[openbeos] Re: Openness

  • From: "Jorge G. Mare (a.k.a. Koki)" <koki@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: openbeos@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 13 May 2007 19:34:59 -0700

Hi Michael.

Michael Phipps wrote:
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?

Because it never came up?

And how do you expect people to know? :)

Because it is pretty similar to what every other big OSS project does? Do you really think that there is some sort of strange conspiracy going on? :-) This isn't the X-Files. ;D Nobody has ever asked how to get on the admin team. If they had, I would have answered it. :-)

No, I don't think there is any conspiracy. I just think there are obscure areas in the project that make it come across as not being open and transparent. There is a website to provide information about various aspects of the project, so you might as well use it. :)

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.

We haven't even had that conversation in private! :-)

Seriously... The reason that we have an admin list is that it keeps signal:noise up AND it emphasizes the voices of those doing the work. There are around 1000 people on this list. Everyone has an opinion. The voices of the 30 people who do all of the work deserve to be heard.

I am sorry; maybe I did not express myself accurately. That had nothing to do with having a popular vote. It was just an example that it is possible for an open source project to be open and not hinder the decision-making and/or the development processes, which is the argument used everytime the word "open" is brought up.

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.

Yes, disclosing some things like this that are completely positive is a good thing. Would it be equally positive to post "Haiku developers are thinking about maybe doing WalterCon in Antarctica on Feb 29?" No. It isn't helpful until it is announced. Nor is every detail of debates on some of these things useful or beneficial.

Yes, it could (and would most likely) be as helpful as it was the opening up of the GSoC 2007 application process. After the GSoC experience, I feel more confident to say that the earlier you open up the process by publicly articulating any given initiative, say, on the website, the better the results in terms people's involvement that you can expect. The more exposure you give something over a longer period of time, the higher the likelihood that people will become participants in one way or another. And just like it worked with GSoC 2007, it could happen with WC. I really think it is worth a try.

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.

Interesting. We have something analogous for code - Trac.

Something like this would be ideal to empower the community to organize themselves in groups of common interests to pursue self-sustained community driven initiatives. It could be used for events, seminars, meetings, development projects, and even local/regional HUGs.

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.

I think that the people reading them would be as bored and uninterested as can be. I invite you to go read the meeting minutes from any town board meeting. When you wake up, tell me how they were. :-)

People that sign up to our mailing list or register with our website obviously have an interest in Haiku. Of course not everybody may want to read a summary of the admin meetings, and maybe some even find them boring. But that should not preclude you from giving those who are interested the opportunity to have a peek at this sort of insight into the project. I am inclined to think that those closer to the project, and therefore more likely to become engaged, are the ones with a higher level of interest in this type of info, and those are the people that you want to cater more.

From time to time, there is also development related talk that could benefit others outside of the admin group were this info to be disclosed.

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.

So, is that the real issue here? Somehow we are considered closed and people therefore don't want to contribute?

No, Michael, the human psychic it's not that simple. People need to be motivated, and inspired, and you need to make it easy for them to contribute. If I am not mistaken, this thread was about openness and transparency as a means to inspire and motivate.

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.

When I read the rules, it was a little vague. This is from the IRS website:

Distribution of low-cost articles
When soliciting donations through the mail, 501(c)(3)s sometimes include incidental items like greeting cards to encourage the recipient to make a donation. Either way, the recipient is allowed to keep the item.

Contributions received in this manner will not be included in the UBI tax calculation.

To qualify as “low-cost,” the item must not cost the organization more than $8.60. However, this value is subject to annual change.


I don't see how the low-cost articles would apply to Haiku. I am not sure about UBI, and I don't blame you if you are not either. What I would suggest is that you consult an accountant with experience in non-profits. Better yet, look for a non-profit offering accounting services to non-profits. :)

www.links2charity.com may be worth checking out. I am sure there are others.



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