Replied today as follows (the redacted MoU will be published if accepted, it is almost exactly as the pad above).
I’m happy that the revised workplan is a good match. And very grateful that you took the time to copy/paste everything in the Memorandum of Understanding: it is a tedious task. I carefully read it again to make sure the deliverables are SMART and made a few changes. They are marked in revision mode so you can quickly browse through them. Please let me know if they raise questions or concerns.
If you confirm the changes are ok with you, I’ll send back the Memorandum of Understanding signed as suggested.
I have to apologize for creating a situation that caused problems. I’m entirely responsible for it and, as Esther suggested, this message is written in the hope that I can make amends are patch things up. I was not aware that Esther reached out to you and asked to be removed from the parties but I respect her decision and will act on it immediately.
As I explained during the intake call, my role in this grant is first and foremost to help all parties in an administrative role. I compiled the workplan from tasks provided by everyone involved and organized meetings to try and ensure everyone was in agreement with the result. I perceived myself as a facilitator, filling paperwork. And it did not occur to me that I had any authority on the matter.
But that was not true for the one task in the workplan that I assigned to myself: publishing monthly reports and organizing videoconferences to discuss them. Esther agreed to take the responsibility of this task a month ago and when I removed it from the workplan because you explained it was
on the edge of the scope of what you can fund, I effectively made it very difficult for her to participate. She reached out to me and suggested that the workplan is reworked to make room for her contribution. Instead of listening and act on her suggestion I was dismissive, arguing that it could be perceived as trying to workaround your comment on that particular task.
When I sent back the revised workplan with the task removed, I effectively put an end to the discussion in an unilateral way, which was wrong.
This is where we are now and I will do my best to fix this mistake. The first step is to clarify my responsibility with you. The next one will be to figure out under which conditions Esther could agree to be made a party of this grant again. To that end your comment that she will be welcome at a later time, with an amendment to the MoU, is extremely helpful.
I will keep you informed about further developments.
For the record, here is the full transcript of the public chat on that topic dated November 26th, 2022 . There has been no private conversations on the matter.
dachary: onepict: I’m disappointed that community work cannot be funded by the NLnet grant. This is an unexpected development. I understand the rationale and there is no alternative but to accept it. I suppose I was lucky that the policy was different in 2021.
onepict: That’s alright, it does suck. But community work is hard to define, it’s why I work with Brett on the front end stuff, it’s how I get funded for the other stuff. And with librecast I packaged up some documentation which were man pages for the Web. But I’ve always stated openly that the NGI grants by necessity fund code as that is measurable directly. Community is a bit harder to measure and its a bit like support, you notice more when things aren’t working It’s also why circlebuilder talks about sustainability for projects, we know that, community management and community development is important but code is king. I’m in service to developers and the wider community, but the project needs to be created and updated. It’s the easiest thing for NGI funds to point to the code. To justify their spending. So what does this mean for the newly funded MOU?
circlebuilder: Wow, real pity that that did not come through. Just this morning I was talking to someone at EC OSPO (Open source office) how the EU’s innovation money indirectly flows to Silicon Valley if they only fund the R&D. As usual there’s not much response from EC sides, but I keep dropping those nudges. Though I think a more coordinated effort is needed to have some real chance to get something like that from the ground.
onepict: One way around it could be some concrete deliverables, we managed to point a claim for overall documentation for librecast. You end up bundling the community work with other stuff. There was a place we worked with which was retail that was founded in the 1950s. One guy wanted to claim for a hat as he was a salesman. They refused to pay for that, so he adjusted his claim, they paid it, and he said “spot the hat”. We were surprised by that story, but the company said “some things we can’t fund directly, so you find another way”. Years ago Brett did stuff with IBM they needed additional hardware, couldn’t fund that, directly so they put it as part of another service they could claim for. Its a ridiculous way of doing it. Ultimately you can only get funding for concrete deliverables you can point at. But it’s why we keep having these, conversations in the open, we make the case for all support beyond coding to help to keep a project healthy. Because it’s unfair to ask developers to shoulder all the burdens of a project. It’s also unfair for the people who support those developers to have to contribute their time for free. But we don’t really do this for the money. If we did we’d be in corporate jobs.
dachary: That’s something to keep in mind for future grants but I would not know where to start to do that with the current grant as the workplan is in its final phase. It would also require a level of coordination between the grant beneficiaries that is going to be difficult to achieve for this grant. I suppose it is easier for librecast because there are less beneficiaries and you’re taking an active part in the implementation.
onepict: Indeed. We were also fortunate that Brett was able to push for a travel grant in 2019 to go for conferences to talk about the project.
dachary: I think monthly reports and recorded videoconferences are very concrete but the issue is more about scope than concrete deliverables.
onepict: We’ve had alot of value from that for us and it gave NGI Zero some publicity outside Europe.
dachary: Yes, something seems to have changed since and there is less of an inclination to fund that kind of work.
onepict: Well some of the scope of the reports could include collating of concrete documation to look at as well as, publishing the developments to the greater community. But ultimately it is up to the developers in this phase as well.
dachary: And my immediate reaction to a clear pushback from the funding organization is to yield rather than argue. They are otherwise very flexible and very rarely push back on anything. That has to mean something and I’m inclined to just accept that.
onepict: I’m still happy to help push forward the fork, but my time will be limited. So I take it the funding organisation isn’t funding the reports, they aren’t allowed deliverables?
dachary: that’s my understanding. I’m in the same position unfortunately.
onepict: Which sucks as you are one of the main drivers of this and doing the heavy lifting for the grant applications.
circlebuilder: From the perspective of EC we are just one party of many. FOSS folks that can do nice R&D that matches EC goals. But otherwise they do not understand FOSS folks one single bit, and are often very irritated by - in their eyes - our impractical stances. Many in the EC circles would love there to be a European Silicon Valley and a super strong Startup culture across Europe. That is sexy, that is cool, that should be fundable. If there’s a corporate takeover of the Fediverse, for instance, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it becomes much harder for FOSS projects to find grants, as they rather deal them out to better organized business organizations doing OSS.
onepict: Which is short sighted and we need to keep pointing at twitter etc and that history every time. Or oracle and each time they bought database firms to embrace extend and extinguish. Or the fact that tendariokeeps getting pushed at us and none of us have the energy to wait ages for a tender to land.
circlebuilder: At the time the idea to set up a Special Intereste Group at SocialHub was a good one… except no one really wanted to spend the time for it. That’s the real issue.
onepict: If it even goes to us and not their mates. We need projects and à small network of small businesses to provide support or ideally to train government bodies. Gain independence from large unicorns.
dachary: That was my accepted role from the start and I’ve accepted that My primary motivation is that there is funding for other people to move forward. I do not plan on doing any work on this grant application, just making sure other people can. I’m able to find my own funding otherwise.
onepict: But you see how we live on beans and air. But then many of us do in FOSS. And I still feel free.
dachary: I get paid for my work, I don’t work as a volunteer. Only my funding comes from somewhere else (I wrote that down in the forum).