In the last few days, I attended Flock 2013 which was held in Charleston, South Carolina. It was busy first two weeks of August for me. GUADEC kept me on my toes from 8am to midnight for a week. I had to leave GUADEC on the 7th to get to Prague because my flight was leaving early in the morning on the 8th. The journey to Charleston went really smooth. I flew with Sirko from Prague, met Gergely and Patrick in Amsterdam, and Gianluca and Robert in Atlanta. So we arrived to Charleston as a quite large group.
I had a talk on the state of Fedora Ambassadors project. I guess many expected something like evaluating the state of our ambassadors. But I rather focused on explaining what FAmSCo has been doing in the last months and what we’re planning for the near future. In the last part of the talk, I brought up several ideas for the future to discuss. This started a quite interesting discussion. Too bad that my talk was attended just by 7 ppl.
The most interesting part of Flock was the morning track on the third day when we had three ambassador talks and we discussed several hot topics. One of them was inactive ambassadors which is coming up again and again. We always refused to do anything about inactive ambassadors. Because unlike packager’s job, ambassador’s job is hard to measure. An ambassador doesn’t necessarily need to be active online, but can do a “field job” no one else knows about. On the other hand, ambassadors should stay active in the Fedora project in some way and the fact that this problem is brought up again and again indicates that it’s a problem. Especially for some countries where 30 out of 40 ambassadors in the list are inactive. I’m going to explore several ideas how to indicate inactive ambassadors and what to do with them. I’ve asked Patrick of the infra team to run queries to get a list of ambassadors who haven’t logged in to FAS (wiki, trac,…) in the last 12, 18, and 24 months. Then I’d like to compare the list with our observation who is active and who is not. The query which matches the observation the most might become a criteria. Another question is what to do with ambassadors who have been indicated as inactive. If they don’t log in to FAS for, say, 12 months, they may be marked as “inactive” in the list and receive a notification. If they don’t become active again in the next, say, 6 months, they will be removed from the ambassadors group. I think it’s a fair solution. As time goes on and we have more and more new ambassadors, the number of inactive ones will grow, too. And we have to find a way to remove them, so that we won’t become a project mostly consisted of inactive member.
Christoph also showed some stats they did back in 2007 to indicate health of the project. They inspired me to work on something similar. So on the last day of Flock, I was collecting data and making some stats to come up with cool charts 🙂 But seriously, it was interesting to see attendances of regional meetings in time because they pretty much correlate with overall activity in the region. Stay tuned.
Other stuff at Flock was also very interesting. I attended many technical talks and even the Fedora Women session because I think having more women in Fedora Project would definitely help the project. I saw the positive difference at GUADEC where over 20 percent of speakers were women. Conferences are also about socializing and I was very happy to meet other contributors in person.
Considering the little time Flock organizers had to organize the event, I think they did a great job! I’ve organized several international tech conferences and I know how much work you have to put behind it to make it happen. The conference was professionally organized and the social events were great. Especially the one in aquarium. For the next year, I’d change its focus more to a planning conference with less talks and more sessions and hackfests. I think there were too many options and 9 talks at the same time is simply too many for a conference of this size. But I think Charleston was a great start for Flock and hopefully we will see even better Flock next year. I’m really looking forward to bids and wonder where in Europe it will be organized in the end.