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

Posted by Jamie Ross on
When the web/db forum was first moved off 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 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 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 :)