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

Posted by Janine Ohmer on
I'm looking at all these messages in my inbox, and thinking that
that's an awful lot of energy and effort that could have gone into
porting, testing or documenting instead...

I've tried to stay out of all of these various discussions for a
number of reasons.  Mainly I feel this is the wrong time to be
talking about all of these potential changes.  Let the porting folks
finish their work in peace, and *then* it will be time to discuss
what worked and didn't work about the process this time and
what could be different next time.

However, since the topic seemingly just won't die, I'll throw in my
two cents for the record.

Most everyone knows that Don works for furfly, and so I can be
expected to side with him on most things.  But I'll freely admit that
he's not always right (shocking, eh? :) and that he does
occasionally have a bit of trouble holding back his temper.
Some of his posts on these recent threads have been a bit over
the top, for sure.

Now, hopefully having established my impartiality... I would *far*
rather have the benevolent dictatorship we have now than the
bureacracy Jerry is proposing.  I don't always agree with every
decision being made, and I do think that it could be made easier
for new folks to learn how to contribute (though I reiterate that at
this stage of the project I believe that making major changes is
likely to be more harmful than helpful).  But I know that decisions
will be made, that they will be more or less consistent, and that a
quality product will be produced.  Far more so than if more
people and more bureacracy was added to the process.
Furthermore, I see even less benefit to adding lots of "named"
jobs just so folks can spiff up their resumes...

It is perhaps true that, as Jerry says, "Investors, and
stakeholders usually have some rights and often ask for some
openness and some amount of control".  But I think that is a
false analogy.  Investors hand over money, and lots of it, before
they can consider themselves owed any degree of control, and
once they have done so their money is effectively imprisioned
until such time as it can be repaid with the desired amount of
growth.  So they have a right to expect to participate in the
running of the company, since that will (theoretically) allow them
to get their money back sooner.  OpenACS volunteers give their
time, and are free to put in as much or as little as they like, or to
stop volunteering at any point.  Presumably they choose a task
which they want to do, and will do to both their and the "gang of
four"'s satisfaction.  There is no further obligation, and therefore
IMHO no reasonable expectation of control beyond the task they
are responsible for.

Also, speaking as President/CEO of a company which does
nearly all it's business with the ACS, and plans to adopt
OpenACS 4 for all new business as soon as it is ready, I can
honestly say that I feel no need for the additional control Jerry is
asking for (and no, I have never asked Don to do anything for
furfly in his capacity as project manager).  All the OpenACS
project "needs" to provide me with is a solid, well-tested core
and as many modules as there were volunteers to port.  We can
take it from there.  There are many other things which are
desirable, of course, such as ways to report bugs, fix bugs,
contribute new modules, etc, and I believe we will get many of
those things.  But I'm not going to waste much energy
complaining if I can't convince anyone to set up a place to post
marketing materials, for example.  I can set it up myself,
publicize it here, and if it becomes popular then I bet I'll get a
better reception next time I ask about having it included at (this is just an example, not a real-life decision).

I will join most of the people who have posted to these threads in
recognizing that Jerry has contributed a great deal to the
community.  I use his virtual hosting patches myself.  But IMHO
he has also contributed a lot of diversions and divisive
discussions.  He seems to like to stir things up, in ways which
often appear to be more about causing trouble and gaining
followers than about making positive and practical changes.

Jerry, you have brought up basically the same control issues at, on the AOLserver list, and now at  It
seems that no matter where you go, your ideas are either
ignored or actively shunned by those in power.  Perhaps it is
time to stop feeling that our fearless leaders are persecuting
you, and to start looking at how you might present your ideas
more effectively?  Tiltiing at windmills wastes a lot of time and
energy and doesn't really get you anywhere...