For a number of years now Open Source Matters, Inc. has done a really poor job of communicating. Since October, 2015 they have gone completely dark! No, I don't mean they have gone to the dark side (in Star Wars parlance). I mean they have gone completely silent. I know, I know, it's hard to tell since they were not that far away from this state to begin with. Now, however, with what is supposed to be major changes to the governing structure of Joomla happening, all communication with the outside world (or should I say those with an abiding interest in all things Joomla) has shriveled up and blown away. Last time I checked, the terms of all of the members of the OSM Board were to end on October 8th, 2015. On September 28th there was a call for a special meeting of the OSM board scheduled for October 8th at 3:30 am Eastern Time (9:30 pm Central European Summer Time (CEST)). That's it - the last communication on the Open Source Matters public mailing list.
Feel like you are not "part of the conversation" surrounding Joomla lately? Well you are correct. The Joomla leadership team (all of them, CLT, PLT, and OSM) have somehow mashed together leaving the rest of us on the sidelines while they conduct their conversations mostly behind closed doors. Every now and then a snippet works its way loose and we get a little insight on how the wheels may be coming off the tracks. For instance on August 28, 2015, Jessica Dunbar wrote (empasis mine):
Hi can we freeze any new Joomla installs, subsites or subdomains. Our current websites are grossly under maintained. Out of 29 Joomla installs 7 soon to be 8 are running on the latest version. There is a small team of people who are actively trying to get sites up to date, clean up content, make sure the templates and branding are correct. But new sites are being built faster than we can maintain.
So here we are once again. Once again we are promised that the new organizational structure will fix all that is wrong with the Joomla! project. So, what is wrong? Apparently there are some communication and documentation issues between teams. Oh, Okay so what has OSM strong-armed the various teams to agree on? Well, it looks like software development teams will take a back seat to the non-technical people who will likely inhabit the board seats of OSM who will then "guide" the community on to bigger and better things. Wait, what? People like me who don't do software development will tell the developers what to do? Yup! Sounds just like big business doesn't it? Yup! Is that good? Nope!
You can picture it can't you? I certainly can. For a number of years now I have been pointing out that OSM fails to provide the Joomla! community with the transparency appropriate for this not-for-profit organization. Even members of the OSM board attempt to remind their colleagues of that duty. As recently as towards the end of last month on the Open Source Matters, Inc. - Public Mailing list Ryan Ozimek OSM Board Member stated:
Board of Director friends, I've seen a lot of great discussions happening on our private mailing list that, while full of beneficial information, really need to be posted on this public list to continue our focus on transparency. Please use this email list by default for all board-wide conversations. Unless it is something that must require privacy to be communicated safely, if it is a board-wide email you're sending, it should be sent here. This is a core tenant of our goal to improve online communications, not just within the Board of Directors, but across the project's growing leadership team. Let me know if you have any concerns
Guess what happened. No discussion ensued at all. Any wonder there is mistrust of the board members of OSM?
Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don't rule out malice
This epigram –usually called Hanlon’s razor- is generally credited to either the science fiction writer Robert Heinlein or to a less famous writer named Robert Hanlon.
So, let's talk about what is not happening at OSM once again.
Victor Drover finally published the December 2, 2014 Budget Vs Actuals report on the OSM website either late yesterday or this morning - December 13, 2014. It has been available on the Open Source Matters, Inc. - Public Mailing list since December 2nd. Of course if you don't subscribe there, you rarely get to see the occasional interesting discussion. What's really interesting is he also published the CLT and PLT expenses there. You will note that there are no travel expenses listed for those two groups. The project wide expenses for travel through December 2nd are $213,011.63. If we assume that this expense is only for OSM travel (after all, it's not broken out for any other group that Victor Drover reports publicly) then the 12 members of the OSM Board average approximately $17,756.91 in travel expenses each for the last 11 months.Was this travel really necessary? Kinda doubt it myself. Especially this last trip to warm Mexico. You really can't accomplish a discussion on Skype, huh? That's how the board does all it's official business - also known as board meetings.
To check out a newly built crash test dummy, first comes the Head Drop Test--and the name pretty much says it all. A technician detaches the head from the neck and hangs it from shafts at a precise height of 37.6 cm above a heavy block of steel. A magnetic release mechanism drops the head, which hits the block with a thud. This test ensures that the head has the right weight and damping properties. Notice that there is no further test of the head such as ability to think, reason and make appropriate judgements. The Head Drop Test seems to be a step-up lately from the requirements to be a board member at Open Source Matters, Inc.
Here we are only 13 days away from Halloween and the board of Open Source Matters, Inc. seems to be more focused on travel to various events then it is on the required due diligence review of it's financial performance or the performance of the various volunteers it should be overseeing to ensure the brand of Joomla! is presented properly to the community.
You probably didn't know that OSM published their 2013 New York Charities Bureau Tax submission along with a Federal 990 required by the Charities Bureau. I don't know when it was published on the OSM web site as there was no announcement of its availability. It was signed by Paul Orwig on April 7, 2013 and Victor Drover on April 8, 2014. I checked and the Charities Bureau has received it. There has been no posting, however, of the Federal Tax forms for the 2013 tax year by OSM.
If you have been reading the blogs that are now infrequently published on the Joomla site (might be the summer season I suppose causing such malaise), you would see that the most recent one was JOOMLA SUPPORTS GRACE HOPPER CELEBRATION OF WOMEN IN COMPUTING AS SILVER SPONSOR . It's difficult to find out what that really means as far as impact to OSM's finances for several reasons.
I don't get it! We now have the largest Opens Source Matters, Inc. board we have ever had. They have no oversight. And, they fail in the same ways as the old board but in some areas they fail even more spectacularly! All of the board's have repeatedly touted how they were going to improve transparency and all of them have failed miserably. This board essentially elected themselves on April 8, 2014. See the annual general meeting of the members as well as the regular annual meeting of the directors. Kind of ironic for that last meeting. It has been anything but regular. In fact, even though required by the OSM bylaws and by the State of New York's regulations, I believe this is the first one ever held in the history of OSM!
Twenty-two years ago John Gray, Ph.D wrote the highly popular (his books have sold over 50 million copies in 50 languages) "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus". This book is equivalent to an "Idiot's Guide to Listening, Respect, and Communication, with Easy-to-Remember Examples." One wonders if he should also write a book about the failed relationships between open source communities and distanced board members - and no, I am not speaking of gender communication differences. We in the community could use a board who can listen, show respect when questioned, and communicate freely. We certainly are not getting that now. I thought we would see more of an effort from this newly crowned board to communicate and be more transparent.