Community building and channel feedback

I just responded with feedback on @dachary’s draft announcement to build on top of Gitea, and stating my confusion on scope and objectives of FedeProxy as a whole.

While I’ve been catching up to the forum, and unclear about these things might indicate that newcomes find it hard to place the project as well. It might hamper community building.

I feel that - after having elaborated on a number of topics for a while - the project team should consider the marketing aspects and persent a clearer positioning and up-to-date project direction / roadmap. In doing so the onboarding process of new community members and potential contributors should be eased.

Channel feedback:

  • Website: Insufficiently informative. Visible viewport should hold your elevator pitch, with some more stuff further down the fold.
  • Forum: Lotsa interesting information. But also a lot to take in. Will mostly be useful to members a while after onboarded.
  • Chat: In Mattermost, with separate account (I did not sign up). If you’d be on matrix you could benefit from network effects.
  • Fediverse: Mostly fine, but could be a bit more chattier, supplying more frequent updates to the wider world.
  • Code: I’d like to see more docs. Design, architecture (diagrams), summaries of prior works (e.g. of User Research).

All with the purpose to get informed quicker, easier, and removing barriers to do that.

None of this critical, only constructive. I greatly admire this project and approach thus far :slight_smile:

Update: As discussed in 18 October project meeting…

  • There’ll be an effort to write Wikipedia pages for Code Forges (and FedeProxy itself).
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@aschrijver I agree with all your observations and all your suggestions. There is no “but…” in my mind: I think you clearly summarized what needs work in fedeproxy and why. Would you be available to discuss this during the next project update October 18th, 10:30am UTC+2?

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Unfortunately I can’t join in the meeting…

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Last-minute change of plans. I’ll join the meetup in 20 mins. :smiley:

PS. If you mention datetimes then you can use the UI control for that i.e. 2021-10-18T08:30:00Z which takes timezone into account automatically for each member viewing it.

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At the meetup event yesterday it became apparent that for community organization attention also needs to be placed on setting up a Funding Track. This to assure that funding opportunities are not missed, and that those who want to deep-dive on technical work do not get overly distracted.

@pilou I heard you also share an interest in this entire topic area. Maybe we can discuss a bit more, and determine how to move this further.

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@pilou gentle ping?


Yes. Which activities would be covered by this grant application?

Thanks for pointing to that related discussion, @pilou!

Just like some things I described above from a general perspective and as more of an observer until now, your and @dachary’s misunderstanding on switch of programming language, highlight the need for changes to the community organization in terms of:

  • Responsibilities, process, governance, decision-making, structure, …

The objectives in terms of openness, transparency, flat hierarchy, ‘anyone-can-take-the-initiave’, etc. make this a non-typical FOSS project and poses unique challenges to community-building. The question is - in order to improve - as rightfully say:

If I look at the DAPSI information at my disposal, there’s not really make mention of these community-related aspects as being eligible for funding. There should be a Research Component and a Development Component. Though there is some implicit reference in the DAPSI Guidelines for Applicants in this statement:

“What can you do to make the internet more open, and help people take back their data?”

Arguably an open community that allows people to be actively involved in this goal fits the bill. In any case a DAPSI renewal should have the R&D components to be eligible and these should extend / build upon those that were described in the first submission.

For adding a ‘professionalisation’ of the community organization I see two options:

  1. Organization component: There will be de-facto (need not be very explicit) a third component. First DAPSI submission has led to a solid project foundation being laid for the project as a whole. But for the new, ambitious R&D components we need to build further upon that to establish a well-oiled community process, which includes a concerted effort to get more people involved, contributing productively.

  2. Research component ‘piggybacking’: The acknowledgement and argumentation that the FedeProxy development and community processes are an intricate part of delivering production-ready project deliverables on an ongoing basis, and possibly remain relevant to clients of the project after they’ve put FedeProxy into production on their code forge.

The 2nd option is interesting to explore. Some observations related to this:

  • The express primary objective to serve and strengthen FOSS projects and their related communities.
  • The fact that any software development project has a development method and process.
  • Many commonalities exist between processes and that social activities may be unified.
  • Application domains relating to software development have lotsa overlap, can be captured in vocabularies.
  • FedeProxy has mentioned dogfooding at various places, and this can be an opportunity to achieve that.
  • What are FedeProxy deliverables? Along with software, there’s open standard(s). There can be open process too.

Another stated goal seems to go against option 2 (paraphrased):

  • “FedeProxy will dissolve itself after forges have adopted its work. There’ll be no longer a need for it to exist”

I wonder if this is really the case. Consider this:

  • Will the open standards further evolve, need to be maintained, discussed?
  • If they evolve further, need there be some kind of reference implementation?
  • Who drives the initiative after dissolution? Will it be all grassroots, “herding cats”?
  • Or will some kind of standards-body take over? An exit strategy + handover commence?

These are some first thoughts that popped up with me this morning. I am curious as to your perspective on these matters.

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As a change, I suggest to simply follow the current community organization instead of changing the whole organization.


Note that the fedeproxy project is currently set in a non-commercial context and as an experiment limited in time.

Should the professionalization of the community help to sustain the project itself?

In terms of funding:

  • would the DAPSI grant be sufficient to sustain the first option?
  • would the second option be able to bring some funds (a production ready service could be offered as a paid service) ?

Fedeproxy isn’t a lasting project but a DAPSI project isn’t a lifelong project. Isn’t the fedeproxy disappearing a very long term goal? And will it be adopted by proprietary forges?

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Analyse for project & process improvements

Two things in my observations could’ve been better formulated or further clarified:

  • “need for changes”: Analyse the need for changes, and with the objective to increase clarity and streamline the current project structure / process flows that result from the manifesto you point to. For instance:
    • The manifesto is a blog post. It is not easily discovered.
    • What should one minimally do to seek consensus?
    • When is a vote required, where does it take place, and where is the outcome of that vote recorded?
    • There may be a need to have a decision log of sorts (maybe that exists, idk?)
  • “professionalisation”: I already had it between quotes, maybe ‘formalisation’ might be clearer, idk. But it was referring to what’s in the first bullet point: the analysis for organization improvement.
    • In no way was I suggesting commercialisation, and even less unprofessionalism :sweat_smile:

Yes. An example: You point to something that is obviously important. Yet it is post no. 144 in a thread with 200 posts. How can a newcomer inform themself about the project? Should they read the entire forum in sequential FIFO order, and deduce importance from text formulation and formatting?

I think a kind of ‘distillation process’ should be added whereby all things that are relevant are copied out of their TL;DR locations and into places where it is easy to catch up on what’s going on and what needs to happen next, e.g.:

“Great! We have made a decision. Could you update the [decision log / status page / issue / docs / diagram / what-have-we? ]”

DAPSI application and funding opportunities

For the DAPSI procedure… With no prior experience I know less about it than you and @dachary, so good questions to seek answers for.

My additional thoughts:

  • We first need to find out if such an option is acceptible by the DAPSI proposal reviewers.
  • We need to decide all the stuff that should be in the application and find a ballpark amount of money we’d like to apply for.
  • Based on that we can further detail each component and come up with an estimate of how large a percentage they require.

Beyond DAPSI this is a very valuable question to ask. The DAPSI folks would like to see a healthy, sustainable project after funding period end, and able to progress until the stated objectives are reached (be that eventual dissolution or not).

I could see options for ‘revenue models’ that generate income, whereby the core essence, principles and values, and Manifesto are still fully respected. And we might investigate the possibilities. And that investigation might be budgeted in the DAPSI call, maybe.

Project scope, roadmap and objectives

Key questions. I mentioned the “dissolution” because it came up in various discussions I had with @dachary in some form or other. I still find it a confusing concept, and given your questions you are also not totally clear on how this is likely to work.

Here’s my opinion on it:

  • The dissolution of FedeProxy is indeed a possibility. However, how that goes, and even if that happens eventually is a ‘crystal-ball’ prediction.
  • In a project summary this might be mentioned, but I wouldn’t prominently repeat it everywhere.
    • As this is a decision for the future, it should be on a decision log or project strategy plan, or whatever.
  • Talking about dissolution can discourage contributors, if they do not fully understand how that works.
  • Based on the Manifesto anyone can join the community and, by consensus or vote, change project direction.

I proposed an update of the main page in order to somewhat address this comment.

The monthly reports should mention all the decisions, these page are the best way to catch up on what’s going on.

For the specific mentioned example, this information is mentioned at the end of the blue banner displayed by default on top of every page of this forum. @dachary Would you agree to move the content of this blue banner with the content of the first post of this topic and to replace it by a link to this post?

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Yes, I agree.

If you refer to a forum banner… the problem with these is that once a member closes them, they are gone. I don’t see it. Or do you refer to some place else? There’s another type of banner you can create in Admin Settings / Customize section that is guaranteed always visible, I think.