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Commitee Meeting Minute - 2019-08-10

tags: Meeting

:::info - Location: Future World meeting room - Date: 2019-08-10 - Agenda 1. Why are members unhappy in the society 2. Proposals 3. Freshers 4. Misc - Participants: - Dan Trickey (DT) - Dan Hobson (DH) - Joe Morton (JM) - Jenny Walker (JW) - Kajetan (KC) - Chair: DT - Minutes: DH - Minutes Archive: - Available here



  1. Why are members unhappy in the society
    • Poor communications between people
      • People assume knowledge when assigning tasks, leaving people feeling they've been abandoned as if they were being told to 'just get on with it'
      • (Related) Tasks being provided with a lack of details (e.g. "make thing work" without details of issue to solve). Sometimes that's because the person assigning the task also doesn't know any details which should be communicated clearly and sometimes it's assumed knowledge (see above)
        • "I don't know" has not well recieved ("none of us really know what we're doing" cited as reasoning, but this doesn't help volunteers very much.)
      • The result of the above points is a massive bus factor for tasks that can only be done by 1 person:
        • so that person is overworked
        • and anyone else feels useless/incapable
      • The overall result is a group of individuals working on separate things rather than a team working together
    • Different people want to focus on different aspects of what we do (outreach/large events/kit dev)
      • our time / efforts are limited, so if we want to run big events we need to ensure that's what people want to do so we have enough volunteers to pull it off. This year hardware kit dev and SR stuff took time from Smallpiece.
    • Dependence of tools (e.g. linux build environment)
      • a lot of things we do (e.g. writing documentation) is heavily dependent on tools that the original creator used (e.g. compiling things using unix commandline utilities, writing in specific formats (LaTeX, MarkDown, restructured text etc)) that significantly increase the barrier to entry for new contributers. It makes it much easier to decide "that's not a task I can do" if you'd have to learn a new language before you can try. This is especially true considering we are hoping to attract more non-ECS people next year - asking a business student to put markdown through pandoc, compile a pdf on the commandline and commit those changes to a git repo is going to scare them off.
        • We definately need to make things more accessible (e.g writing docs)
        • Some things do have to rely on specific tools (e.g. writing software is objectively better if it is version-controlled, so using git is likely to be a requirement). In these cases we have to provide detailed and helpful support to train people who want to help. (Cite DT sitting down with me (DH) and teaching me to use git as a success)
    • Learning from other organisations
      • The SR trustee have appeared to make decisions without consulting volunteers
        • We (SRO comittee) need to avoid this. We need to be transparent in meetings so keep volunteers informed and included in decisions (like how Andy B-S has gotten much better at recently)
  2. Proposals

    • Improving communications
      • Restructure meetings
        • Meeetings need to be more structured, ideally with someone leading each session so there is something available for anyone who doesn't have a project they are already wanting to work on.
        • Plan to have weekly comittee meetings (Thursdays?). Gives us a chance to plan something for the following Monday and to deal with outside communications. Non-comittee to be invited to raise issues
        • Emails - immediate "we will consider on #DATE#" to be relpied to emails (Make a post on Slack to say you are owning this if you do)
      • Knowledge sharing
        • We should have 1 place for the all knowledge, so that volunteers know where to find things. This stops one person being asked questions constantly and makes it friendlier for new people; if the knowledge is easy to find, it shows we care about sharing it.
      • We should heavily investment in the SRO knowledgebase, which has been started but needs lots of content to populate it.
    • Volunteer welfare
        • EGM after smallpiece
    • Smallpeice-specific things
      • The SourceBots director who is elected in April will not be responsible for the Smallpiece in the following August. They will shadow for a year, then run the next Smallpiece. The outgoing SourceBots director is responsible for the Smallpiece of that calendar year. If the previous SourceBots director is available, they should advise the other two.
      • We should play-test a competition early (around November?). This will give volunteers a chance to get familiar with the kit, and test that the docs, the game design and the kit are all working well.
        • Working towards shipping a play-test competition also brings the deadline for working on Smallpeice preparations forward significantly. If we have a play-test competition ready in November, we're much closer to hitting the actual deadline on time without stressing
  3. Freshers

    • We need to have a meeting dedicated to freshers' preparations after Smallpeice
      • As a focus this year, we need more non-ECS people to join. We currently have lots of technically skilled people but few with management/event planning skills. We should also try and encourage some mechanical engineers to join.
        • Promoting the value of teaching / outreach might be the best way to appeal to people with these skills?
      • We need a strong online presence to attract new people around freshers' week and in general
  4. Misc

    • We need to think about j5 structuring? Should it be run by a team like SRO or SR?
    • It would be nice to have a booking form so that schools can easily get in touch with us


  • Start running comittee meetings
  • Plan Monday meetings
  • Call an EGM to appoint a welfare officer
  • Organise understudies for this Smallpeice
  • Plan play-test of next year's Smallpeice game
  • Build SRO knowledge base
  • Plan freshers' events
  • Make emails system better
  • Make booking form?
  • Build online presence