The former is the place where the vast majority of discussion about high-level topics occurs. This list is open to everyone and is often used as a source of agenda items for the Board.
The latter is a private space for Board members to discuss sensitive topics. We acknowledge that this might seem out of place in an open, transparent project, but keep in mind that almost all executive entities have the same facilities at their disposal. Often this is an “executive session” or some such time or space.
We (the Board) always try our best to keep material discussions on f-board-l to a minimum, and only surrounding issues that are sensitive. If it can be pushed out to FAB in any way, we talk about it there. The FAB has a much larger membership, and is therefore a far better place to do collaborative work and build informed decisions.
One of the things that tends to happen with a single-purpose list, though, is that as the membership swells, discussions tend to get longer and topics sometimes yaw a bit. To keep this tendency from derailing the original mission of fedora-board-list, and to ensure it gets used as little as possible, the board voted last year to enact a policy of only keeping those members on the list who really need to be there.
Taken only at its most basic face value, this sounds like making the fedora-board-list some sort of exclusive club full of shady backroom deals, but that’s in fact the exact opposite of the real intent and effect. In a project like Fedora, the Board can’t go around making bad deals like this because we don’t have the power to compel the volunteers who are the heart and soul of Fedora — nor would we want it. But there are some issues where we have to deal for small periods of time in confidentiality, and that’s what fedora-board-list enables.
To make sure that we are using fedora-board-list only in the spirit in which it was created, we’ve followed our own policy again, and removed some of the folks who have served both on the Board and as trusted advisors for a time. The people who remain are simply the current Board members as listed on the wiki, and John Poelstra who acts (indispensably!) as our secretary. (The organization and publishing of our minutes has been largely due to his herculean efforts.)
I sent a note to the fedora-advisory-board list this evening to this effect. But I wanted also to make sure the community remains fully aware of the limited use to which we put the fedora-board-list, and our dedication to openness and transparency. We take your trust very seriously, and will continue to work hard to earn it.