not to question the very hard work Tony
Anderson put into the above page.  Tony is far from the only one who has
worked very hard on this, but his work over more than a month stands out
above all others.

The reason for such quarterly or semiannual financial and community
reporting would be to protect Sugar Labs from accidental drift, and
accidental incommunicado, despite
the absolute very best of intentions from all (
http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Finance was not updated for 4 years, for
reasons I still do not fully understand).  Such cultures can be exceedingly
difficult to change, if they accidentally take root.  Far better to nip
them in the bud in advance, with no-fault/no-blame rhythmic action.
Critically, this is completely distinct from monthly reporting on an
informational/sociable level to http://planet.sugarlabs.org or similar,
which I consider the fundamental nurturing foundation of this job -- but
completely distinct from strategic/financial reporting Writ Large.

As Sugar Labs' liaison to the Software Freedom Conservancy monitoring
accounting, financial and legal matters, I simply cannot in good conscience
vote in favor of Sugar Labs' first hire as described to date, without
binding quarterly or semiannual protections against accidental and
unintended drift.  Noble intentions need to be backed up with
trust-but-verify process (as Chris Leonard outlined to me very emphatically
on February 26th) if in the end we believe in accountability at all.  While
bashing bean-counters and lawyers is a perpetually entertaining hobby among
engineers (the jokes never get old) in the end this gets us nowhere
compared to the satisfaction of publishing our true accomplishments that
our limited lives afford us.  Quarterly or semiannual involvement would
secure the board's dynamic participation most important, as nobody likes an
absentee boss, disconnected from ongoing priorities.

I am hopeful that some such buck-stops-here reporting vibrancy will arrive
in due course, either through a version of Caryl Bigenho's evolving
Treasurer proposal (
and/or via an improved Translation Community Manager job description(*),
that makes quaterly/semiannual reporting far more explicit, with a board
vote affirming Chris Leonard's (or whoever's!) excellent ongoing work
during each such emerging cycle.  Clearing bureaucracy out of the way for
the sake of our legacy -- whether sandwiches are included or not, to
properly celebrate Chris Leonard's great work every 3-to-6 months.

I have not thought enough about Caryl's proposal, not talked to her to even
understand it yet, but I am very interested in her suggestion that Sugar
Labs decide what prompt financial transparency Actually Means -- at what
granularity, and at what frequency.  Rather than having these core pieces
decided for us by forces/externalities we regrettably still do not
understand.  Thank you to Caryl for posed thos central/larger existential
question that deserves both an immediate answer (if we choose to establish
Sugar Lab's 1st hire this spring) and a more long-term inner-truth answer:
how do we in fact regularly and promptly expose/organize finances,
delivering material no-nonsense community trust, particularly if we expect
others to do our work for us?

Both the short-term and long-term question need a no-bullshit answer, and I
hope Caryl who's been thinking about this very carefully can help us
organize a
ground-truthed solution.  As the time for blameful bickering is humbly
over, as our Nigerian friend Mr Goddy gently reminded us today: if we each
want to leave a legacy of judicious action through compromise -- standing
up for the team and the principles that brought us together!  If so, this
will bring Sugar Labs forward as a prominent and very proud player truly
assisting several indigenous languages this shrinking earth greatly depends
on... *among many other things ;)*

(*) one possibility might be to add the following:

1) Translation Community Manager reports to SL Board + Community + Public
on a fixed preset schedule of (specify quarterly or semiannual) renewable
contract cycles.

2) Reports can be of any length and should be posted/archived together to a
unique URL (http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Translation_Community_Manager ?)
one month prior to the completion of each contract cycle, mentioning:
(a) What actually happened over the current cycle and/or since the last
report, including financial summary (fine if different from prior cycle's
projections: we learn by doing!)
(b) What can and should happen over the coming cycle.
(c) Long-term strategic recommendations if he/she is hopefully so inclined!

3) The Board must affirm continuation or renewal of the contract before the
end of each (quarterly or semiannual, pick one!) cycle.  This last part is
largely a rubber-stamp, as the expectation is that the contract should
renew, insofar as funds allow as the translation community strengthens --
but at the same time it is an absolutely critical check and balance (Dead
Man's Switch) to keep us each & all conscientiously engaged, accountable,
and involved!
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