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From David Pollak <>
Subject Re: Nobody from the ASF is helping (ESME) sustain or build momentum or community
Date Sun, 03 May 2009 16:54:12 GMT
On Sat, May 2, 2009 at 7:51 AM, Bertrand Delacretaz

> Hi,
> That's what David Pollak says here:
> I'm happy to discuss this on this list.
> As an incubation mentor I've tried to give advice when it makes sense,
> while also staying out of the way. If people want something else,
> let's talk about it.

My expectation is that the ASF has experience building open source
projects... not just the code, but all the pieces that go into making the
project a living and thriving thing.

So, let me enumerate what I would have expected you or other people in the
ASF to do/not do in order to incubate ESME:

   - Do an analysis of the overall needs to the project to succeed in terms
   of user adoption and increased contribution.  No, I'm not expecting a
   full-on market research project, but identifying (or at least asking the
   questions to help identify) what it would take to move the project to the
   next one or two levels of user and developer adoption.
   - Do an analysis of the existing team and the existing project leaders
   and figure out where the strengths are and where the weaknesses are and work
   to help the team leverage the strengths and find folks to augment the
   - Understand the projects existing interaction patterns and work to meld
   the interaction patterns with the ASF's best practices.
   - Set milestones for retrospectives with the project's leadership to see
   where things are and how they can be improved, as well as criteria for
   cutting the project loose.

What the ASF has provided to ESME so far that I think is positive:

   - Coding infrastructure (subversion, a mailing list)
   - Process infrastructure (the CLA, iCLA, etc.)
   - The ASF brand (aka a safe place for big companies to allow their
   employee contributions to)

On that list, the brand value of the ASF is what we can't obtain elsewhere.
 There are negatives from my perspective that offset these positives, but if
we can get to the other positives (see below), the negatives associated with
process over substance become less valuable.

So, an aside.  I think that together, Anne and Dick have a tremendous amount
of potential.  Anne is amazingly charismatic, has a ton of people she knows
and has a bunch of really good vision about the power of social networking.
 Dick is one of the best process people I've worked with.  He has a good
understanding of technology, but an amazingly deep understanding of process
and the benefits of applying process to technical projects.  He's got
a phenomenal touch with respect to herding cats along the process path
(although my experience is that his touch manifests itself better verbally
than in writing.)  Anne and Dick have a great working relationship and
communicate well with each other.  Together, Anne and Dick are a great
combination and have the potential to deliver a ton of value to ESME and to
the ASF more broadly.  But, it's going to take work on someone's part to
help guide Anne and Dick through the differences between their world and the
open source world.  It's going to take some investment to unlock the great
value that Anne and Dick have to deliver.

So, with that set-up, let me outline what I expect from you and/or the ASF:

   - Understand that Anne and Dick are the leaders and drivers for ESME.
   - Learn more about the strengths that Anne and Dick have as well as their
   weaknesses (e.g., not a lot of open source experience)
   - Understand (as Erik pointed out on my blog) that Anne and Dick are not
   coders and working on what help they need based on that fact.
   - Understand that ESME is an end-user application and that differentiates
   it from most of the ASF's offerings and work with the ESME team as well as
   the ASF's leadership to figure out what, if anything, needs to be changed in
   ASF process to accommodate this difference.
   - Identify that the momentum slow-down ESME has been suffering since
   joining the ASF as a serious problem and help the project leaders deal with
   - Once there's reasonable momentum back in the project, figure out how to
   retain the momentum and enhance it.

I expect real analysis and work on the part of the ASF.  This is the kind of
value that the ESME project needs.  Are my expectations way out of line?



> -Bertrand ("kinda" disappointed to read such a blanket statement with
> no prior discussion here)

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