The Python Software Foundation (the "PSF") held an informal annual members' meeting on February 19, 2010 during lunch at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta hotel in Atlanta, Georgia, USA (PyCon 2010 Atlanta). Steve Holden presided over the meeting. Pat Campbell prepared these minutes.
No attendance was taken.
During the PSF members' lunch at PyCon on February 19, 2010, S. Holden greeted members, prospective members, and prospective board members and announced that the members' election would be postponed and rescheduled to take place at a later date due to the need to find an electronic voting mechanism to replace the manual voting apparatus used in past members' annual elections.
However, an informal members' meeting did take place during the lunch where members were invited by S. Holden to speak on PSF matters of concern to them.
To start, a question was posed by G. van Rossum as to who would be taking responsibility for the 2010 members' meeting election debacle. The PSF secretary responded by saying: "that would be me." S. Holden stepped in and said that he would take full responsibility for the election delay and that the members' election for 2010 will take place next month.
After being recognized by the chairman of the board, V. Lindberg asked if the prospective members and the prospective board members would introduce themselves and provide some insight into "what they see as the role of the PSF."
Four new board candidates present at the meeting introduced themselves and outlined the basis of their candidacies: Jesse Noller, Gloria Willadsen, Doug Napoleone, and Allison Randal.
There were two board candidates for the 2010 election who were not present during the informal meeting: Greg Stein and Marc-André Lemburg.
There was some discussion over the number of open slots on the board versus the number of new board candidates for 2010.
"My proposal would be to actively work to having a paid contractor do all the webmaster, sysadmin, postmaster work -- instead of relying on volunteers and also pay for webhosting so that we don't have to worry about, for example, if the hard-drive failed, who is going to donate a new one and how fast can they FedEx it.
And, maybe the switch to mercurial is also an opportunity to switch to a mercurial host. And, I think that we should just pay them rather than slowly eat-up goodwill..."
S. Holden presented members with a list of activities the board had been engaged in during 2009, since some members were concerned about what the foundation had done since the last members' meeting a year ago and where the PSF is headed in 2010:
Various discussions concerning the above can be summarized by the following text, posted on the members' list by Jeremy Hylton.
The board needs to set official, measurable goals and communicate them to the members. We had little idea what the organization had done in the last year and no one seemed prepared to tell us what had been accomplished. The board ought to decide what is important and focus on those things. We should document those goals, so everyone understand what the priorities are. Those goals should be tied to outcomes that are measurable so that we can assess whether we did a good job.
The board should provide some regular progress reports on those goals. It's been hard to follow what the PSF does. We learned, via the treasurer's report distributed at the meeting, that we spent a lot of money helping people travel to conferences. It made me happy to learn that. It's the sort of report that might help with fund raising, because it gives a prospective donor some idea of what their donation would do. Regular progress reports make it easier for people to get involved in activities and provides a clear warning sign when something is going wrong. We need some accountability.
One goal that had broad support from the members was making Python development easier. Guido had some specific suggestions about infrastructure that generated a few long threads with Martin following the conference. If there is infrastructure work that will go faster with paid support, I'd encourage us to pay for support. Sprints were discussed as another way to promote Python development. We should host more sprints and provide financial support to get key developers to attend them.
There was a surprising discussion about whether the board had to avoid commercial interests in some way. I observed that the foundation was created by Greg and folks from Zope Corp. I don't think anyone expressed a concern about working with the businesses that use Python.
The board shouldn't feel the need to come to the full membership to ratify its decisions on a regular basis. We all felt comfortable with the officers and the board making executive decisions. I think some board members worried that before they took any action, they had to at least take a straw poll on the membership list. That's not necessary. Moreover, if the PSF has official goals, measurable outcomes, and regular progress reports, the members will be able to make some noise if they ever have a concern. A similar point was that the board should appoint some officers who will get things done. We don't need to elect people to the board in order for them to do something for the PSF. The board serves an executive function and the work should be done by the officers and committees.
The PSF treasurer provided a financial report to members.