Free software and open source, at least the non-corporate part, is a reputation economy. Sure, lots of people do things to scratch their own itch, but by and large, the ones who go above and beyond do it at least in part to be recognized–if not thanked, then at least acknowledged.
Ever wonder why nearly every LoCo team centres around a single urban centre? The team nominally covers a large geographical area, but with a few (admirable and welcome) exceptions, a state team or a national team is a city team that just happens to be in that state or country. One of the main raison d’etres for LoCo teams is getting people to meet up in person; to grow the community face-to-face. If the closest face-to-face meetup is a six hour drive away, you’re probably not going to be meeting anyone, ever.
From my own experience, growing new city teams in a LoCo outside the initial centre is tough to do. If you found a LoCo, though, you (likely) get a sweet title like “LoCo Contact,” and you get to basically run the show if you want to (not that you should…). What’s in it for someone to do the same sort of work in another city, only to be overshadowed by someone else who got their first? Sure, some people will take on the job for its own sake, and those guys are awesome. If we want Ubuntu LoCos to spread to more cities within LoCos, we need to think about what motivates people.
And I think recognition and acknowledgement would help. I think people need something to rally around and be proud of if they’re going to go to the effort of building that thing. I think we need city teams.
I do not think we should dissolve the current LoCo team structure and recognize only city teams.
Regional LoCo teams come with a lot of overhead. There are websites, forums and mailing lists to administer, team reports to write, regular IRC meetings to run. That’s not even considering re-approvals and other maintenance by the LoCo Council and CD shipping costs from Canonical. It’s not feasible for every city team to have the rights and responsibilities a LoCo team has today.
But it’s entirely feasible to recognize and manage city teams within regional LoCos. It’s possible (and cheap!) to acknowledge their leaders.
And it’s not something the LoCo council or the LTP developers need to do much of anything about. I think the recognition might mean more to a lot of people if it came from the central governance bodies, but I acknowledge these folks have a lot on their plate already. This is something LoCo teams can do themselves.
So something I’m going to push for this cycle, with our website refresh, is to acknowledge the people doing the work in Ubuntu Canada’s two current city teams–Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo–and any new ones that might spring up, to ensure they have their own space and they get their due. And maybe that’ll encourage more people to take up the mantle.