[Mapbender-dev] Telepathic or pathetic?

Frank Warmerdam warmerdam at pobox.com
Tue Oct 24 21:24:40 EDT 2006

Arnulf Christl wrote:
> Hello my Dearest,
> please have a look at this:
> http://communitymapbuilder.org/display/MAP/Strategic+Direction
> Anybody feel like making such a report?
> And can anybody tell me why this list is such a dead lump in the water -
> face down, notabene. This is the *developer's* list. If I look into
> commits then I can see that people are working on Mapbender?! I simply
> don't get it. Whats wrong, why is the dev-list so completely dead? Are we
> talking too much on the phone or did we go telepathic already?
> Anybody any idea?


To amplify Arnulf's subtle encouragement, I'd like to point out a couple
things I've read recently which I have found helpful in recognising the
value of hashing things out in public on the mailing list, for open source

The first comes from the excellent Producing Open Source Software book.  This
subsection mostly is an exhortation to co-located teams to still try and hash
out discussions on the public mailing list, instead of face to face.


The whole book is great.  I've being reading it over the last week and finding
lots of great nuggets even if I don't agree with every specific suggestion.

The second was something Brian Behlendorf (a founding member of Apache) said
this last week on the "Foundations" mailing list.  It was directed more at
how to avoid making volunteers feel left out or marginalized in a project
with paid developers - especially a paid development team.  But much of it
comes down to the same encouragement - process in public.

Brian writes:
 > But the second, more implicit way in which funded work can cause a two-class
 > society is by the sheer weight that a funded developer can have over a more 
 > casual participant.  If there are two different paths to solve a problem,
 > and one path has a group of full-time developers pursuing it while the other
 > has one or two developers working in their spare time, the funded path will
 > be much more likely to win.  Ideally these two paths could be pursued in
 > parallel, as separate modules or even a current/stable/experimental version
 > branching setup, but that's not always possible.  The funded developers
 > might also, inadvertantly, use communication paths (like IRC, or even phone
 > calls) that make sense in the context of full-time work but set up a barrier
 > to the broader community, the project can feel hijacked, and suspicians
 > about motives can breed. The only way to fight this is to tell the
 > full-timers that important decisions, and their rationale, still need to be
 > hashed-out on the mailing list; that the validity of a technical decision
 > comes not from a three-person conference call but from a broader poll and
 > incorporation of feedback.  That doesn't mean every proposed patch or
 > one-line fix needs consensus, but it does mean that changes shouldn't come
 > from nowhere, but nothing should arrive into the version control tree as a
 > surprise to the others who follow the development list.  The early
 > Subversion team, despite all physically being located in the same office in
 > Chicago, knew that they had to make their decision-making and development
 > processes transparent if there was any chance to build a broader contributor
 > community.  So while there was plenty of brainstorming and debugging over
 > pizza and in front of white boards in that office, the real work was done
 > online, in front of an audience of peers.

I hope this is helpful, and not just patronizing or lame.

Best regards,
I set the clouds in motion - turn up   | Frank Warmerdam, warmerdam at pobox.com
light and sound - activate the windows | http://pobox.com/~warmerdam
and watch the world go round - Rush    | President OSGeo, http://osgeo.org

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