Community Development Committee Meeting Notes, 29 July 2011


  • David Bitner (Standards PMC)
  • Leslie Hawthorn (Chair)
  • Michael Howden (Eden PMC)
  • Pat Tressel (Member)
  • Trishan de Lanerolle (Member)
  • Shiv (?) - apologies for failing to capture more data on this attendee

Notes were taken by Leslie Hawthorn and have been originally published on this wiki by Leslie Hawthorn on 31 July 2011. All errors are mine. Please amend these notes as needed.

Leslie Hawthorn also notes that she lost her voice at OSCON prior to this call, so Michael Howden graciously offered to lead this meeting. Thanks to Michael for that.


The original agenda for this meeting was quite ambitious and we only managed to cover a few of the points in the original agenda, by design. Notes on this minutes page will only reflect actual items discussed during our call. To review the full agenda and get a better sense of the current priorities for the Community Development Committee, please visit this Google Doc. Future agendas will be published on the wiki.

Glossary for these minutes

  • GSoC = Google Summer of Code
  • RHoK = Random Hacks of Kindness


I. Establish Timekeeper and Scribe Roles

  • Scribe: Leslie Hawthorn
  • Time Keeper: David Bitner

II. Introductions & Motivations

Introductions in alphabetical order by first name. Please share when you joined Sahana, what motivated you to be involved with the project and the SCDC and which of the responsibilities of the SCDC you would most like to address personally

David Bitner: Involved since he met Trishan at Strong Angel meeting along with Chamindra (2006), GSoC admin for last 4 years, part of original exec and community development committee before reorg. Roles Wanted: no preconcieved notions

Leslie Hawthorn: I joined Sahana after the annual meeting in Lisbon, but unofficially joined after meeting Mark at the HFOSS meeting at SIGCSE this year and offering to help with marketing. Helped with website relaunch. Interested in project because I like the cause and the team. Would be most interested in helping with developer recruitment. Outreach manager at

Michael: Met Chamindra and wanted to work on better way for supply chain database and access. Became heavily involved at end of 2009 when he met Fran, better logistics software for NGOs using Sahana. Company started called AidIQ. Need better information systems and business process systems for humanitarian and NGO organizations. Sahana has a lot to offer the wider humanitarian community in terms of products and community’s experience. Humanitarian IT tends to be done rather ad hoc, consultant comes in and then leaves; if Sahana is the platform for this kind of development, the work can be sustainable. Huge opportunity to pass on skills, not just Sahana or tech skills but how these skills can be useful. What are the processes for getting organizations to adopt technology. See community enjoy itself more. Cut down on bickering and increase joy. Best way to subvert someone is to show them you are having more fun. Engaging new members, don’t just have to be volunteers, but also provisional members. Bringing people who are working on humanitarian software into the fold - people who are in organizations that know nothing about IT and feel isolated that we can invite to the Sahana community.

Pat: Haiti earthquake, went to CrisisCamp, found Sahana used Python and began doing little jobs here and there. Became GSoC mentor and started advocating for Sahana, such as at Geeks Without Bounds. Sean Conner (playsourcing) showed up with book of SMS messages collected from Haiti and suggested providing user interface like a game for people to translate, geocode and classify the messages. Came up with a game and this may be first time this type of approach was used. Wondering about interplay of playsource and getting community to have more fun. Interested in reward and retention programs - delivering virtual pats on the back and making it easy for people to do. Facebook group to hang out in and chat, need something asychronous due to time zones. Also interested in working with partners like RHoK. Work on other projects related to Sahana in some way.

Trishan: Joined in 2006 a few months before meeting David at Strong Angel. At Trinity College looking for an open source project to contribute to. Introduced to Sahana by Chamindra. Put together a team of students to make early contribution. Member of old PMC on PHP branch of Sahana. The VM module has been transfered over to new versions, including Eden and NYC version. Experiences working with students and academics and seeing how they can engage in open source projects. Wants to work in this area. Has worked on RHoK both as a participant and recently as an event organizer with RHoK Hartford. Worked with students and faculty at NCSU and RPI on Sahana related projects.

III. Committee Priorities - open discussion

We only addressed two of the many priorities we know we need to address near-term. Here are the minutes based on discussing those priorities.

Based on feedback received prior to the meeting, we will discuss these near term objectives:

Develop incentive/reward program for community / members

Pat had some great ideas of graduated incentives that cost nothing but makes people feel valued so they contribute more. These should be reworked into a program CDC can manage.

Suggestion to make a list of these graduated incentives and put them into a spreadsheet so we can track it vs. should be tracked on the wiki. Get this on our list of “blessed” resources. High level on wiki with action plan on spreadsheet / Google doc? This was ultimately not decided upon.

Need broader conversation about what resources we are using - involve Darlene in this conversation - not in scope for today’s meeting.

Many of Pat’s ideas are around interpersonal interactions. Make people behave towards each other in an encouraging manner. Students who have worked on open source projects where people are snarky or nasty to each other. This is off-putting to female developers in particular, need to grow diverse community. Lead by example. Pat admits she is not perfect, but tries to hang out in channel and greet new people.

Incentives / Rewards: Involved with another volunteer project that is gamifying their website. Formulate project and recruit others to work on them. Badges, treats, etc. Facebook games are a part of their strategy. Sahana doesn’t have a place to do explicit gamification. Lower level rewards - give people a particular reward - “you caught the golden snitch for today”

Making sure that we have bite sized tasks that people can grab on and work on - much like infrastructure for Google Code-In. Cost of entry right now into project is very high. Amount of time new dev has to get set up is very high but lower than it was in the past.

Bring down the difficulty of entry - live CD for Sahana. We have used VMs with preconstructed images and it does work ocassionally but not good for long-term dev. Live CD works well for classroom environment. Get people doing things fast. Later they can set up capital “e” environment. Pat points out that people who come to CrisisCamps are not set up when they arrive but they are highly highly skilled.

Pat has offered to prepare a document with a list of potential rewards - certificates, watching people’s Launchpad Karma points and sending “oh no” messages as people start contributing, final step is membership in the Foundation, posting recommendations on LinkedIn. Biggest bang for buck in the next month? Facebook group - worried that there aren’t many people. Group can be a place to share screencasts, etc. David reminds us to make sure we cross post to open forums, such as wiki. Have to be good gatekeepers and ensure that information does not stay in silos.

Do we have a list of all contributors somewhere? We should have this as a regular feature of our site, not just an incentive system (be an awesome volunteer, get on the website).

Committee needs to take an action item to create list of contributors - should be people who have submitted Contributor License Agreement. This information is on the wiki. Get this data and uplevel it to wiki / Have an emeritus section. Need to acknowledge people who are not code contributors but we need to do a separate discussion on that matter.

Step One: 1) List of names for developers needs to be collected (see above) 2) Need list of names for non-code contributions 3) Need volunteer bios and photos

Need emeritus section. We will run into some walls going down this path. Long history of once you have earned karma it is yours for good, so be sensitive to this matter.

Have some kind of visual queue for emeritus / currently contributing / etc. status.

Task: Send note to developers list asking for bio and photo Update with this data

Develop new recommended standards for Membership - what should be the minimum qualifications/contributions. Can we lower bar both in terms of expected contributions (not years) and in votes requirement - requiring majority of members to vote yes is extremely hard to reach and requires a lot of extra effort.

Lots of options - minimum number of votes, committee decides, etc.

David thinks membership nominations should come from membership. In favor of majority vote for people who vote within a given time frame.

Recommendation to the board is required - there is a procedure to vote on members in the bylaws so we can only give to board as fully fleshed out proposal and allow them to deliberate on it.

Quorum has not been discussed but we are trying to get away from a quorum. Make time window long enough - one week should be sufficient. Let everyone have a chance to have their voice heard. Pat is concerned there will be no response. Michael notes that if there is no response then we are not effectively functioning as a community and we ought to pack up our bags and go home.

Call for votes should be HIGHLY public. Voting should be closed ballot.

We want membership election to be an affirmative, good thing.

Important thing is that special interest groups cannot get a majority of members without the approval / consent of membership. For example, not allowing a company that supplies Sahana services to attempt to stack the membership deck.

Who should we make members? Do we need multiple member categories?

from David Bitner to Everyone: a motion like this needs to define a volunteer role for ballot counter

Have a “social” membership - Sahana Supporters or Sahana Superstars but not members since Members have a specific business function


Whether people decide to engage in the business aspects of Sahana should be up to them. We should have everyone be members.

Lowering the bar too low is a problem. Two different scales - contributors and members (You can be both but only members do business stuff.)

Historically a lot of concern about Respire that created services around Sahana. As Sahana moved from being very Sri Lankan based project to being an international organization there were many cross cultural issues and concerns. Sense that folks from outside Sri Lanka were “taking over project.” Note that many project founders / early contributors are not so much around any more. Not letting a single group be able to sway direction is extremely important.

When one small group starts to lead things, protectionist perspective seems to come through for incumbent. Not foreign to this organization.

Michael is aware that AidIQ gives lots of direction for Sahana Eden. Fran and Michael do not want to damage the community. Would love to see Respire more engaged with the community.

Only four people who hang out in #sahana-eden who are part of AidIQ that talk, two are consumers, two are volunteers (Robby O’Connor and Pat) and the rest of the Eden community seems to have been lost. Issue of closed nature of conversations between AidIQ developers. Other developers don’t know what’s going on. Hard to keep up with changes.

AidIQ working diligently to put information out in view, on public lists, etc. Still concern over private conversations, decisions made off-list / off-line. Concern there is no room for other developers.

Want to give room for other people to comment but need to iterate quickly and make things happen. How to help make this situation better for others?

Michael wants to put together <?????> membership so we can start recruiting more members. Who becomes a member and what does membership mean? Michael has 6 candidates for membership and Sanjana has more from Taiwan community. Are there things that people need to do become members? Are these test cases for what a member is and how people become members?

Membership is not part of rewards hierarchy? Or should it be?

Getting people to participate more visibly in the community so they are known to all before they become members.

Set up spreadsheet - list a number of candidates for members. Some will be real people and some will be hypothetical people. Two cells to fill out for every person - should they be a member and why or why not? And then we use their accomplishments, etc. to determine a rubric for membership. Current membership criteria should be on the wiki.

Set up monthly recurring meetings

Action Items

Leslie Hawthorn:

  • Set up monthly meetings, schedule via email
  • Update with contributor bios (defined as those who have executed the Sahana Contributor License Agreement) with developer photos and bios once they have been collected
  • Publish minutes from this meeting (done)

Pat Tressel:

  • Create document with a suggested list of rewards and incentives for community members

Note from LH: Pat, is it reasonable to assume you could have this done by our next meeting, in one month? Could you publish to the community mailing list sooner?

Needs Owner:

  • Collect developer bios and photos to publish on community page

Open Items

  • Best way to track candidates for membership
  • Discussion about potential proposal to the board about changing membership structure
  • Tracking incentive structure for contributors

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