Re: BLUG Management (was Re: [blug-non-tech] Hope you all had fun !)
Please DO NOT take this as an attempt to raise an ugly war again, because
it is not.
I am simply fulfilling a promise, and closing the circle on something that
happened in September. At that time I promised that I would address this
issue again after LB/2003.
Please note that I am addressing those parts that I left unaddressed in
September - if you want answers to those parts, check the archives.
This is not an invitation to anyone to come flaming with both barrels - if
you really care about the BLUG, you will let this matter die. No one will
be happier than me if not a single reply is made to this note.
On Sun, 31 Aug 2003, Kiran Jonnalagadda wrote:
> 1. Who are the "we" referred to above? I know "we" is supposed to
> expand to "managers of LB/2003", but who are these people? Can we have
> a list of names and a description of what each did to become a manager?
The managers of the event were Kartik, Mahendra, Khader, Swati, Tarique,
Manish, Kishore, Prady, Harsha, Jessie, Gopi and me.
They each became a manager for several good reasons, some which were that
they were interested in helping with the event, they stepped forward and
volunteered to help, had proven track records at being able to to handle
the work, were all volunteers at past events, were trustworthy and
These people were not "self-appointed" - they worked hard to earn their
place on the team that arranged the event.
Note that while the Bangalore Linux User Group is a registered society,
Linux Bangalore is an event created and driven by a group of people (the
very group listed above) for the Linux and Open Source community - not for
or as the Bangalore Linux User Group. LB != BLUG, and vice versa. The BLUG
*facilitated* the LB series by providing support.
The same applies to the Linux bangalore mailing lists, which are run by me
personally. They are intentionally not called "BLUG-*" to make it clear
that these lists do not consider themselves to be the BLUG, and I have
stated this repeatedly on these lists as well.
Therefore, let us be clear about the fact that the managers of Linux
Bangalore (the event) are not (and never have been) responsible for the
BLUG. They have simply used their available resources (organisational
skills, contacts and driving power) to help the BLUG at times (such as
help plan BLUG meets).
> 2. Where are the logos that were submitted? Don't BLUG members have a
> right to choose their logo democratically? Why is this task assigned to
> a self-appointed management?
To answer this, one needs to explain how things work in the real world.
For the past so many years, the Bangalore Linux User Group has facilitated
events like the community participation in events like IT.COM, BangLinux,
Linux Bangalore, etc. by providing logistical support (such as volunteers)
and content (speakers).
We have always taken great pains to highlight this, and to some extent
have been successful in doing so. But last year, during LB/2002 (and this
year, during another event - the IPv6 summit), we realised that among
all those colourful sponsor logos, the BLUG was getting lost.
We badly wanted to highlight our home LUG, and since no one else felt this
need (which really could only be felt by people like us, who arrange
events, and hence understand the importance of such things), we decided to
drive a campaign that would result in a nice recognisable logo that we
could use to represent the BLUG at the forthcoming LB/2003.
No one "assigned the task to a self-appointed management".
You don't have lunch using a democratically elected body of people to
decide that you should do so and how.
You have lunch because you are hungry.
This project was dropped when the matter was politicized. We are very sad
that this happened, but there was no way we could continue the project
without further bloodshed (mostly ours).
> 3. Several companies must be interested in sponsoring the BLUG site for
> the benefit of publicity in each page's footer. Don't BLUG members get
> to choose who sponsors the site? Competition among sponsors will ensure
> that the site is well maintained and useful. For example, the current
> front page does not validate at the W3C validator , even with
> Doctype and Encoding explicitly specified .
While this statement itself seems a bit "motivated", let me address it
First of all - no other company, other than Sify, has ever come forward
offering to host the site. No offer has *ever* been made. Period. No
interest has been shown by either your company, or that of your close
Secondly, the site does not just exist because the BLUG decided it needed
it. It exists because well-wishers of the BLUG (duly listed in the
sponsor section of the site) decided that the BLUG needed a web site of
its own. They pulled together resources (cash, time, talent, design
skills, etc.) and the result of this was a web site for the BLUG.
You statement about "Competition among sponsors will ensure that the site
is well maintained and useful" seems puzzling. Is the site currently
unmaintained and useless? And how exactly would "competition among
sponsors" happen, given that only one sponsor can actually sponsor the
site? It is unlikely that IBM would maintain a site that HP is a sponsor
What you really seem to be saying is that you object to the fact that one
*particular* company is sponsoring the site.
For more than two years of its existence, the site bore no sponsor logo at
all, but just a name-mention of the two entities responsible for creating
the site (not hosting or maintaining it). This is easily proved by looking
at archival webshots:
The first time the current site sponsor logo appeared on that site is in
February 2003 - not because the sponsor insisted on it (why should
they, after not doing so for more than 2 years, and not even during the
highly successful LB/2002?), but because some members thought it was
something that should be done.
Note that the current sponsor, who happens to be my company, doesn't
sponsor the site because it sees it as good advertising value (as other
potential sponsors might see it as), but because it cares about the BLUG.
Since this is becoming a highly politicized issue, and because someone
sees "profit" in having someone else sponsor the BLUG site, Exocore offers
to withdraw its sponsorship for the official BLUG site (which currently
consists of unlimited web space and bandwidth plus site administration) to
allow another company to sponsor the official BLUG site.
However, note that this will necessitate the creation of a new domain, as
the name "Linux Bangalore" is the name of the event, not the Bangalore
Linux User Group. As long as the two were seen working together, there was
no problem, but if there is to be a formal parting of ways, then this
point needs to be addressed. Linux Bangalore is an event that will
continue to be driven by a group independent of the BLUG.
You support your argument with some technicalities about web design and
HTML coding. When I had similar issues on my personal site, someone sent
me a heads-up not only telling me that there was a problem, but also how to
fix it. I appreciated that - it is the Open Source way of doing things -
find a bug, and report it, along with the fix.
The point is really that site represents the inputs and design of people
who care, but who may not be exceptionally gifted in Web programming and
design. The current BLUG site design is done by Mahendra when he was the
coordinator, the LB event sites have been designed by Swati Sani. Some of
the back-end coding has been done by me (the news system), Tarique and
Kingsly (event back-end code), Kartik (content), Biju (content), and a
long list of other people. You are free to point out issues and help fix
Ironically, the person who helped me fix my site was *you*. I wonder why
you didn't think it worthwhile to provide similar help to the BLUG site,
instead of making the *need* for such help a political issue.
> 4. As a registered not-for-profit society, isn't the BLUG legally
> obligated to present to members an annual statement of accounts and
> minutes of board meetings?
Of course it is.
> 4a. Where is the statement of accounts for the financial year 2002-03?
At the time when you posted your note (early September), the first year's
accounts (the BLUG did not have an account until December 2002) had not
yet been finalised (the last date was 30-Sep-2003), and needed auditor
The accounts for the year 2002-2003 were finalised and have been published
in the souvenir distributed at LB/2003 - just as it had always been
intended. The same information will be up on the website in a couple of
days (after we tie up remaining loose ends, such as publishing event
Note that these do not really represent *BLUG* accounts - because the BLUG
has never had any financial transactions.
That bank account was opened solely for the purpose of LB/2002 (and, by
extension, LB/2003). Therefore these represent *event* accounts, because
the BLUG has not had a single financial transaction outside the scope of
The minutes of "board meetings" are available as well. Here they are:
"Met, had coffee and snacks (paid for by Jessie out of her own pocket),
went home. Nothing of significance was discussed.".
The importance of this should immediately be apparent:
The BLUG is a registered society for the sole purpose of being legally
able to open an account to deposit sponsor money for events. The "board"
has no function at all, and has taken no actions at all.
In fact, in view of the politicization of the whole thing, I would
recommend the dissolution of the society, and to go back to being what
things were like before - a group of enthusiasts who make it their goal to
spread the word of Open Source.
I myself cannot initiate such a dissolution, given that I have never been
a member of the BLUG board, nor have I ever been invited to be one, nor
did I ever see the need to be one in order to achieve my personal goals -
which are the spread and adoption of Open Source technologies in India.
Given the nature of messages posted by you *after* this note of yours, it
is quite likely that you could imply "manipulation behind the scenes".
This would be a ridiculous suggestion, given that my boss (Gopi Garge) is
currently the president of the BLUG "board" - a board that is a
meaningless entity in itself, and whose "manipulation" would not gain
And even if there was something to be gained - anyone who believes even
for an instant that you can "manipulate" Gopi needs to *seriously* have
his head examined.
The BLUG board was simply a required paper function. In Biju's words, it
was "legal fiction", required to achieve something specific - which was to
allow events to happen.
> 4b. Who are the members of the board? How did they get elected to that
The members of the "board" were 7 people legally required to register a
society. We chose people who were least likely to be accused of anything
untoward in nature. The list of people can be found in the memorandum on
> 4c. Does subscribing to the mailing lists make one a member of the BLUG
> (for the legal definition) or is there some other procedure? If the
> latter, what is the procedure?
No, being a member of a mailing list does not make you a "legal" member of
the BLUG - the mailing lists are not the BLUG.
Nor do you have to be a "legal" member of the BLUG to avail of any of the
benefits of the BLUG - it has always been a stated objective *NOT* to
differentiate between people this way.
There is theoretically a procedure to become a legal member, but because
the intent of the society formation was never to differentiate between
members and non-members, the system is meaningless because it has never
I am therefore not a legal member of the BLUG either. And yet I have never
felt any less a member of the BLUG.
And no, you cannot wave your chequebook to "buy" yourself a voting right
in the BLUG, because the BLUG has no legal "voting" system - the BLUG
society is a legal piece of paper whose sole purpose was to enable the
collection of sponsorships for specific events.
We have since discovered that even this is not necessary anymore (it is
now possible to open an account specifically for an event), and after the
final accounts for 2003-2004 are published, both the account and the
society could be dissolved as they serve no purpose to anyone other than
> The memorandum of association at
> http://linux-bangalore.org/blugmemo.php does say something about these
> issues, but has significant gaps. For example, where is the "prescribed
> form" for membership and when are the annual general meetings held?
To show you just how meaningless that query is - the prescribed form is on
the back of a paper napkin in Coffee Day, Cunningham road. You are free to
design your own prescribed form and use it. I recommend the paper napkins
at Barristas, since they blot less.
The BLUG has two annual days - August 25th and a formation day (March
20th) - the latter has never been celebrated or marked in any way so far.
By general consensus, August 25th represents the BLUG's annual day, and
marks the only sort of "official annual general meeting". On this day, the
current coordinator sums up what has been done by the BLUG over the past
year, and invites suggestions for new stuff.
Any financial transactions are also announced. If none were announced,
none took place.
Nothing else of significance is discussed, and we sit back and enjoy the
evening socialising, having an outrageous amount of fun and good food.
One of these days, you may want to attend one of these meetings.
> 5. Who appoints the coordinator for each year? In three years and three
> coordinators I have seen, the next coordinator is always named at a
> meeting without prior discussion either at a meeting or here in the
> non-tech list. How is this decision made?
Simple - no one appoints anyone.
Since I am not legally a BLUG member (thanks to your note, this is now
clear), I cannot really *define* how it is done, but I can tell you that
the process works by volunteering.
Despite the jokes we make about it, each coordinator has essentially
chosen himself/herself, either by volunteering to be the Sacrificial Goat
for the year, either through direct voicing of such an offer (e.g. KD, VLB
and me), or by actions throughout the year which made him/her a logical
and popular choice (by finger pointing - Biju, Jessie, Mahendra, Kartik).
If you would like to be the coordinator next year, please volunteer.
The only requirement is that you should be able to prove active
participation in every aspect of the BLUG - which I think is a fair
BTW - simply attending meetings, listening to talks and eating food is not
considered as "active participation" in most organisations in the world.
> I hope someone has answers for these. An organisation that purports to
> be the country's largest association of open source/free software
> supporters cannot appear to be run by a closed/anonymous management.
I completely agree. I hope you are satisfied with the answers, and are now
convinced that there is no BLUG-related management, and certainly not
closed or anonymous.
The only real "formal" activity of the BLUG has been the meetings every
month. The topic, format and content of the meeting, along with the
speakers, is always decided on the mailing lists, in a completely
transparent manner. Mailing list members suggest topics, suggest talks,
suggest themselves as speakers, and the meet happens.
As for the Linux Bangalore event - there is certainly event management in
that, but it is not related to the BLUG. And even here it is neither
closed nor anonymous.
Have we said enough on all this?
Then let me say something now - something that has been burning inside
me for these past three months, and something I was unable when you first
posted your note.
In 2001, I ceased all further interaction with Linux India when a process
of politicization was started, trying to turn LI into an "organisation"
with "positions", a "hierarchy", "elections", "rights", "registration" and
The BLUG isn't about any of these things. However, your note attempts to
position it that way - and it is something I reject. Completely.
The BLUG is about Open Source technology and its application and adoption.
As long as it stays that way, and achieves its goals (which it certainly
has done in a big way since 1999), I see no reason for anyone other than a
hungry politician wanting to change this.
Attacks on the "BLUG management" are meaningless - there is no "BLUG
management" - heck, there isn't even a formal BLUG - it's a bunch of
technology enthusiasts and a couple of mailing lists, for $deity's sake!
Demanding "answers", and implying "rights" because you happen to be a
member of some mailing lists (that is run by me, not the BLUG, and isn't
een named "blug-xxxxx" to make it clear that while it serves the BLUG, it
isn't the BLUG) highlights the single biggest problem with many such
An over-inflated sense of entitlement.
It is a classic symptom seen when a perceived "audience size" reaches
critical mass - that's when the politicians (and the armchair
revolutionaries) step onto the stage.
None of this would have happened had the BLUG been perceived to be less
successful, and would have represented a much smaller group of people.
And it causes such communities to be self-limiting, even self-destructive
I sincerely hope that the promoters of the campaign in September now have
their answers, and will allow the BLUG to live on in peace, rather than
promoting further politics which would invariably divide the BLUG and
potentially destroy it.
Despite everything that has been written above, the BLUG is a very very
real thing to many people (including me).
But if the time has come to encourage politicization of the BLUG (or any
other community), then the time has also come for a whole lot of people to
ask themselves why they would want to stay involved.
Starting with me.
- On Thu, 11 Dec 2003 23:29:06 +0530 (IST), Atul Chitnis wrote:
> As for the Linux Bangalore event - there is certainly event management inI generally agree with the way things are run -- my objections are mostly more
> that, but it is not related to the BLUG. And even here it is neither
> closed nor anonymous.
in style rather than substance.
However, that has got to the most ridiculous argument I have heard. I find it a
little difficult to swallow that 'Linux-Bangalore' and BLUG are different things
and that LB/200x is not a product of the BLUG.
It's a great rationalisation (which (no offense) Atul is very good at) but it
doesn't reflect reality.
*Any* organisation's culture and ethos is just a reflection of the people who
run it. The BLUG and LB/2x (like any open source project) are run by people who
stand up and do all the dirty work. There have been numerous efforts to get
people involved (I've done it a couple of times myself). People have come
forward and helped out. Again like any OSS project, the people who have
contributed the most get listened to the most.
There has never been any barrier to entry. I started by carrying chairs and
moving tables at Bang!Linux and ended up as SG. Pretty much everybody who was
listed as a manager of LB/3 has had similar experiences.
In short, if you want to change things send in a patch. A patch in this case
means actual work rather than cribs from the sidelines. Like any patch, don't
expect yours to be applied until it's proved to be useful.
Now for the disclaimers: Hmmmm ... I hardly have any:
1. I'm not involved in the BLUG management anymore, so I don't have any self
interest in defending it.
2. I'm not particularly friendly with Atul anymore, so I sure as hell have no
interest in defending him.
3. I don't work for Exocore anymore (don't hold any particular affection for it
either) so I don't feel that I should defend it's sponsor status.
But I'm not unbiased -- the current form of the BLUG and LB is as much my work
as it is anybody's. I find it offensive that anyone should insinuate that it's
controlled by a secret cabal that's conspiring to keep everybody else out.
Biju Chacko http://in.redhat.com Red Hat Inc