15 February, 2012

openSUSE Travel Support Program

Heya all!

There is an exciting piece of last night... There is now a community-led openSUSE Travel Support Program!

by phishtitz on Flickr

This is something I've wanted to do since the day I became community manager for openSUSE. I've always believed that the budget I had in SUSE should be used for the openSUSE community. Initially, that meant that I moved money from the sponsoring of conferences to supporting openSUSE people going to conferences as well as providing them with goodies like DVD's, openSUSE beer, flyers and t-shirts.

But one thing never felt entirely right: who am I to decide on sponsorship for travel? I think that that is something the community should decide. So for a long time I have been discussing how to do this with a number of people including Bryen in his former role of Marketing team lead, the openSUSE Board, Andreas Jaeger and a number of other community members.

Now, finally, we have secured funds, and two community members have stepped forward to run this: Izabel Valverde from Brazil and Kostas Koudaras from Greece. I'm very happy with them doing this as the many events they have organized and the roles they play in their respective local communities has proven them to be more than capable. Over the last few months they have already been working closely with AJ and myself to decide upon and handle sponsorship requests and I'm sure they will do an excellent job going forward.

The travel program

So what will this mean for openSUSE? Well, the goal of this program is unfortunately not to give you all a nice holiday on a beautiful beach - SUSE has been rather reluctant when it came to funding beach parties and the like. I tried, really!

So the goal is to support those who would otherwise not be able to go to an event to (re)present openSUSE. If you're a student or want to make sure openSUSE has a presence at an event which is rather far away but has nobody else able to visit it - we want to help you. Just to give an idea - we'd pick poor students over rich working class, events which would otherwise have nobody over events which are well visited by Geekos already (like FOSDEM or LinuxTag...); we'd rather not always support the same person although we do prefer to support someone who's been active in openSUSE for a while and has proven to do a good job. I know it's impossible to make clear rules over who and when to support and we're always open for feedback but the final decision lies with the Support Program team.

by Virginia Lin Photography on Flickr

Of course, as funds are limited, so is reimbursement. To support as many people as possible we reimburse only hotel and travel and both up to 80% of the total travel- and hotel costs. Also, those supported to go to an event are expected to send in a nice report afterwards (we really prefer a blog if possible!) and of course uphold the openSUSE Guiding Principles.

You can find more information about the travel program on the wiki page.

So go forth and spread the word!

So, if you were planning on going to an event but had to decide not to go due to a lack of funds - let us know! We can and really want to help you. Some of you put in an extraordinary amount of time and money to spread the word on openSUSE and you really deserve some help with that!

If you have any questions or concerns about the program, you can bring them up at the next openSUSE Project meeting (Wednesday 22) or email me or the team directly.