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From Greg Stein <>
Subject Re: Next steps for various proposals (mentor re-boot, pTLP, etc.)
Date Sat, 24 Jan 2015 05:03:31 GMT
On Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 9:49 PM, Marvin Humphrey <>

> Hi Greg,
> On Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 1:33 PM, Greg Stein <> wrote:
> > There is nothing stopping the IPMC from designating certain Mentors as
> > shepherds for their podlings.
> Having volunteers step forward as dedicated shepherds for individual
> podlings would be helpful.  On its own, though, it is not sufficient,
> because Incubator shepherds are not as reliable as Board members.  What
> happens when the dedicated shepherd goes missing?  Podlings will start
> falling through the cracks again.

Agreed. I was thinking on a month-to-month basis. "I'll shepherd ACME this
month". (in addition to more general shepherds of "gimme 3 podlings that
haven't been allocated already")

> An additional mechanism needs to be in place to ensure that no report goes
> unreviewed.  For instance:
> 1.  The Incubator doesn't file its report until each and every podling
>     report has been reviewed by either a shepherd or a freelance IPMC
>     member filling in.

Ah. I like the term "freelance" (better than my "general" above) ... note
that the IPMC must file a report. It can't wait forever. I think what
you're really looking for is fully-explained in your point below. (ie. not
sure how the above is different than below)

2.  Podling reports which have not been reviewed by a shepherd are omitted
>     from the aggregate report and the podling is required to report again
>     next month.

yes, the above would work just fine. "Get the podling report reviewed, or
we strip it from the report to the Board."

Of course, the corollary is that the Board will get a bit cranky if it
keeps receiving empty Incubator reports :-P

> Starting this month, the Incubator has instituted something similar to the
> second option: podling reports where not a single Mentor has signed
> off get rejected and the podling is required to report again next
> month[1].  There was criticism that this mechanism punishes a podling for
> the sins of its Mentors, but the intended result was achieved: every
> podling report got signed off.  (Besides, in many cases the podling is at
> fault for filing at the last minute and leaving too small a window for
> Mentor signoff.)

*nod* ... It means "get it in on time, and if your Mentors aren't helping,
then find new ones". Unfortunately, we *have* had a case or three in the
past where a podling has been unable to locate new Mentors. There isn't a
good solution for that, under any plan :-(

> With signoff required, Mentors assume the essential functionality of
> shepherds, and the value added by the titular "shepherds" is limited to
> cross-cutting feedback.  I maintain that there are better ways to provide
> such feedback.

Fair enough.

> > That activity
> > wasn't happening in the past, so the shepherds were filling in.
> Shepherd participation has fallen too low to keep podlings from getting
> lost -- it's now below 50%.  What has kept distressed podlings like
> NPanday from falling off the IPMC's radar screen, for the last year and a
> half, has been the Report Manager putting podlings who don't file reports
> into "monthly" reporting.  It's not perfect, but it's *way* less work and
> more reliable than shepherds.

It's an imperfect system, given volunteers, varying time, and changing
interests. Maybe a call for new shepherds? Maybe a slight change in Mentors
and their signoff? and as you note: maybe another way to create
cross-cutting feedback outside of the Mentor/shepherd roles. (general@ is
already a good mechanism for much of that)

> Maybe the Incubator should strike that task from the Report Manager's
> runbook and start losing track of podlings again?  Because I feel like we
> designed a better system and nobody noticed.
> Marvin Humphrey
> [1] This is related but not linked to the list of not-signing-off Mentors
>     which the Board has chosen to remove from this month's report.  I've
>     remained silent about that up till now out of deference to those IPMC
>     members who are working hard to address issues of Mentor
>     accountability, but I support the Board's decision.

I believe the list of no-sign-off Mentors is very useful, and the Incubator
should have that data. With the right context, it makes sense and is
helpful. It can help identify where a Mentor is slipping and needs
encouragement, replacement, or more Mentors for a podling.

However, the Board minutes do not provide the context. "He was on vacation"
doesn't appear, so it is easy to misconstrue what that list means. And it
is a bit too fine-grained for the Board. Replacing that list with something
like "we had 30 active Mentors, and are reaching out to 4 that appear to
have moved on" would be something the Board would be interested in. That is
about the *health* of the mentoring program, rather than calling out names.
(in fact, we asked a PMC or two to remove individual names from reports
over the past couple months; longer discussion on why)


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