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.
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.
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.
I continually question why the minutes of the board meetings are not completed in a timely manner and made available to the Joomla Community. Got one of the excuses off of a forum thread that occurred . There are two excuses from Marijke about why the minutes are late. The first one is interesting because she says she doesn't have the primary job of posting minutes. You will find the second excuse sort of contradictory to the first. At least I did. The links are provided in the quotes.
If you question why the meeting minutes are sometimes late; well here is one reason. For me personal my first language is not English, and though I learned it at school and gained much knowledge and skills over the past years participating on our project and on the LT (yes, one of the areas I personally gained free education!) it still takes more time then you can imagine trying to understand all that is written, most challenging when it gets rhetorical, and answering takes even more time. Besides that there are a lot more tasks within OSM, the LT as a whole, the international community and the local community I come from. And next to that I try to have a life too!
We are talking about 4 months of minutes with a lot of issues surrounding the board's restructuring and voting arrangements. Presumably, even the board doesn't have the minutes to refer to - unfortunately that is the only legal document of their activity.
If you haven't taken the time to read the new and revised OSM Bylaws, you should start there before reading any further. Much of the additional discussions you will hear about and read center around these bylaws. Pay particular attention to ARTICLE III - MEMBERS & MEMBERSHIP. The revised Bylaws were apparently approved at the leadership summit held in Boston on Thursday, 21 November 2013. I said apparently approved because OSM has not seen fit to release the minutes of any November or December meeting held in 2013 no matter where the location. This is a perennial problem with minutes unpublished up to three months at a time. Kind of shameful performance actually. Once you have read the bylaws, you will then want to read the proposed election process that would take place at the Annual General Meeting of the Members of OSM. Carefully read the back and forth comments for the highlighted sections. It is interesting to note that Paul Orwig is having difficulty adhering to a democratic election process. It is also interesting to note that if the board of OSM doesn't explicitly vote themselves as members before their Annual Members Meeting, only two people will be electing the new OSM board! You might also remember if you have read other blogs by me, that the OSM board is required both by its own bylaws and by New York Charities Bureau regulation to hold an Annual Meeting. Check back through the minutes. Bet you don't find a single one declared. This could be a first!
1. Adjective (of a person) Dishonest or suspect: "he knew the guy was hinky".
2. (of an object) Unreliable: "my brakes are a little hinky".
I really want to wash my hands of Open Source Matters, Inc. and their many failures to the Joomla! community - but, they keep persuing a strategy of secrecy - that's another way of saying they don't like being transparent much. Still sounds like secrecy to me.
So, what now? Some more of the same and then something different.
I hadn't planned on blogging again now that OSM is not overseen, can appoint its own board members and, in my opinion, is likely to go further downhill. But, as I have been pointing out all along, OSM's failure to be transparent is likely to result in some cover-ups that the community won't be aware of until it is too late to salvage the brand of Joomla. The failure to post monthly financial reports is one example of where things can go wrong quickly without, at least some public oversight. To my knowledge, the Audit Committee has never performed an audit so that only leaves the public to keep some eye on what is happening. For example, it is 5 months into the year and we have only seen the January financial reports. How much longer till we see another? Who knows?
Update May 22, 2013Looks like Thomas Hampton was stimulated to publish a few of the financial reports in the last few days since this blog was published. He managed a P&L statement but he only did it for the Month of April, 2013. He also managed a YTD Balance Sheet up to the end of April, 2013. Don't know why OSM doesn't feel the need to be more transparent by publishing not only current montthly period reports but also YTD reports and, oh, by the way, a YTD Budget versus Actual would be a useful report to see each month.
This blog will be short and sweet as I don't really want to go into another long haranguing blog spurt with this group again. But it is only appropriate that I let the community know what I discovered today. For some time I have been eying the New York Charities Bureau site wondering why they didn't post the 2011 CHAR500 and the 990 that OSM had obviously completed. After all they had a copy of the 2011 report posted on the OSM website. So, I figured they must be behind and waited and waited and checked and checked. Nothing. So, on May 12, 2013, I sent this email to the Charities Bureau not really expecting an answer: