[Foundation] membership, money, and meritocracy

David Waite mass at akuma.org
Fri Apr 4 23:08:50 CST 2003

Heya stpeter :-) (I think it is time for me to finally voice on this thread)

I believe the problem with the original email is that it combined many 
different problems and proposed solutions. In particular, merit and 
money are like oil and water (although not neccessarily in the same 
order of flammability ;-) ).  If the original email had just discussed 
turning the JSF into more of a meritocracy, I think there would have 
been a lot less push-back and a lot more positive feedback and ideas on 
how merit can be quantified. Adding membership dues and corporate 
sponsorship into the mix stings in people's minds like the Java 
"Community" Process effort or the W3C - these do not represent their 
respective communities, but instead represent the most powerful and 
successful commercial players within those communities. A plutocracy, if 
you will (dispite you indicating that this is not what you are shooting 
for at all, stpeter). Dispite me saying all of this, I'm fixing to try 
the same thing again.

Note that I am defining the "Jabber Community" to be the group of 
administrators, developers, integrators and users which use, promote, 
and extend jabber technology. This includes commercial and personal 
users, internal and external server deployments, open-source and 
commercial development groups. Ideally we will meet every sub-group's 
needs without compromising the needs and interests of others (and I'm 
sure everyone realizes this is like spinning plates...)

This is of course not to say that money isn't needed to run things, and 
to adequately meet our organizational goals. Just that we may need to 
look at this in several parts (and here is a rough stab as well):

   1. What exactly does the JSF do currently?
          * Provides organizational assistance to open-source and
            free-as-in-beer projects through the jabberstudio suite of
          * Provides technical assistance to developers through mailing
            lists and various protocol documentation
          * Provide technical assistance to administrators through the
            JADMIN list, and various HOWTO-style documentation
          * Provide organizational assistance to users through listing
            of  publically accessable servers and freely available
            client software
          * Evangelize jabber-based solutions to attempt to expand
            community (not formalized)
          * Provide organizational assistance through JEP
            standardization and exposure of informational JEPs
          * Assist the XMPP Working Group through the IETF process in
            the hopes of technical improvement, further standardization
            and increased exposure.
          * Provide mechanisms for intercommunication across sub-groups
            within the community (through things like mailing lists and
            news items)
          * Hosting a public server and 'multi-user chat' discussion
            forums to foster intra-community communication.
   2. What in addition is the JSF planning to do in the future? (and I
      expect to be corrected quite a bit on this ;-) )
          * Develop compliancy and certification programs based around
            the "Jabber" name
          * Marketing of Jabber as an organization, through more formal
          * Increase Jabber exposure through participation in various
            technical conferences
          * Provide case studies to help strengthen
            developer/administrator arguments to create jabber solutions
   3. What sort of budget is needed to support the above activities?
   4. Where can this budget come from? (If it is through corporate
      sponsorship, what is the motivation for corporate sponsorship? If
      it is through membership dues, how do we motivate people to pay to
      do the work above?)

The first two questions are also vital for figuring out what constitutes 
merit, and how merit is to be quantified. I'm not even going to try to 
answer 3 and 4 by myself :-)

-David Waite

P.S. It looks like we are doing a _lot_ of work when you actually look 
at the list above. I think we may also want to more publicly acknowledge 
the JSF and general community members who make a particular effort to 
further these goals in the future, perhaps through news items.

Peter Saint-Andre wrote:

>On Fri, Apr 04, 2003 at 10:17:24AM -0700, Peter Millard wrote:
>>We aren't trying to strengthen the community, we're trying to strengthen and
>>organize a non-profit organization.
>This says things better than I did in my original mail. I think the
>Jabber community is strong -- we measure it by all the people who are
>active on the mailing lists, releasing software and code, etc. And the
>roles that people fill are well-defined here -- they're coders, tech
>writers, webmasters, marketers, testers, protocol geeks, advocates, etc.
>All of this is important, and it is what makes the Jabber community so
>vibrant and so diverse.
>I think things are less well-defined within the JSF. As Ragavan says,
>the only requirement of membership to date has been voting on certain
>issues. While voting is nice, that is not what strengthens the JSF per
>se. As far as I can see, the mission of the JSF is threefold:
>1. Develop the protocol
>2. Assist the community
>3. Promote Jabber
>(Some of these may have several parts: for example, the JSF assists the
>community by hosting JabberStudio (thank you, temas!), running a big
>Jabber server, posting news stories, answering email to info at jabber.org,
>providing documentation, etc.)
>So I think members should be those who contribute to the goals of the 
>JSF (not necessarily Jabber in general) in certain well-defined ways.
>I now think that collecting money from members is not the answer (even
>from those who are representatives of commercial entities). Part of the
>answer (and again, I provide this as a suggestion) may be that there are
>no members except those who are working on a specific JSF team. Right
>now there are three teams: the Jabber Council (effectively the protocol
>team), the Marketing Team, and the Compliance Team. It may be that there
>should be other teams for things like infrastructure, interoperability,
>community relations, and finance. I'm thinking right now that there
>should be no members except those who are on one of the teams, i.e., no
>general members. If you are on a team and contributing, you're a member.
>If you're not contributing, you should be voted off the team somehow. If
>you want to join a team, you would need to get someone currently on the
>team to nominate you, and then the team (or the full membership) would
>vote whether to accept you. But there are no "general" members who are
>not working hard on one of the teams.
>Many of these teams would have open counterparts enabling community
>involvement, as we have in the relationship between the Standards JIG
>and the Jabber Council. Some perhaps would not (finance?). So those in
>the community could be active in assisting in many activities of the JSF
>(e.g., by giving talks to Linux User Groups to help promote Jabber). But
>as Peter Millard notes, you can join the community easily enough: join a
>mailing list, translate some docs, help out on the JADMIN list, write
>some code (whether you release the source or not), etc. There are lots
>of opportunities for strengthening the community. There are fewer
>opportunities for strengthening the JSF, because those opportunities
>involve a different and quite focused kind of commitment, which is not
>for everyone.
>The JSF needs money, yes. Why? To build a presence at conventions, to
>host the community infrastructure, to create a compliance program, and
>many other things that are in line with the JSF's mission. Much of what
>the JSF does is not free. Although we really have not spent much money
>at all in the last 2 years, it's only because IBM and Hitachi both
>provided early support (and because Jabber Inc. paid or pays salaries
>for people like me and temas and Jer) that the JSF has been able to
>achieve what it has achieved so far. There is a lot more we could do,
>and money will be required for some of those things. But I now think
>that there are better ways to raise money (seeking sponsors, selling
>branded merchandise) than by collecting membership fees.
>So that leaves JSF membership as purely a matter of merit, which is as
>it should be. Exactly how we determine who should be accepted as a
>member of certain teams is not clear to me right now, but I do think
>that membership should mean that you are contributing to one of the
>JSF's teams. That is what really helps the JSF, and helps it a lot more
>than money. Writing copy for outreach kits and press releases, working
>on core protocols, writing docs, running the servers and websites,
>providing technical assistance to projects and companies that are
>writing Jabber-based code, developing and performing compliance tests,
>and so on -- these are not necessarily fun activities, but they are what
>make the JSF go. What the JSF needs is people who are active in these
>areas. Maybe we haven't communicated that very clearly in the past. But
>we're having this discussion to try to clarify this stuff.
>I don't pretend to have all the answers. Jabber is a journey for all of
>us, and in large measure we're figuring things out as we go along. We
>also face new and different challenges all the time, and we need to
>change and adapt in order to meet those challenges. Maybe a smaller,
>nimbler, more focused membership will help the JSF do what it can do
>best. Maybe some changes will enable the JSF to better assist all the
>activity out there in the broader Jabber community. I think this is
>true, but again I'm still not sure exactly what those changes need to
>One thing that continues to impress me, and has impressed me about this
>thread, is that people are passionate about Jabber. I love that passion.
>It's one reason I do all the things I do for the JSF and Jabber in
>general. You would never see such passion about AIM, MSN or SIP/SIMPLE.
>This discussion is not about discouraging that passion. It is about
>figuring out the best ways to run the JSF so that the passion can
>continue and grow.
>Anyway I'm out of time for today, so I'd just like to say thank you to
>everyone who cares so much about Jabber.
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