[okfn-discuss] Stagnation in community concerns

Aaron Wolf wolftune at riseup.net
Fri Feb 6 20:32:08 UTC 2015


Thanks for the detailed reply. I accept all of your points and this is not about personal issues.

I am still concerned about the idea of a selected group and how that works. It's perfectly fine for a select group to devise a proposal or a draft, but not okay for that group's work to just go live without first engaging the larger community.

This was a similar problem with the Open Definition. It was a major mistake that the update we in the OD-discuss list approved was then put live and announced to the list as final. The same thing with the tag-line.

Essentially, the primary complaint is that no major decisions that affect the whole community should *ever* be finalized by a smaller working group. The smaller group can internally conclude their work, but then it needs to be presented to the community for feedback *before* it is made official.

So, my concern is *less* about the inactivity on the tag-line and *more* about the uncomfortable fact that inactivity means the see-how-data tagline by default. Similarly, it's uncomfortable that any inactivity on getting to OD v2.1 means that ODv2 as is stays default. In the case of OD, I find v2 to be all around improvement over earlier anyway, but I just don't like the nature of the internal group's decision jumping into default.

Basically, I want the burden to remain on the internal group until the wider community seems generally to consent or at least have fully weighed in on such large community decisions. So, I would like the tagline deleted for now not because everyone agrees that deleting it with no other action is an improvement (although, I'm biased here, I think it would be an improvement) but because I want the group that works on the tagline to have the burden and feel that it is missing right now and something needs to be done. That is better than a situation where those who don't mind the tagline can simply be inactive and it stays.

So, indeed, I've made my points about why I don't like the tagline. I'm not alone in my concerns. We don't need to rehash all that here. The main issue is a question of how defaults get into place. I'm suggesting that "we, this smaller sub-group did the work" should *not* be considered adequate to impose larger-scale defaults over the community. That justification should only apply to things that are specific to the smaller group itself.


On 02/06/2015 02:12 AM, Rufus Pollock wrote:
> Hi Aaron,
> Responding inline below.
> On 5 February 2015 at 21:29, Aaron Wolf <wolftune at riseup.net
> <mailto:wolftune at riseup.net>> wrote:
>     So, "See how data can change the world" is still an awful tag-line. It
>     has absolutely nothing to do with OK projects like the Public Domain
>     Review. And so on and so on. Also, it was written with a gross lack of
> First, for my part, I really welcome your continuing commitment to help
> Open Knowledge get the best outcome here. It is deeply appreciated and
> it makes a real difference.
> Given your clear commitment I would like to offer one initial
> suggestion: that in our discussion we demonstrate (what I assume is) our
> maximum good faith and assume the commitment of all parties to get the
> best possible outcome. This also entails using maximum courtesy,
> especially in email communication which lacks so much of the additional
> cues available in other forms of human interaction.
>     community input. Today, it remains many months later on the homepage
>     because once you just do something, even poorly and undemocratically, it
>     is done and becomes the default. The burden is now on others to
>     change it.
> I'd encourage moving away from some conjectured "us vs them" thing (e.g.
> "burden on others to change it"). We all want to work to get the best
> outcome here and to reach agreement - even that is agreement to an
> outcome that is not our preferred one but is one that moves the
> organisation forward effectively.
> That said, if it is useful to clarify, I shoulder full responsibility
> for this tagline being there, and any feelings about the rights and
> wrongs of the process leading to it.
> At this point, let's move away from the past and focus on what we want
> to do here to move this forward - more below.
>     Given a dramatic lack of consensus and serious concern about this stuff,
>     I find it troubling that topic was basically discussed just enough that
>     it was drawn out and then died down and no action was taken.
> This is a great point Aaron and I take full responsibility here as I was
> the one initiating that conversation and more should have been done to
> take it to a conclusion (for the sake of context, the inaction from
> early July onwards was due to the leadup and followup to Open Knowledge
> Festival - I'm not seeking to excuse not taking this forward, simply to
> explain this was not an intentional choice but an accidental by-product
> of other activities).
> Because it does help inform us going forward, let me flag some of the
> discussion from last June and especially:
> https://lists.okfn.org/pipermail/okfn-discuss/2014-June/010435.html (and
> following)
> https://lists.okfn.org/pipermail/okfn-discuss/2014-June/010450.html
> (summary of input)
> https://lists.okfn.org/pipermail/okfn-discuss/2014-June/010480.html
>     It remains the case that anyone who cares about something like the
>     Public Domain Review would look at okfn.org <http://okfn.org> and
>     probably leave. The
>     homepage clearly states that okfn.org <http://okfn.org> is just
>     about big data — which
>     might as well be data relating to tracking everyone's behaviors for all
>     a first look might interpret (rather than data from science and
>     government stats).
> For my part, there is definitely no intention for this to be about big
> data (people know my views there!) and that is not how I interpret the
> front page.
> I acknowledge there is a greater data focus in the tagline (and perhaps
> the page overall) but that is not about it being about "big data" etc.
> The work on the front page, as emphasized previously, was aiming to
> present something that is simple, meaningful and understandable to a
> broader audience outside of those already deeply interested and/or
> knowledgeable in this area. Trying to encompass everything tends to
> result in a smorgasbord effect which is neither very understandable of
> compelling - at least based on expert input and general "guerialla" user
> testing.
>     Yada yada yada. This was all discussed. If we can't get consensus on a
>     better tag-line, how about NO tagline? Instead have a brief paragraph
>     describing what the heck OK does actually or who it is? Actually, that
>     stuff seems present if you just scroll down. So just DELETE that whole
>     green useless section from the homepage. Oh, but please add something in
>     the bottom section that covers the sort of cultural stuff that Public
>     Domain Review does, since that's *still* absent (indicating OK's leaning
>     toward disregarding those areas, which I hope isn't going to continue).
> Acknowledge this clear suggestion - which I appreciate you also made
> last June (though not with the additional detail). Personally, I do
> think the "vision" statement is useful.
> *However, given neither us are necessarily authorities on this I'd like
> to get away from debate around our individual opinions and focus on
> whether there is a suitable, simple process we could adopt here.*
> *To make a concrete suggestion: we could form a (small) group who were
> tasked with making a decision here - with the group made of up of some
> key stakeholders such as representatives of local groups and working
> groups etc (and who could consult as relevant with experts).*
> All the best,
> Rufus
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