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From Rob Weir <robw...@apache.org>
Subject What is needed for Support Forums to be fully integrated into the Apache OpenOffice.org project
Date Sun, 04 Sep 2011 20:36:27 GMT
I'm putting aside for sake of this note the alternate approach,
suggested by some, of allowing the support Forums to operate
independently outside of Apache.  I'm merely talking about what would
make the forums into a well-integrated part of the project, in terms
of decision making, accountability, branding, etc.  I'm not talking
about technical integration, since that appears to be the easier
topic., and one that Apache Infra and Terry are already working on.

If the Forums are to be well-integrated into the project, I think we need:

== PPMC Oversite and Approval of Forum Policies ==

Remember, the Forum volunteers -- 75 of them -- are not all committers
or PPMC members.  Very few of them are.  Very few of of them are
following this ooo-dev list.  Obviously we should give great deference
to the real-world experience of current Forum volunteers, but we also
need to ensure that the Forum works well with project and Apache
policies as well.

1) The Terms of Use and other policy documents used by the Forum
should be reviewed and approved by the PPMC, and for the former, also
by Apache legal.

2) We need to develop a privacy policy for the Forums, also to be
reviewed by the PPMC and Apache legal

3) Changes to Forum policies, TOU and privacy policy would require a
proposal on ooo-dev, and discussion and consensus reached there.  It
is possible that preliminary public discussions could occur in other
places first, such as on the Forums themselves.  But the project's
official discussions and decisions are made on ooo-dev.    In other
words, if it didn't happen on the project's main list (ooo-dev), it
didn't happen.

4) We need the Forum website to conform to Apache branding
requirements, including the podling-specific requirements


==Approval of Forum roles==

My understanding is that forums have essentially three roles:

a) Users
b) Moderators, who delete, edit and move all posts, ban users, etc.
c) Admins who can also create new forums and assign moderator rights

5) Users require no special treatment.  They are like subscribers to a
users list.

6) Being listed as an "admin" or "moderator" on a public-facing Apache
website suggests endorsement by the project, and aside from any
enhanced Forum capabilities enhances your ability to keep order on the
Forums.  In other words, it is the star that makes the sheriff, not
the gun.  But this endorsement, to be meaningful, should be made
authentic.   So Admins and Moderators should be approved by the PPMC.
This kind of routine approval is given all the time for those who want
to be list moderators.  I see no reason why we cannot, initially at
least, simply receive a list of current volunteers to ooo-private and
approve them all.

7) Future grants of admin/moderator rights would require a proposal to
ooo-dev seeking lazy consensus.  Such a proposal could originate from
a forum volunteer or could originate from anyone on ooo-dev. This is
no different than someone asking to be a moderator for a mailing list.

8) Any project committer, on request, will be made a forum admin or
moderator.  This is how it works with every other project resource --
mailing lists, source code, website, etc.   Committers have rights to
pretty much everything on the project.  We trust our committers. We
don't segregate the project into exclusive zones of ownership.

==Transparency==

9) We need all private forum discussions to be echoed to a log or
mailing list where PPMC and Apache Members can view them.  One way of
doing this is to echo posts to ooo-private.  Another way is to
periodically commit logs to the PPMC's private directory.  There may
be other ways as well.

10) The use of private forums must be used for only discussions of
specific moderation cases.  It must not be used for discussion of
routine board operations.

==Integration into the larger AOOo community==

Although the forum volunteers appear to have been previously isolated,
not involved in larger project discussions and decision making, this
is not optimal for providing support, and it is not optimal for the
project overall.  We need to encourage cross-pollination and sharing
of information.  Forums operating in isolation from the rest of the
project will limit our future success.

11) One admin or moderator from each of the 10 language-specific
boards should be signed up on the ooo-dev list and ooo-users list.
This could also be done by requiring that Forum Admins also be
Committers, but that is not something we are starting with, though it
could be an eventual goal.

12) We should also encourage existing committers to participate
directly in answering questions on the support forum.  It is valuable
to see how ordinary users use the product and the difficulties they
encounter.  It puts our coding decisions in perspective.  This is a
two-way street.  It is not just to encourage support volunteers to be
more aware of other parts of the project, but also to make other parts
of the project more involved with support, or at least more aware.
We're all on the same project.  Our actions and decisions impact each
other.

13) The PPMC should give serious consideration to forum
admins/moderators who help with the above tasks, for approval as
Committers and PPMC members.   It is important that the PPMC always be
looking out for merit that should be recognized.  It does not matter
that the forum volunteers did not previously participate in overall
discussions of the project's direction.  That was then, this is now.
We will all benefit from having support volunteers as part of the
decision making process, including the important decision of approving
a release.

Regards,

-Rob

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