the answer to "What can be done to get some attention on this?"
R Kent James
kent at caspia.com
Tue Dec 22 02:59:16 UTC 2015
In https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1077418#c9 the commenter
"This is a critical dataloss bug that I've just hit _again_ - entire
emails just vanishing into the ether! That's pretty much the worst sort
of data loss in a mail client (OK, perhaps silently deleting incoming
email is worse). What can be done to get some attention on this?"
That is an important question that really needs a long-term answer, and
I think that answer to that question says a lot about where I think that
Thunderbird needs to go. Although the particular quote is from a
particular person, this message is not directed specifically at him or
that bug. It is a common issue that needs some direction.
It seems to me the current answer to "what can be done" is to hope that
we can attract more volunteer developers, or try to get more or better
work out of those who are currently active. (I had a more colorful,
snarky answer to this that I decided not to include.)
I don't think that answer is realistic, but it is no fun to ignore users
with problems, either. Maybe I'm someone who just doesn't really grok
open source, but I think we need a better answer. The Thunderbird code
base is too large for a handful of volunteers to feel responsible for
the many critical issues that are only affecting a small minority of
users. Maybe for code that is a fraction of the size of Thunderbird,
there is some hope that volunteers can address these issues. But our
code base is just way too big for that. I do not want to be made
responsible for everyone's critical issues, merely because I decided to
volunteer some time to the project. For many open source projects, the
users are primarily developers, and at least in theory those developers
have the ability to fix bugs that annoy them. But as a project directed
to end users, we do not have that advantage.
Yet those problems are important to those users. Here's what I think
that the answer should be.
Really everyone needs to have some path where they can advocate for a
particular bug to be fixed, using a path that ultimately leads to
someone who is a paid developer. Here are the paths to that:
1) Certified support organizations with level 3 support capability
(this is borrowed from TDF and LibreOffice). We should be able to point
people or organizations with issues to service organizations that have
the capability to actually fix bugs, and let the user advocate with that
organization why their bug is important. I'm not saying that such an
organization would be able to fix each specific bug from a single user,
but the organization should accept input from customers, and be prepared
to fund fixes that are important to some significant number of their
customers. Practically, what this means is that the support organization
needs to have on-call, and be prepared to pay, one of the core developers.
2) The Thunderbird users group, the "Thundernest", would have paid
membership, with a mechanism within that organization to decide which
bugs will be fixed. Members can advocate for their bugs within
Thundernest that has some paid capability to respond.
If you are an organization that uses Thunderbird, or a corporate
customer with a mission-critical use, the advice would be to retain one
of the certified support organizations. If you are an individual, the
advice would be to join Thundernest, and advocate there for your bug.
People who contribute to Thunderbird in some meaningful non-financial
way would also be offered membership.
If you are unwilling to do either, than I would say "Sorry we cannot
help you". That is, your expectation to have a free-as-in-beer email
client, that you are unwilling to fund or contribute to in any
meaningful way, does not create an obligation in me as a core developer
to fix your problem.
This is a rather severe position, and I expect many of you will take
exception to this. Maybe many of you would like to offer Thunderbird as
your gift to the world, without charge. Fine, but what is your answer to
"What can be done to get some attention on this?" for that bug and many
More information about the tb-planning