5th August ‘23
Present: Vishal, Riya, Rahul, Venky, Vishnu, Vinay, Kailash, Rushabh
We have to ensure high quality at all the events that are FOSS United branded. How do we ensure this?
- Presentation Deck: There should be a standard FOSS United presentation that should be made at the beginning of each CityFOSS and meetup. This should contain the vision of FOSS United and quality guidelines.
- Event checklist: Create a checklist on the FOSSUnited Platform (FUP) for each organiser to report if they have followed all guidelines. FUP is work-in-progress.
- Reviewing Proposals: Define parameters for reviewing proposals that may include bonus points for code contributions. Aim for at least 50% talks by contributors.
- Diversity: Create a special group of women-in-tech (led by Riya?) to ensure participation of women in all events.
- Round tables: Culture spreads by meeting and talking, and the CityFOSS events are the best place to build culture. Talks are a good way to get people going, but there must also be other formats like a round table with volunteers where we can talk freely and converse, share ideas, answer questions by volunteers and understand what they need.
- FOSS Awards: Establish a FOSS Award that will be given annually to best contributors (code, evangelism, policy etc) to the community. This could be given at IndiaFOSS. We can crowdsource nominations.
- City Level Leadership: We should actively try and build city-level leaders who should also be part of the governing council.
As FOSS United grows, we need to have a formal governance structure to ensure smooth running of the community. Currently FOSS United is a nascent organisation with evolving governance structures. We discussed the earlier attempts to build a membership council (maybe it was too early?)
There was a 3 tier structure proposed:
- Level 1 - Community: Everyone who participates in the events, is part of the online forums.
- Level 2 - [Placeholder]: Members / volunteers / ninjas who have a formal say in the governance either through voting or some other means. There was no consensus on the name for this level - “member”, “active volunteer”, “ninja” were proposed. The rules for [placeholder]ship should also be defined and could include:
- Volunteering X hours
- Nominations by existing [placeholder]s
- Fee (?)
- Level 3 - Governing council (GC): This will be responsible for all activity for the foundation including budgets, setting goals and appointments. Should probably be around 10 members. Currently this was the people who attended this meeting. This could be an elected body by the [Placeholders]
Other than that there are two other roles:
- Staff: This is the team that executes stuff (where the real “power” lies) - currently Vishal and Riya. Also Venky who consults with us on policy initiatives.
- Board: This is the legal board of the organisation - currently Kailash, Rushabh and Prakash. The board is responsible for all legal compliance.
We also briefly discussed open positions at FOSS United. (Average pay ~7 L per position)
- Industry Partnership Manager: To maintain existing partnerships by building relations and getting feedback and recruiting new partners.
- Social Media Manager: To extract quality content from our existing videos / talks and reshare them in a format that can be consumed on social media
- Education Program Manager: To run internships and certifications (see education section)
In our current year we are projecting a shortfall of ~18 lakh from our budget of 1.4cr. Some discussions:
- FOSS Projects budget may not be exhausted. Every new FOSS project in India is instantly funded by VCs. If there are any grants, we can pass them on to donor organisations rather than funding directly.
- We may yet recruit new industry partners
- Cash flow is not a problem at the moment.
- Budget helps us stay balanced and not over extend.
There was a discussion on how we can make our project grantees more accountable. Currently there is no framework for this. The outcome of our past grants is mixed. We did not discuss any specific process.
FOSS United was started because of Frappe/ERPNext and there is always a natural overlap here. Zerodha is invested in Frappe as well. While we cannot do away with these overlaps, it is important to disclose these conflicts of interest whenever someone from FOSS United promotes use of either Frappe or ERPNext. There will be a forum post disclosing these conflicts of interest.
There was a discussion on mon.school and what we should do about it. Education for FOSS should be one of the key pillars of the foundation and there were some ideas for the same.
- Regional language courses: There was a discussion on how mon.school should have more regional language courses for the tier 2/3 towns. It was extremely hard to find creators for this.
- Training and Certifications: Since “certifications” are heavily sought after in India, FOSS United could offer low cost, subsidised training and certifications for students. There could be live courses run each month and certification could be provided. We could work with 3rd party training institutes (Pipal Academy?) to run courses on the platform and provide certifications.
- Subsidy from governments: Rahul suggested that it would be possible to get governments to fund this kind of an outreach as teaching of technical skills is part of the government agenda. Rahul and Venky volunteered to explore this.
The vision for FOSS United is to become a widely funded and supported foundation. There are currently 11 industry partners and 2 patron partners.
- New model: Vishnu suggested a new model with higher slabs:
- 1 cr for Patron
- 50L for Platinum
- 25L for Gold
- 10L for Silver
- 5L for Bronze
- Leads: We have a lot of leads from the companies that have sponsored us in the past and from our networks. The partner manager will follow up on these leads and try to convert them.
- Showing value for industry partners:
- Show industry partner logos on the home page of fossunited.org
- Add a slide in the presentation deck
- Offer premium listing to industry partners on the job board
One of the major activities over the last 3 years has been supporting various social organisations with their tech needs. Recently efforts by Kailash has led to the establishment of a coalition of social sector organisations that will explore and promote the use of FOSS in the sector - OASIS (https://oasishq.org/)
FOSS United will act as a platform for volunteers and act as a partner for OASIS. A one day summit has been planned for 14th September.
The final discussion of the day was on policy.
- Venky updated the team on the efforts to bring a wider coalition of people to endorse the “End Software Patents” initiative.
- Currently the environment is very “pro-patent” as patents are (mistakenly) considered as a proxy for innovation. Government and large companies are lobbying heavily in favour of software patents.
There was also a discussion that FOSS United is sometimes viewed as a front for pro-government / large philanthropic interests to promote wider use of technology in government. To dispel this, we will start a forum post explaining FOSS United’s stand on policy and vision for social change.
- Big Tent: FOSS United will be a “big tent” where there will be space for all kinds of groups from activists to lobbyists (Remember, its FOSS “United”) to come and talk and put across their point of view. That does not mean FOSS United endorses any of their positions.
- Bottoms-up: FOSS United believes in bottoms up empowerment of individuals and civil society rather than creating top down state capacity. While we do not oppose the state becoming more efficient, the idea of FOSS is “liberation” for everyone and all our policy initiatives will be based on this framework.
- Policy roadmap: FOSS United will publish a policy roadmap for the next several months so that it is completely transparent to the community in terms of what initiatives it is willing to take.