[theforum] Vote Request

William Anderson neuro at well.com
Sat Sep 9 20:04:36 CDT 2006

Alan Lloyd wrote:
> Matt Warden wrote:
>> In this case, you just indicate that you don't really understand
>> evolt's past. Evolt as it is today is nothing like it was when we
>> created those groups. Evolt had different problems then, and that's
>> where the groups came from. Theforum, in which you seem to hold great
>> confidence, agreed to the creation of these groups.
> Yes but not all decisions made by theforum (or any of us) will always be
> the right ones. Evolts past is just that, past. Lets move on.

As one of the few left who have been here since the start (or near enough;
I'm user #30 out of thousands, and I was one of the first to move from
monkeyjunkies to thelist once the core group had left and formed evolt.org)
and reasonably active ever since, I'd like to say that:

- I think it's great that we're engendering enthusiasm again
- I think it's dangerous that unilateral decisions are being taken
  or proposed at speed
- I think it's irritating when work done in the past, be it genius,
  elegant, efficient, right, outmoded, slow, ineffective, wrong, when
  that work is discarded as "past"
- I think it's madness to consider IRC as bad for community, when the
  remaining core of evolt.org's community *lives and breathes* on IRC
- I think I'm offended that someone thinks they can swoop in and rework
  the community and processes in their own way, and simultaneously
  saddened that such action is really required to wake everyone up -
  myself included - and make us think "evolt.org" again (and it is
  required, I don't doubt that or challenge that for a second).

I'd like to ask that we stop for a minute - well, quite a few actually - and
take stock.

I'll ask again that we look at the big picture first, that we re-evaluate
evolt.org from all aspects, ground up.

I'll ask that we figure out everything that evolt.org currently encompasses
and what we think that it *should* encompass, regardless of overlap or
omissions between current and should, so that the resulting big picture is
clear and we have focus both for improvements to evolt.org's health right
now, but that we have a fitness plan in place once the crash diet is complete.

Anyway, here is my beyond-tuppence contribution to this discussion: how is
evolt.org constructed, or how should it be?

  1) Organism

Do we want evolt.org to be a community?  Teacher?  Publisher?  Archivist?
Directory?  Service Provider?  Something no-one has yet thought of?

  2) Structure

Should we resurrect the structure format of core group (theforum) with SIGs
dealing with more vertical aspects out-of-band from core?  Should we think
of some other way to structure the core responsible for building, running,
maintaining, developing and improving evolt.org?

  3) Design

We have designs in place and in progress; we don't need another redesign
contest, was my point which Tara jumped on.  Sorry, I didn't mean we don't
need the hard work Martin and Tara have done, I mean that we have your
designs - and unfortunately no-one else's of note - and we can use those
designs to build a new multi-site template to apply to drupal, beo, etc.

  4) Implementation

Any changes we discuss and approve in this re-energising process will have
to be implemented, and we need to relate that back to how we structure
ourselves.  core + desdev + sysadmin (in old money) will ultimately be
responsible for this, but input from all sides should be considered, and
with a measured balance of pace to ensure implementation occurs and patience
to permit a proper and fair response.

  5) Maintenance

Packages change, packages fail, so on and so forth.  Maintenance should be
straightforward to consider.  However, design also falls to this part of
construction, as does administering content, users contributing content,
discussion mechanisms, and so on.

  6) Operations

Operations also; IRC, while mainly social does carry ops issues, and the
sysadmin list are home to ops notices and discussions.  I see no need for
this to fundamentally change, beyond regular reports from ops/sysadmin to
core, even just to say "all's well".  No news is bad news should be the motto.

I don't believe maintenance, including administration of CMS or mailing list
systems, should be considered ops.  As an example: I have to update a
package on a server, that's maintenance; a package has failed, I need to fix
it to resume service, that's ops.

  7) Lifecycle

If we want to improve, we need to consider constant improvement at a
sustainable rate.  We can blast in right now and change anything and
everything at breakneck pace, and be back in apathy mode in weeks, months.
A measured pace, I feel, is the way forward, and this constant flurry of
disjointed discussion is not going to help us keep any pace other than one
which will lead to a recurrence of apathy.

Looking at theforum discussions over the last 96 hours, I see many queries
about and a few changes made to existing infrastructure and design
specifications.  Nothing was really discussed in depth regarding blogs for
evolters (cf theforum passim for rationale behind evolters.org) or the wiki,
yet overtures are already being made to make configuration changes to permit
discussed functionality on a Friday afternoon and a weekend.  Common
rationale for volunteer managed 24/7 BAU services says "don't fuck with it
on a Friday or on a weekend".  Seriously.

I may try and follow up to this later today (Sunday) if there are rational
comments made, but I think I've got most of the ideas out of my head that I
wanted to.  You'll note that rarely have I discussed modification of a
specific system, except in example or reference.  I strongly feel that given
the perceived state of the community and service, discussing what are
basically minutae is disruptive and counter-productive.

Pilots don't start by plotting routes from the end of the runway to their
first waypoint, they look at the destination first.  Can we find our
destination first before charting individual waypoints?  It doesn't need to
take months, or even weeks, just at the very least a few days to mould the
clay into a pleasing shape before detailing it and firing it in the oven
when it becomes harder to undo what's been done.  Sorry I keep slipping into
metaphor, but I feel it's important that my point be understood.

I hope no-one feels I'm abusing any sense of "I was here first", "I've
directly contributed for years", "someone's fucking with my shit" - I'm as
concerned as everyone else as to the state we've gotten ourselves into, but
I would like all of us to see this through in a measured, controlled manner,
and I'm hoping my experience involved with evolt.org as well as managing
content and systems for a living count for something in this discussion.

Measure twice, cut once, is all I'm saying.  Breakneck pace is called that
for a reason, I think.

_ __/|  William Anderson      |  Tim: Your cheese game is strong.
\`O_o'  neuro at well dot com | Zane: My cheese game. It's all about the
=(_ _)= http://neuro.me.uk/   |       cheese platter.
   U  - Thhbt! GPG 0xFA5F1100 | -- Tim Westwood, Zane Lowe, R1, Dec 2005

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