it is very much appreciated to have diversity of opinion. And it is not at all a problem to criticize, in particular if done constructively (like: I don’t like what is happening, please do B instead of A).
I’m sure there is a lot the board, and me in particular, could do better. So please continue to tell us, if something is not going well in your opinion.
Conversely to Andreas though, my personal assessment on where the problems at TDF lie, is markedly different. What I perceive, is that a small but vocal group of people, who contribute rather little in terms
of actual project work (but do produce a disproportionate amount of drama, personal attacks & insinuations of moral rot), is dominating the discussion in particular on this board-discuss forum.
As Kendy said when he stepped down, what in this project used to be a combination of meritocracy and democracy - is now a shout-o-cracy, where the loudest & most prolific posters appear to win the argument. This is massively off-putting for those contributors, who invest a lot of actual work, but can do without the drama - and would rather not like to get caught up in the most recent flame wars. Sadly, those community members are now avoiding to engage in discussions altogether.
Which is why me and others will keep trying to have civil, positive & constructive discussions, in this forum & elsewhere. If people want to flame - please do so on your personal blog, social media account or in private. Asking people to behave is not censorship, but good project policy.
Let’s see who are these people involved in the merits of the last discussion:
I see current members of the board, an ex-member of the board and members of the MC.
Are you saying that these people do not have the experience, skills and a sufficient amount of contributions to the project to earn the right to comment and being taken in consideration?
That’s one way of setting a narrative which has been proven wrong from the very beginning. How could you pretend to have the moral ground to tell others to be better when you publicly post something that is misleading?
Having a chairman supporting and spreading misleading messages isn’t good in general and personally I have enough of being the scapegoat for other people’s mistakes.
Please start doing what you are preaching.
Then I guess you’ll have to try harder and lead by example.
Sending out a message stating that you are doing everything right and everybody else “create drama, personal attack and insinuations of moral rot” seems to say that whoever disagrees with you is bad for TDF.
I’m one of those that sometimes disagrees with you and, like others, bring facts and evidence to the table but when facts get dismissed as distractions or ignored if they don’t support what you decided to do (changes in the RoP being just the last example) so of course you contribute to create drama, statements that clearly point at you as you are the chairman that should lead by example and ethical and moral doubts get raised.
It would be great if we could avoid these types of discussions on a public forum but when we unfortunately end up doing it it would be great if people stick to facts instead of manufacturing narratives that do not serve TDF’s best interests.
Your message “is violating the the Document Foundation code of conduct.”
Specifically, “Please be helpful, considerate, friendly and respectful towards all other participants.”
“Your emails are full of passive aggressive insinuations about other Board and Document Foundation members. Examples include:”
“If you have evidence of mal-intent, please present it directly with the names of the people you are accusing.”
I suppose you remember that 3 sentences that didn’t name the involved persons, even if they were very easy to connect to the described events and facts, were all that was needed for me to get a CoC complaint from which I copy pasted the text above.
Moreover, you are denigrating other members of the board directors, members of the MC and members of the board of trustees which, as far as I can see in this forum, bring facts, experience and logical conclusions but they just get summarily dismissed by yourself or Cor sometimes also by misleading them and the rest of the community with statements that are factually wrong.
Please do tell us why your accusations shouldn’t get a CoC complaint.
Do you believe you are providing an example of good behaviour?
Once again, please do start leading by example and avoid making those types of comments on a public forum.
I stopped counting the number of times I’ve heard people expressing unhappiness about this (most prominent perhaps Jonathan Corbet’s final paragraph in Disunity at The Document Foundation [LWN.net]), in particular when referring to this forum.
Some recent feedback includes:
“it’s a cesspit”
“I wouldn’t have enough patience to survive on that list”
“reading board-discuss reliably puts me in a bad mood”
“board-discuss is like Fox News - it keeps people permanently sad or angry”
That you try to shut down attempts to get calm, civility & fun back is a real shame; that you claim I would not try to positively interact with arguments is untrue; and that you try to use the CoC to attack a call for moderation is a travesty.
I for one would love to be part of the solution, and not the problem. My posting here was a reaction to a longer thread, which was full of personal attacks, deliberate leaks, and half-truths. If there is a better way to call this out & ask for a more productive discussion, I really want to know.
Two of those quotes are from people very near to you. I don’t want to refer to them in any way as it feels unfair, but that is just preposterous cherry picking on your part. It is quite natural for your friends to take your side, especially if they don’t understand the details and you are thus in a prime position to present your (in)actions in a good light.
I’m more interested in the actual “curse” being lifted, but no, I don’t like the symptoms that sometimes go too far. Beyond silent moping and going ballistic, there’s a range of options to express one’s disappointment.
I didn’t claim that my view on this is unbiased, just that there’s a sizeable portion of the community, who has expressed feelings similar to the above. The quotes above were simply easily accessible to me, and illustrate the problem.
Do you really disagree with the gist of what I said?
[Edit: please read my initial post, and outside of the frame “Thorsten wants to be right” that Paolo put this into]
I’ll be candid Thorsten and Cors. You guys come off patronizing with the way you address the board while at the same time dancing around the fundamental differences in vision for TDF. It’s entertaining to watch the drama as an observer (and see the classic Dutch/German passive-aggressiveness through pretentious comments that I know and love), but I think the LWN article you linked framed it well when they wrote:
“TDF supporters, it seems, want a development community that is strong, but not so strong that it doesn’t leave them space for value-added services and products. Other members of the community, though, are mostly interested in the best LibreOffice that they can make and are indifferent to the prospect of impacting some company’s revenue stream.”
Too keep it fun (as you mentioned), this is the image I most associate with the debate over the last two years between Thorsten/cors that represent the companies making money (and contributing the most code of course), and Paulo and Andreas and such.
Suggest to get aligned on your vision or keep bickering, but candidly trying to nerf a project that was envisioned as a public good, and is still structured to be a public good, means that you will always have people like Paulo and Andreas being a thorn in the side of the corporation trying to redefine TDF to be limited in it’s mission. Their active voice within the boundaries of what’s allowed within the rules of the foundation is a built-in institutional function to defend TDF’s original mission to the spirit of it’s intended founding, (ie. not being handicapped to promote the biggest for-profit stakeholders). I think in the view of many observers, this is the morally correct thing to do (even if he has an economic incentive as Meeks asserts). It’s kind of like Macron asking for the opposition to be more polite about their protests while he raises the retirement age without a vote.
I read these threads and it’s tiring to see this acrimony continue for so long, but I appreciate the non-corporate groups (read: smaller firms) volunteerism to protect the ideals of the foundation building a public good without limitation. Collabora and Allotropia could fork LibreOffice and create a foundation-lite structure to maintain the code that doesn’t have member-representatives or smaller ecosystem and gives the companies the freedom to monetize the product as they see fit. It will be that or we’ll see how long this war of attrition continues. I suspect Collabora executive will eventually get frustrated and fully fork, and Alltropia and other Collabora partners will jump ship with them. I would see that as a shame, because again, Libreoffice being a public good is an amazing thing, but possibly this isn’t the era of history where governments aren’t willing to protect this public good by investing in its proliferation.
TL;DR - tone policing is a bad way to push back against something you don’t like.
I recommended not to have these types of comments in a public forum but as you insist then let’s be transparent with all.
You came out with an accusation toward a group of people that apparently “produce a disproportionate amount of drama, personal attacks & insinuations of moral rot”. Do you have any evidence to support those accusations?
I won’t comment about your link to the slides as it’s all about developers so they should express their concerns about your choice of title and slides directly with you.
In regards to Jonathan Corbet’s final paragraph I can only say that his summary is right but once again you push it out there as if it were others creating the issues and you are just an innocent bystander.
I thought about writing to Jonathan Corbet as, while he tries to objectively collect and report information, some of the facts weren’t so easy to spot and for an external observer was surely difficult to understand what was really going on.
I’m sure it would be easier now that the threads are easy to follow to have a better understanding of what happened:
Cor decided to move the discussion about the “New proposal for hiring in-house developers” to tdf-internal so the comments are not visible to the general public. In that thread, I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong, I haven’t found a single positive message about it but the vote went ahead regardless.
If Jonathan Corbet wants to update the article or write a new one with a clearer view of what actually happened then I would be very pleased to have the facts corrected and extended.
Those public thread should also help external observers understand what causes “a climate of distrust and acrimony”.
Haven’t you realised that you started a call to be nice to each others with unsubstantiated accusations and a misleading statement?
As above, making a call for moderation while attacking and misleading people IMHO doesn’t show a chairman that is actually leading by example.
Have you forgotten that the part of the board led by Cor and your contribution in the evaluation of the merits of the case decided that I’m guilty of “passive aggressive accusations, disparaging, ad-hominem attacks” for much less than the accusations you came up with in this thread?
Only recently I read the emails exchanged to come up with that decision so I guess the board should look what you wrote and apply the same methodology you used to evaluate the merits of your accusations.
That’s great and I’m happy to help. When do you want to start?
So it seems you are not ready to be part of the solution yet.
You are again coming up with unsubstantiated accusations toward unknown people.
To help you out feel free to use me as a target, I’m used to it, but start coming up with actual facts when you do so. That could be a start as we can compare views, check them out against actual facts and documents and see if together we can iron out divergences to create a better environment within the board and for the community.
Anyway, while I think TDF should be able to grow to serve more and better the community I’m also well aware that creating a diverse and thriving ecosystem of companies specialised in different areas and all cooperating on a level playing field is important to help improving LibreOffice for all.
There are changes being worked on behind the scenes which are the result of hard work from some of us and supported by professional consultations. As we all know sometimes there is resistance to change as some might see their position diminished a bit but I believe it is good to show to all potential new members of the ecosystem that every member is treated as equal and has equal opportunities.
I can speak for myself, that I’m certainly not trying to nerf LibreOffice. The framing created by Paolo and others, that this is somehow Big Corp against volunteer community, is both dangerous & wrong. From your characterization, allotropia is clearly among the ‘non-corporate groups (read: smaller firms)’. Others have talked about a rift between developers and the rest of the community (which I thought was a splitting we had left behind us around 2016). Taking the Monty Python reference frame, the entire debate resembles more the People’s Front of Judea vs. Judean People’s Front, than anything else.
Getting aligned on shared vision is therefore the proper advise - there’s more than enough to do, to catch up with proprietary office suites. And my position at least, for achieving that, is that we’re always stronger together. There is no need to neuter or nerf any side, for most of TDF’s existence, there was excellent collaboration between the commercial ecosystem and TDF, each complementing the other.
Then again, this topic was about something entirely different - namely, how to get our discussion culture back to a place, where not the overwhelming part of our community avoids even looking at this mess. I find labeling that attempt tone-policing a mis-characterization, and if nothing else helps, defer to experts to make the case.
The only thing missing are the facts that support your accusations.
In terms of getting “aligned on shared vision” it would be great if you clearly state what you think isn’t aligned so that the whole community can evaluate your concerns and contribute in finding solutions for those divergences.
Thanks for clearly spelling out what - according to various activities and posts - must/seems to be concerning to a number of people.
If members think we are facing a situation where ‘companies are taking away a public good’ - as you describe it, I would love if that can be said clearly and not show up by fighting/pushing against other members.
Then if it is expressed explicitly, and made clear why people have that idea, we can discuss this in a useful manner. Obviously, when there are concerns, we need to have a sensible and clear debate with good information.
You suggest some things about me. So let me mention the following: I’ve brought to idea to hire developers by TDF to a workable form, and I expect TDF can soon announce hiring one or two developers. I’ve proposed and do support the strategic goal to get more developing companies into the ecosystem. I’m one of the people proposing and supporting the strategic goal to get more developers for LibreOffice. Also, I’ve always encouraged, in public and in private, people to talk about differences, grievances etc and to get appropriate support for that, if needed. See some traces at the latest LibOCon. The fact that I’ve spent somewhere between 10 and 15.000 hours as volunteer in the community, is IMO not even the most interesting. I did so for personal interests: doing something that makes me feel good; because I’m loving free software, because I hate unfair dominance and manipulation by (huge economic) powers, because I run a small company (since 2004) that benefits from the existence of a wonderful open source office suite. But also I’ve always be strong in my opinion that it would be unwise if TDF would be competing with the companies in the ecosystem.
(Some public traces in 1, 2 and 3)
I hope that all makes clear that I don’t recognize myself in a frame, as if I try to take from the public good to give to private companies.
A second topic. You do as if Thorsten and me are doing ‘tone policing’ from something we do not like, to kill a debate.
Two aspects. One is - as I’ve stated before - the repeated selective quoting from sensitive internal topics to the public in a setting where we cannot discuss it, but where it does create uncertainty and doubt. That should not happen, there is no excuse for that anywhere, also not in someone’s personality.
There is a problem, if one side tries to stick to the rules (e.g confidentiality, and the boards collective responsibility where all members are expected to defend rather than attack decisions in public), and another side does not - and (attempts to) influences public opinion by cherry-picking & selective leaks. As in any organization, there is private information; for a good reason, and discussing some/more of that in public creates large hostages of fortune. I think there may well be 10 clear attempts on this list/forum to steer those topics back into internal channels (where still all TDF members can join), but many of them have shouted down and ignored…
The other aspect with ‘tone policing’ is how we - indeed - should behave. There are many posts on this list/forum, for all to see, with negative framing, half hidden accusations, insinuations, lies, etc., recently often more beautifully wrapped in nice words by ‘some director’ (Paolo from Omniscloud.eu). Such dominant behavior inevitably does have a negative influence on people and engagement. And it may well be possible (…) that board members see much more of that on the boards own mailing list…
With your remark on tone policing you seem to say that that does not matter, or should be ignored for the sake of ‘a debate’. Then why not put the CoC policy and best practices in the open fire right away? It’s not hard to imagine that this ongoing situation has a strong negative effect. Apart from people and organizations turning their back on us, it leaves little time to do constructive work and it makes people rather picking up some other job.
Ironically the fact that most members apparently consider this forum a place to avoid, can also be seen as a positive sign. Despite the fact that some directors (…) that are under attack for more than 2 years, do engage here - because they believe in a constructive and useful future - LibreOffice does not get better by fighting over the outcome of a vote, but by creating and improving the code, by doing translations, documenting it, by helping users ánd by getting the positive (!) word out about all the good stuff we’re doing
community, is IMO not even the most interesting. I did so for personal interests: doing something that makes me feel good; because I’m loving free software, because I hate unfair dominance and manipulation by (huge economic) powers, because I run a small company (since 2004) that benefits from the existence of a wonderful open source office suite.
would be interesting why you speak about hate of unfair dominance and manipulation by powers and your love of running a small company although you currently work in the sales team of a company which dominates the market. Looks as if there is a big difference between what you are saying and doing.
Fair that you ask. Although most of my current work is with Collabora, that varies and my company does have help several other, varying, and important customers. And while Collabora can be seen as an interesting player in online office collaboration, it is hardly visible in the full market and in open source not the largest either. But since it’s open source software, freedom is just there, as you know very well. It seems easy to take the code, there’s no barriers here.
I hope this helps to have a better understanding now.
And please do try to make it to this years LibOCon; I’d love to organize a open discussion on people’s fears/ideas. See what I wrote in my reply to Kevin.
On 24/04/2023 21:00, Andreas Mantke via The Document Foundation
would be interesting why you speak about hate of unfair dominance and
manipulation by powers and your love of running a small company
although you currently work in the sales team of a company which
dominates the market.
Unless Cor works for Microsoft (which AFAIK he does not), this claim of market dominance is quite amazing, I’ll assume you mean his work for Collabora:
Lets look at some facts on market dominance:
In the Office Productivity Software segment - Collabora is under 0.01% of the market by revenue currently (but gaining market share). Our turn-over is around ~Eur 2m or so and growing. (With ~zero percent of our revenue from TDF in the last year).
Both LibreOffice & Collabora Online source code is 100% open source, and available to everyone under the same license terms.
There are a vast range of software development companies out there with around 25 million software developers active world wide - many in Professional Services companies. There is nothing to stop any of them investing into building products and services around LibreOffice ?
Collabora has been instrumental in creating and promoting FLOSS based alternatives - restoring consumers digital sovereignty, and has done so at a highly competitive price point.
So how about dominance of TDF ? TDF is setup to avoid such things, with 1/3rd limits on representation left and right. Sadly in recent times it seems there has been a systematic attempt by a noisy minority to extend this by driving people away (cf. unprecedented and tragic board resignations), -and- then neutering the role of any particularly tough director that remains by creating increasingly expansive and questionable rules to exclude them from vital parts of their statutory role eg. voting on the budget.
To me it seems that it would be easier to argue that some at TDF are undertaking a systematic, creeping power grab, while betraying TDF’s founding principle of meritocratic governance.
If instead we draw the market incredibly tightly - say Open Source, Office Productivity Software - then I suspect that LibreOffice from TDF dominates the market.
If we sub-segment LibreOffice by distributor, I’d imagine that alongside TDF we have RedHat, SUSE, Ubuntu, Debian etc. each with a significant piece - alongside Collabora, NISZ, CIB, allotropia, Flathub, Snap-store, PortableApps and many others.
You can argue that TDF is now selling software in app-stores, and owns and commercially exploits its powerful brand in this segment, that has been built for it by the community. Take a look at this:
And tell me which organization is market dominant ? =)
Either way - I would suggest that introspective in-fighting is not the best approach to dynamic growth. Please focus on competing with the hugely wealth and well resourced proprietary competition that any sensible analyst would recognize: Microsoft, Google, and others.
Collabora contribute a lot (alongside others) - but that is not dominance: LibreOffice’s licensing and TDF’s original governance both guard against that. The current undermined governance is even further stacked against any such thing - to the point of excluding lots of founders and substantial contributors - which is a worry for legitimacy.
In my view TDF should be concerned much more about being a welcoming place to all who contribute - particularly those who contribute substantially. It should think about how to include and work constructively with co-belligerents with different motivations against the proprietary world.
No good purpose is served by consuming the community with infighting - it just looses us ground to our proprietary and OSS competition.
 https-not-a-link www statista com statistics 627312 worldwide-developer-population
The global developer population is expected to reach 28.7
million people by 2024, an increase of 3.2 million from the
number seen in 2020.
 https-not-a-link www statista com outlook tmo software/productivity-software worldwide
Revenue in the Productivity Software segment is projected to
reach US$71.03bn in 2022.
The largest subsegment is Office Software with a projected
market volume of US$25.90bn in 2022.
 - apparently I’m a new user[!] and I can’t post more than two links =) put some dots and forward slashes in obvious places.
Collabora is one of many excellent examples showing that ecosystem companies can thrive thanks to the effort of the many organisations and individuals contributing to TDF and LibreOffice in many ways.
The market potential is huge and TDF is preparing to welcome more members of the ecosystem that will cooperate in sharing that potential and contributing for everyone’s benefit.
The preparation includes investing in two new in-house developers which will work also to fix issues making LibreOffice available for millions more potential users as it includes new internal policies to ensure we create a level playing field in compliance with ever changing laws and regulations.
There is that on top of Article 8, antitrust regulations. etc. Our Statutes do not cover all the other laws, regulations and commonly recognised behaviours that a foundation needs to follow. That’s one of the reason why we have been working for a while with professionals with expertise in various fields to ensure that we do things the right way.
It saddens me to read that perception seen out there is that there is a noisy minority trying to exclude people.
The board should probably be more transparent in showing that some board members have been working hard together with professional advisers to, among other things, actually ensure that all laws and regulations needed for a level playing field are followed. That’s one of the areas I’ve been personally involved with other directors. It seems that the work we have been doing is being misunderstood by some external observers as many of the elements that are being discussed and implemented are not being shared with the public.
When you, Michael, were in the board we had lengthy discussions about it so you should be able to understand the process better others, understand the discussions it generates when complex laws and regulations are not being understood by some and be pleased to know that all this is being done for the long term prosperity of TDF, the community and the ecosystem.
That is indeed tragic. While I still have no idea of what really happened in one case, where a member of the board resigned the day after having sent out the vote to change the legal oversight group to carry on with due legal work, I do know what happened in the other one as I’ve been personally blamed by your contractor.
That is very sad as, while I think is a very nice person and an exceptional developer, the positive cooperation on that document broke down on just one last sentence he would not let go. No explanations or even professional advice helped him in understanding that the sentence he desperately wanted should have not been there. I’m sure that those with a basic grasp of relevant regulations would agree but others less prepared in the specific field claimed it was an attempt to compete against members of the ecosystem.
Your other contractor within the board then decided to exclude me from discussing with the rest of the board another proposal, still linked to the completed and legally vetted proposal, to circumvent the perceived issue and to avoid to have a clear agreement between TDF and your company in regards to the areas that could have been left out. That’s all well documented in the rest of the thread linked above.
That type of behaviour does not help when within the board there is ongoing compliance work as it still shows the lack of understanding of regulations and arms length’s principle which ensures there is no favouritism for any member of the ecosystem and all are treated as equal as from laws and regulations we have to follow.
You were very much involved in the discussions related to the adoption of our CoI Policy so you should remember well the discussions we all had and the relevant information coming from professional consultations.
That is still part of the ongoing process of improvements meant to ensure that the budgeting process is free of potential influences. You have been reading and commenting on the new ESC rules that are part of the same process. You should be happy and supporting these changes as you would want to make sure new bidders did not influence the outcome of a tender, you may want to bid for, at any point of the process.
You should be happy about it as it clearly isn’t a process that excludes anyone, it actually helps in including everyone that might have felt excluded if this clear process was not in place.
You forgot “independent” from the principles you mention. Meritocracy is important but TDF is a legal entity that must comply with all sort of laws and regulations. A member of the ecosystem should not influence decisions that lead to benefits for the company itself, that is against quite a few laws and regulations and that is something which wouldn’t help in attracting new members of the ecosystem.
It is understandable that for some change is difficult to accept and that they would like to hold on to the power they feel they are entitled to by having been board members for a decade but we all have to think about preparing TDF and the board for another decade where others will take our place.
I’m sure we will be very happy to step back from our roles knowing that new boards will follow clear rules and fiduciary duties ensuring that all board members, contributors in all fields and areas of expertise and members of the ecosystem will cooperate as equals for the best interests of TDF, the whole community and LibreOffice.
I totally agree but it seems like there is a “group thinking” at play as some board members affiliated with companies that are either partners, customer or contractors of a major LibreOffice contributor sometimes seem to see these changes as detrimental for one organisation without considering that they are beneficial for all organisations including the current ones and those that want to join the ecosystem on equal footing.
Having been part of the CoI Policy discussions and the new tendering process that involves also the ESC you should lead by example by embracing these positive changes and promote them.
By doing so those less prepared to look at the bigger picture would see that you understood that it is only by creating a level playing field that we can attract more ecosystem members that can bring in healthy competition and thrive on a massive market, as Collabora Productivity does, while contributing to LibreOffice.