Decision making processes (was: Thunderbird mailing-list / NNTP decision rationale)

Ben Bucksch ben.bucksch at beonex.com
Thu Aug 12 13:06:59 UTC 2010


  On 12.08.2010 14:02, Andrew Sutherland wrote:
>  On 08/12/2010 04:28 AM, Ben Bucksch wrote:
>> How *do* you determine which features are important to keep? If the 
>> decision is removing important existing functionality or 
>> characteristics, and/or known to upset big (>5%) user groups, I would 
>> hope that there is an objective method to arrive at the conclusion - 
>> more than "the maintainers feel that...".
>
> dmose wrote up a very nice product notes draft that you can find here 
> (and previously mentioned by dmose in tb-planning):
> https://wiki.mozilla.org/User:Dmose/Tb_Product_Notes

This is a good goal and nice guideline for priorities for Thunderbird, yes.

The problem in this case is that it's not objective enough to make 
decisions which are sure to upset millions of people*. For example, 
whether NNTP is core or niche should be decided by something objective, 
not "we feel it doesn't fit our vision anymore".

* (I'm guessing that very roughly 5% of our users use NNTP, but I don't 
have reliable and statistically sound numbers, nor does anybody else I 
think).

> The important note is that there are currently no plans to remove 
> anything!

I understood and hope that, yes.

> The important note is that there are currently no plans to remove 
> anything!  My mention of NNTP is just an attempt to be forthright 
> about the implications of the above document and the limited manpower 
> on hand.

I don't want to be argumentative, but if lack of manpower is a prime 
problem, then it would be important to keep volunteer contributors 
happy, no? The proportion of votes imply to me that the majority of them 
want NNTP (which goes back to our original topic). I accept this 
particular decision, just food for thought for upcoming decisions, be it 
product decisions or project organization. You cannot run an open-source 
project like a classical company, in terms of decision making, 
communication etc. - if you do, you'll lose most of the volunteers (and 
in fact we do not have many). I feel like this is at the root of many of 
my disagreements. You have to decide, for the project: Do we want 
volunteers, and many of them, a vibrant community, or do we want to run 
like a company, and make decisions mostly among ourself? It's not 
possible to do both.

Ben



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