Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-project (245 mails)

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Re: [opensuse-project] openSUSE Membership: a general comment
  • From: Pascal Bleser <pascal.bleser@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 09 Feb 2008 00:47:29 +0100
  • Message-id: <47ACEA11.7040907@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Hash: SHA1

Thomas Hertweck wrote:
Hi there!

Hi Thomas

Pascal Bleser wrote:
[...] Granting is needed because not
everyone should have that "membership" (again, the word doesn't exactly
capture what it is, but it's the lesser bad one): it is supposed to be
for active contributors and makes them representative of the project
(which is what using the email for writing.. emails is all
about really, implicitly). If we gave it to everyone, it just wouldn't
make any sense.

I agree with Roger. I think the whole membership approach and what you
said in your email is a contradiction. One the one hand, you said that
membership should be exclusive to active contributors and only people
who represent the project should get a membership. This means, in

No. What I said is that people with an address do
represent the project, in one way or another, which is quite obvious.
When you send an email to someone, using an address, you
obviously are a member of the project (same as currently with debian,
fedora, ubuntu, mozilla, or any other project).

principle only maybe a dozen people should get such a membership (unless
you want to apply weak criteria, but then: where's the borderline?).

A lot more than a dozen already received aliases. Why "maybe a dozen
people" ? What openSUSE community are you talking about ? Definitely not
the one I know ;)

However, on the other hand, you said...

I find it a bit odd that people think it's a disclosing factor

...that such a membership approach isn't a disclosing factor. I think
that's a contradiction. Who decides about active contribution? Isn't
somebody who helps his friends at home installing openSUSE on PCs and
laptops an active contributor? From my point of view, yes absolutely.

No, that's obviously not what we mean by active contributor.
I totally agree that drawing the line is very difficult and it's
somewhat subjective, as pretty much every process that isn't academic
(and useless). I have the feeling you're taking a pretty rhetoric
approach there. What I and other board members wrote isn't a
mathematical function, it's plain text, which means that:
- - a lot of things are implied in the eyes of the reader (you seem to
imply bad intentions)
- - communication isn't an exact science, we all communicate badly (I'm
100% sure that I misinterpreted a few of your statements ;))
- - a lot of things haven't been explained or given background yet

So let's discuss this openly and if explanations are needed on why we do
it this way or that way, we'll do our best to do so. And if someone has
constructive ideas on how to improve the process, we're very open to it.
It's not like we're always right and nor is it a dictatorship where the
board pushes decisions down on everyone. We've started this initiative
for several reasons (some being hopefully clarified a bit below),
definitely with good intentions, and especially because we thought that
active contributors are not visible nor rewarded (sort of) sufficiently.

However, how do you want to "measure" his contribution? No board member
will probably know this guy, how do they want to approve his membership?

For people we don't know, we do peek at some statistics (e.g. email
posts, skim through a few of those posts, IRC stats, web forum stats,
...). It isn't mathematical nor empirical nor perfect, but that doesn't
mean the whole idea of giving away addresses to active
contributors is a bad thing.

Rather think of it that way: if you (or whomever) think it's important
to have such an alias (some think it isn't) and you'd like to have one,
then it could be an incentive to contribute more. Although it isn't the
primary goal (of the "membership") by any means.

"Passive" users and active contributors are equally important to a
product such as the openSUSE distribution, but for a community, I
personally really do think that contributors are more important, because
1) without contributors, there's nothing: no distribution, no support,
no information, no documentation, no translation, ...
2) from my experience, I'd say the ratio from user to contributor is
somewhere between 50 to 1 and 500 to 1 -- what I mean is that
contributors are a lot less frequent than users who profit [1] from
those contributions but don't produce something that helps others

[1] not meant in a negative sense, it's perfectly fine if people are
"just" using our work, for two reasons (geez, itemized list again ;)):
1) we hope they will start contributing themselves and perpetuate the
constant cycle that is so typical of opensource communities
2) the contributions we're making aren't just for ourselves, it's for
the users, for everyone (at least that's how I see it and why I do it
since several years)

Note that the above is my very own opinion. Of course anyone may
disagree, but it's rather complicated to explain so just don't draw bad
intentions from it when you'll criticize it (which I know you're going
to do). No, it isn't elitist. Yes, users are important too. Yes, every
contribution is important but let's be realistic, some are more
important than others. Yes, I really meant that, I do it for the <3 :P

And is somebody who develops some code for openSUSE but otherwise shows
rude behaviour worth becoming a member? From my point of view, no, not
at all. Such a person should never be allowed to represent openSUSE,
even if he develops a core part of the distribution.

A precondition for being a "member" (again, the term doesn't match 100%
but we haven't found a better one at this point) is to sign and
acknowledge the Guiding Principles. And those state quite clearly what
sort of behaviour is desired (well, as clear as Guiding Principles can be).

For me, it sounds like somebody wants to create an exclusive inner
openSUSE circle, people have to apply for membership, people have to
sign guiding principles, a board has to approve membership. No, that's

You're getting it completely wrong. It's the exact opposite.

What started the whole thing is that the only people having addresses were Novell employees (it was an automatic
mapping ->

A few people (especially me IIRC) have then questioned why it is like
that, especially given that Novell wants to blur that line as much as
If I take myself as an example, I do contribute a lot to openSUSE since
many years, and I had the feeling that I had an equal right to have an address just like Novell employees working during their
daytime on the project and the distribution.

The idea behind it is really to vanish the border between Novell
employees and non-Novell employees who are contributing to the openSUSE
project at large. But clearly, to take your example above, "only"
installing openSUSE on a friend's PC can't really be seen as an active
contribution in the light of what a lot of other people are doing -- I
mean, sure, cool thing, but it doesn't equally weigh into the balance as
someone who contributes code or artwork to openSUSE tools, builds and
maintains packages, writes and/or translates pages on the openSUSE wiki,
helps and/or moderates users on mailing-lists/web forums/IRC channels,
organizes openSUSE events or local openSUSE groups, etc...
I hope you see the pattern.

Again, yes, it's sometimes difficult to draw the line somewhere and,
yes, it's subjective in certain cases, but I guess that's all we have.
Metrics wouldn't necessarily be better either (even though we use some
to get an idea of what people we don't know from our own work in the
community actually contribute).

from my point of view definitely the wrong approach. I will probably
never become a member of openSUSE as proposed in this thread, but
nevertheless I feel as a member of the openSUSE community and provide
help wherever possible. I don't need need a membership for that, and
I don't need to sign code of conducts and other documents. Things like
that just alienate (some) people.

Seems to alienate you in this case. But there are always naysayers,
that's OK ;)

Really, I think you're seeing it from the wrong side of things. As I
wrote already, the goal is not to discredit or push away those who don't
contribute at all (let's call them "plain users"), nor create a "closed
club" (that's really ridiculous if you look at the reason we started it
in the first place).

Maybe you shouldn't imply bad/evil intentions in the first place.

If you don't think having an email address is a good thing
then that's perfectly fine, simply don't request one. It does NOT mean
you're NOT a contributor :)
Please read that again: NOT having does NOT mean you're
NOT a contributor.

Sorry for this email being way too long but I'm afraid you're being very
picky on words and hence, I try to clarify a few things as much as
possible (I said "try", it's communication and we're human after all,
hence we all suck at it ;)).

- --
-o) Pascal Bleser <pascal.bleser@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
/\\ -- I took the green pill
_\_v FOSDEM::23+24 Feb 2008, Brussels,
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Comment: Using GnuPG with SUSE -

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