[Foundation] Clarifications On Name Change Proposal

Matt Mankins mankins at media.mit.edu
Tue Jul 1 02:27:43 CDT 2003


I reiterate Evan's disclaimer as my own:

 ]EP:
 ]BTW, I wanted to point out that I'm not trying to put you on the
 ]defensive here, or be personal. I just figure it's healthy and
 ]productive to unpack all the issues out in the open.


> Matt Tucker:
> Any number estimates I or others made would be instanstly dismissed as 
> purely speculative, so I'll refrain from making any. :)


That's one position, however I would suggest that bounding future
possibilities with some reasonable justification would build a stronger 
position.  Such a stronger position might be in a better place to build 
consensus.

 
> I think the facts we've laid out in the letter make a persuasive case on 
> this point though. Sponsors will clearly be more inclined to join and 
> contribute to the JSF just based on all the feedback that we (the 
> current sponsors) are giving the JSF.


Again I think that there is room to strengthen your position.  By 
contribute, I can assume that you mean contribute currency, for even if 
you wanted to, I would guess that it would be difficult to stay out of the 
JEP process.  The nascent Jabber movement is like a sidewalk whose cement 
is still wet--everyone wants to leave their initials in it before it 
dries.

 
> If you're really concerned about cost, perhaps you could lay out all the 
> costs that you forsee that would make it too expensive for us to change 
> the name of the JSF? Otherwise, I think the concern is unfounded.


I'm suggesting that you could build a case for name change that is 
holistic, taking into account both the costs involved and the benefits 
derived.  There are many dimensions involved, of which currency outlay is 
but a single one.

 
> Step 1 of this process is to decide whether the name should change based 
> on the fundamental merits of doing so.


It would be nice if it were that simple.  Unfortunately I have little
understanding of human truth and even less on fundamental merits.  With
each communication it is hoped that we come closer to understanding, yet
I'm afraid that's a carrot we may never reach.  Nevertheless, dialog--an
"unpacking of issues"--is healthy.


> In my opinion, cost does not play a factor in this decision.


Wait, you mean--there is no cost?  Is there only an opportunity cost?


> In terms of benefit analysis -- I feel we've 
> already laid that out pretty completely in our letter. Were there any 
> points that you feel that needed to be elaborated on?


I guess one thing that's been gnawing at me is the relationship between 
the proposed name change and the stated purpose of the JSF.

I'm not positive, but I'm guessing that the JSF is organized as a
nonprofit corporation, and as such has some stated legal *goals* and
*community* that it will serve.  These goals serve as the marrow that
keeps the organization going, serving a particular population and more or
less dictates every decision that is made.  With each proposed decision
the corporation should ask itself [1]:

"does this proposed action meet the stated goals of my charter?"

A little background: there are several types of nonprofits, but I'm
guessing that JSF has elected to become a 501c3.  501c3 is a tax status
granted to corporations in the US that makes them exempt from sales tax,
property taxes, income taxes, and the like [2].  In return for this
generous status in the eyes of the government the corporation must direct
all its energies toward its stated goal and community.  That's the
trade-off: no taxes, but you have to help who you said you would.  
(Dissolving these things involve careful work: you raised money by telling
people you were going to help community X.  If you have money left over
and want to dissolve, it must go to community X.)

Because of this legal status/reality, we need to evaluate the
effectiveness of the corporation differently than we would a for-profit
one.  While a for-profit can easily compare year-to-year revenue and
generate a profit/loss statement, the non-profit has no easily
calculable "we did this good" metric.  If there is a metric it's "how much 
did we serve our community?" 

Now reread this:

> Sponsors will clearly be more inclined to join and contribute to the JSF

I think this is under the assumption that the primary motivating factor of
the JSF is sponsorship money/currency.  But because the JSF is a
non-profit its primary purpose is really to help the community, which 
includes both developers (for profit/not for profit) and end users.
.
.
.
There are two outcomes to the vote.  yes, or no.

1) Assume that the name change doesn't happen, and some percentage of the
for-profits of the JSF no longer monetarily support the JSF (this is the
cost of this decision).  It's likely that they'll still use XMPP and if
they still use XMPP they'll likely run into a few JEPs that they're bound
to use as well.  This continued use really would serve as contribution,
even if slightly unwilling.  The loss ("expense") in this case would be
the lack of some sponsorship currency along with the commercial company's
momentum and good will, which could be considered substantial.  The
benefit will be that our membership can continue doing what it's doing,
trying to mature the protocol/use cases.  In addition a benefit would be
that brand recognition and the viral marketing/momentum would continue. (a 
loss of brand recognition would not occur).  Community growth continues at 
the same rate that we have.

2) Assume that the name change happens.  Jabber is now Schmabber. Some
percentage of sponsors stays, and there is perhaps a renewed interest in
joining the nonprofit (perhaps enough to offset cash outlay?).  In
rebranding the JSF spends $7,000 (or whatever)  on reprinting marketing
materials, website redesigns, domain names, etc.  An additional (and in my
opinion, the largest) cost would be the further fragmentation in the
mindshare of the community and public at large--aka loss of brand
recognition/awareness.  The name change effectively grants Jabber, Inc. a
huge amount of good will (I wonder if that's taxable?) by making Jabber
Inc the authoritative resource for "jabber", and sponging up all the viral
work that's gone on to date.  The benefits of this change would be that
the marketplace would not be ambiguous--Jabber is a "product" of Jabber,
Inc., XMPP is the protocol., SEP's are protocol extensions shepherded by
the Schmabber Software Foundation.  For-profits in the XMPP world have an 
easier time convincing customers to go with their solutions.  (the leap I 
can't see is how this makes the community any better?)



By no means are either of these possible futures encompassing.  I offer 
them merely as late night fodder.

If there's one thing that I want you to get out of my tome it is:

I wish that this proposal were as rigorously defined as a JEP.

Mankins

[1] - in reality, the directors probably have more to "worry" about than 
the day to day minions.  With that said, is it even "legal" for anyone but 
the directors to change the name?  Seems unlikely?

[2] - Also I think there's something about having to have a diverse
funding source in order to be a 501c3.  So you can't get 50% of your money
from one place (or maybe the number is 20% averaged over 3 years?),
otherwise you can't elect 501c3 and need to be another (lesser) type of
nonprofit.  "Foundations" are usually what these non-diversified 
nonprofits are called, so perhaps the JSF is a foundation, supported 
largely by Jabber, Inc. (who knows, not I).





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