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Ubuntu "Memberships" Questioned 210

mxh83 writes "Apparently if you have 'sustained' and 'significant' contributions to Ubuntu, you can become a 'Ubuntu Member' and get some freebies. 'While there is no precise period that we look for, it is rare for applications to be accepted from people contributing for less than 6 months. It is vital to be well prepared for the meeting. You need to convince the membership board that you have contributed to Ubuntu.' Have they thought this incentive through? What about recognition for smaller contributors? And who judged what is a 'significant' contribution to a community project?" Update: 01/06 20:33 GMT by S : Changed the title to reflect the fact that Ubuntu memberships have actually been around for a few years now.
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Ubuntu "Memberships" Questioned

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @11:05AM (#30670550)

    "You've contributed many manweeks of your life improving code. We're here to determine whether you might be worthy of receiving a free t-shirt."

    • by xtracto (837672) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @11:15AM (#30670754) Journal

      Well duh, you are supposed to contribute because you like to do it. Whatever they give you back is a plus.

      As for who is going to judge what is a significat contribution... I guess whoever is giving you the free T-Shirt (Shuttleworth?)

      • by msimm (580077)
        Let the proprietary geeks have their fun!
      • by Hognoxious (631665) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @02:41PM (#30673746) Homepage Journal

        But that's the point. Once you start recognizing certain contributors more than others and giving them status symbols - especially where the difference is small and/or largely subjective - you risk creating a "them and us" situation.

        Next phase is that the "them", who are probably more numerous and contribute more, feel rejected and decide to tell the clique to stuff it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Magic5Ball (188725)

          And then contributors will be able to level-grind to earn more achievements. Let's just hope that they don't turn into one of those corporate situations where internal wiki edits and rcs actions count positively in the performance review regardless of substance.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by slasho81 (455509)
        You are viewing this matter rationally. It's not. See The Cost of Social Norms [youtube.com] (3.5 minutes).
    • Re:Let me translate (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lymond01 (314120) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @11:25AM (#30670918)

      We're here to determine whether you might be worthy of receiving a free t-shirt.

      I hear you get access to the Ubuntu Awards First Class Download area -- no bandwidth throttling for members!

      Honestly, I think it's a good idea to give back to the people who have contributed. It's a little bit like Heinlein's Starship Troopers (the movie does not exist) where you're only allowed to vote if you've served in the military. In Ubuntu's case, you're only allowed to be a member, therefore having access to a long list of very lucrative opportunities and items (kidding), if you've contributed. You don't just pay a fee, but you actually help. It's like working in the soup kitchen versus giving money to the homeless shelter.

      • by CRCulver (715279)

        You don't just pay a fee, but you actually help. It's like working in the soup kitchen versus giving money to the homeless shelter.

        People with two strong hands to work are a dime a dozen. People with the skills to generate capital are sadly not so common. The person paying money to a charity so that it can hire employees to carry out charitable activities is just as important as those employees themselves. In today's European welfare states, governments carefully manage the economy to ensure that people ca

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by nxtw (866177)

        You don't just pay a fee, but you actually help. It's like working in the soup kitchen versus giving money to the homeless shelter.

        I would imagine paying for Red Hat Enterprise Linux or SUSE Linux Enterprise has a much bigger impact than helping Ubuntu directly. Red Hat is a big contributor to extremely important projects [fedoraproject.org] such as the Linux kernel, GCC, glibc, Gtk, and GNOME. They (or companies they have since acquired) created GFS, LVM2, and KVM, and they maintain a lot of other projects that make up any

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Yvanhoe (564877)
      "Which is more than what you were supposed to received by volunteering your time."
      A T-shirt is surely a laughable salary, unless you look at it from two other possible point of views :
      - This is getting better. It was zero a few days ago. Going from zero to something is encouraging.
      - This is not a t-shirt, this is a business card and a huge point on your CV. Wearing such a t-shirt at a convention or on a job interview (no, suits are not always mandatory) says "I was recognized for my skill in the Ubuntu
    • There is no t-shirt. The work you do is really just rewarded with an arbitrary improvement in their ability to keep making those contributions. For example, you are allowed to have business cards that say Ubuntu on them in that you can say that you represent Ubuntu, and can use an @ubuntu email address. If you work hard to promote Ubuntu in a way that you might benefit from having business cards and an @ubuntu email address, then you get one. Bu they take it seriously and don't want to just give out that ri
  • by brycethorup (1682864) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @11:06AM (#30670582)
    I think this is a good move on Ubuntu's part. It should create envy in those who don't meet the criteria to contribute more and work towards a goal. I think this may help increase interest in wanting to contribute. I know it has for me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Scopeuk (915859)
      or drive away people that feel that they're being unfairly excluded from the program despite making only a marginally different contribution to those accepted or worse yet, seeing that their area of contribution seams to be less credited that other "pet areas", all in all a great way to drive a deep wedge into the community.
      • Effectively classism in a classless society. I can easily see something like this being based on lines of code submitted, or number of updates posted. Exactly the sort of thing that discriminates againsty competent people who write terse code that's right the first time.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by mackyrae (999347)
          Code has nothing to do with it. I became an Ubuntu Member a few weeks before I submitted my first patch--which wasn't to Ubuntu. My contributions were things like:
          • helping people on ubuntuforums.org
          • helping people in #ubuntu on IRC
          • organizing an installfest
          • volunteering with the local community team

          Technical contributions are not the only sort of contributions. For that matter, someone wanting membership whose only contributions are code-based will be told to simply apply for developer status as developer

      • You have a point. "Motivations" such as this can actually hurt morale and lead to in-fighting and nasty politics. Mary Poppendieck wrote a great essay [poppendieck.com] on this subject [Warning: PDF]. It's more geared towards corporate environments but a lot of the same principles still apply.

        • by tepples (727027)

          Mary Poppendieck

          No, a spoonful of sugar won't make the divvying up of bonus go down.

  • LOL. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Which marketing department dipshit thought this stupid idea up?

    • by Beuno (740018)

      Which marketing department dipshit thought this stupid idea up?

      Mark put together this process from the start to ensure a healthy community that could grow. it seems to have worked wonders so far.

  • by schon (31600) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @11:07AM (#30670604)

    You need to convince the membership board [...] And who judged what is a 'significant' contribution

    This is amazing... we've gone from people not reading the articles, to not reading the *summaries*, to the *submitters* not reading what they themselves wrote!

    CmdrTaco, I know it's tradition for editors not to read the summaries, but isn't it taking it a bit far to not read ones you wrote yourself?!?!?

    • There's difference between "who decided what a significant contribution is defined as", "what a significant contribution is", and "who decides if you meet that criteria."

      It's a perfectly fair question. The membership board needs to have defined standards; if they're just willy-nilly casting votes yes/no, and they're "members", then the membership is almost certainly going to consist of a very small group of people who hold the same opinions (or are friends / business partners.)

      They also should be held

    • Unfortunately, it seems as if some people can't discern meaning from the English language, and that's just to be expect with some of the people here on Slashdot.

      Yes, there is a membership board but it is perfectly reasonable to question who is on that board and what criteria they use or will use. The second statement does that. The two statements you've quoted are not the same thing and the former does not answer the latter. OK, the latter is not great English, but fuck, this is Slashdot and with the amo
  • What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by symes (835608) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @11:08AM (#30670618) Journal
    It sounds like one of those dreadful golf clubs - surely there is a better way of recognising significant contributions without the potential for "membership commiittees" screwing things up?
  • by filesiteguy (695431) <kai@perfectreign.com> on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @11:11AM (#30670660) Homepage
    ...that would have me as a member. :)

    I like the quote in the article, "Instead, people should set a goal of making substantial and sustained contributions to Ubuntu. By doing this, the focus shifts from working hard in order to get one of the Membership benefits to working hard in order to make Ubuntu a greater distribution and improve the community,"

    You know, people are going to want the benefits.

    I wonder if bitching about the GUI or how I don't get to sync my blackberry using a GUI I like counts.
  • Do I get to complain about lame mono apps being included in favor of better gtk or KDE ones.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      If they are not in the repository yes.
      If they not in the install no. Just create your own distro or use another one.
      Well yea you can complain anyway but are the gtk and KDE apps really better or just not mono?

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        > Well yea you can complain anyway but are the gtk and KDE apps really better or just not mono?

              If I want a small quick tool to easily manipulate an image then yes.

              I am actually better off with a old copy of xv that hasn't been maintained in years.

        • by jgrahn (181062)

          I am actually better off with a old copy of xv that hasn't been maintained in years.

          s/years/fifteen years/. There are user-created patches (google for them) but the official xv 3.10a was released on the last day of 1994. And it still kicks ass; I've been using it heavily today.

        • by LWATCDR (28044)

          Is XV in the repository? can you apt-get it?
          If so I don't see the problem.
          What XV isn't FOSS? It is shareware???
          Damm you damm you too hell for using that spawn of Satan on the Holy OS that is GNU/Linux.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      Do I get to complain about lame mono apps being included in favor of better gtk or KDE ones.

      If you want Ubuntu with KDE environment and apps as "standard", Canonical has a distribution for that [kubuntu.org].

  • Why not? (Score:5, Informative)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @11:12AM (#30670696) Homepage Journal

    You already have to [digitally] sign a document and agree to a code of conduct in order to become an "Ubuntero", which among other minor benefits is necessary in order to get access to the PPA system. This is just another layer of evaluation for another icon next to your name on Ubuntu sites and... whatever it was they're giving you. In return, they give you the right to represent yourself as a "member" of Ubuntu, kind of like an employee except you don't get paid :)

    • by knarf (34928)

      Well, there used to be a problem in the Ubuntu Code of Conduct in that it contained some guff about Shuttleworth (or 'SABDFL') always being right and such. That made me, even though I am quite active in Ubuntu, refuse to sign the Code. Most of those references have been taken but it still refers to SABDFL as being perfect. Come on, Ubuntu project, this is not a religion. Remember, No kings, no queens but rough concensus and running code (to roughly paraphrase IETF's original credo)...

      Remove the last referen

      • by Nimey (114278)

        If you don't have /somebody/ with final say, you'll end up with another Debian that doesn't have any sort of release schedule or anything to distinguish itself.

        Besides, Shuttleworth's financing the distro.

        • by knarf (34928)

          What does it matter that Shuttleworth finances the distro? He does not finance me, nor any of the other volunteers. Counted in hours*$ their contribution is bigger than Shuttleworth's but they (rightfully) do not get an exception in the Code. Neither should Shuttleworth or anyone else. Having a leader does not mean that person is infallible.

          Developers are a picky and meticulous lot. This joke in the Code does not fall well with many, just search the web for "ubuntu code of conduct sabdfl". There is even a b

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Releases which are stable and are not shipped in a broken state would seem to distinguish Debian from Ubuntu rather clearly.

          On a broader level to say Debian doesn't have anything to distinguish itself is foolish. It runs a Linux kernel on at least 11 different architectures and can also run a FreeBSD kernel on i386 and amd64. Debian is the origin of the APT package management tools widely used by derivatives and others. It has a Social Contract. Etc. etc. etc. To see it as undistinguished or having not

          • by pjt33 (739471)

            Or you could parse that as "You'll end up with another Debian, with nothing to distinguish it from the many other Debian-based distros". I don't read Nimey's post as implying anything about Debian.

        • Actually, Debian as always had leaders. Right now it's Steve McIntyre [debian.org].

          And Debian now has a release cycle:

          The Debian project has decided to adopt a new policy of time-based development freezes for future releases, on a two-year cycle. Freezes will from now on happen in the December of every odd year, which means that releases will from now on happen sometime in the first half of every even year. To that effect the next freeze will happen in December 2009, with a release expected in spring 2010. The project c

          • by Nimey (114278)

            Debian's mainly been herding cats, and there's never been a benevolent dictator a la Linus or Shuttleworth.

      • by knarf (34928)

        There is actually a difference between the Code of Conduct you read on the website (http://www.ubuntu.com/community/conduct) and the one you are supposed to sign (https://launchpad.net/codeofconduct/1.0.1). The former does not refer to Shuttleworth as being any different from anyone else - it actually does not refer to him at all. That is just as well as he plans to step down next year...

        I guess they forgot to update the version you are supposed to sign?

      • by xenocide2 (231786)

        The point of that clause isn't about papal infalliability so much as laying out expectations. There is no inquisition called upon you for calling out SABDFL on technical or moral grounds. Instead we expect leadership to set a higher example, and hold them accountable to it. The key phrase you failed to quote is "expected to be perfect".

        I admit though, that the ways in which you can hold leadership accountable is limited. All members vote on the Community Council, and all developers vote on the Technical Boa

    • You already have to [digitally] sign a document and agree to a code of conduct in order to become an "Ubuntero", which among other minor benefits is necessary in order to get access to the PPA system.

      I assume you mean to host your own PPA (Personal Package Archive) [launchpad.net]; there's nothing stopping any anonymous user from downloading from existing PPAs. [launchpad.net]

  • Not news (Score:5, Informative)

    by flimm (1626043) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @11:16AM (#30670762)
    Ubuntu membership has not been introduced recently, it has been around from before I started Ubuntu (2006), at least. This is not news. The title needs changing.

    Ubuntu members get @ubuntu.com addresses, their blogs syndicated on planet.ubuntu.com, a free subscription to LWN, and they vote for certain things.
    • Ubuntu membership has not been introduced recently, it has been around from before I started Ubuntu (2006), at least. This is not news. The title needs changing.

      Which could have been determined by Taco with just a little basic research. An e-mail. A text message. Anything.

      I'm trying to decide whose failure was more epic: Taco (lack of fact-checking) or mxh83 (lack of knowledge). Leaning towards Taco as the "winner." Any thoughts, folks?

  • DD (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bfree (113420) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @11:35AM (#30671046)

    I wonder if a Debian Developer who has uploaded a new package version to unstable since Ubuntu first forked would be approved? Or upstream developers? I presume not and this is just about recognising contributions exclusively for the benefit of Ubuntu.

    I'll resist a rant and simply offer a link to Greg Kroah-Hartman's speach at the 2008 linux plumbers conference to show why I for one value contributions to Ubuntu as next to worthless http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3385088017824733336 [google.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Beuno (740018)

      I am a member of one of the membership boards (Americas board)
      No, Ubuntu Members are people who contribute to Ubuntu directly, not indirectly. There is a lot of work involved in getting Ubuntu out the door every 6 months, and membership recognizes the people who help do that in a direct way.
      That said, upstream developers and Debian developers have the advantage of already knowing how a lot of things work, so they will probably have a higher chance of getting through than anyone else (there are separate coun

  • ...chewie (Score:5, Funny)

    by boyko.at.netqos (1024767) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @11:40AM (#30671124)

    I wouldn't worry too much about that.

    Like, okay, you know in Star Wars, when Leia hands out medals to Luke and Han, but Chewie's just standing there on the podium - he doesn't get a medal?

    Well, here's the thing, if you're an Ubuntu contributor and you're chosen for membership, it's like getting those medals. But if you're an Ubuntu contributor, and you're not chosen for membership, you're like Chewie - no medal. But that's not a bad thing, because, you know what? Chewie is standing up there on the podium too, and you know what, it doesn't matter if he gets a medal - because Chewie is a frickin' bad ass, and Chewie knows it.

    Hell, the only reason Chewie doesn't get a medal is cause he's got like 20 or so of his own from back in the day. Let the noobs have some fun, you know? Besides, if he wanted too, he could take that medal from whiny-boy or smirk-merc. Lightsabers? Blasters? They're no use when you fuggin' rip their arms out of their sockets.

    • I've got moderator points to use, but this comment of yours required a more personal plaudit (besides, you were already tagged @5). I think everybody who is ever in a position where he or she has to judge a group of people and pick only one winner should consider reading it aloud at the awards ceremony.

      The Highlander nature of human competitions has its drawbacks...

      • If you really want to pay me back for the comment, wait until I sign up with my new login, "boykotemplatedigital", then put in a good word when I say something smart there.

        Here's the thing. I'm in new media marketing. I write the company blog for CA|NetQoS, and part of it is promoting both the blog and the CA|NetQoS products... ...which are awesome... ...but from day one (October 9, 2006) I've always taken the stance that when I participate in blogs or social news sites, or forums, or whatever, when relat

    • by ozbird (127571)

      Like, okay, you know in Star Wars, when Leia hands out medals to Luke and Han, but Chewie's just standing there on the podium - he doesn't get a medal?

      "Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, that does not make sense! If Chewbacca didn't get a medal, you must acquit! The defense rests."

  • openSUSE members (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @12:02PM (#30671474) Homepage Journal

    openSUSE has had a very similar program for some time.

    http://en.opensuse.org/Members [opensuse.org]

    Members get to vote on the board, and get a free boxed/retail copy of each openSUSE release.

  • This project is well on its way to becoming a kleptocracy. While there are many moribund software projects, this one is destined to become an organization filled with status/power seeking individuals vying for trinkets and icons with the persons responsible for distributing the trinkets surrounded by yes-geeks while the amount of giving back to the broader community continues to decline.

    Chances are excellent the project will take on much of the Miguel De Icaza weirdness. An example would be seeking approv

  • by DakotaSmith (937647)
    I know how to tell if my contribution is significant. It's really very simple: I get paid.
  • They should (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jimpop (27817) * on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @02:10PM (#30673356) Homepage Journal

    They should initially include any and all Debian contributors.

  • by duncan (16437) <chuckf410&yahoo,com> on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @06:10PM (#30676428)

    I'm a member and I've never contributed a piece of code.

    I do a bit of bug triaging and reporting on Launchpad. I work with the Loco here and people locally to get involved and educated in free software using Ubuntu.

    If you ask me the membership doesn't do much overall. The major reason I went for it was to get the @ubuntu.com email address that l think helps on the advocacy front when I give someone my business card. Makes it seem more legit in some way.

"Little prigs and three-quarter madmen may have the conceit that the laws of nature are constantly broken for their sakes." -- Friedrich Nietzsche