Clearer description of the Board responsibilities

From the description on the website, it is not clear what Board Members are going to be responsible for, what is going to be the area of competence. I think it is important to state more apparent as a very vague wording leads to the absence of motivation to apply to the Board.

In the Governance page, I can see this:

Most of the real work will get done by

  • The existing Haskell community groups (GHC team, Hackage, Stackage, Cabal, Core Libraries, Haddock, etc)
  • Teams, or working groups, formed by the Haskell Foundation for particular purposes.

This is interesting, as this makes the obvious potential responsibilities pool even smaller.

Also, one of the requirement is to have the mindset aligned with the Haskell Foundation goal. But what exactly are they? It is not stated on the website. Ideally, the main page should describe the goals that the organisation has at the moment (I do understand that they might be refined after the board is complete).

As a side note, for me as a non-native English speaker, the webpage is pretty off-putting to read. If the goal is to make HF more diverse, probably it could be considered to make the webpage more lightweight without unnecessary too complicated terms, which makes it read like an academic paper.

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Well put Veronika, i very much agree with this. As a matter of fact i have reached out to some people to voice my concern in this regard so I appreciate that you are turning this into a public discussion now.

The role description is very vague which i fear sets a very high implicit bar for anyone to consider to apply. As a result people who are already very well connected and established are much more likely to apply. I think this is an undesirable filter.

What i would love to see is an encouragement for people to apply. And again i agree with Veronika, currently the text isn’t very inviting or encouraging.

Concerning role expectations: my impression is - and i might be wrong of course- that technical excellence in Haskell is much less relevant than the ability to communicate well with others and to coordinate and to “get things done”. This is what I am reading into this, others might have a different view. All the more reason to make this more explicit.

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I assume you mean much less relevant.

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oops, thank you, i edited my post to fix that :wink:

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I want to understand the points above better, but Discourse rejected my response, as it contained too many links. (There is a limit of 2.) Is there a way this limit can be lifted? Thanks!

It lifts automatically when you become a more regular member and are granted the Badge by Discourse.

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Yes, I’d like to understand these points better too!

Are you referring to the Call for nominations for members of the Haskell Foundation Board? (It was published a month ago, when we launched the Foundation.)

It attempts to lay out the remit of the Board. The board is responsible for, well, everything. It’s the decision making body of the Foundation.

I’d love to make it more welcoming and informative. Does anyone have any concrete suggestions for doing so?

We really need strong nominations for Board membership, so this is important. Thanks!

Simon

It doesn’t seem obvious, because another page says the opposite as @vrom911 quoted:

Most of the real work will get done by

  • The existing Haskell community groups (GHC team, Hackage, Stackage, Cabal, Core Libraries, Haddock, etc)
  • Teams, or working groups, formed by the Haskell Foundation for particular purposes.

I think at least saying explicitly that “the board is responsible for everything happening in the Haskell Foundation” would be an improvement, but even though, it’s not clear what will be actually happening in Haskell Foundation. Moreover, the position description looks to me like the board itself has to figure on their own what they actually should do. It’s hard to move things forward if nobody knows where the thing should go.

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Ah maybe I get it now.

  • The Board is responsible for everything done in the name of the Foundation
  • But the members of the Board do not themselves do everything. Most of the work is done by volunteers, and that will continue to be so.

The last thing the Foundation should so is to supplant the fantastic work of existing volunteers, or make them feel less important and valued. Indeed, the a major goal of Foundation (and hence of its Board) is to make those volunteers feel more valued, better supported, and more enabled to do the things they love. The Foundation role is to supply lubricating oil, to help us all work together better, not to actually do the work.

(Exception: where there are gaps, where an important task is not getting done, the Foundation may seek resources to get it done.)

I agree that “it’s not clear what will be actually happening in Haskell Foundation”. It’s only just been born. A key role of the board is to work out what actions/activity will most benefit the community, given a finite resource budget.

So to be concrete, how could we improve the Call for nominations? Would it help to replace

  • The Board provides the strategic leadership for the Foundation.

with

  • The Board provides the strategic leadership for the Foundation, and is the decision-making body for everything the Foundation does

? Or what would be helpful? Thanks!

Simon

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Some concrete suggestions that come out of my thoughts in the initial post:

  • Explicitly write responsibilities of Board members
  • Explicitly state the Area of competence of Board members
  • Add some words of motivation on why one would want to become a Board Member
  • Simplify wording, using more common synonyms to make it more accessible and understandable
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Thanks Veronika. Perhaps you and others reading this thread can help turn these into text?

  • Explicitly write responsibilities of Board members

The current list of responsibilities is

  • Governance: leadership and direction - set strategy, provide guidance
  • Staff: appoint senior members of Foundation staff
  • Define, curate and track Foundation goals
  • Seek out opportunities to further the goals of the Foundation
  • Represent the Haskell community to the world: liaise with sponsors, public bodies (ACM, standards committees) etc
  • Ensure success and long-term continuity of the Foundation
  • Receive and review financial accounts

Do you have any suggestions for extra bullets to add to this list?

  • Explicitly state the Area of competence of Board members

I guess that is close to what’s under “Criteria” near the bottom of the call for nomination. But clearly that didn’t work for you. Can anyone suggest some concrete words to use, in addition or instead?

  • Add some words of motivation on why one would want to become a Board Member

Good idea. How about this: “Being a member of the Foundation Board means gives you the opportunity to contribute directly to the strategic direction of the Foundation, to help build the Haskell community, and to help promote the broader adoption of functional programming”.

Perhaps others can do better. Please help!

  • Simplify wording, using more common synonyms to make it more accessible and understandable

That would be great. Could you suggest any specific changes? I’m the wrong person to guess, because English is my native language.

Thanks for helping with this. I’m personally very keen to encourage strong and diverse nominations to the Foundation Board.

Simon

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I still have a vague understanding of what HF board members can actually do. For example, for me, it’s not clear what are real actions they can do. I guess, the best way to describe this is to provide several examples of what they can and can’t do. Specifically, what exactly from the following list they can do:

  • Accept or Reject ergonomic dependent types proposal. This seems like a proposal affecting all GHC users, and it related to defining goals for the whole language. Or are they responsible for creating a poll and representing the community voice?
  • Decide what goes on the official Haskell.org website, maybe change the language mission to align it with HF goals.
  • Generally speaking, are they a link between the community voice and actual decision-making.
  • Decide on where to spend funding money and prioritise tasks (e.g. windows support vs better profiling)
  • etc.

Would be nice to have do and dont’s examples of responsibilities.

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Thanks @ChShersh, for providing concrete examples to look at – as you suggest, it’s much easier to work in a concrete context.

  • Accept or Reject ergonomic dependent types proposal.

No. This remains part of the GHC Steering Committee. But that committee is affiliated with the HF, and so the Board may work with the GHC SC on a proposal with far-reaching consequences.

  • Decide what goes on the official Haskell.org website, maybe change the language mission to align it with HF goals.

This remains with the Haskell.org committee. Like the GHC SC, above, I expect the HF to represent the overall community in talking with Haskell.org.

  • Generally speaking, are they a link between the community voice and actual decision-making.

Yes. It is my hope that the HF develop a polling function where it can source opinions from the community to help in decision-making.

  • Decide on where to spend funding money and prioritise tasks (e.g. windows support vs better profiling)

Yes, absolutely. This is the easiest item to uphold.

Does this answer help? For me, these specifics are inferrable from the text already posted around the goals of the HF and call for nominations. But this is evidently not clear to others. Can you suggest specific rewordings of posted text to help make this clearer? Thanks!

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(I drafted this yesterday, but Richard overtook me.)

In fact, not this one. The HF must not supplant or replace the excellent work of existing groups. So, for example, the GHC Steering Group is responsible for making decisions about GHC proposals. Similarly, decisions about stack are taken by the stack team, and about Haddock are taken by the Haddock team.

The HF will, I hope, promote better communication between these groups. For example, if the GHC Steering Committee (which does its business in public) seemed likely to make a decision that caused consternation elsewhere, the HF might seek to promote a conversation about the consequences of such a decision.

The one concrete place where the HF Board has actual control is over any funds it manages to raise. And indeed, deciding how to deploy those resources is part of the responsibilities I copy/pasted above.

So indeed, you may say that the Board doesn’t have a lot of power! I think it’ll be more influential than powerful, and that may be no bad thing. As trust builds up, our community may become more tightly integrated. Really the one concrete thing over which the Board has full control is how to spend any money it raises.

Does that help to clarify? Can you suggest words that would help the call for nominations be clearer?

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@rae, @simonpj, Thanks so much for your answers. It indeed clarifies things better :+1:

I am not that good at wording, but if some examples of those that were discussed here would be added on the page to show better what is going to be in the responsibilities of the Board Members, I think it will be super useful.

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OK, thanks for all the suggestions. I propose the following specific changes to the Call for Nominations. Emily will execute on these changes shortly.

Everyone: feel free to suggest other improvements.

Simon

Under “Remit of the board”

  • Replace “The Board provides the strategic leadership for the Foundation.” with “The Board provides the strategic leadership for the Foundation, and is the decision-making body for everything the Foundation does.”

  • Add a bullet (after “Define, curate, and track…”)

    • Deploy the funds raised by the Foundation to support the Foundation’s goals.
  • After the bullets add

    The Foundation will not supplant or replace the excellent work of existing groups. So, for example, the GHC Steering Group is responsible for making decisions about GHC proposals. Similarly, decisions about stack are taken by the stack team, and about Haddock are taken by the Haddock team. The Board will hopefully influence these groups, and improve communication between them, but they remain individually responsible for decisions in their bailiwicks.

Under “Membership”

Add as a preamble (ie not a bullet)

Being a member of the Foundation Board means gives you the opportunity to contribute directly to the strategic direction of the Foundation, to help build the Haskell community, and to help promote the broader adoption of functional programming.

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At the HF WG meeting today we also discussed expanding the bullet that says “Includes individuals with the skills, expertise and experience (e.g. technical, legal, organisational, community-building) that the Board needs.” to say be more specific:

Includes individuals with the skills, expertise and experience that the Board needs. Specifically

  • technical
  • legal
  • financial
  • personnel, human resources
  • strategic leadership
  • organisational
  • community-building
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Yes I think that’s great

I read two great articles today about inclusion on the Board and thought it had some great recommendations to promoting diversity and inclusion in the Board and as a Board. Might be useful/interesting read for our HF Board too.

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