Doubts from the italian "members" (long)
evan at starnix.com
Sun Apr 14 00:29:45 EDT 2002
To everybody: Please excuse the length of this message. I wanted to make
every effort to address the concerns expressed in Marta's letter.
On 12 Apr 2002, Marta Rosso wrote:
> I am one of the "would-be" founders of the italian affiliate.
Hello, Marta. We're happy to have you involved in the LPI community. I was
the author of the LPI guidelines regarding international affiliate groups
as described at
Your comments are appreciated and I hope I may properly address your
> Until a month ago I worked for the italian subsidiary of SuSE and was
> told by Greg Wright that I was too "vendor" involved to enter in the
> italian LPI board.
LPI's goal is to allow each country's affiliate group to be formed by
whatever means is appropriate. If the local group (such as LPI-Italy)
wants significant vendor involvement, or no vendor involvement, or some
balance between the two -- that is the choice of the local group. LPI will
not insist on specific models of membership for affiliates so long as they
follow the principles set out in the Affiliate guidelines. (Consider the
fact that LPI-Japan, our strongest affiliate to date, is *primarily* a
Specifically, LPI's only requirements are that affiliate groups be
non-profit, are fiscally responsible and are committed to advancing Linux
and LPI within their country (or countries). The membership structure, and
the level of vendor participation, is left to the local group to
determine; we anticipate that different areas will have different needs.
> The most active volunteer here in Italy is Ernesto Ferrari, who
> maintains the italian website and spends time to promote LPI.
> We also involved a historical italian Linux company, Prosa, who has
> agreed to host the LPI Italy website, and also to give us space in a
> booth at the june webb.it event in Padova. Paolo Didonè who works in
> Prosa also will join LPI Italy from the start.
Your assistance and co-operation have been very much appreciated. We hope
that by putting the new affiliate program in place, LPI can offer some
resources in return.
> But in these months, during which I read the news and newsletters, I did
> not feel I was getting involved in a transparent organization.
> This freezed my good intents, so if I shall continue helping LPI some
> questions have to be answered:
I am not sure what you mean by a "transparent" organization.
LPI is intended to be a hybrid organization that encompasses elements of
both a community organization and a fiscally-responsible business. We
believe we have succeeded in achieving this delicate balance, by creating
an organization that enlists and supports a substantial community while at
the same time providing a business model that ensures LPI's sustained
existence and service to this community.
> 1) Where is the list of LPI members? I can see only "directors" and
> "staff" on the website. According to bylaws, members should elect the
That is true. But LPI is not a traditional membership organization in the
manner of, for instance, a Linux user group. Its model is closer to that
of a charitable foundation. The only "members" are the Board. You cannot
purchase a membership in LPI.
Indeed, there are no public elections for the LPI Board. The Board selects
its own members from within the community as existing Board members resign
or announce their intention to leave at the time of the Annual Meeting.
As a result, we believe that LPI has attained a Board whose members serve
not because of winning popular votes, but because they have distinguished
themselves in their service and offer talents that the Board requires. We
currently have a good mix of business and technical people, from a number
of different countries, who have done what is (in my biased opinion) a
very good of moving LPI forward.
> 2) If people like Ernesto help actively (with time and expenses they
> incur) why aren't they entitled to be members and thus vote the LPI
> board? We only were told: "LPI had it's annual meeting to elect the new
We have a community involved with LPI in the hundreds, but only seven
places on the Board. It is LPI's intention that people who are interested
in being involved with LPI may do so in one of two ways:
- through LPI international
- through the LPI affiliate in their own country
I would hope that you and Ernesto would be involved in the formation and
operation of LPI-Italy. As positions on the LPI Board become available we
will notify our community and invite applications.
> 3) Why did you fix the guidelines on the affiliates, which were declared
> on February 3, without involving us in the discussion?
On the contrary, the guidelines were broadcast in most of the LPI mailing
lists, and were the subject of significant discussion.
In any case, I am still open to listen to objections and comments. LPI
believes the principles outlines in the affiliate policy to be fair and
aimed at a decentralized model. If there are reasons why you do not
believe the policy to accomplish its goals, I would be very happy to
address your specific concerns.
> In a stroke you created strong "monetary" incentives to setup an
> affiliate, changing completely the nature of the volunteer-based
> organization LPI looked like.
I'm sorry, Marta, but that has never been the case. From the beginning,
LPI was a community organization that had to develop business plans
revenue in order to sustain itself.
While we have (and depend upon) a significant worldwide community,
volunteers alone are not capable of providing the kind of quality program,
accessible worldwide, that LPI has been able to provide. If we were
totally dependent on volunteers we would certainly not even have our first
level 1 exams ready at this time.
In order to gain the respect of exam-takers, employers and others, LPI
developed its exams with a *combination* of volunteer staff and paid
professionals. We have had two professional psychometricians help develop
the LPI exam program and ensure that it is fair, comprehensive, and
effective at its task. We have two full-time paid staff and a number of
contractors who work together with our volunteers.
In all, LPI has spent close to $1M (US) to develop its four exams in two
languages. Also, the companies which deliver our exams worldwide, VUE and
Prometric, do not work for free.
Because of this, LPI doesn't give our exams away for free. We can't. We
are taking revenue from current exams and using it to operate LPI, and to
develop new exam development. Currently that means we are revising our
Level 1 exams to keep them fresh and current, as well as planning Level 3.
In other words, Marta, there is a significant component to LPI that cannot
be purely done by volunteers. Even promotion, such as attendance at trade
shows such as Cebit and magazine advertising, does not come for free.
By providing revenue to affiliate groups such as LPI-Italy, we hope it
will allow you to maintain a strong and lasting organization, capable of
attracting sponsorship from Italian Linux companies and support from
users. It is our experience that volunteers are very helpful in
organizations such as LPI, but volunteers alone cannot do the whole job.
> 4) Why can't we see the financial entries / expenses of LPI (which
> always points back to the problem of not being members)?
We do release financial information. As a non-profit, our financial
records *must* be available for public examination. I will talk to our
Treasurer to see how they have been made available.
> 5) Why are the meeting minutes not posted anymore on the site (the last
> one is of May 2001)?
Good question. We are not actively or deliberately trying to withhold them.
I will find out why they have not been posted.
> I hope I am wrong but LPI looks to me like a for-profit company who is
> leveraging the efforts of volunteers all over the world to pursue its
> own interests.
If you read our charter enough to know about the membership structure,
then you also know that we were incorporated as a non-profit. There are no
"shares" of LPI. We are not *allowed* to make a profit -- our current
actions are designed to provide an LPI program that is responsive to the
community while providing fiscal responsibility in the delivery of a
service that has proven to be very expensive to produce. This is why we
are trying to provide revenue and resources to affiliates, to give them
the resources *they* need to be self-sufficient and sustainable.
> I disagree with the idea of founding an european LPI. I think that each
> country should have its own affiliates to be able to get money from
> local sponsors and spend them in local events and translations.
And that is the intent of the LPI affiliate program. But we leave the
structure (and geographical breakdown) to local members of the LPI
community. It is *your* collective decision, *not ours*, to determine what
shape will be taken.
It is my personal belief that each country in Europe should have its own
LPI affiliate. That may or may not be possible. But that is not my
decision, and it is not LPI's decision. It is for the collective LPI
European community to decide.
It is not, for instance, LPI's decision whether Benelux requires one LPI
affiliate group or three. It is the decision of the local community,
which LPI will honour.
> I think that these affiliates should be fully entitled members of LPI
> Canada and participate to all discussions and decisions.
FYI, there is an LPI-Canada affiliate forming which is separate from the
LPI International group. It is being organized by the group that runs the
> Marta Rosso
I hope I have addressed your concerns. My goal is not to be hostile;
indeed, your opinions and contributions are valuable and I want to make
certain that you understand LPI's structure and why we operate as we do.
While we could be more diligent in publicizing board minutes and other
documents, it is not a matter of negligence or deliberate concealment.
Please do not hesitate to reply to me, personally or on the list, if there
are concerns you raised that I did not answer to your satisfaction.
Again, thank you for your comments.
Chairman, Board of Directors
evan at lpi.org
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