Jean-François Nifenecker: Candidacy to the elections of the TDF Board of Directors

Dear community,

thank you first to Sophie for nominating me in

I hereby submit my candidature for the Board of Directors of The Document Foundation.

Below is some information about me. You’ll find my application 75 characters text in the end.

My name is Jean-François Nifenecker. I’m 68 years old. Though my family origins are in the East of France, I’ve settled in Bordeaux (France) for 35 years. I’m married and have 4 children and 9 grandchildren.

I’m freshly retired from IT services in a French public administration (18.000 employees overall, 450 locally). Basically, my job was 1st and 2nd level support, but training, networking, infrastructure, consulting, development and a lot more tasks landed on my desk overtime. My employer decided to move from MSOffice 97 to OpenOffice v.1.1.1 in 2005. I took an active part to the migration process and, as a trainer, had to learn and teach the new tool usages. By nature, my job required to be interested in IT usages and this is still what makes me move. This is why, given that the better way to learn something is to write a book about it, I wrote a bunch of documents and tutorials, and helped in forums and mailing lists. My employer switched to LibreOffice in 2011 and of course I also did the move personally.

In parallel, I created my own one-man training business to help more people grab and master LibreOffice. I now also help with macros migration from Excel to Calc and create extensions whenever useful. I still run that small company on my spare retired time.

I keep writing documentation for LibreOffice for my own needs.

I’ve connections with a few other training companies in France that are friends for whom I happen to work from time to time. Altogether, we have no connections with the LibreOffice ecosystem, apart from a common desire to the success of the suite.

I’ve no other connection with any other company from the LibreOffice ecosystem or any other IT businesses.

I am a member of a local libre and Linux users group in Bordeaux which was at the origin of the “Rencontres mondiales du logiciel Libre” (LibreSoftware meeting). Also, I’m a member of a local message provider association that ensures low-cost and secure mail exchanges. I have been a long time contributor to the OpenStreetMap project and a French translator for Clonezilla.

I like going to the pictures and to the theater, reading and I enjoy walking. I’m interested in science and I’ve been learning the Italian language for two years. I used to have a cat (or he did have me).

Here’s my 75 words application:

Full name: Jean-François Nifenecker (jean-francois dot nifenecker at laposte dot net)
Affiliation: None.
I’m 68 years old, living in Bordeaux (France) and a member of the foundation. I’m a long time user of LibreOffice and, before, OpenOffice. I’m a freshly retired IT support personnel and, since the OpenOffice times, a support contributor and documentation writer for the project. I want the foundation and its projects return to an open and inspiring environment to provide the best office software. Together with others I advocate the pledge for LibreOffice (The Document Foundation Nextcloud)

Best regards,
Jean-Francois Nifenecker

You left our your email address I think.

Yes, Eyal. That’s on purpose.

It is not clickable on purpose because Discourse only allows 2 links for me

A few questions:

Question 1: As a person with a long track in support and training, how do you appraise the foundation’s activity in this sphere? i.e. appraise what has been done to foster the availability of support and training for LibreOffice? And - what do you see as challenges or opportunities in this respect for the upcoming board?

Question 2: In my limited experience, we get very little if any feedback from LibreOffice trainers, regarding aspects of LO which which that their trainees have found problematic/confusing/annoying; or ones which they have found difficult to teach or train for. What do you believe the board, or the foundation, or even the community could do to get (more) input from them?

The following questions regard transparency and disclosure. Our statutes require the foundation to publish certain kinds of information (“the processes, discussions and decisions of the foundation, its committees, the Board of Directors and any Executive Directors, including minutes of meetings”), and in exceptional cases publish it after a period of confidentiality.

Question 3: One of the more serious problems with the conduct of the existing board is the failure to abide by the duty to publish the above-mentioned kinds of information; and even a failure to disclose which documents and pieces of information are withheld from the trustees and when, if at all, their confidentiality is intended to be lifted. Can you commit to the board completing the publication of past documents within, say, the first quarter or its tenure, and in an accessible/reasonably-organized repository of such documents?

Question 4: Do you believe TDF employees have the authority to publish BoD documents which should be published according to the statutes, and which the board has neglected to set a confidentiality period for? If so - what is your opinion of employees’ choosing not to do so up to this point? And if not - would you support entrusting (some of) them with such authority?

PS - Some of my questions are just as relevant to other candidates, but I’m also kind of randomly distributing some of them. So, readers should please not interpret my questions as suggesting Jean-Francois is somehow particularly on the spot regarding any issue.

Hi Eyal,

Response 1: In terms of user-to-user support, the foundation provides mailing lists, “Ask” sites, resources via its website, and a wiki. Numerous variations exist for many languages. The difficulty I see - and which is well known - is sometimes the lack of people to bring these supports to life. In my opinion, in many cases, this is due to a lack of feedback from the foundation. By ensuring the foundation and these communities work more closely, we could improve things, both in terms of showcasing people and in terms of resources visibility. By the way, TDF links to support professionals who offer support, training and consulting. Encouraging and crediting people, supporting them is something we should do more.

Response2: Yes, getting feedback is complicated. Some of the trainers I’ve come across have no particular interest in Free Software or LibreOffice, so they don’t particularly promote these values. For others, it’s perfectly possible to highlight their commitment. The “returns” aspect is often neglected, however, and we could envisage dedicated web pages.
Then there’s the question of certification. First, having a better visibility for certification and certified professionals would be a blessing. Second, I see that many French trainers speak little or no English. In this context, offering a certification channel entirely in English is counter-productive, as they don’t understand the point and turn away. Still in the spirit of collaboration with our communities, we could propose delegating the trainers’ certification in their native language to those who volunteer. There’s certainly a lot more to be said on this subject, but this is a first idea.

Response 3: The Pledge for LibreOffice states that the Board will be transparent and will meet the criteria you set out, within the bounds of legality, of course. As far as past terms are concerned – and here subject to legal limits too --, I don’t know more details. As soon as the term starts we will immediately have a look at the documents and investigate quickly how to make those documents accessible.

Response 4: I think the least we can expect from the Board is that it should comply with TDF’s statutes and publish the documents you mention.

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