The problem OpenACS is having is that Forums, Chat, File -storage and so on are simply not very challenging. They've been done to death, and largely for a customer its all about tweaks and cosmetics. OpenACS is a sophisticated, re-usable architecture. Unfortunately website are not challenging enough for it. Rather then trying to be an also ran imitation of the PHP applications which are infact imitations of us (ACS being one of the early movers in the forums, file storage community sites) we should be looking for the things that make us different and highlight them.OpenACS has matured and is now primarily developed by people who do it as their day job. Not to say there isn’t a lot of volunteer work, but most people are associated with a consulting company or educational institution or other business entity that is using OpenACS.
The conventional wisdom is that open source communities are communities of individual hackers and you have to be very careful if you are an organization approaching them to use their code to make money.
http://producingoss.com/producingoss.html (Read the Money chapter, note there area actually a lot of very good ideas in this book.)
I am putting out for thought and discussion the concept that we are a community of organizations and that the new users we wanted to attract are more organizations. If we felt that way we could go even further then a footer and support automatically putting a linked logo on each post similar to the way other forums put in portrait images. Possible Advantages:
- Look organization friendly. I think we already are an organization friendly open source community. Its an advantage. Lets flaunt it.
- Help readers understand the context of the post. I often find myself wondering when I read a post what they are doing with OpenACS..is that an e-lane person? Is that the company in Italy doing the ERP work? Although we need to explicitly address realy making it easier for people to understand how OpenACS is used, this would provide a way for a motivated person to follow the links and begin to learn what OpenACS is actually being used for.
- Provide a realistic context for new people. New people sometimes wonder why they don’t get more free support on the boards. Highlighting that it is a community of paid developers might help them understand.
- Make it easier for developers in organization to justify posting helpful comments and writing up their work for the boards. The vast majority of people here use OpenACS as their day job and may well have to justify to a manager why they are spending time writing answers to other people’s questions. Giving back some good exposure to their organization might help us promote good citizenship.
- Look Different. We need to stand out for something other then tcl and AOLServer. We should be looking for ways we really are different in a way that is positive for our target new users and do PR around it. If we consciously shifted our orientation from a community of individual developers to a community of organizations developing in OpenACS we might attract attention from the anthropologists/open source scholars. Simply put, it might be an interesting publicity stunt.
- Show that OpenACS can do forums with little pictures. Forums with little pictures are in right now, and some people assume that since they don’t see them we don’t do it.
I hear several other probably important points in this recent discussion.
- We have companies who want to give back but are not doing so.
- Google isn’t indexing our forums well.