[openbeos] Re: Openness

  • From: "Jorge G. Mare (a.k.a. Koki)" <koki@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: openbeos@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 12 May 2007 16:21:30 -0700

Hi Michael,

Michael Phipps wrote:
Jorge G. Mare (a.k.a. Koki) wrote:
Hi Michael,

Michael Phipps wrote:
The admin team is the group of people who have *earned* the right to direct Haiku. They have put in blood, sweat and tears to get us to where we are today. You don't join the admin team, you get invited. :-)

I don't doubt that many of the admins have put in blood, sweat and tears into Haiku, and everyone is grateful for that. The issue being raised here is different. If you read the last paragraph of the original post at...

http://www.freelists.org/archives/openbeos/05-2007/msg00100.html

...you will see that the point being is one of lack of transparency, and the notion that the project leadership *also* needs to earn the trust (and respect, I may add) of the community, and that more transparency as to what goes on within the admin group is needed for that to happen.

OK, so 7 million or so lines of code doesn't earn trust and respect? All of them given away for free? A nearly complete, working version of something that all of the experts told us we couldn't possibly do? If that doesn't do it, I doubt meeting minutes will.

If people are raising the issue on the mailing list (and remember that I did not start this thread), it obviously means that it is not just about the code, but rather the image that the project as a whole reflects. I realize that I am talking about things as abstract as perception, but this is real whether you want to realize it or not.

And while I don't doubt that many of the developers have earned their place, the "get invited" part is reminiscent of an untouchable elite mentality that, IMHO, does not convey a sense of openness at all.

This is total nonsense. The only thing that it takes to get an invitation is the willingness to *DO* hard work. If that isn't open enough, nothing is.

Please, point me to anywhere, say, on the website that clearly states that anyone can be invited to become an admin by showing just willingness to do hard work. What about admin status: is it for life, even if the person makes no more contributions or has distanced from the project? In summary, what are the rules of engagement, and why are they not in a place where everybody can see?

One thing is to have discussions in seclusion in order to achieve focus (which is good), but another is to keep the community totally out of the loop (which is bad). This is what happens with Haiku: a lot of discussions take place on the admin list or on IRC meetings, but very little trickles down to the rest of us.

That which is DECIDED and IMPLEMENTED is published.

You mention other OSS projects, and I have to say that, in comparison, Haiku pales in terms of openness. Remember when I once mentioned to you how KDE discussed their release roadmap on a public mailing list as a good example of openness?

http://mail.kde.org/pipermail/release-team/2007-March/000071.html

So, because we don't HAVE a roadmap, we aren't open? Hmmmm. I don't think that you really mean open. I think that you mean organized. If we had such a roadmap and didn't publish it, that would be an example of a lack of openness. There is no roadmap except finish R1.

No, it's not the lack of roadmap that I am referring to, although having one would help too. I was trying to give an example of an OSS project where those deeply involved in the project do have the willingness to discuss this kind of topics in public, as opposed to doing so in a closed list as it happens in Haiku. This makes the whole organization look much more transparent.

That's what being really open is about.

Don't know what to say about the Red Cross example. How is it relevant to an open source software project?

Both public charities. Both examples of cases where they publish things that are ready.

Fair enough, but the commonality ends there. Besides, Haiku does have precedents of disclosing information stuff that is being worked on (as in, not finished). For example, development work that is in progress like the FreeBSD compatibility layer or the JMicron-related SATA support have been reported; this usually has a positive effect on the existing community and it creates an opportunity for more exposure on news channels.

An analogous open approach could be taken in other areas (like WalterCon, for example) that could open opportunities for people to help out beyond contributing code. I invite you to take a look at http://groups.drupal.org for a good example of how you could movilize and empower the community to become more engaged in many more ways for the benefit of Haiku.

Having said that, Haiku tends to be more open then anyone else, IMHO. Generally, when a decision is made, it gets published.

Michael, come on, this is an open source project. That you publish decisions is a given. The lack of transparency that the original poster pointed out is what makes the project look closed. It is a perception from the outside, and you have to look it from that perspective (not from the inside) in order to recognize it.

Maybe it *is* an outside perception thing. But knowing what I know, I can't see how we can be more open. IF we published the contents of the admin meetings, I promise y'all that you wouldn't know much more than you know today.

It *would* make a difference in the psychic of the community. Even if the amount of substantive information were to be limited, it would still make the community feel more part of the goals of the project. These people are your constituents, and the more you make them part of the project, the more likely they are to become motivated to contribute.

Any single act (like publishing the admin meeting logs) does not constitute the panacea for becoming open. A combination of things need to happen, and giving some visibility of what the admins discuss is one of them, but not the only one. Creating an environment where people can contribute is important, both in terms of rules of engagement as well as tools that could empower the potential contributors.

As far as the t-shirts go... There is a very good reason for us to do this ourselves. Several, actually. 1) Printing t-shirts is generally cheaper by the case. 72 of them, in particular. When I did the shirts for WalterCon, I needed 15 or 20 of them. By printing 72, I saved a TON of money per shirt. So WalterCon was cheaper, and we got shirts to sell. 2) The revenue difference is a factor of 2. CafePress charges somewhere around $12 for the quality and printing of shirt that we do. The shirts that I have here are less than $6.

Yes, but in a CafePress-like shop you can offer a lot of stuff more than just T-shirts, so your overall potential for revenue is much greater, which is what matters.

***NO IT IS NOT ALL THAT MATTERS!!!!*** Read below.

Well, the multiple times that we discussed the possibility of going with CafePress or the like, your only argument against it was high cost. Back then, I even did a little IRS research, and all there is to "quid pro quo contributions" (payments a donor makes to a charity partly as a contribution and partly for goods or services) are rules about disclosure and deductions, which are pretty easy to follow.

All of which sounds like I am a greedy slimeball. :-D Except:

3) There are rules about charities selling items. The goal of the rules is that you can't be a charity so that you can run a store - you have to be a real charity that, oh, by the way, happens to run a store. This is why Public TV stations (for those in the US) ask for a $60 donation to get a CD. Because the value of the CD is so low that almost the entire $60 can be counted as a donation. This all factors into some of the end of the year paperwork that I have to do to prove that we are still a public charity.

So, to sum it up, if we chose to go with something like Cafe Press, each sale would EITHER have to be a) a lot more expensive or b) we would need a lot of donations to keep the cost of goods:total revenue in the neighborhood that the IRS wants to see.

Speaking of donations... We have talked, on and off, about posting a list of donors. Every time I have asked actual donors what they wanted, it has been a split on the order of: 1/2 - I want to remain anonymous, 1/3 - I don't care, 17% - I want to be recognized. That's why we don't maintain a public list. It doesn't make sense for the low percentage of people who want it.

Why does it not make sense? Even if it were 1% who want to be recognized, the right thing to do as the donors want. It's not about being practical or democratic (51% want it, so we do it), but rather meeting the expectations of the donors.

As far as bounties... This horse just won't die. :-/ All I will say is "look at the fruit". Not a single bounty came even close to completion except USB which was already underway. Some of them couldn't have even been done, legally (Java). I am not opposed to the CONCEPT, but it takes work to ensure that the bounty is possible, legal, and that the money matches the effort. I have asked many people, privately, to put together a list of the drivers that we need, the sources of specs/source code, etc. I haven't had a response yet that gets me what I would think would be wise/necessary to proceed. So we haven't. It is WORSE to do something halfway than to not do it at all, especially when you are asking for money.

This horse does not die because it is the best example of what is wrong with Haiku.

I will tell you what the fruit actually was: an individual was very eager help, but that was forced to do it all alone due to a lack of response from Haiku, and that ended up being demoralized and eventually driven away by the lack of recognition and even some unwarranted chastising on a public mailing list from the very same people he had helped with his effort.

Wow. That is as one sided and incorrect as it can be.
How about this:
One individual had an idea to support Haiku. He suggested it. I told him that I didn't think that it was a good idea. He decided to create a site and do it on his own. He convinced people to donate for things that COULDN'T POSSIBLY BE DONE. If that had been intentional on his part, it would have been FRAUD. I DON'T BELIEVE THAT IT WAS INTENTIONAL, but that's the sort of issue we are looking at. He was demoralized because no one could/would take on tasks that were ENORMOUS or ILLEGAL. He demanded recognition for something that NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE. He was chastised (not by me, I will add) because people don't respond well to demands.
I find all this fraud and illegal activity babbling nonsensical. If you thought that it could have been fraudulent or illegal, then Haiku should not have taken that money in the first place, or even issued a public acknowledgment (http://haiku-os.org/node/201). To insinuate now that Haiku did not go along with Karl because it may have been illegal or fraudulent is hard to swallow, to say the least.

I was an admin once, so I know what went on. And while I pledged confidentiality, I cannot in good conscience let a genuine effort by an eager individual be mischaracterized this way. The true is that Haiku dropped the ball with Karl by not responding to him in a timely manner, and you know it. That's why Karl went on his own, because he did not get a response even if he waited several weeks.

The community supported Karl's HaikuBounties effort, as shown by the donations themselves, so your characterization that Karl deserved being chastised is in reality misplaced. What many in the community did find disappointing was that Haiku did not grab the opportunity and deliver on the widespread expectation to see Karl's initiative become a sustainable effort officially under the Haiku umbrella.

The irony is that Karl was actually chastised by representatives of the very same project is now crying for help. So much for inspiring people to help out... sigh...

The fruit was also the $2,000 raised by a dedicated individual alone, donated by people eager to make contributions to Haiku, and that went into the Haiku Inc. bank account.

Yes, there was a donation to Haiku, Inc that resulted in this. That's about the only good fruit.

You can argue that about the details of how bounties should be done, but that's not really the point. The point to be made here is that somebody offered himself to work with Haiku, and that Haiku failed to capitalize on a very unique opportunity to turn somebody's effort into a sustainable bounty program.

I think that HOW is exactly the point. I respect the individual involved. He tried really hard. He made a nice website. He wanted to do a good thing. He went about it the wrong way and it did not do well. I hope that it was a learning experience for all involved.

How did you expect Karl to know what the project wanted or needed if Haiku did not give him any response for six weeks (http://ads.osnews.com/permalink.php?news_id=14461&comment_id=119172)? You can't just expect somebody to come along and do this kind of stuff that requires real involvement all alone.

Do you really think there is no lesson to learn from here?

Hmmmm. Listen when people who know tell you that something is a bad idea? A pretty website will raise money?

No comment...

Cheers,

Koki


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