Prospective board members: travel sponsoring.

Luc Verhaegen libv at
Mon Mar 18 09:15:22 UTC 2019

On Mon, Mar 18, 2019 at 11:04:17AM +1000, Peter Hutterer wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 18, 2019 at 01:39:13AM +0100, Luc Verhaegen wrote:
> > 
> > There used to be a time when board meetings were closed, and when board 
> > members were using sponsor money to give eachother bottles of whisky. 
> You have more data for this? I'm vaguely remember one (two?) such occasions more
> than a decade ago. This was a thank you gift after a board member stopped
> being one, after several cycles on the board.
> Being a board member is a thankless job. It takes time and effort and you
> get virtually no positive feedback. it's stuff most developers do not want
> to do, hence the difficulty in finding nominees every year.

It perhaps is a thankless job, but it does sit well on a resume.

It also gives people the ability to help make and the graphics 
world better, which should be a reward in itself.

The board used to be a bit of a private gentlemens club, and a bit of a 
slush fund for others, especially when it came to getting travel paid. 
This was fundamentally changed with increased visibility.

It is also why i now question how or why this change in policy came to 
be, and what effects it will have.

I also wish to know how future, not past, board members approach this 
issue so that my and other peoples voting can be informed.

> > Those times are now luckily far behind us, exactly thanks to emails like 
> > the one you just replied to.
> re: closed board meetings: the wiki lists minutes back to 2006 (the irc logs
> to 2010). You'll notice that from 2013 onwards, the minutes are effectively
> complete, public and accompained by full IRC logs. If you're claiming credit
> for that - no. that was *definitely* not your contribution. 

How quickly you forget.

Here is a key email quoted:
On Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 09:56:08PM +0100, Luc Verhaegen wrote:
> I have no idea when such meetings are supposed to be held, how regular 
> there are. No such information is available publically, or at least not 
> available to my knowledge.
> Secondly, if it happens openly on irc anyway, why not put the logs up on 
> the wiki? Nothing easier than that.
> Third point: you say that the state of the foundation is being 
> disclosed at every XDC. Unless you want to send every foundation 
> member over on a then very limited amount of Xorg foundation money, 
> please make the details available on the wiki. This is very little work. 
> Heck, since we are in the iphone generation anyway, how hard is it to 
> organise a short video or audio recording which can serve as a basis for 
> this?
> All of these things seem to be easy to fix, without much in the way of 
> overhead. Why were none of these things thought of directly?
> I am the first person to think of this, because that's just who i am. 
> Since then I have heard of several others who confirmed my sentiments.

Irclogs then became available, and i spent several days condensing them:

We have had open irc meetings ever since.

> > Also, i have never asked for travelsponsorship from the board, ever. And 
> > i hope that i do not have to go and do so to prove a very obvious avenue 
> > for abuse.
> You could see travel sponsorship as an option of supporting developers to
> atttend a conference. There are multiple reasons why someone may not be able
> to come otherwise. Being a student is only the most common and obvious one.
> That you can only see this as an avenue for abuse is ... sad.

Perhaps. I see it as an avenue for abuse of power and nepotism. And i 
started pushing for more openness once i saw how this game worked with 
radeonhd, and that was even before that repo was vandalized.

Visibility allows for oversight and accountability, which has the 
potential to reduce abuse.

I am amazed that you, after having been through the 2010 cycle, are 
against increased visibility and reduced abuse.

> > Luc Verhaegen.
> > -- the organizer of an event that is listed on the sponsorship page, 
> > which, afaik, has not cost the foundation anything for several years 
> > now.
> "Conferences officially approved for sponsorship are the XDC, FOSDEM and the
> Linux Plumbers Meeting."
> Are you really critising that the board has a policy to provide sponsorship
> to the event you're organising?

I have not asked for funding for the devroom since Daniel Stone 
criticized the only cost of the FOSDEM devroom, which was taking the 
devroom speakers and other community members to supper (aka "the 
social event"). An event which cost the board between 25 and 50eur 
per head, which put it in the order of 500-1000eur, a fraction of the 
money spent on catering and the social events at XDCs before it. This 
feels like it must have been after the 2009 fosdem, i would have to dig 
up the actual date.

I think that a few people have since asked for travel sponsorship for 
FOSDEM, but i have actively not been involved with that due to the 

The devroom was also renamed graphics devroom in 2014.

I have no issue with this event being used to drum up sponsorship 
money, if and only if:

- This comes with complete transparency.

- This money is not abused, and is cleanly used to support developers 
who indeed have no means to otherwise travel (which per definition 
should exclude those who have a corporate affiliation).

If those, rather basic and obvious, conditions are not met, then i am 
not comfortable having the hard volunteer work of the FOSDEM 
organization abused for drumming up sponsorship money under questionable 

Luc Verhaegen.

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