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From robert_w...@us.ibm.com
Subject OpenOffice.org Apache Incubator Proposal: Splitting the Community?
Date Thu, 02 Jun 2011 14:40:49 GMT
Florian Effenberger <floeff@documentfoundation.org> wrote on 06/02/2011 
06:39:12 AM:

 
> This would not only be about reinventing the wheel, but also about 
> splitting the community, leading to disadvantages for end-users, 
> contributors, and enterprises.
> 

I'd like to challenge your assertion here, about "splitting the 
community", a nonsensical meme I'm hearing repeated in several venues.

First, would you disagree if I asserted, as a fact, that IBM is not a 
member of LibreOffice?  And that neither is Oracle?  And that no initial 
contributors currently on the wiki are TDF/LinbreOffice coders?

I think it would hard for you, or anyone else, to dispute these facts. 

So we're not in fact splitting the community, since the proposers of this 
proposal, and the proposed initial committers of this project are not 
actually LibreOffice members. 

But at the same time, I think we would all freely acknowledge, that if 
this Apache project is approved, that some existing LibreOffice members 
might, of their own free will and according to their own personal 
preferences, make the **choice** to come and work at Apache.  I don't 
think Apache can prevent this and still be Apache.  If you want to refer 
to this as "splitting the community", then I'd say that an idiosyncratic 
use of the term. 

I'd like to think that LibreOffice has certain characteristics that make 
it a preferred option for some developers, e.g., for those who prefer a 
copyleft license, and prefer to be relatively independent of formal 
governance.  For those for whom these qualities are a priority, they will 
clearly **have the choice** to remain, of their own free will and in 
accordance with their personal preference. 

I'd like to think that no one is working on LibreOffice merely because 
they have no choice, or that giving everyone a choice is seen as being 
antagonistic.  If truly 100% of the LibreOffice members prefer TDF to 
Apache, then you have nothing to worry about, right?  If some prefer 
Apache, then you have worries, if you choose to worry about such things, 
but I don't take it as a moral fault in Apache or in the authors of this 
proposal that we are offering an open source development choice that some 
developers might prefer over TDF.

I think we can all point to many smaller such projects in this area that 
have thrived over the years based on community volunteers, with relatively 
little corporate backing, e.g., AbiWord, Gnumeric, etc.  There is nothing 
wrong with this.  They are fine projects and have many unique qualities. 
But at at the same time, it is perfectly reasonable for others to have 
more ambitious goals, the goal of bringing this code base to scale in the 
market,  a goal that can best (IMHO) be reached with strong corporate 
backing, working side-by-side with independent developers,  facilitated by 
a permissive license and an foundation of unimpeachable reputation and 
stability.  It is entirely reasonable for us to decline to gamble on a 
fledging organization with relatively little evidence of stability. 

No one is forcing LibreOffice members to do anything.  You are free to 
disagree with my goals, my priorities or even my methods and simply say, 
"No thanks" without suggesting that it is immoral for anyone else, 
including your own members, to say "Yes please". Let's not argue for 
freedom by denying it to others.

Regards,

-Rob



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