Face-to-face meeting in New York, October 5-6, 2018

The SPI board met in New York in October 2018 to discuss a number of topics. The meeting was held at the offices of Hudson River Trading. The board wishes to thank Hudson River Trading for their generosity.

Board members present

  • Jimmy Kaplowitz (Hydroxide) (President)
  • Luca Filipozzi (luca) (Vice President)
  • Michael Schultheiss (schultmc) (Treasurer)
  • Tim Potter (tpot) (Secretary)
  • Martin Zobel-Helas (zobel)
  • Stephen Frost (Snow-Man)

Board members partially present

  • None

Board members absent with regrets

  • Andrew Tridgell (tridge)
  • Dmitri John Ledkov (xnox)

Board members absent

  • None

Board advisors present

  • None

Registered guests present

  • Mishi Choudhary


Friday, October 5th 2018

11:00am Opening by President

  • Jimmy Kaplowitz welcomed everyone, especially our newest board member Stephen Frost

Report by Treasurer on yesterday's treasury sprint

  • Michael Schultheiss reported on good progress made on opening bank accounts to remain below FDIC limits at the following institutions:

    • TD
    • Bank of America
    • HSBC
  • Overall finances as of end of August 2018

    • Approx $2.4M cash on hand
    • SPI general fund now $390K
  • There was a request for more information for Mark Atwood regarding a single large NTPsec expense already paid by SPI.

  • Status on the generation of per-project donation information

    • Andrew Tridgell has extended process_transactions.py to generate CSV output
    • What level of donor information can we expose to the public and projects?
    • Agreed that it's uncontroversial to provide per month totals
    • Martin Michlmayr suggests we need a donation platform
    • Problems with current donation policy
    • Very broad
    • Non-binding
    • Not visible via PayPal donation workflow
    • GDPR?
    • Agreed that we probably cannot do anything with existing donor data as no consent
    • Provide anonymized data for projects?
    • Survey of wants and needs for projects
    • Action items
    • Tim Potter to start generating monthly per-project data
    • Also to document process for monthly/weekly scraping and reconciliation
    • And update access-helper config (PayPal passwords encoded with access)

11:15am Governance discussion

  • Martin Michlmayr pointed out that we are still making more promises than we keep in regard to governance.

  • What is our liability with regard with the activity of associated projects?

  • Need to work on reimbursement policy

  • Code of Conduct

  • Engagement of paid legal help for trademarks

  • Reimbursement process

    • Andrew Tridgell has written a new reimbursement script/form
    • Action items
    • Michael Schultheiss to update documentation for new reimbursement process

11:43am IT Luca

  • Question on the table is what are the board's preferences around VMs vs serverless?

  • Tim Potter

    • Consider using Amazon VMs or similar instead of dedicated hardware
    • Be nice to FOSS related things but if there's a SASS product that looks good, for whatever, then that may make sense to do
    • If the choice is not having something or a poor solution and having a good solution that's non-free, a good solution is preferred
  • Martin Michlmayr

    • Been bogged down by too many discussions
    • Struggle with question of OSS or not
    • Hosted things are proprietary solutions, ultimately
    • We are an OSS org
    • Not sure what the answer is
    • 100% serverless isn't realistic
    • Member system needs to be hosted, etc
    • Not sure where the balance should be
    • Preference towards OSS but could be a lot of work
  • Martin Zobel-Helas

    • Lots of work to run donated hardware
    • Keeping all the mail, VMs, etc, working and up to date
    • Should think about having a commercial service to take care of things, patches, etc
    • Agree w/ Martin Michlmayr that when it comes to personal data, donations, project expenses, etc, should be on systems we control
    • Aim for OSS for donations, etc
    • If there is an OSS option as a SASS then that could be good
  • Jimmy Kaplowitz

    • Very busy already
    • Like the idea of using hosted solutions where they meet our needs
    • Prefer OSS
    • Personal data should be handled in the best way based on security and privacy
    • In case where we use proprietary, try to avoid being locked in
    • GMail itself doesn't lock us in much, but building a lot of things on GMail could make it difficult to move elsewhere
    • Easy to move between some platforms, keep that in mind
    • Care about volunteer time too
    • Preference for OSS but not always overriding preference
  • Michael Schultheiss

    • Doesn't make sense to go 100% serverless or donated hardware but VMs would work
    • Make better use of our volunteer time
    • Lots of email providers such as free GMail
    • Running email getting more complicated and takes a lot of volunteer time to manage
    • Need more access to member portal and such, but website or other sites could possibly be run off of many services
  • Martin Michlmayr

    • Consider each service
  • Martin Zobel-Helas

    • Prefer to let Luca decide
  • Luca Filipozzi

    • Doesn't like anything we currently run due to it being old and crufty
    • Currently running on donated hardware on VMs
    • Want to get rid of donated hardware and move to VMs on other hardware
    • Rather buy VMs than be beholden to anyone
    • Not have to be involved in talking to providers
    • If you want to run your own RT instance then everything else kinda drives it
    • Gossamer threads has a hosted RT instance
    • Not sure how comfortable Gossamer would be with customized instances
    • If we want RT then we need a webserver, we need a VM
    • General board has agreed that FOSS is good
    • Get rid of hardware seems consistent
    • Get away from asking for VMs and instead buy them
    • Terraform and Ansible instead of Puppet
    • For mail, uses personally rspamd, has SPF, DKIM, DMARC, etc, and seems to all work
    • Familiar with all the right SPF, DKIM, DMARC such
  • Martin Zobel-Helas

    • Messages in the queue to be moderated for days sometimes
    • Should be thinking about that with regard to email
  • Luca Filipozzi

    • Who owns the lists and who manages them and such
    • Prefer Sympa to Mailman, able to set up rules in a simple language which can be used
    • Was able to be used to prevent a lot of spam
    • Allows for sender confirmation
    • Would reduce the need for moderation
    • Torn between supporting OSS and the choice to use SASS offerings
    • If every service had a solution which could be OSS but we pay for it, that's middle ground
    • Consistency of opinion is helpful
    • Previously was trying to have a separation of concern with independent VMs
    • Only really need a VM
    • We provide currently DNS to some projects
    • There had been ideas of providing more capabilities to associated projects
    • Not really interested in being a hosting provider for our projects
    • Gandi supports tiered ownership structure
    • Reduce amount of hosting service
  • Stephen Frost

    • Various discussion about what some associated projects do
  • Jimmy Kaplowitz

    • The Debian way isn't the only way
    • Don't want to have lock-in
    • Don't have to prioritize OSS projects over other concerns
  • Martin Michlmayr

    • Perhaps we should provide documentation around DNS because we own the domain?
    • Provide IT best practices
  • Luca Filipozzi

    • We own the domain and therefore you have to at least manage NS records
    • Project too small they might not have NS servers
    • Many registrars provide DNS services
    • We could possibly use gandi which provides tiered services
    • Could have NS records set or that they could use gandi
    • Mailing lists gone, never was a website
    • Not going to help projects with their IT but will still consider doing DNS
    • Once we say we want RT, we basically bring everything else along with it
    • Are we locked into RT?
    • Will discuss RT later in agenda
    • Once down to a reasonable number of VMs with Terraform/Ansible, should be reasonable to manage

12:15pm Reimbursement and accounting discussion

  • We need some policies around both reimbursements and accounting practices

  • Reimbursements

    • We don't have an official expense policy and we need one
    • Look at existing policies -- SFC too strict, Luca's University has an existing policy which is more flexible
    • What to do with expense receipts not in a language we can read?
    • Don't want to give board or projects too much extra work
    • Need to consider having to be audited at a later date
  • Accounting practices

    • Insiders shouldn't reimburse themselves
    • We don't track the workflow of reimbursements
    • Who approved what, when
    • Currently this info is stored in RT comments
  • Martin Zobel-Helas sent an email to Sophie from LibreOffice asking for feedback on new reimbursement process

  • Martin Michlmayr had some comments about the process

1:00pm Break for lunch

2:25pm Discussion of questions to present to Mishi on Saturday

2:50pm Discussion about Code of Conduct

  • Purpose of Code of Conduct

    • Reduce liability and exposure for SPI
    • Pursue charitable mission of SPI
  • Agreed that SPI should have it's own Code of Conduct for internal use

  • Will contact Sage Sharp and Val Aurora for possible code of conduct consulting. Likely scope:

    • SPI's own code of conduct for activities directly within an SPI conduct
    • How to handle the question of code of conduct requirements/expectations within project communities, both for existing projects and new projects, taking into account both where we are now and where we want to move toward.
    • Help on convincing members to be okay with this, and on addressing their concerns

3:30pm Q&A session with Mishi

4:10pm Adjourn for the day

Saturday October 6th 2018

10:30am Opening

10:40am Code of conduct/liability discussion

  • We are likely not liable for what projects do on their own

    • If we interfere enough to be construed as running the project then maybe yes, but if we still stay hands off that is better e.g Privoxy link
  • Still need to figure out what to do with leftover assets for uncooperative/unresponsive projects

  • Getting projects up to the same version of the associated project agreement and additional policies

11:10am Staffing

  • Agreed to encourage the treasury team to use Sabrina more for admin tasks

11:20am Reimbursement Deadlines

  • For all reimbursement requests for expenses incurred on or before 2018-OCT-31, submit by 2019-MAR-31

  • For reimbursement requests for expenses incurred on or after 2018-NOV-01, within 90 days of the expense (or the last expense of a trip (to accommodate situations where travel and accommodation is booked well in advance of the actual trip))

  • Goal for reimbursement within 30 days, aim for 14 days 95% of the time.

  • Adjustments to process

    • Don't hand-fill form -- much easier to copy&paste instead of transcribing data by hand
    • online form has been updated
    • Some extra requirements for sending money to Taiwan, China or Brazil is required

11:36am Move to accrual-based accounting

  • It has been recommended we engage a professional bookkeeper

  • Not a big jump compared to our existing setup

    • May need to do something special to switch over
    • Engage some professional assistance, accountant familiar with non-profits (via NPCC)
    • Board agrees to go accrual, possibly at beginning of 2019
  • Potential bookkeeping and accounting firm: Jitasa Group

    • From https://www.npccny.org/membership/member-benefits/:

      "Jitasa is the largest national bookkeeping and accounting service provider dedicated solely to the nonprofit sector. Our name means 'The Spirit of Serving Others,' and we are passionate about broadening nonprofit outreach. We offer bookkeeping and accounting solutions that cater to every nonprofit, regardless of size. NPCC members receive one month of bookkeeping and accounting services for free and 10% off our 990 preparation services. To learn more visit www.jitasagroup.com."

  • Conservancy has scripts they use with ledger (contributed to ledger upstream by Bradley) to export spreadsheets for auditors. They do bookkeeping internally.

12:00pm Strategy discussion

  • Need to be less reactive and more like a traditional board

    • What is our mission?
    • What are we trying to achieve?
  • Hire some people to do the volunteer work that's being handled by the board now

    • Accounting
    • Legal
    • Admin
  • Permanent office manager/executive director/fundraiser?

    • only part time?

12:30pm vote to replace systemd resolution with intended one

  • The proposal under consideration is to replace the resolution successfully passed in the September board meeting where an old version of the resolution as accidentally posted to the SPI website and voted on. The updated version was re-accepted by Lennert Poettering on behalf of the systemd project.
Luca FilipozziYes
Stephen FrostYes
Jimmy KaplowitzYes
Martin MichlmayrYes
Tim PotterYes
Michael SchultheissYes

Motion passed with a vote of 8 yes, 0 no, 0 abstain and 2 missing.

12:34pm Vote on resolution 2018-10-05.mcs.1 (Ameriprise banking resolution)

Luca FilipozziYes
Stephen FrostYes
Jimmy KaplowitzYes
Martin MichlmayrYes
Tim PotterYes
Michael SchultheissYes

Motion passed with a vote of 8 yes, 0 no, 0 abstain and 2 missing.

12:45pm Code of conduct discussion/revising code of conduct

  • Editing and responding to Andrew Tridgell's edits

12:55pm Modification of board meeting time on IRC

  • IRC meeting times are optimized for board member attendance and geography rather than for members and the public

  • If the balance of the board geography changes then we may revisit the time

  • Consider phone call meetings as being more productive?

  • Consider extra Google Hangouts meetings for ad-hoc discussions?

3:00pm project survey discussion

  • Possible questions
    • Move to 10% SPI cut to fund employing executive director
    • What are specific benefits of this?
    • 5% is actually pretty low compared to other organizations
    • What financial data do projects want?
    • One survey for project liaisons, another for members

1:10pm Fundraising

  • Discussion about the threshold for considering a project's share of SPI income insufficient for the amount of effort and cost expended by SPI

  • Professional fundraiser could help projects raise money

    • Help with applications and expertise
  • Direct funding of SPI

    • We can fundraise for donations to the SPI general fund, instead of fundraising for projects and only receiving 5%

1:20pm strategy

  • Implement Val's action item updating mission statement and advice about restricting our core activity to better focus on non-technical and financial tasks

  • Roadmap

    • Something with dates to keep ourselves accountable
    • 1/5/10 year goals
    • Largely things we have already talked about above
    • Possibly 5-10 year goal of bringing in other 501(3)c organizations, projects who have left SPI

1:40 Brand identity/logo

  • Agreed that we need a bit more formality behind a refresh of our brand identity

    • New logo
    • Website redesign
    • Letterhead/slide template
    • Doesn't have to be a heavyweight super-expensive thing
    • Need to come up with some details on what we want re principles/ideas for a logo
    • https://opensourcedesign.net/ a good place for requesting work
  • How to assess someone to partner with

  • RFP process needed, Luca Filipozzi suggested to be responsible

2:00pm Break for lunch

3:06pm Managing outstanding items

  • [Tim Potter] do we want to use basecamp? It's useful and effective, from a company that has done a lot of open source, but it's proprietary and paid.

    • [Michael Schultheiss] Some members might not want to work with it, being proprietary.
    • [Tim Potter] We could still use it internally
    • [Jimmy Kaplowitz] Some projects and members might need to interact directly
    • [Martin Michlmayr] some members want us to track things in public. What about RT?
    • [Luca Filipozzi] Basecamp does more than RT. It is a ticket tracker and a wiki. RT is not a wiki.
    • [Martin Michlmayr] maybe Phabricator, either hosted by Phacility or locally. More discussion about Phabricator vs RT, migration and management options, prior art from Wikimedia's RT->Phabricator, migration, etc.
  • [Luca Filipozzi] Four threads

    • Better action item tracking (can happen via RT with different usage)
    • Desire for knowledge base (RT has no such thing)
    • Public transparency (can happen selectively if we decide on the necessary visibility criteria, can break privacy expectations and be tricky & inelegant)
    • Tech requirements based on the above
  • Lots of experience in the board with successfully using RT for very similar usage

  • [Stephen Frost] effort of setup and maintaining tool must be less than the benefit we get from it

  • Focus on the first three items, about business, before we choose tech.

  • Decision: Tim Potter to investigate Phabricator in light of the above.

3:30pm Splitting load equitably amongst the board

  • Which tasks need to be done by various roles

    • Need policies or at least a description of roles
  • Diffusion of responsibility problem

  • A paid admin person could be used to handle incoming communications and triage into a queue and assign a responder

  • Conservancy has a questionnaire/checklist for potential new projects

  • [Michael Schultheiss] Treasury team model works well

  • [Martin Zobel-Helas] Impossible to make things truly fair
  • [Martin Zobel-Helas] Give metrics on tasks (e.g treasurer queue) completed during the month
  • [Luca Filipozzi] leverage the tools instead of relying on email back-and-forth
  • [Martin Zobel-Helas] Customers don't like ticket systems, especially if they aren't fixed or noticed at all
    • [Luca Filipozzi] there are ways to behave in providing a service that don't undermine the ticketing system
  • [Stephen Frost] Reiteration of opinion about whether RT tickets are suitable for task tracking
  • [Luca Filipozzi] modern versions of RT have todo lists, repeat tickets, subtasks and other goodies
  • [Martin Zobel-Helas] We need to make a concrete list of tasks to assign to Sabrina
  • [Martin Michlmayr] Going through task listing process will inform whether we need more bandwidth from Sabrina, an executive director, or something else

4:15pm Discussion RT queue structure for optimizing reimbursements on a per-project basis

  • [Luca Filipozzi] Splitting up reimbursement data to avoid information disclosure to the project liaison

    • Metadata in one PDF
    • Supporting documentation in another PDF (encrypted)
  • Requires some features that might not be present in [modern] RT

  • There are a few people who don't reveal their real names except to Schultheiss and Zobel-Helas

4:45pm Vote on resolution to approve and sign a banking agreement with HSBC

Luca FilipozziYes
Stephen FrostYes
Jimmy KaplowitzYes
Martin MichlmayrYes
Tim PotterYes
Michael SchultheissYes

Motion passed with a vote of 8 yes, 0 no, 0 abstain and 2 missing.

4:50pm Going through task list

  • [Luca Filipozzi] Possible to put together a task list for a Sabrina-level person, but not a ED person
  • [Martin Michlmayr] SPI will remain a hobby without paid person
  • [Luca Filipozzi] Do we want an ED? An ED will inform how the board operates in the future
  • [Luca Filipozzi] are we committed to an ED? or still want to go down the ED path
  • [Martin Michlmayr] General manager role different from ED. perhaps we need a GM instead of ED?
  • [Martin Michlmayr] Need a day-to-day operations manager to assign tasks to other paid workers
  • [Luca Filipozzi] Job descriptions
    • bookkeeper: accounting and other minutiae
    • administrator: day-to-day stuff
    • general manager: d2d stuff for larger organization
    • executive director: strategy and goals
  • [Martin Michlmayr] Need someone to track the stuff and someone to do the stuff -- they're successful roles
  • [Jimmy Kaplowitz] Can volunteer to push things along re ED/GM conversation to avoid not doing anything for another 12 months
    • Need to schedule some separate meetings to solve this problem
  • [Martin Michlmayr] Board needs to be a traditional board -- oversight, goal setting and direction
  • [Luca Filipozzi] Our mission and requirements are hard to hire for (open source, plain text accounting, other freedom stuff)
  • General decision -- Get some admin help now and move towards ED later
  • [Luca Filipozzi/Martin Michlmayr] Can hire two people to work together, e.g. pabs (administrator) and Sabrina (general stuff)
  • [Martin Zobel-Helas] Bring these two people to next f2f
  • [Jimmy Kaplowitz] To follow pending tasks from Zobel-Helas with question answering from tpot to get reports published by November meeting.

Next Steps (Timeline, Actions, and Responsibility)

  • Bylaw Vote (tpot) using existing software
    • Give 30 days/four weeks for vote to take place
    • Contact Jonathan McDowell
  • Update Associated Project Agreements and Policies
    • preparation:
    • Associated Project Agreement [FIXME]
    • Associated Project Framework [FIXME]
    • Expense & Reimbursement Policy [FIXME] and Procedure [Filipozzi]
      • expenses must be submitted for reimbursement within 90-days of the expense (or of the last expense of a trip (to handle situations where travel and accommodation expenses are incurred well in advance of the actual trip)
      • travel expenses may only be submitted after the travel has occurred (e.g. cannot seek reimbursement for travel expenses incurred in advance of the travel)
    • Asset Management & Internal Controls Policy [FIXME]
      • equipment paid for using funds held by SPI, become assets of SPI held in trust of the Associate Project
      • for clarity, this includes equipment (such as a laptop) purchased by a member of an Associate Project but reimbursed using funds held by SPI
    • Code of Conduct [Kaplowitz to follow up with Tridgell]
      • Consultation:
      • Implementation:
  • Annual Report Process
    • Associate Projects to provide their Annual Report and Summary (Summary to be included SPI's Annual Report)
    • SPI to survey Associated Projects regarding their satisfaction with SPI services
  • Review of Minutes / Resolutions [Kaplowitz]
    • ensure that all minutes are posted
    • ensure that all resolutions are posted; change visual representation to indicated which are defunct
  • Specific Tasks
    • add 'accept PostgreSQL as Associated Project' resolution [Michlmayr]
    • verify that our Registered Agent has updated contact information for executives [Schultheiss]
    • logo revamp process, rfp, etc. [was Filipozzi, now Zobel-Helas]