The Perils of Volunteering

I'm on the board of the Zope Foundation. In fact, until thursday this week, when hopefully the new board gets seated, I'm its chairman.

The old bylaws of the Zope Foundation sucked. We were burdened with them from the start; we inherited them as the board from the startup phase. We tried to work with them but they didn't work, and then we decided to go with new bylaws.

So we painstakingly work on them. We finally had a big meeting in december trying to get all our members there so we can vote for the new bylaws and have it pass. It did pass, and we were happy.

So the Zope Foundation has new bylaws. But we have membership under the old bylaws. Our membership roster is old and stuffy, and it won't work as our bylaws changed and membership categories are different. The bylaws old or new don't provide for a membership transition. We're in a limbo. How do we get from old to new?

A few hard-working volunteers, Zope Foundation board members, try to figure this out. We've been working on this frustrating bylaws stuff for about the entire existence of the Foundation by now.

Now we all want to get this over with and make way for a new board. We had already discovered that to do such a transition we need to make reasonably bold steps (like replacing the bylaws!), otherwise nothing much will happen.

We decide to mail everybody that is an existing member and ask them what membership status they have, and if they don't answer, we'll assume they don't want to be a member.

Something's weird. We noticed that some supposed members didn't receive the email. It turns out we missed out on members who were member only through their employer's membership under the previous structure. So we contact those.

That, we thought, was it, doublechecking we did everything all right. But we hadn't. Mea Culpa as the chairman of the board. I should've made sure we had made a second try to contact people. I think I got distracted by the other issue, and thought it was done.

We announce the foundation elections to our membership as it is then, after the cleanup. We neglect to announce it in public. Of course we don't have this obligation, but we should have anyway to just keep interested bystanders informed.

People point out they don't hear much from the Zope Foundation. Alexander Limi did today just before we had a board meeting. We do have a website and such that people can read, but it's not working in getting to people. I, slightly overburdened volunteer, grumble, but point taken.

The new board should definitely improve this, so I put it on the list of todo items for the new board. Even the old board will. So when we announce the election result, we make sure we did announce that to zope-announce, today.

Lennart Regebro doesn't always read the email the Foundation sends to him directly about his membership status, but he does read zope-announce.

So Lennart gets upset as he hadn't been aware of any election! He contacts us. Me in particular. He tells me he wants us to redo the election. Oh joy... Deep sigh.

So today I have a headache from all this. I was spending quite a few hours trying to help the Zope community organize itself, not getting paid for it, and I got an angry Lennart as a result.

I want to think about something else. I try to relax. Then accidentally read the blogs as feeds are so very nicely integrated in my web browser these days. So what do I see? Lennart analyzing all our mistakes, my mistakes, in public in great detail in a blog entry.

It's an excellent way to discourage volunteers who have been genuinely trying to do their best. I know, it wasn't Lennart's intent to discourage us. Not sure what the intent of that blog posting was. Maybe it was to get us to say sorry. Sorry, Lennart.

I feel discouraged. I want to chuck the whole Foundation, and what the heck, chuck the whole Zope thing to boot. That's just me throwing a hissy fit, though, and I should be better after some sleep. I will probably be able to joke and laugh about this soon. But that's not how I feel right now.