Community contributions to core apps & features. (Was: Terminal for ASU)

Michael Shiloh michael at
Sat Aug 9 01:58:05 CEST 2008

rakshat hooja wrote:
>     It is already linked from the front page, but clearly from not those
>     places it should be from :)
>     But you have good points. Openmoko is open, but its development is not
>     exposed in the open as much as I'd like for an open source project to
>     be. The Openmoko folks are still a bit "mysterious" to me, with the
>     exception of the few who regularly post on these mailing lists.
>     I think the line between Openmoko employee and a contributing, trusted
>     community member should be made more fuzzy. More SVN / GIT rights to
>     the people, more contributing directly to
>     instead of just "external" projects at
>     <> etc. 
> You are right but I think that the problem lies in the fact that 
> Openmoko has not been able to provide any entry point where new people 
> joining the list (after the release of the freerunner) can figure out 
> who and where to ask what question. The Openmoko people are pretty open 
> and if you will ask for something long enough you will get an answer/ 
> access from them. Michael Shiloh of Openmoko used to interface with the 
> community and answer their questions after getting the information from 
> the developers in a regular community update. I think Steve and Michael 
> still do that? 

You are right, Steve and I still do that.

My formal job is to ease communication between the community and the 
company. As I am not in Taiwan I am somewhat out of the loop of many of 
the decisions and processes. In fact, as the OP suggests, I am that 
fuzzy person between the community and the company.

I've let Steve do the updates for the past while because as the decision 
maker on when and what to ship, he has much more visibility into the 
schedule than I do. There was clearly nothing I could contribute in that 
realm, and there is rarely anything I can add on top of Steve's updates.

Maybe we should have a page on the wiki describing who
> does what at Openmoko and who to address what question to

We have the beginning of such a wiki page, and I'll expand my job 

  and also an
> introductory email for new subscribers listing out similar things.

Good idea. The best answer to the question "who do I ask this question?" 
usually is "it's better to ask it on the list, since (a) if the best 
person to ask isn't available, chances are someone else on the list will 
answer pretty quickly and (b) your answer will benefit others both now 
and in the future through the archives and perhaps (c) we try to be as 
open as possible. Ask on the list unless it is private. But your point 
is taken, and this should be in such an introductory email.

> It has been almost an year since I wrote my first email to Openmoko 
> (actually to Sean  to which Michael Shiloh replied) I can assure you 
> that Openmoko people try their "hardest" to be open and responsive to 
> community suggestions/ questions. But often it takes time for the 
> question/ request to reach the correct person who can answer it / 
> respond to it.

Indeed. The degree to which we are all overwhelmed is astonishing. I 
have never worked at a job where each of us wore so many hats, and where 
each hat involved so much email and related conversations.

For example, I was thrilled yesterday when I got my _unread_ mail 
message count down below 1000. Whee!

We do sincerely try to do our best. Sometimes we fail because we don't 
know what is best, but usually we delay simply because we don't have the 

We really do rely on the community to take some of the load off of us. 
This is why I was so thrilled to so the wiki maintenance volunteers. A 
well maintained, informative wiki will free up the time of Openmoko 
engineers to do what they need to do, instead of answering questions 
that are already answered in the wiki but simply can't be found.

I should add that we are very much aware that many of you on this list 
already perform this task and already reduce our workload by helping and 
answering. The well maintained wiki will help free your time up, so you 
too can be doing more important things (like helping us?) rather than 
answering questions that are already answered.

Along these lines I should mention that the testing, reporting, and bug 
filing that you are doing for OM 2008.8 is tremendously helpful. Please 
keep this up. An identified problem and a well defined, reproducible bug 
report saves so much time for the engineer assigned to fix it. Thank you.

Finally, my primary job is to keep you all happy. If you have any 
complaints, questions, problems, suggestions, or other comments, please 
do write me, either on the list of privately. It is both my job and my 
personal wish to keep and to further strengthen an involved, active, 
enthusiastic, and productive community. I still believe that the most 
amazing devices have yet to be imagined, and are more likely to come 
from you than from us simply because there are more of you.

> Rakshat

Michael Shiloh

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