Forum OpenACS Q&A: Can we have a new web/db forum?

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Posted by Jerry Asher on
I have much to thank aD for, but, I would prefer to post and ask
questions at the OpenACS website.

Can we have a forum that is not OpenACS related per se?  A new web/db
forum, sponsored by the community and not by a company?

Right now I think is correct to do that, put a web/db forum...
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Posted by Kevin Young on
I second that motion, we should have an "un-web/db" that's not hosted on an aD server. I'm wondering what Don Baccus might think of the idea, although I guess he's still on walk-about...
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Posted by Jonathan Ellis on
fourth that motion. :)
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Posted by Mike Sisk on
Y'all do know this is an aD server don't ya?
[root@bengal /root]# nslookup openacs.org
Server:  ns1.furfly.net
Address:  209.202.133.10
Aliases:  10.133.202.209.in-addr.arpa

Name:    openacs.org
Address:  207.121.70.190

[root@bengal /root]# nslookup 207.121.70.190
Server:  ns1.furfly.net
Address:  209.202.133.10
Aliases:  10.133.202.209.in-addr.arpa

Name:    v121-1.ARSDigita.seg.NET
Address:  207.121.70.190
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Posted by Ben Adida on
no need for an nslookup... it says so on the homepage :)
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Posted by Jerry Asher on
A year ago, when web/db moved from photo.net to arsdigita, I felt there was a dramatic drop-off in terms of who would post, the quality of the posts, etc.  I believe that moving out of a corporate domain to a community domain will encourage a more disparate group of people.

Yes, openacs is on an arsdigita server, but well one, that may not always be the case, and two, I trust Ben and Don to let us know should aD ever ask them to change any of the material here.

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Posted by Rafael Calvo on
If I may bring the subject again... could we have a non-tech forum as well? look at this thread
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9: non-tech forum (response to 1)
Posted by Rocael Hernández Rizzardini on
Yes, this will be great too. I think this will empower the community in different ways:

1. Possible custormers

2. Recomendations of people about the system (spread the idea in other people, not just developers)

3. New ways of feedback, not just the developer way of view the things... this drives us to better SW.

OK, so when we'll see the new forums...

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Posted by Malte Sussdorff on
If the reasoning is sound and show in the usage of a web/db forum we could still ask ArsDigita to hand us over their web/db forum ;-).

Okay, maybe I'm dreaming a little dream of my own, but I agree with Jerry, that there was a lot more diverse traffic when the web/db was still hosted under photo.net.

On the other hand though, we will probably see a lot of crosspostings between the two forums. Reason: A lot of ArsDigita employees will post answers on their web/db forum {as they are required to, if that policy has not changed}. And they are a serious lot of good developers who might help out in different ways than the community.

P.S.: Non Tech Forum, PLEASE ;-)

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Posted by Ben Adida on
Alright, the only pitfall here is to end up with too many forums. I'd like to think about using categories more wisely within certain forums. However, there is a clear and immediate need for a non-tech forum. What would this cover? General chatting about web philosophy? What else? There also seems to be demand for a new web/db forum, although I foresee more conflicts with that idea.

If you have any specific comments with ideas, please post them to this thread. Otherwise, please participate in the following polls I've created:

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Posted by Ben Adida on
For those getting this by email, the URL for the polls is

https://openacs.org/poll

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Posted by Uday Mathur on
Maybe ben can clarify this, but I believe that this box's co-location
and bandwidth is still being paid for by arsdigita.
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Posted by David Lutterkort on
Malte,

I am really curious where in the aD Employee Reeducation Manual (no,
this does not exist) it says that aD employees have to post to aD's
own web/db forum. I have never heard about such a policy, nor do I
expect to get any grief over posting here...

As a big believer in open-source, I am saddened about the hostility
towards aD that has been going around this bboard lately. It has
certainly taken off some of the idealism I had for OS.

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Posted by Ben Adida on
Uday: yes, ArsDigita currently pays for colo/bandwidth of the OpenACS
site.
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Posted by Ben Adida on
David: as I've mentioned many times in the past, hostility and
negative feedback are hardly reasons to be disillusioned about
open-source. In fact, it's the negative feedback that produces quality
software, not the warm fuzzies you'd prefer receiving. If you want to
see how people *really* duke it out on an
open-source project, check out
what's going on right now over on the GNOME project. The feedback
you're seeing from this bboard is gentle slapping compared to GNOME's
all out nuclear warfare.

Getting negative feedback is something that shows that people care
enough to spend time telling you what they think is wrong (or
sometimes just telling you that something *is* wrong). If
you care and want to participate, go ahead and respond! You can start
worrying when people stop sending you feedback.

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Posted by Kevin Scaldeferri on
David, I believe what Malte is referring to is that we are encouraged to post answers to web/db.  Once upon a time it was even supposed to be a consideration in performance reviews.

of course, we are also encouraged to follow and participate in the OpenACS forums.

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Posted by Eric Lorenzo on

Getting constructive negative feedback in one thing. Entering into a conversation with the feeling that everything you say is going to be viewed with suspicion and interpreted as negatively as possible is another thing entirely. The latter is what I've come to expect, simply by watching how various people in the community react to postings by AD engineers and AD decisions.

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Posted by Rafael Calvo on
David,
<br>
I do not think there is hostility against aD. In fact I am sure all (or at least most) of us appreciate what you have done and what you are still doing. In fact we all want to keep learning from you guys, there are great profesionals in every aD office.
<br>
I agree with Ben in that there might be too many forums.
<br>
I did the average threads for each of the main 3 forums in question (assuming eeveryday one thread, that is not the case):
<ul>
<li>OpenACS4 2.3/day , 2.5 on the last 20 days
<li>OpenACS 4.5/day,  4.6 on the last 20 days
<li>webdb 4.2/day, 3.55 on the last 20days
</ul>
<br>
My proposal for a non-tech forum is because it could be used by non tech people or techies that feel like talking about business/usability/documentation issues. They might probably do not want to go through 20-30 threads/week about completely different subjects.
<br>
If aD is going to keep the web/db forum we would have an average of 10 techie threads spread in 4 different forums... I am not sure is a good thing.
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Posted by Walter McGinnis on

David,

Malte also may be referring to this thread on web/db: http://www.arsdigita.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg%5fid=000cGU&topic%5fid=web%2fdb&topic=

In it Dave Menninger says:

  • David Tropiano (dtropian@arsdigita.com) will be monitoring the bulletin boards and making sure that messages are answered in a timely fashion.
  • David will route messages as appropriate to either product management or development. Joe Lichtenberg's group of product managers will handle questions about product direction and Jeff Teeters in development will deal with the technical questions.
  • I will personally spend more time interacting with the community. I began by meeting with Peter Vessenes of Ybos a couple weeks ago and I will do my best to keep informed of and involved in the discussions on the bboards.

This doesn't say that aD employees are required to read the bboards, but it does say that questions will be answered in a timely manner by aD.

Personally, I think your message could be read as hostile towards Malte. We can all point fingers about hostility, but it doesn't really get us anywhere.

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Posted by David Lutterkort on
I apologize to Malte if I misread his statement - I interpreted it as
saying that aD employees were restricted to posting on aD forums.
After rereading his post that seems a rather stupid interpretation.
Entschuldigung, Malte.

Eric expressed rather well how many people at aD feel about the way
the community views us. There have been numerous posts that implied in
a not-so-subtle way that aD has turned to the dark side, and
everything coming out of aD is a clumsy attempt at putting a positive
spin on very bad things. If that were so, I would have quit my job
here long ago. I started working here because many of aD's values
meshed well with mine, and despite all the changes during the last
year, I still enjoy working here. In many ways, aD is a better place
to work at now than it has been at any point in time since I joined.

I don't expect that people get the warm fuzzies with us, but I would
love to see more constructive criticism and less of the
oh-my-god-look-what-they-done-now stuff.

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Posted by Roberto Mello on
I, and I'm sure I'm not alone, very much appreciate the feedback of any person into the project, including aD engineers.

It was just the management thing that brought me creeps, and some amusing (to say the least) postings by aD engineers at web/db (anyone recall "JAVA!!!"?)

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Posted by Michael Feldstein on
I'm not clear on exactly why there is a need for another web/db
board. There already exists a web/db board in which, as far as I
can tell, people can pretty much post anything reasonable (and
quite a bit that's not so reasonable) without fear of censorship by
the board's sponsors. OK, so some members of the community
have issues with some of the directions that aD has taken. How
is that relevant? Web/db is a community service provided by aD,
and all they get in return, really, is credit for hosting the
conversation. What's the problem? I'm not opposed to the idea in
principle; I just don't yet see what it accomplishes other than
snubbing aD (which, if that is the purpose rather than merely a
consequence, strikes me as neither smart nor gracious).

As for the non-techie board, speaking as a non-techie, I see
some potential value, but only if we have a better idea of just
what kind of meetings of the minds we expect to happen there. Is
this an "ask the expert" corner? If so, that's valuable but will
probably get relatively limited traffic (which is OK, as long as
somebody keeps those email alerts turned on). If we're
expecting non-techies to use that forum to express ideas about
what they want from the toolkit and the community, well, I think
that's going to take a lot of time and effort--well beyond simply
turning on a bboard--to achieve. (Note that I think it is absolutely
worth that time and effort; I just want to be sure we know what we
need to do in order to be successful.) To begin with, you need to
educate those non-techies enough so that they can ask
intelligent questions and pose intelligent suggestions. Speaking
as one who has scaled (and is still scaling) that learning curve, I
can tell you it doesn't happen overnight. Also, I'm not entirely sure
that having that conversation happen in a segregated board,
separate from, say, OpenACS development main conversations
is the best way to go. It *might* work, but I think it's a crap shoot.

There are some first steps we could take that might help clarify
this issue:

- Create a "non-techie" post category on the main OpenACS
board. We underutilize the categories, IMHO.

- Write up a page that constitutes the community's official
welcome and invitation to non-techies. Post it on the front page
of the web site. Be sure to articulate the *mutual* benefits of
conversation.

- Start a non-techie FAQ. Allow members of the community to
submit questions. Actively maintain the FAQ. (I would be willing
to be the primary maintainer, although I'd need to solicit some of
the answers from people who actually know what they're talking
about.)

If you start seeing a ramp-up in non-techie participation based
on these measures, then engage them (us) in a conversation
about next steps.

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Posted by Jerry Asher on
My reasons for requesting a web/db forum at the OpenACS site have very little to do with ArsDigita.

As a poster, I want my posts to be read by a wide audience.  These days I believe that that wide audience is over here at the OpenACS site.  I feel the OpenACS momentum growing, and I want to take advantage of that.  In contrast, when I ask a question in the ArsDigita web/db forums, I wonder these days who will actually see it.  It feels like that community is dying.

These days when I ask a question or make an announcement, I have to fight the desire to post at both sites.  And there are a sizable number of posts which have been posted at both sites.  So why do folks feel the need to post in both places?  With no disrespect intended to aD, I suggest many folks are confused about where to post.  Like it or not, the aD forums have a much more corporate feel to them.  (It may be that eye on the home page.)

I definitely feel that the crowd has been driven away from the web/db forum.  It may be RIFs, it may be that may be because web/db grew out of a individual/community effort and became hosted by a company (and credibility wise, that hasn't been too good historically for any piece of media).  It may be that with the shift to Java and the understandable emphasis on big dollar clients, aD has moved away from the community and forum posters can sense that there is just a diversion of interests.  An OpenACS website will bring some of that crowd back, and it may make it easier for former aD employees to participate.

But anyway, as a member of the OpenACS community, I want to make the OpenACS community stronger.

You mention that aD gets the credit for hosting web/db.  I have answered many many questions on the aD websites, and aD has certainly benefited from my efforts.  But aD doesn't need my help, or rather, I'd prefer to give my help to a group that's organized more as peers.  As a member of the OpenACS community, I'd rather give my efforts to getting OpenACS that credit.

Recently we've heard how the numbers of php groupware downloads swamp both acs and openacs downloads.  I believe having a web/db and/or non technical forum at the OpenACS site will be positive for the community.  It will make OpenACS more a destination.  It will enhance the OpenACS reputation and brand name.  As folks come to visit to ask about style sheets, FLASH, MySQL, real audio or what have you, they will stop by and take a drink of the OpenACS kool-aid.  And soon, we will see the OpenACS being discussed and distributed with the big kids.

Look, I'm not saying that aD should take the web/db down, I'm saying it has nothing to do with aD.  I'm saying that the forum topics at the OpenACS are too limiting for the OpenACS community.  OpenACS Q&A, OpenACS 4.0 Design Q&A, OpenACS CMS Q&A.  It's not enough.  Aren't there enough web/db questions and answers out there that we can have our own forum?

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Posted by Yon Derek on
I agree with Michael, creating a new forum will not, by itself, magically attract people who aren't already attracted. It would certainly be better to simply advertise the forums explicitly stating that they're for both technical and non-technical discussion and advertise OpenACS by itself in places where people might not have heard about it.

Those who already are here, I don't think that anyone really looks at board name and thinks, "Hmm, it's called OpenACS Q&A so I better not ask my non-technical question". First the name doesn't imply that it's technical forum (it implies that's limited to OpenACS, but we had both off-topic and non-technical questions so it's not like it's stopping anyone).

I also think that the only valid reason to create new forum is when present forums overflow with posts and it's not happening yet.

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Posted by David Kuczek on
I believe that one of the major problems with "hostility", if you like to call it that, towards aD bears out of the fact that they have not yet released their new Java-Open-Source product, on which a new community can blossom. People that use ACS tcl and would like to use it in the future on the other side, feel as if they are no longer of core interest to aD, which is true.

There were couple discussions on whether some parts of ACS 5.0 would be closed source etc. which neither improved the relationship of the "community" and aD.

As far as I heard from some objective people at the Munich office and from my brother who has seen some parts of ACS Java 5.0, this product will be *really* interesting.

I believe that the sympathy will come back to aD as soon as they please the community with that new product and the community sees what the developers have been working on for quite some time. (And change their logo back to "aD", which is way better than the Big Brother Is Watching You Eye that looks like the symbol of a pseudo religious organization :-)

This having been said I also voted for the web/db bboard being moved to OpenACS, because it will not be of aD's core interest as soon as ACS Java 5.0 will be released. So why don't move it to a place where the tcl dream lives on...

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Posted by David Kuczek on
We should alter the options for the poll "non-tech forum".

The option that Michael suggested:

Create a category called "non-tech" or maybe couple categories like "Marketing" "Suggestions For New Modules" etc. inside the existing OpenACS Forum.

should be added.

At the moment people can't revote though. (technically)

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Posted by Jamie Ross on
When the web/db forum was first moved off photo.net to ArsDigita, I had a lot of concerns.  At the time I was working for Vignette, and aD announced it was a competitor, so being active on an aD forum was a little uncomfortable.  I always liked the separation between photo.net as a community site and ArsDigita as a corporate site.  ArsDigita is a profit driven company and it can be expected that it will directly sponsor stuff that supports its sales.  OpenACS on the other hand is not profit driven and should be an area for open exchange.  Already there is concern about posting which might annoy ArsDigita which mutes the conversation.  Notice that the terms under which aD management paid off Philip include him removing all material critical of ArsDigita from his website.  This is not a management team which seems terribly comfortable with criticism.

With respect to perceived "hostility" toward aD staff, I don' t think that is the case, but there is a lot of unease about the direction that ArsDigita has taken.  Not so much that its wrong or evil, but more that it is becoming yet another  internet software company like Vignette or Broadvision.  Open Source is perceived as a marketing strategy and less of a principle which means it can be discarded when not convenient.  This is probably what is required to take ArsDigita up to a size where it can have a IPO and the VCs make all their money, but it is not necessarily good for the development of the technology and concepts behind ACS.  "Market Driven" becomes the buzzword and stock market analysts drive your direction for better or worse.

One thing I liked about the photo.net was that the discussion covered all web/db issues, no matter that platform/system.  Everyone working in this area faces common problems no matter wher developing with ACS, Storyserver, or PHP and it is good to have a place to discuss issues without worrying about offending the company.  So yes for these reasons, I would like to see a generic web/db forum on a neutral site.  I think it is a simple matter of avoiding conflict of interest.  The aD boards remain great places for ACS developers to go for support  and it is entirely appropriate.  I think the current mix is just a bit uncomfortable as the lines are blurred between general community and corporate interests and that in itself is contributing to some distrust which is not good for any of us.

Just my humble opinion :)

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Posted by Ryan Campbell on
David, ACS 5.0 (really, 4.5) is no big secret. You can find the source here. I believe it's been there about a month. And you're right, it looks very interesting. As far as the open source/closed source stuff: according to Tracy Adams, they have about 2 developers out of 30 working on the closed source modules. The rest are going full force on the open source ACS 4.5 (aka ACS 5), which should be released in July.

Disclaimer: My information is about a month old and is what I remember from the aD Austin Developer's Event. It's quite possibly wrong or outdated.

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Posted by Malte Sussdorff on
Ben, do you have a time set when you'll open up the new bboards {if at all}?