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From "David Reid" <dr...@jetnet.co.uk>
Subject Community?
Date Sat, 08 Feb 2003 23:31:43 GMT
There has been much said on this mailing list and it's predecessor about
community and our need of developing more of a sense of community for people
involved with the ASF. Recently there has been a lot of sidelining of the
goals that this list was setup to foster - all "apparently" in the name of
more openness. I'm concerned that the recent debates and the repetitive
nature of the subjects and stated desires are actually starting to be not
only counter-productive but damaging to the community.

It will surprise some of you I'm sure when I say that I'm actually in favour
of promoting a stronger sense of community within the ASF - how could I not
be? The ASF committers represent a pool to talented people who have at least
some of the goals and desires that I have. Why wouldn't I want to get to
know these people? The problem I've been trying hard to put into words is
the approach that has sometimes been taken towards building this sense of
community.

As a starting point I guess you need to know my views on community :) Well,
the parallel that I think is useful to draw is that of the neighbourhood in
which I live. It's a community. It's a group of people who have shared goals
and objectives. A community. We meet and we talk about the problems/issues
we're facing as a community and as individuals. The topics of conversation
really aren't earth shattering and aren't going change people's lives. Folks
who live on the other side on town aren't involved as they have their own
issues and the community benefits from working out it's own issues. Working
through problems and pulling together engenders  sense of accomplishment and
a shared sense of accomplishment really will draw people together. If people
are really interested we tell them what they want to know - it's not a state
secret! We don't all get on all the time. We don't have identical views on
things. There is an entry requirement for "membership" of the community -
you have to live on the street! knowing that you belong and that if you have
problems you have someone who can help is a great feeling and one that is
worth a lot of effort.

This to me mirrors what we have at the present time with this list. The aim
is to try and bring people from all over the various projects together.
Having a place where we can talk and share things is a valid start, but
that's all it is. Nothing comes for free. For the community to grow
understanding needs to be improved and things need to be figured out and
resolved - just like in communities based in the real world that we're all
part of. The fact that we communicate via emails and occasional meetings
doesn't change the basic fact that we are a community - it just makes
communication harder. The entry requirement also exists in that you have to
be a committer before you have the right of access. This I feel is a very
valid step and one that is really needed.

Mr Oliver proposed (again) that we open the list to anyone. I don't actually
feel this would accomplish anything and I see from the replies a lot of
others agree with me. We have public archives so if people are interested
then they can look. Again it mirrors the actual community I've described
above. So, this list I think is currently setup the right way and provides
an essential channel for the community.

The perception that I really object to is that simply having this list is
enough. It's not. we need to talk and discuss things here that affect us
all. I don't mean everyone posting introductions - I mean talk. I mean
contribute to discussions and bring things to the list that are important to
you and your corner of the ASF world. If this list simply carries on with
the sort of posturing and positioning that so far has been apparent it will
loose people and therefore loose some of it's potential. Already I know of
several people who don't subscribe due to the nature of the discussions that
have been held, people who I know can contribute and be of benefit to the
community as a whole and that isn't good.

This list is never going to alter our lives. It does however have the
potential to improve our lives through building friendships or a feeling of
belonging to something. It's not going to be an easy ride and accepting
others points of view as valid and as acceptable/correct as your own isn't
always a natural thing - something we have all been guilty of :) It's always
the things that we find hard or problematic that turn out to be the ones we
cherish the most, so maybe this is worth the effort and the hardship? I
think it could be...

I realise this has rambled a bit and if you're still reading - thank you :)

david


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