This is a great discussion.
On 28 Mar 2005 22:27:00 +0100, Erik Moeller <erik_moeller(a)gmx.de> wrote:
Since I'm the person Gerard spoke about who is
going to implement
structured data functionality over the next 3-4 months, my own resources
are limited. However, I have offered in the past to act as a development
task coordinator for the Wikimedia Foundation, and that offer still
I would love to see your ideal priority-list and calendar for software
development over the next year. (The same goes for the other active
Such a task coordinator would prioritize tasks,
maintain contacts to
potentially interested sponsors, and make recommendations on spending a
certain part of our internal budget on development tasks. He would write
the basic specifications, try to locate interested developers (both by
inviting them directly, and by having public calls for tenders), watch
over the implementation, and decide whether it meets the specs (together
with the Board and the MediaWiki Release Manager, Brion Vibber).
I have to repeat what I always say to suggestions like this :
rewarding a single person with a title and/or salary may entice that
person to do great work; it also creates a new bottleneck, and a
single person only scales so far. In my experience, creating such a
titled person does not magically create a community of volunteers
eager to help with the goal in question, though I am not discounting
the possibility that this might happen.
We should address building this community spirit and focus, whether or
not one or two elevated roles are created to facilitate the process.
(My personal feeling is that we would do best to let our communities
of volunteers choose those who will have special power or authority;
and hire / appoint people to be stewards fulfilling community desires,
with obligations to be reliable and available, but no special
I strongly believe that a combined model of full-time
people like Brion, and task-based contracts for project-specific needs, is
the only way forward.
We might focus on identifying and defining tasks, and setting up an
infrastructure for sharing and claiming them, before we worry about
As for the specific needs Wikinews has, Ilya has
already written a bit
about that. I have a fairly good idea in my head how news feeds could work
within MediaWiki in a scalable fashion. The question is, are we willing to
spend the money to get this done?
This in particular should not require money, considering how many
people are in love with the idea of wikinews feeds.
We've tried recruiting. Jimbo has given his speech
at FOSDEM. There's more we can do,
but in part due to the growing complexity of MediaWiki, this imbalance can ultimately
only be addressed with one resource: money.
Nonsense. Money is an excellent resource when properly applied, but
there is no fundamental reason why we should have fewer volunteer
developers than Linux has, for instance. After all, what are we
writing but the kernel for our collective intelligence?
PS - We could all recruit a *lot* more. The lack of paid coordinators
can be a great selling point. We had a meetup yesterday in Boston.
It was an last-minute "extra" meetup to discuss collaboration with
local libraries, Wikimania publicity, and Mediawiki hacking, and I
only promoted it a week in advance. Two of the attendees wanted to
help out. One of them, a long-time programmer, had only three
questions: "who are the people who decide what direction the project
takes?" [Answer: everyone, even you] "but who is paid to coordinate
everything?" [Answer: No-one. well, there is maybe one cool
exception...] "Amazing... how can I help?" [Answer: Let me send
you a few links... :) ]