Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-project (245 mails)

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Re: [opensuse-project] openSUSE Membership: a general comment
  • From: Thomas Hertweck <Thomas.Hertweck@xxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 09 Feb 2008 12:09:01 +0000
  • Message-id: <47AD97DD.30008@xxxxxx>

Hi Pascal,

thanks for your swift reply. Since the discussion has already moved on,
I will only respond to some core parts of your email. Other things might
have already been discussed by other people.

Pascal Bleser wrote:
No, that's obviously not what we mean by active contributor.

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

I think here we come to the point. I am somewhat uneasy with your
criteria. By reading your emails, you seem to measure (or at least try
to measure) contributions in terms of absolute values (IRC stats, email
posts, etc.). This, from my point of view, is not such a good idea in a
large and open community project.

It's fairly obvious that, say, a Novell employee who's being paid to
work on openSUSE for 8h a day can contribute a lot more in terms of
absolute value (for instance, number of RPM packages maintained) to the
project. It's maybe also not really surprising that a student with lots
of spare time (No offence! I've also studied at a university and I know
it can be hard work) can maintain/change/create more Wiki pages than
others, i.e. his contribution in absolute terms is easily measurable.
However, if somebody has a 70h week at work (non Linux-related) but
nevertheless is willing and able to spend 4h over the weekend on
spreading the word, helping friends with openSUSE, maybe contributing a
few good emails on a openSUSE mailing list, I think this contribution to
the project is just as valuable and maybe even more impressive in
relative terms - you are of course right that the absolute contribution
in those 4h over the weekend might only be minor.

For me, the membership approach you took disregards these very valuable
contributions of many people at the base of the openSUSE community.
According to your criteria of absolute values of contribution, those
people in principle aren't considered as members. That's what I don't
like, and that's the reason why I feel that the current approach sets a
wrong sign.

I appreciate your work and that the board comes up with ideas.
Unfortunately, and that might have been caused by emails from board
members on this list, there seem to be a problem in communicating your
ideas. When a board member proposes a code of conduct which leads to a
diverse discussion with pros and cons, and one week later without having
a clear conclusion the code is published as adopted, then it doesn't
sound as if the board listened to the community. I can see the same
problem now here in the membership discussion. I am sorry if I
misunderstand your ideas. I don't think I am against a membership per
se, and I am certainly not considering it as evil, but as mentioned
above it seems as if my criteria for "member" differ significantly from
the board's criteria, and that's why I am not in favour of it at the moment.


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