Forum OpenACS Q&A: Response to Priorities, Roles, and the future of OpenACS

Posted by Jerry Asher on

It is almost certainly the case that having a more formal organization would involve asking you and Ben to have less control over certain OpenACS outcomes. It's not necessarily the case, but it almost certainly is the case. But no one is asking for either of you to step down from leadership roles in the projects that you are interested in, and no one knows what less control will really mean.

There are questions then: what good would that be to the project? What good would that be for Don and Ben? What form of organization would be formed? What would participation look like?

I can make the arguments as to the benefits to the project and community. I truly believe there are wonderful benefits in it for you and Ben, but that will be for you to decide. I believe it is up to the community to determine the form of the organization and what participation would look like.

We've been around this loop several times these past few weeks. It may have started here And then at Ben's suggestion, I started a thread to discuss that. I think that thread got me labeled as revolutionary terrorist. The meme then spread

Not much came out those loops aside from my getting tagged as FAQ admin.

I encourage you to (re)read those threads once more. The basic tenet made by many of us is that a steering committee will let us reach out further and farther than we could with an organization of just two dedicated leaders alone.

Here is something (abridged and enhanced) I wrote to another one of us in a private email:

What a steering committee can do is organize initiatives, and focus efforts. As I have said before, it would have been wonderful if there had been some formal xml-rpc/soap initiative formed so that Hafeez, Aaron, and Dave could have dialogued out the best interface and created enough community momentum to get that interface documented.

I know you don't want anarchy. I know you want some control. I know you want the project to succeed. Yet you don't appear to want a steering committee with the usual acoutrements: bylaws, voting, etc. I assume I would be misreading you to think you are happy with a "benevolent dictator" approach then. That's the approach it appears we have at this time.

Anyway, I'll try two more tacts.

One: there are a lot of individuals and companies investing their time (read money) into the OpenACS. Investors, and stakeholders usually have some rights and often ask for some openness and some amount of control. When they don't get that, they start rethinking their investment decisions. I'm not happy that Ben and Don discussed and then dismissed wikis without consulting the community and especially without consulting the folks in the wiki threads. I'm not disagreeing with their decision. I'm not happy with the process and I am asking the process be changed. I would welcome a steering committee that makes such a process open. That determines voting rights and voting procedures. If I were a company evaluating OpenACS technology, I would be worried that my investment is run by a benevolent dictatorship, where processes are opaque. It's not closed source by any stretch of the imagination. But it's just not a serious or professional organization, and it's just not indicative of a thriving community.

Two: How do we as a community reward others in the community? Can we provide "career growth" to members? Many of the folks here could use a resume spiff or two. Yet is empty. It's one thing to write on your resume: ported this module, created that module for the OpenACS. But the OpenACS just doesn't have that much brand name recognition yet. It's something else to be able to say: Member of OpenACS steering committee, Secretary OpenACS Marketing Initiative, Founder OpenACS XML-RPC/SOAP Initiative, Head OpenACS W2K Group, etc. These wouldn't be empty vacuous roles. With a bit more formal organization and a steering committee, these would be well focused projects that would directly benefit the OpenACS, create more news events and name recognition for the OpenACS, provide centrally located projects recruiting for community help, and reward some of our developers both with title as well as recognized, increased responsibility and authority.

I truly believe that asking for a steering committee is not the same as asking for the current leadership to step down. It's a statement in the success of the project. I would like to see a steering committee formed to discuss the site and the project and the best way to proceed. Something ala the Apache Software Foundation Something like Something like jakarta has:

But even if you believe it's really just the same as asking you two to step down, can you reread these threads I've pointed out and not see community and project benefits from formal organization?