Choosing the nominees for the PSF board elections 2022
First of all, a disclaimer: I am also running for a seat this year.
We're seeing a record number of nominees raising their hands to serve on the board of the Python Software Foundation (PSF) this year. This is a very good thing for the Foundation and our community, but it might be daunting for you who will be choosing the people you want to see in the board. I believe that most of the eligible voters have voted a few times, but there are some of us who will be voting the first time. Regardless, I hope this post will give you a hint on how to decide which nominees you should choose.
First, it's about you
Yes, first and foremost, it's about you. How do you see the PSF? What future would you like the PSF and the Python community to have? What do you think?
Having some time to sit down and think of what I wanted to see for the PSF, I have decided to focus on these three, which are loosely based on my nomination statement and my thoughts on the previous election which I took part in:
I believe this is what we can never have enough of. We need more opportunities for the different types of people in our community to participate in the many different things, from technical stuff to community building, that we have and revolves around the Python language. Having a chance to get through the door is the first step to grow and later on open more doors for the people after one selves.
How would a nominee increase opportunities within our community? This is a question I ask myself.
The Python community is colourful. It's not only painted in the colours of black or white, the Americas or West Europe, or technical and PEPs. Does our board, that represents us through the PSF truly represents us? Do we have the diversity in the people, diversity in the skills, diversity in the thoughts and ideas that will make us stronger and go further?
Diversity is closely related to the opportunities above but distinctive on it's own. I believe a diverse community will naturally create more opportunities and vice versa.
Finally, the PSF board has many duties and responsibilities. I would want people who are capable and understand what it takes to work together in an organization to represent us and help our community and our language to evolve and grow. This requires experience. Having said that, having the same group of people to continuously represent us does not help to create opportunities nor a diverse representation, so how do we balance the above two with experience? For me, this is a fine line that is the most difficult part to decide.
There are of course others...
There are of course other valid points that we can think of. Perhaps you would like to see a PSF that has bigger financial resources and can help more communities. Or a PSF that puts more effort in solving packaging issues for Python. Or a PSF that for once and for all solve the issue of a "slow" Python. Or even a PSF that has ambitions to send a rocket to Mars because that's where you believe the future of mankind is.
Regardless of what they are, having an idea of what you'd think is important to you will be the first step.
Then, it's about the nominees
Next, we move on to the nominees. These are the people that will work with you to achieve the important things you have decided above. So what do we look for in these nominees?
Well, for starters we have their nomination statements.
The way I do it, I will assign some amount of points to each nominee depending on the four items I focus below. There is a maximum amount of points that each item can have, depending on how important a particular item is. The maximum number of points that a nominee can have is 10. At the end of it, I will choose any nominee with 6 or more points to the board.
You can always tweak the points system to your taste. You might want more points for a particular item that is close to your heart, and less for those which you think are less important to you. You might want to lower the bar by choosing anyone that has more than 4 points, or raise the bar to anyone that has more than 8 points.
These are the four items I focus on:
Who are they
This will of course be the first thing that I will read. Who are they? What's their name? Have you heard of them before? What community are they from? What's their background? Nearly all nominees will do a good job explaining this.
(Maximum 1 point)
What do they want to achieve
This is where you can see if a particular nominee is trying to push agendas which are similar or close to those that you think are important above. Why are they running? What are they trying to change? What are they trying to improve? Who are they representing?
This is an important part of the nomination statement, so we should read these carefully, and should be a big consideration on your part when choosing a nominee.
(Maximum 3 points)
A nominee's progression represents their history in working towards a particular point in time. What have they been doing up until this point? Were they committing code to GitHub as a core dev? Were they presenting quality ideas to the community? Were they fund raising to help other communities to do their work? Were they organizing people for PyCon's?
Remember that serving on the PSF board is not the only way to have impact on the community or the language. Maintaining a library is one way to do it. We already have the steering council that will have a more direct impact on how the language evolves. Organizing your local PyLadies or DjangoGirls chapter will have more impact in opening doors to underrepresented people.
There are also the many PSF Workgroups with various objectives that you can participate in, having a more direct way to have an impact and help shape the future of Python.
In fact, I put progression higher than their reason to run. In my line of work, we have this saying: "What matters is not what the customers are saying; It's what they are doing". More importantly though, it always makes me happy to see the many achievements my fellow compatriots have achieved, and helps me want to do more.
(Maximum 4 points)
What other people have to say about them
Finally, we have the section where someone else will have a good word or two for the nominee. Acknowledgement of work and character by a different person is always a positive thing.
If that acknowledgement is done by someone you know, respect and trust, then perhaps this is a nominee which you would want to pay attention to. More often than not, it usually means that the nominee holds values that you too consider important.
(Maximum 2 points)
What if there are no nominees that champion what you think is important?
Then it's time for you to be a nominee yourself.
Finally, it's about the process
But above all, enjoy the process of having to choose between many different capable people within our community to represent us in the board. The way the voting process works, you can choose multiple people to the board. The nominees that gets the top votes will be elected to the board equal to the amount of vacant seats for that particular year. As the voter, you have multiple choices to support different agendas and nominees and it's not a "this-or-that" choice.
In the end, it's a free democratic process, and like any other free democratic process, you are free to choose whomever you like. You never have to justify your choices to anyone else other than yourself, and you are not obliged to answer who you choose even if asked. Your vote is secret, and only known to you.
So before we part ways, I hope you don't think too hard, enjoy the process and enjoy the opportunity to take part. The above thoughts on how to choose a nominee are only mine, and you should have yours too. Choose whoever you feel like choosing. There will always be next year for you to vote again, and I am confident that there will be continued interest to help out with the PSF board in the many more years to come, and many more nominees to choose from.
In the end, this is what matters most.