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It's the Procedure...

After going through all the materials provided to the NomCom for the PASS Board of Directors, I think I can say unequivocably that it's the procedure, and not the perception of the procedure that is the issue. Here's why I say that:

  • There is a template, and that template does have a numeric rating system to get a quantitative (and then, hopefully, objective) score for each candidate. This is good.
  • However, no guidance as to what is a 2 and what is a 4 is provided. This is bad.
  • Because there is no guidance, folks with similar education levels were scored differently. This is bad.
  • Criteria which shouldn't have been affected by the interview, can be. This, again, is bad.
  • Regardless of the scores, they ultimately don't matter. What matters is the subjective vote after the scoring. While the scoring may influence those votes, they are trumped by the votes. This is bad.

Walking through this, I made a tweet to Stuart Ainsworth, who has been just flat out awesome standing up as the point man to take the community's fury. This is the clincher which led me to the conclusion that the procedure is flawed:

Note: I'm not saying anything about the people involved. I'm not implying malicious behavior or ill will by any NomCom member towards any candidate. I'm pointing out that the process is more subjective than it should be and it has obviously led to results which are inconsistent with, at the very least, a lot of the vocal folks in the community. And that means the procedure needs to be fixed. Now, if the procedure is broke, what does that say about what we should do with the candidates who were "delisted" from the vote through the process? I don't know. If the procedure is flawed, and I believe it is, I'm of the mindset to put 'em all on and let the community decide. But that essentially means you've thrown the hard work and personal sacrifice of the NomCom out the window. If you read the overview doc, you can get an idea of what they were told with respect to the time commitment. That's certainly something we shouldn't forget. They volunteered for this. And I will continue to believe each one did his or her level best unless someone can conclusively show me otherwise.


K. Brian Kelley - Databases, Infrastructure, and Security

IT Security, MySQL, Perl, SQL Server, and Windows technologies.


Posted by dyfhid on 24 August 2010

Thank you! Throughout all the recent debate, I have been thinking, and telling anyone who would listen, that this procedure, while probably better than it has been in the past, is flawed. I, too, couldn't understand the numeric scoring, and could only guess at teh process that ended in that scoring system.

I believe that what has transpired this year "is what it is." The relevant folks (the NomCom and the BoD) followed the procedure, making the current slate valid based on following written procedure. The big question now is how to go about changing it.

I am in email conversations with some folks currently, because while the community should be discussing this publicly, some of it needs to be talked out amongst people. The question at hand now is how do we go about changing the process. Should there be a committee of community folks brought together to go over the process and recommend changes? I don't know the answer, and am asking it both in email and here, and will put the question out to Twitter soon. How do we change the process to something that, while maybe not having universal acceptance, at least comes in line with the majority of interested parties?

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 24 August 2010

Thanks Brian for continuing to flush out the issues on this slate.

Posted by RalphWilson on 25 August 2010

Absent any directions regarding the scoring, the scoring can _only_ be subjective.  Whether or not each member of teh NomCom did their level best to do what was right is, while of concern, ultimately just an unfortunate waste of effort because of the signficance of teh flaw in the overall design of the process.  While I appreciate their efforts and admire their willingness to volunteer for a thankless task, I find it difficult to accept a statement that would say that, because of their best intentions, we have to live with the results so that we don't offend them.

Given the significance of the flaw in the process, I cannot help but believe that the better solution to _this_ year's nominations would be to expand the short list that was selected by the NomCom so that it includes all of the candidates that were initially under consideration.  Rather than have a small group restrict the options of the community at large, especially when that is done by an obviously flawed process, it would seem to be much more reasonable to subject the decision to the vagaries of the community that those individuals would be representing if elected.

As for future elections, I agree that there should be a "committee of community folks brough together to go over the process and recommend changes".  I would add, though, that once the changes have been recommended, those changes should be presented to the community at large for discussion and consideration.  Once a reasonable consensus is reached on changes, then the process should be defined and, once again, presented for an up or down vote by the community at large.

If the community at large has input into the process and agrees to the process, then the community at large will have greater confidence in the fairness of the process.  Admittedly, the process may need to be tweaked a bit as time passes but that, too, should be submitted to the community for approval.

For what it is worth, I would suggest that there be stated qualifications for the candidates and that those qualifications should be agreed upon by the cumminity at large _prior_ to the election ever coming up.

The above should be taken strictly in light of it being _IMHO_. ;-)

Posted by Grant Fritchey on 25 August 2010

Another in a string of excellent posts. Thanks.

I think any remedy should only address fixing the process. Flawed process or not, this year's nominations are set. It's over. Any undo damage or reward has already been handed out and nothing else done at this point is likely to help things.

We need to focus on fixing things for next time.

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