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From Rob Weir <>
Subject Re: What is needed for Support Forums to be fully integrated into the Apache project
Date Mon, 05 Sep 2011 14:04:37 GMT
On Sun, Sep 4, 2011 at 5:11 PM, Terry Ellison <> wrote:
> Rob,
> There is a small control domain where any Hosting or sponsoring organisation
> may decide to define a set of constraints on the subgroups for which it is
> responsible.  It may also wish to shape direction.   This issue is for the
> mentors to give guidance on.
> Look, I am not practising a Christian, but even I know Matthew 22:21:
> "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s ... "   Here you are just
> another PPMC member, and you have absolutely no track record on running
> forums, as far as I know.   In my view, you should leave the running of user
> community forums to people who know how to run these forums and have been
> doing it for years.  Ditto, developers are the best people to work out how
> to develop, etc., or are you going to start people how to debug code next?
> Surely we all stick to should our core competencies, and win the trust of
> other groups before we stick our noses it their business.  I phrase it this
> way because I know that the same criticism could also be applied to me.

Terry, your penchant for whipping out your resume at the slightest
provocation as been noted, and dismissed, elsewhere on the list.  It
is an approach that lacks substance .  It reminds me those small
aquatic creatures (does anyone know the name?), who lacking any other
defense mechanisms puff themselves up to look much larger that they
are, in hopes of intimidating potential foes.  I suppose it works for
fish.  It does not work for me.  I'm not impressed.  But luckily I'm
not a foe either.  I'm here to help.

I've listed some important, substantive concerns with the integration
of the forums to Apache.  My support is contingent on a reasonable
plan for addressing these issues.

These concerns rest on their own logic and should be self evident to
anyone who reads them and has even passing familiarity with how Apache
works.  These points do not rely on my CV.  But since you raise the
issue, you might be interested to know that yes, I have setup and
admin'ed a community forum,  based on phpBB.  I later migrated it to
vBulletin because I wanted some of the social features on that
platform, including Facebook integration.  I've also, in my career,
been in a support role, delivering commercial support, both for end
user applications as well as developers tools.  I've worked also in a
support technology team, collaborating with a local university's
information retrieval lab to integrate their cutting edge technology
into our support tools.  In that role I also worked closely with
technical editors to tighten the feedback cycle between customers,
support engineers and technical writers.  And I've also worked as a
programmer on an office suite,  C/C++, as well as related components
in Java and ActiveX, moving on to become a software architect, etc.,
as well as working on related standards and strategic topics.  So I've
had a nice career working general in this area.  I've seen this from
end-to-end.  I may not have worked in your small corner of the world,
but I do have perspective on what is necessary to bring this effort to
scale.  I get the "big picture", although I acknowledge that my vision
is by no means the only vision possible.

In any case,  my points stand on their own rather than on my CV.

Do you have any substantive response to my concerns?  I tried to be
comprehensive.  In most cases these are issues that have been raised
elsewhere on the list, by me or others.  You might think of this as an
outline for a proposal that the Forum Volunteers might want to make on
ooo-dev for how they want to integrate into the project.  These are
the kinds of points you would want to address in the proposal.


> Regards Terry
> On 04/09/11 21:36, Rob Weir wrote:
>> 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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