The Lost Openmoko Community ( what's a community manager to do?)

Steve Mosher steve at
Mon Oct 6 04:37:30 CEST 2008

Stroller let's assume it is Possible. I had a long chat with Sean
today. We both read the community list daily and our number one topic
of conversation was the "Lost community" thread. Sean asked me what
I thought of having a community manager. ( he was reading my mind again)
On one hand, I said, Stoller has some good points ( as always). It would
be a bit like herding cats, and in someway we want interesting cats, 
wandering off to do things that A) we didnt think of and B) we disagree 
with. basically because we don't know everything. On the other hand,
we do recognize the benefit to be had from a little bit of structure.
I have my ideas about what a community manager would do to organize and 
mobilize, But before I put those ideas down, I'd like to throw it open
to the community. Question: what functions do you see a community 
manager performing. Write his job spec. ( hint hint)

Stroller wrote:
> Hi Risto,
> I think you depend upon Openmoko Inc. to "provide" the community. Or  
> perhaps direction for the community.
> I don't know if that's possible.
> Community is, by definition, a bunch of different people, with  
> different ideas and different requirements. Sure there may be some  
> consensus, but there will also be plenty of people pulling in  
> different directions, too.
> Additionally, I think most of us, as Linux geeks, disagree with  
> Openmoko Inc. on what software for our phones should look like.  
> Openmoko want to sell their next generation of phones to little old  
> ladies and teenagers, and are prepared to sacrifice complexity to do  
> that. And they won't be asking the community how we want our phones -  
> they will be following their own "vision" to achieve this. I won't by  
> any means be relying on official distros to do what I want.
> But what Openmoko HAS given us is wonderful, wonderful phone hardware  
> which runs fully open-source software. I have realised that any  
> criticism I might make of Openmoko must pale in comparison beside this  
> - they're the ONLY people who have yet done so. (Perhaps we might  
> mention the no-longer available Trolltech Greenphone, but that was  
> only a run of 1000 units or so).
> I appreciate that if you're not already a Linux / OSS fanboi, then the  
> above statement might not mean much. What good is "fully open-source  
> software", if it doesn't work, you say? Well, the benefit is that WE  
> can make it work, and we don't have to reply upon Openmoko to help us.
> Considering that the Freerunner is only - what? - 3 months old, the  
> community has made leaps & bounds already. As others have pointed out,  
> you can make a bug report over a spelling mistake, and I point to  
> David Samblas' distro as an example of what the community has produced  
> already.
> I think that your problems stem from looking at "the Openmoko  
> community" from the outside in. Only 3 months ago the first 5,000 or  
> 10,000 units of the Freerunner suddenly hit the market - of course the  
> "direction" of development is going to be a mess. It's going to be  
> impossible to look at just a wiki or two and try and get a handle of  
> everything that's going on. And one shouldn't expect the impossible  
> from Openmoko - to expect a unified direction of development you are  
> asking someone to herd cats. Personally I don't want a single "true"  
> distro, because we might end up with Gnome for phones. I prefer KDE  
> and others here prefer Ice or whatever.
> Rereading some of your questions, I did feel the same way myself a  
> couple of months ago. "why don't the developers feel ok to contribute  
> directly to 2007.x and 2008.x but 'fork' their own distros?" I have to  
> say that I asked this myself, and I came to realise that that wouldn't  
> suit the "Openmoko vision" for their own software. Just as you can't  
> submit patches to Gnome to add right-click options if it doesn't meet  
> with their "usability specification" or ask KDE to remove options  
> because "they confuse my grandmother", some aspects of the Openmoko  
> vision are indeed closed. But this free software lark gives us the  
> I feel that software images from Raster & David Samblas, the work  
> being undertaken on SHR and the recent Qtopia release are all  
> testaments to the community surrounding Openmoko's device(s), and if  
> you appreciated how rapidly the situation with the software distos has  
> improved in only a few weeks, you would realise that there are great  
> things ahead for this platform. Yes, presently it may be frustrating  
> for you, but even the person who makes a blog post about configuring  
> their wifi under disto X, or changing the theme so that Navit displays  
> better... those people are making a difference and improving the  
> Freerunner environment for everyone.
> Stroller.
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