Questions Regarding Community Donation Program

Michael Hall mhall119 at
Tue Jun 2 01:56:04 UTC 2015

Answers inline.

Michael Hall
mhall119 at

On 06/01/2015 05:05 PM, Harald Sitter wrote:
> On Mon, Jun 1, 2015 at 6:27 PM, Michael Hall <mhall119 at> wrote:
>> Harald,
>> Sorry again for the delay, I have been trying to respond to all of the
>> inquiring around this and related topics in a timely manner, but some
>> have taken more time than others. Also apologize for misspelling your
>> name :)
> No worries :) Thanks again for the answers and your effort on this.
> I'll be traveling the next couple of days, so it might take me until
> Thursday or Friday to reply.
> I am again dropping fully answered questions for overview.
>> On 05/29/2015 11:26 AM, Harald Sitter wrote:
>>> On Thu, May 28, 2015 at 10:19 PM, Michael Hall <mhall119 at> wrote:
>>>> On 05/28/2015 12:18 PM, Harald Sitter wrote:
>>>>> 3.1. In case the answer entails relying on numbers coming out of
>>>>> Canonical. Is there a process in place to verify the correctness of
>>>>> these numbers to ensure everyone is working with accurate numbers and
>>>>> no one made a mistake along the line? For example: can the UCC request
>>>>> a look at the actual books pertaining to the public community funding?
>>>> No, Canonical is trusted to be honest and transparent in this. We have
>>>> already published one correction where we found that a mistake was made,
>>>> and will do so anytime in the future a mistake is discovered.
>>>> If there is any question of Canonical's honesty in these reports, those
>>>> questions and any supporting evidence behind them should be brought to
>>>> the attention of the Community Council.
>>> As pointed out in my final comment of the original mail, I do not
>>> think a trust argument should be a factor in financial matters. I do
>>> trust my bank to not screw me on my savings account, that doesn't mean
>>> I shouldn't check if the balance indeed is what it should be. Equally
>>> most governments (supposedly ;)) trust their citizens and corporations
>>> to file correct tax reports, they do still conduct audits though.
>>> At present we appear to have no transparent auditing mechanism in
>>> place and that is unsetting. Not because I believe there to be a
>>> problem, but because I cannot prove either that there isn't or that
>>> there is. We do not know the actual accounted incoming donation
>>> numbers, we also do not know who has or has not requested funding, nor
>>> do we know who has or has not received funding. All we know is what is
>>> in the reports and those could be mistakenly or intentionally false
>>> and given that we have no reference numbers outside those in the
>>> reports there is no way for us to know whether they are false until
>>> someone within the Canonical community team or the Ubuntu community
>>> (in case of actual errors in disbursement reporting) identifies them
>>> as such.
>>> Just like one can only make certain deductions from comparing balance
>>> sheets, the community can only make certain deductions from comparing
>>> the funding reports. In both cases one can observe trends, correctness
>>> however is nigh impossible to verify.
>>> Could a proper auditing process WRT the community fund be subject of
>>> discussion at some point?
>> Honestly I don't think it will be worth the overhead. The amount of
>> donations seems to have tapered off after that first quarter.
> According to the lump-sum report Oct 2012 to Apr 2013 generated 48k,
> that's 24k per quarter (assuming equal distribution) and then it went
> to 15k. That is somewhat odd, now if only someone audited and also
> found it odd and investigated why exactly that happened ;)
> At any rate, since Apr 2013 donation income seems to have been pretty
> stable between 12-14k (with outliers at 10k and 17k apparently). I
> would hardly call that tapering off to be honest, from Q1-Q2-Q3 there
> was a decrease apparently, the five quarters since then have been
> stable though. In fact, the fund volume kept growing ever since public
> reporting was introduced, so that should be a good sign.
> But I think I get your point. The overall incoming amount isn't too
> exciting, even more so considering that the 3 sliders previously
> generated about 71k per quarter (again, assuming equal distribution).

I don't think it's odd for them to drop off like that, it makes sense
that they would be higher right after the launch and announcement of
that page. They are still on quarters that hold a release than those
that don't, naturally.

The available funds continues to grow because we usually sent out less
than we take in, not because of any changes or trend in donated amounts.

>> We made an
>> effort to keep the management process behind the community donations as
>> light-weight as possible because of this. We provide a fairly detailed
>> report for the use of the Community slider donations, and so far there
>> doesn't seem to have been any interest on details of the other sliders
>> still in use.
> But Canonical is not opposed to potentially discussing
> improvements/changes in the future?

There is no opposition in principle to changes, no. I personally have
concerns about the management becoming overly burdensome, especially
considering the relatively small amounts in question. But changes that
won't cause that I am open to.

> Since currently only Kubuntu contributors seems to have a keen
> interest in more transparency of the donation process and I doubt
> Kubuntu people would do an annual audit, I agree that at least for now
> the overhead doesn't seem to be very practical.
> I made my preference clear. I do also appreciate that a structure
> where donations go to a not-for-profit and are handled with greater
> community involvement would probably require legal and tax wrangling
> to get set up, but most of all commitment and interest from the
> community that presently doesn't appear to be there.
> So all I am asking is whether this is something that can be discussed
> in the future if more demand were to arise in the community at large.

This is absolutely something that can be discussed.

> HS

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