Sunday, July 6, 2014

Re: What is success for Fedora?

Josh Boyer ( said:
> The Board is starting this thread to have an earnest discussion around
> what people see "success" being for the Fedora project. Hopefully the
> Board members will chime in with their own thoughts soon, but we want
> to get as many ideas around this as possible. Hopefully this
> discussion will help the Board, and the community as a whole, gather
> some insight as to where we think Fedora is, where it should be
> heading, and what we should be doing to get it there.

So, might as well go back to the beginning with the Fedora Vision statement.

The Fedora Project creates a world where

free culture is welcoming and widespread,
collaboration is commonplace, and
people control their content and devices.

We then decided that the best way to do this was:

The Fedora Project's mission is to lead the advancement of free and open
source software and content as a collaborative community.

leading to objectives of:

Creating a Free (as in Freedom) distribution
Building open source software communities
Developing the science and practice of building communities

Looking at where we are now, I come to the following conclusions:

1) We're failing at at least one, if not two, of our three objectives.

In Fedora today, I don't see much work at all on the science and practice of
building communities, nor significant work being done to build new and/or
bigger open source software communities. (In fact, everything we list on
the wiki for doing the second of these relates to the distribution, not to
actual community building.) Everything is focused on doing the release.

2) The throughline from our Vision to our project initiatives is weak.

I can somewhat explain how creating a Fedora Cloud product helps free
culture, collaboration, and user content/device freedom, but it's very
handwavy. (Not intending to pick on cloud - it's not really better for any
of the products.)

3) Success currently happening towards the Vision currently seems entirely
orthogonal to Fedora.

If you look at the predominant sites for collaboration today, and for 'free
culture', Fedora is at best incidental to them. And as for people
controlling their content and devices, even if that was happening, it would
generally be happneing on devices that Fedora is not targeting.


Hence, if we're going to try and measure Fedora's "success", I'd argue that

1) we need a different vision that reconciles better with what we're doing
- or -
2) we need to change what we're doing to better fit our vision

Of course, I may be overthinking this, and you're merely asking what is
considered success for our current initiatives, outside of the vision. In
that case:

1) Creating a Free (as in Freedom) distribution

Creation is a bad succes metric. *Use* is a good one.

Ergo, measuring:
- release over release usage growth
- market share adoption vs incumbent comptetitors (Linux, non-Linux)

2) Building open source software communities

Growth of the *active* contributor base over time. Likely this involves each
sub-area of the project finding some measure of contribution that can be
used to determine 'active', and we measure against that.

Furthermore, going back to the vision of having free culture being
"welcoming and widespread", we should be measuring the diversity of the
community, and working to increase that metric.

Another metric would be 'active software communities that graduate from
Fedora into self-sustaining ones' (or ones that don't just target Fedora).
I don't know that we're there yet, but if we truly want world domination, we
have to escape our bubble.

3) Developing the science and practice of building communities

If we're succeding at this, we should be a model example being cited by
others as how build communities, presenting at conferences on how to
organize your community, and so on. I don't think we're there.

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