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Introducing New TWiki Governance Structure

You probably noticed the new look of twiki.org and the new marketing message in the homepage. You will also soon notice better performance of the site once twiki.org is on new hardware. Read on to learn what this is all about; we have some exciting changes ahead that bring the TWiki project and community to the next level.

We all know that the TWiki project has been through a difficult time in first half of 2008. It is now time to look forward and try and build on the positive things we have in common.

  • We have good agreement in the community on the TWikiRoadMap.
  • We have a well defined release process, proven and refined since the 4.0 release.
  • We have an active Plugins community maintaining an ever growing list of extensions.

14 month passed since I announced TWikiDotNet. Overall, the company executed well along the promise to foster the community and to work closely with contributors. Read more at TWikiDotNet#StatusUpdate2008x07x07.

I have been considering many options how to bring the TWiki project and TWiki community to the next level, and I have sought advice from a number of community members and from other open source communities. It is time to shift gears. I know that I will not get the support of everybody, but I am confident that the plan laid out below will make many community members happy campers.

First let me state the goals that drive the new TWikiGovernance:

  • Fair and transparent decisions regarding TWiki features and TWiki community (discourage closed community within open source community).
  • Timely decisions, even when there is no clear consensus amongst the community.
  • Nurture a friendly and fun environment for existing as well as new contributors.
  • Offer sexy projects that attract developers.
  • Quality releases, fast paced bug fix releases.
  • Flat & scalable community through sense of ownership.

I need the support of the community. Here is how I see we can execute on these goals:

1. Establish a new TWiki Governance structure that replaces the old CoreTeam

  1. TWiki Focus Teams responsible for key areas, such as marketing, release, etc.
  2. Meet-up Teams fostering face-to-face TWiki user meetings.
  3. Technical Board responsible for technical direction of TWiki.
  4. TWiki Community Council responsible for the social structures and community processes.
  5. Peter is a self appointed BDFL, spiritual leader of the TWiki project

The details are described in TWikiGovernance.

2. Re-position the TWikiMission from "TWiki, the open source enterprise wiki" to "TWiki, the open source Enterprise Web 2.0 platform"
TWiki is already the leading open source enterprise wiki platform, as such it lends itself to the bigger vision to be a wiki based collaboration platform offering an end-to-end Web 2.0 solution for the enterprise. This leads to the next point:

3. Establish a new WikiChampion community to foster the effective use of TWiki in the enterprise
This is done with a new Apps web that serves as a meeting place for wiki champions. The Apps web is a repository and showcase of TWiki applications; a new web-based packaging standard enables non-programmers to package and install applications.

4. Engage experts in the field to make TWiki the kick-ass open source Web 2.0 platform

5. Create a marketing focused twiki.org website
Execute on the WebPageAudienceSiteStructure to create an attractive website addressing the needs of users, contributors and journalists.

6. TWIKI.NET puts aside 100,000 shares to be allocated to new contributions that are in line with the TWikiMission
There are approximately 10,000,000 shares outstanding in TWIKI.NET so 100,000 shares represents approximately 1% of the company.

I hope to get the support from the majority of the TWiki contributors. It is paramount that we work together as a team in order to remain competitive in the wiki and Web 2.0 market. We can achieve this with the right community structure! A lot of work lies ahead, let's focus on the main goal to make TWiki.org an attractive place to learn and contribute.

-- Contributors: PeterThoeny - 07 Jul 2008


Thanks for the efforts Peter. Most of it sounds reasonable.

TWiki, the open source Enterprise Web 2.0 platform? What does this mean? Who wants a Web 2.0 platform in its company? What is a Web 2.0 platform anyway?

This is way too pointless!

I think it is better to discuss such things rather than just announcing them.

-- CarloSchulz - 07 Jul 2008

The TWikiGovernanceProposal1 question is a question about TWiki as an organization. It is not a strategic question, although there's no point of a well thought out strategy if there's no organization that is able to decide on it. As such the main driving question that we all need to ask is: Is TWiki as an organization effective enough? and If it is ineffective, how can we conduct counter actions?

Let me elaborate this a bit encouraging everybody to think about TWiki as an organization.

  1. What are TWiki's abilities to set collective, realistic and achievable goals?
  2. What are its ability to make detailed plans, organise and manage resources and coordinate actions?
  3. What are its achievements, partial or otherwise of those goals?
  4. What is the degree of consistency in extent to which those goals are achieved?
  5. What are its abilities to make appropriate changes to plans and actions?
  6. What are its abilities to identify and respond appropriately to opportunities and risks in the community and in the market?

In some respect TWiki does quite well. Just look at what we achieved so far. That's great! However, this driving force has died away suddenly. Peter, your analysis of the situation is falling short. But let's not get into this. Let's try to secure TWiki's future by getting over these quarrels and plain fears all sides. We really need to send out positive signals, and prevent anything that leads to more friction. We need to act together and not dominate one another.

So in essence, let me repeat this, this TWikiGovernanceProposal1 discussion is about effectiveness of TWiki as an organization.

Now, about the different points above:

1. Are you proposing a revival of the core team? Is the core team a success story? If not why? Can we do better?

2. That's no governance question; it is a marketing thing; can we discuss this separately by collecting all the good and new ideas that are floating around?

3. That's no governance question either; it is a community building thing. I am all for more community building as all of us are. However, the details on how to achieve this are no governance question.

4. That's no governance question either; this is a human ressources thing. As such it is tightly coupled to (3). I'd prefer to approach it more professional/sever than using terms like kick-ass and web2.0.

5. That's no governance question; it is a marketing and (product) design thing.

6. That's the most problematic point. While you, Peter, are the founder of TWiki, you can't carry over the same importance to TWiki.net. That simply does not work out. Please, please, try to understand that the TWikiCommunity got scared rather than encouraged by the emergence of TWiki.net. That's not all the fault of the TWikiCommunity. It is simply afraid that TWiki.net will take over all of its achievements - including yours - and recast it as those of TWiki.net. There are a couple of factors that underline this which we can discuss in isolation if you want.

Baseline: your points are all fine and valid. They are strategic points that you have in the back of your mind and that must be addressed by a functioning TWikiCommunity and TWikiGovernanceProposal1. However, it does not function efficiently right now. Let's talk about this first.

These points don't provide a positive enough stance to unify and enforce a healthy community. Please, try to forsee reactions on what you say. Avoid those that are most probably negative for you and TWiki and will probably leading to more friction. We don't need friction. We need a healthy and secure future for all of TWiki.

-- MichaelDaum - 08 Jul 2008

Michael, we invited Crawford to participate in a conference call tomorrow to find a win/win for his consulting ring and TWIKI.NET, I invite you to participate.

-- PeterThoeny - 08 Jul 2008

Thanks. I will come.

-- MichaelDaum - 08 Jul 2008

This statement reflects a very old pattern that is at the real heart of conflicts going much, much further back than TWiki.net. For the record, the statement is directly contradicted by word and action of many of us who support the intent of TWiki.net but have merely raised questions about how conflicts of interests would be managed between TWiki.net and the larger TWiki community. But as this statement reflects, any and all requests of Peter to be transparent and accountable about his role within the TWiki community have been met by personal attacks.

The bottom line is that the proposed TWikiGovernanceProposal1 structure is essentially a continuation of the status quo with all substantive authority residing solely with Peter. Given the overlap in Peter’s personal interests between TWiki.net and TWiki.org, I guess we are to assume that the TWiki community has no legitimate interests independent of those represented by TWiki.net.

I have tried to make the case that Peter’s leadership role within the TWiki.org community would be significantly enhanced by ceding some authority to an independent body (not one appointed by Peter). This would introduce some modest checks and balances and accountability, and hence legitimacy. I am deeply saddened that there seems to be little interest in any compromise on this point...

-- LynnwoodBrown - 09 Jul 2008

Well put, Lynnwood.

I'll try to describe what I perceive as the current Governance rules:

  • We have release meetings (that very few people attend) to decide what to do next
  • We have marketing meetings to decide how to market TWiki effectively
  • We have the 14 days rule for new proposals.
  • We have very specific rules to decide if is time to release or not.
  • We have a Core Team (with veto rights) that also has access to the servers.
  • We have a secret Security Team, that handle security issues, with a well define process to handle them.
  • We have a person in charge of Translations.
  • We have a person in charge of TWiki News Boletin.

Given this, and the proposal... what is it that we're trying to solve?

-- RafaelAlvarez - 09 Jul 2008

I fully support Lynnwood's input.

Peter should think about this thoroughly again. At least my contributions will depend on a very strong community as a whole. I am not in favor of a BDFL. That does not reduce my respect for Peter and his work. I would think, that his total influence would be greater, if he gave away much more decision power to a democratic process.

-- MartinSeibert - 09 Jul 2008

I have read the above, and cannot see how it is applicable to the TWiki open source project. It reads mostly like a corporate positioning statement, and does not attempt to engage the community, rather to spell out Peter (and I presume TWIKI.NET's) strategic intentions.

None of these intentions are misaligned with my corporate strategy, but none of it seems to address the core issues that the open source TWiki project has. Adding to this the feeling that the positive impacts my personal contributions have been minimized by others over the years, all combine to make me wonder what of the above are actually going to be acted on to the full advantage of the community.

Of course, the fact that over a third (Kenneth has been ramping up his time recently thankfully) of the fixes that will be in 4.2.1 are done by me, suggests that have a rather large stake in the results of this process - its a shame that I won't be awake (or really online) when its discussed.

-- SvenDowideit - 14 Jul 2008

Sven: If I understand it right, you would like the meetings to begin later, so that you can participate. Maybe we could have a doodle-voting on that?

-- MartinSeibert - 14 Jul 2008

No, I don't think moving the meetings, thus excluding other people is the answer.

I think we should use the power of TWiki, by leveraging its non-time bound collaboration systems

-- SvenDowideit - 14 Jul 2008

I would like to add my 2 cents. Some disclaimers:

  • I am not a code-contributor. I am not even a coder. (anymore)
  • I look at this with a consumer/user/ex-geek/buildyourselfanappin2hours mind
  • I work with Twiki for at least 3 years now, my users are non-tecchies. I have even employed a guy to program some stuff for us on Twiki. So: I like it.

I agree with point 1. Twiki needs some structure for decisionmaking. I also agree with point e. It worked well for Python, why shouldn't it work for Twiki? (Or: what does Twiki need that it works just as well?).

Points 2 and 4 (Web 2.0) sound like some general powerpoint marketing buzz. This type of talk is only important when presenting to managers, not when talking to decision makers. I have not the slightest idea what those two points could possibly mean. TWiki has been around before Web 2.0. I hope it will be there after it.

Point 3: Twiki Champions. A great idea! Lets give them money (or shares)! Make them rich! The Support web might one day change into a breeding ground for champions.

Point 5: Creating a marketing-focused twiki website??? That should read: Create a twiki website!Right now, it's more an archeological site. How about creating a BDOODFTO? (Benevolent Disposer of obsolete data for twiki.org) smile I firmly believe that if the website would be more "readable" it would attract many more users.

As a general critique I cannot find a clear vision anywhere of what Twiki will be so extremely good at. I am not talking about the technical aspects, I don't care about those. I think the Twiki governance should at foremost create a unique vision, that is understandable by a rather simple-minded person like me. I went through the roadmaps and most of the ideas were of a technical nature or tried to address existing problems with the software/documentation.

I would love to post MY vision of Twiki in five years. But: where?

-- YogiParish - 24 Jul 2008

Excellent idea Yogi. Some People round here create topics like PersonalRoadmapForAntonioTerceiro, PersonalRoadmapForColasNahaboo, PersonalRoadmapForCrawfordCurrie, PersonalRoadmapForGilmarSantosJr and so on...

You may just want to create your own PersonalRoadmapForYogiParish...

-- CarloSchulz - 24 Jul 2008

Thank you for your input, Carlo. I have considered this. But I think I'm not technically competent enought to formulate a roadmap, if I compare to the others.

My point is that Twiki governance - whoever it may be - should concentrate on formulating the vision for the future (instead of discussing the strange issues I can read about on most of the new pages in Codev). I might be able to contribute a little bit to that from my POV.

Once the vision is clear, it is the job of the leading body to coordinate the efforts and hand out the rewards, may those be fame, money, shares or a place in the TwikiHallOfFame. Is that a wrong assumption on my side?

-- YogiParish - 24 Jul 2008

Yogi, many others have voiced the same. The only hope/problem is, key individuals chewing on such wisdom.

If you ask me, there's a serious management problem in TWiki. And Joost is right where he said professional help is required, may it be free or paid. But then again, with TCC materialising, only time will tell... wink

So what's another half a year wait? Not much...

-- KwangErnLiew - 24 Jul 2008

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Topic revision: r23 - 2008-12-06 - PeterThoeny
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