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Is it really time to change the Joomla Project Organizational Structure?

08 Oct 2011
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If you haven't read this blog by Paul Orwig written on September 29, 2011, you should. But what you should do next is read the input at JPeople and perhaps you will realize that it appears that a very few - mostly Joomla leadership is proposing major changes in how the Joomla project will be organized in the future. You will also note thet very, very few of the Joomla Community are participating in the discussion possibly again because there continues to be veiled and not so veiled implications that certain people have said enough. Doesn't encourage participation.

Currently the role of OSM is to support the developers who code Joomla. If the few who think defining a business structure and bringing the developers under the authority of the OSM Board of Directors (no matter what they might rename OSM to) will encourage the developers to code, they really haven't been living in the Open Source world. Right now there are limits to what the board can do. The developers in the Community Oversight Team can remove board members or add them at will. Kind of makes sure that OSM remains responsive to developers don't you think? Under discussion is a much simpler structure with OSM at the top operating without any oversight.

Brian 'Sully' Sullivan probably described it best in JPeople:

Brian 'Sully' Sullivan, Currently, Joomla! has four leadership organs functioning in various degrees of autonomy. If the proposed changes are approved, there will be one, and the functions of the current four leadership organs will be organized and supervised by it. That's oversight. The new board, if put into place, will have the authority to: * organize, * appoint, * direct, * set goals for, * require, create and/or approve polices for, * require reports of, * measure the progress of, * and if necessary remove, volunteers in its subordinate committee structure. That's accountability. Obviously that's a lot of power to invest in a small group of people, which is why there are concerns about the composition and ethical foundations of such a new board.

 JM (Jean Marie Simonet) described the concern probably better then anyone of putting the "suits" in charge:

I have read with interest the comments above and I am feeling it's now time to point to a specific sentence in the original blog: "It was widely felt that making some changes to our project’s leadership structure can strengthen communication and collaboration between teams, as well as improve oversight and accountability for all contributors and teams." In fact, it may be of interest for all to know that the two members of leadership that were not convinced by this sudden proposal were the two active PLT members present working on the day-to-day code for the CMS, bugsquad and releases for 1.6/1.7/etc. (See *Note) These 2 members proposed, instead of these important structural changes, to simply extend the responsibility of the COC to oversee the recruitment in the PLT and CLT teams, not only therefore for the OSM board (OSM name changed to any other name being quite epiphenomenic). This to consider the feeling by some OSM members that there was no reason for the OSM board to be the only one under oversight. The question of better communication was not related, as they saw it, to the existing structure itself. I was one of them and here are some personal thoughts: The first axiom to never forget is that this Project is code-related. Its goal is to propose to the world the best CMS possible, and now the Framework. Any other aspect of the project is totally dependent on the accomplishment of this primary goal, although each other Team is extremely important and necessary. The proposed changes do not in my opinion reflect this priority. Worse, they imply that the composition of the board in a middle-term future may not include any active Production members and anyway, even if it did, these would be a minority. Also the simple fact that being on the board will imply a lot of work time (or at least should) shall therefore prevent these active members from concentrating on code. Here indeed is the danger: technocrats/bureaucrats or simply code-non-aware people (not speaking of COI-prone possible members) getting control —under the pretext of accountability— over the ones doing the priority job. The first board will include 3 PLT members and I do trust the present leadership members that will be on that board to not drastically interfere with production, but some past conflicts between some OSM members and some CLT leaders has already demonstrated IMHO that an overall change in the structure is not the main solution to the present communication issues or the to-be-forecasted ones. Then what about the next boards? Is it realistic to expect that active Production people will volunteer to be on the board and remain fully active in the production field? We must not forget that once the first board is in place, it is that board and only that board that will elect new members when current members' term expire. (See below why I do not consider the "community" as an alternative) The COC is composed of a founding father and trustable code-more-than-aware people who have proven their devotion to the Project. I am conscious they all have accepted, or even initiated for one of them, the proposed changes in structure. => The question therefore now is: how can we respond to the possible issues I describe above? Another aspect are some proposals made above which I think are not realistic either, redundant towards the present situation and simply dangerous. They deal with the rather unclear concept of 'community'. 1. Realism: Who are the "community" members? Any people posting on joomla.org? Others? Anyone installing Joomla through Fantastico? Why choose people with specific businesses titles? A site builder or commercial developer who never posted on bugtracker would represent more an asset for the Board than an alpha user of the CMS or non-commercial developer who has pointed to bugs on the forum and tested patches? For which aspects of the Board responsibilities? Then what about the international "communities"? How would the "community" propose these representatives? I see already some move here from the original project presented about the transition board. The fact that this is encouraged by an OSM board member is at minimum worrying. 2. Redundancy: the OSM board is presently composed of members of the "community" at large based on their participation to the Project at various levels and I do not see adding more of them changing the communication situation and improve any aspect for which this structural change is proposed. 3. Danger: Until now, in each Team, people were recruited on merit. This is a never ending debate in this Project about people demanding "democracy" and the reality of the Project which is Greek democracy. Letting the vague "community" decide on board members would just let the door open to any take-over and more possible COI. I consider this as pure populism ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populism & http://www.brookings.edu/events/2011/0311_us_europe_populism.aspx ) in its modern definition. *Note: As all know, Andrew and Ian had already resigned from PLT before the San Jose summit and Louis after that summit. I have resigned too as of September 1st for a few reasons, the most important one being that I could not concentrate on Leadership matters and on Production WG/Translation Teams WG/other responsibilites at the same time. All of us are still working on code whether for the Framework or the CMS.

For those of wanting to join in the discussion, please do on JPeople. I would be concerned of any changes at this time if I were you particularly when OSM no longer shows any signs of being transparent. in their dealings.

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David Huelsmann

Dave Huelsmann was Treasurer of Open Source Matters, Inc. from 2008 to July, 2010 and Joomla Forum Global Moderator from 2005 to November, 2010. Now retired, he was a senior healthcare executive who managed large and diverse clinical laboratory, radiology, electroencephalography, and centralized patient transport operations/departments in both not-for-profit and for-profit companies throughout the United States.

Dave was a Navy Corpsman who served in Vietnam while attached to Seabee battalionmcb71
MCB-71.

Read more about Dave Huelsmann

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