Re: Proposed resolution: Waive SPI 5% administrative fee for 2020 associated project conferences

From: Luca Filipozzi <lfilipoz(at)spi-inc(dot)org>
To: spi-general(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org
Subject: Re: Proposed resolution: Waive SPI 5% administrative fee for 2020 associated project conferences
Date: 2020-06-13 17:09:52
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Per other branch on this thread, Stephen outlined that the Board is
working with the Debian Representative on clarifying the status of
DebConf sponsorships, etc.

Since I'm in favour of 'fairness' and 'consistency', I agree with Peter
that some questions need answering:

(1) Historically, were all projects charged 5% for donations (yes, is my
understanding) and sponsorships (no, Debian wasn't, at least)?

(2) Once the reality or perception* of miscommunication between SPI and Debain is
clarified (who knew or should have known what when; yes, I think this is
needed), should we:

(a) refund Debian for the 2016-2019 sponsorship fees?

(b) refund Debian and refund other projects have their sponsorship
fees refunded (how far back)?

(c) not refund Debian for 2016-2019 sponsorsip fees?

(d) not refund Debian for 2016-2019 and apply the 5% on Debian sponsorships prior to 2016?

The point being, how much historical consistency should we strive for.

(3) Going forward, should we:

(a) not charge a fee on sponsorships for a year while data is
collected (2020 might not be a good year, given conference
cancellations)? Again, across all projects' sponsorhips, not just


(b) should we apply the 5% on all projects' sponsorships?

This has to be tempered with practical realities: do we have the data
necessary to make it clear which funds were donations vs sponsorships;
is it worth the relationship friction with Debian or the other projects;

At the moment, I'm at 2a & 3b so I'd prefer seeing the resolution draft
altered to match. If more information is produced indicating recorded
written communication between SPI and Debian in 2016/2017 regarding the
fee change, then I'd go with 2c (or a partial refund up to the date of
that written communication).

Finally, I don't think the amount of potential refund is material. By
this I mean: let's try to do the right thing**, regardless of the

Happy to hear your thoughts on my position,


* as more people recall their conversations, the picture changes; that
said, I'm waiting to see a written communication from around 2016

** up to the point that it makes SPI insolvent, which this won't

On Tue, Jun 09, 2020 at 12:18:55PM +0100, Peter Cock wrote:
> Hello Michael, Martin, all,
> I personally agree that inconsistently charging the 5% fee is unacceptable,
> but
> not with the proposed remedy. I would rather suggest explicitly granting
> amnesty
> on past omissions (assuming no technical objections such as from the
> auditors),
> and enforcing the 5% universally pending any future change in policy.
> Aside from DebConf 2016-2019, are any other SPI project conferences which
> paid 5% fees on their conference income? If so, as Martin points out it
> would be
> unfair to only refund DebConf. If not, the proposal should be reworded.
> Other important questions: What is the approximate amount of missing 5% SPI
> fees potentially owed by DebConf (and other projects)? What is the
> approximate
> amount of collected 5% conference income SPI fees collected by DebConf (and
> others) which might be refunded?
> Thank you,
> Peter
> (Speaking personally, and not as president and former treasurer for the Open
> Bioinformatics Foundation, nor on behalf of any other SPI project.)
> On Tue, Jun 9, 2020 at 7:21 AM Martin Zobel-Helas <zobel(at)spi-inc(dot)org> wrote:
> > Hi,
> >
> > On Mon Jun 08, 2020 at 23:55:03 +0200, Martin Zobel-Helas wrote:
> > > Also DebConf can not say they do not know about the 5%, as it is
> > > well-known and documented per SPIs Projects howto:
> > >
> > > | All transaction costs (such as the fees we are charged to process
> > credit
> > > | cards and wire transfers) are deducted from the contribution, to the
> > > | extent we are able to identify and attribute these costs. 5% of the
> > > | remainder is deducted for SPI overhead. The remaining money is held on
> > > | behalf of the project.
> > > (Source:
> >
> > Also our reports that we publish since 2016 contain this information:
> >
> > "Per project donations have a debit amount specified, which is the SPI
> > 5% contribution from the project towards the SPI general fund. Thus
> > total donation amount is net of this contribution."
> >
> > So if DebConf would had cared more about it, they should have seen this
> > already back in 2016 or 2017.
> >
> > Best regards.
> > Martin
> > --
> > Martin Zobel-Helas <zobel(at)spi-inc(dot)org>
> > Software in the Public Interest, Inc. | Member of the Board of Directors
> > GPG Fingerprint: 6B18 5642 8E41 EC89 3D5D BDBB 53B1 AC6D B11B 627B
> > _______________________________________________
> > Spi-general mailing list
> > Spi-general(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org
> >
> >

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Luca Filipozzi


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