[Foundation-l] How not to manage opensource project

Anthere Anthere9 at yahoo.com
Sat Sep 2 22:07:01 UTC 2006

There is a discussion on the french wikipedia, precisely on this topic. 
I invite you to have a look here : 

It is in english, translated in french (or the reverse).

One of our contributor raised the issue over what the bylaws say
"The goal of the Wikimedia foundation is to develop and maintain open 
content, wiki-based projects and to provide the full contents of those 
projects to the public free of charge."

And what Jimbo says
"Of course the foundation governs and manages the projects."
--Jimbo Wales 07:54, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

As far as I (as a board member) is concerned, I consider the Foundation 
to be there to "support" the projects. Absolutely not to govern them.
By support, I mean "provide infrastructure", "provide legal frame", help 
set up collaborations to collect/create content, help distribution of 
the content created. Not govern. Not manage.

Some editors try to push us in "governing the project", and I can not 
blame them. When decisions are tough to take collectively, it is quite 
easy to ask a small group of people to take the responsability of making 
a decision.
But imho, pretty often, this should not be the job of the Foundation.

The problem with this is that one of the board members (Jimbo) not only 
is on the board, but also the foundator and for the english wikipedia 
the visionary/leader guy. Quite naturally, Jimbo has a lot of influence 
on how things are organised and on policies. This influence is much more 
limited in non english languages. The enwikipedia is governed by Jimbo 
because it accepts to be governed. But it is not governed by the board.

Seems like just "chatting" to you ? Seems not important ?

Then, give a thought to editors trying to publish a wikijunior on 
internet (activity plainly allowed by our licence), to see it removed 
within 24 hours after announcement on this very list.

Then, just quietly think of the future you want (before pushing the 
validation button on the board vote).


Delirium wrote:
> Jan Kulveit wrote:
>>just a link-post, but IMO highly interesting
>>often various examples how various free / opensource groups
>>organize their matters are posted here: This is a post from 
>>one of NetBSD founders describing what problems led the once
>>prospective project into irrelevance. (management, culture, 
>>Foundation going wrong,..)
> I find this part especially interesting, on the need for a strong 
> separation between a Foundation that provides infrastructure and a 
> community that manages the project:
> 6) The existing NetBSD Foundation must be disbanded, and replaced with
>    an organization that fulfills its original purpose: to merely handle
>    administrative issues, and not to manage day-to-day affairs.  The
>    extra committees, which mostly do nothing, must be disbanded -- they
>    serve only to obfuscate things.  Everything else must revert to the
>    historically separate entity, the NetBSD Project, to be managed based
>    on technical merits.  There must be no perceived glamour in
>    participating in the Foundation; it must be composed of people doing
>    it because they are dedicated and want to help the project.
> -Mark

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