[openbeos] Re: Openness

  • From: "Hugo Santos" <hugosantos@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: openbeos@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 07:50:26 +0100

Hi Michael,

 Saying that all big OSS projects work like Haiku do is not
completely true. Also, closing up the circle, either in development
and/or decision making usually doesn't help, and in the past have led
to major forks (GCC and egcs, XFree86 and xorg, etc).

 I understand the 'trust' metric used within the admin team, having
had to deal with similiar issues in other groups in the past. However,
the mechanisms must be clear or else it leads to distrust. For
instance, in big OSS projects, while the Board/Foundation is closed,
it is usually an elected body, with known election dates, and it is
also clear who can vote, and who can apply. This makes it less
troublesome for people to get involved as they understand the
processes, and in the end they trust the system. To me, Haiku's
processes in terms of administration are not clear, and some can even
be contradictory. For instance, I've seen mentioned that only trusted
people enter the admin team, and then the same people mention that
whoever is interested in helping should join the admin team.

 In another point, it has been said more than once that the admin
team is made up of developers, but if one looks at the commits lists
for at least the past two years, some of the admin team members have
marginal contributions. [1] An OSS project is very dynamic, and some
people leave, and new people arrive. With all due respect for the
people which have contributed in the past, i don't think that if they
did contribute significantly, for instance 5 years ago, should
continue in the decision-making process now. Then, there are issues
related to copyright which are not clear to me at all. Some of the
code's copyright has been assigned to Haiku Inc, which means that
Haiku Inc has the ability for instance to change the license which it
enforces with that code. Considering the distribution guidelines which
have been referred to in this list, it actually seems that will happen
-- some of the Haiku bits will have restricted use.

 I think there has to be a great deal of trust to relinquish personal
copyright to a foundation such as Haiku Inc, and like i mentioned
before, some processes are not clear enough for, at least to me, that
deal of trust be built right now. Not only does the admin team and
Haiku Inc need to trust people involved, the reverse must happen as

 As a practical example related to licensing issues, in XFree86, a
board member/founder decided to change XFree86's license to a more
restrictive one, which led to the known forks and consequently Xorg.
In order for this not to happen (decisions that go against the will of
the developers and/or community), the people producing code and other
Haiku related stuff, whoever they are, must be involved somehow (be it
through democracy) in the decision-making process.

 A quick point regarding mailing lists, I agree very much with the
point you make considering SNR, however that shouldn't be a reason to
keep mailing lists archives closed, unless trade secrets are discussed
in it (which shouldn't have been discussed in an external entity
depending mailing list in the first place such as the ones Haiku

 From a developer point of view, i would also like to see better
repository access, besides being a bit flaky, BerliOS is a bit slow
for me (and i've heard similiar reports from people in the US). I also
like to be sure that if BerliOS ever goes down, someone has an
"official" recent backup of the repository. I have local copies of the
whole tree, but i don't quite trust my hard disks either. I think that
as its primary resource, Haiku Inc should go for greater expenditures
to guarantee that the source code is safeguarded.

 Finally, organizing the finances can be troublesome as it is, but if
the way the money is spent is not clear to people involved and to the
donors, again, it leads to distrust and people might/will stop
donating. I'm sure Michael is very busy, but at least a financial
report for 2006 should be public by now.


 [1] http://www.ohloh.net/projects/3399/contributors?page=1

On 5/13/07, Michael Phipps <mphipps1@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Jorge G. Mare (a.k.a. Koki) wrote:
>> 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.

Sure, I realize that.
Look - we have gone around in circles and dug up a lot of stuff that
doesn't really help.

Let's talk about real things that can be done instead of vague points that
we may or may not be agreeable.

The idea of continuing the meeting minutes was brought up. Personally, I
think that it is pointless, but we are voting on it now. I think that I
already dealt with the reason that the changes to the donation page weren't
posted in big letters. Is there anything else, specific, that you want to

>> 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? 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, 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.

> 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.

> 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.

> 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. :-)

> 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?

> 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

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


There is a lot more to this. Look up Unrelated Business Income at
stayexempt.org if you are really interested.

All the stuff about HaikuBounties chopped...

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