Many of you have seen minutes of the recent OpenNTF Board meeting... Probably, you have noticed the IP Manager issue:
Peter Announced that he has been "laid off" as a contractor at IBM effective immediately. OpenNTF Group scrambling to find funding for Peter Tanner's invaluable work for the OpenNTF Entity. Looking for options for hiring Peter as a consultant. We have a quorum. Peter Tanner excused himself from the conversation. Outstanding $4,250.00 in accounts receivable. Discussion of a contingency plan to get Peter back. Working on approving 30 hours for Peter.
Tweets have started just after a couple of hours and Bruce Elgort, the Chairman has notified an incoming blog entry...
I don't want to bring a discussion about IBM's involvement about this. Because; very little of us know what is going on in the background and I'm pretty sure the board and many IBMers did what they have to do... Besides, I never thought that IBM will pull back OpenNTF's progress and I am personally faced lots of situations that IBM spending incredible amount of money and energy on its community.
On the other hand, I also witnessed so many interesting "we want it but we cannot do it" cases inside IBM. So let's put this issue to the OpenNTF and IBM people and trust them about they could do what needs to be done.
So why I'm blogging about this?
I have seen some good comments and positive approaches about funding OpenNTF. For example, a fund-raising activity is being suggested. It would be a very good contribution to OpenNTF but it's a temporary solution. We need a more solid and permanent solution.
We should first accept that OpenNTF is more than a community right now. With the extension library and development contests; OpenNTF became a center of gravity in Domino development (mainly XPages). Although there are 'side' communities, OpenNTF circle is still making the largest contribution to the development.
Secondly, we have to understand why OpenNTF have been incorporated and why we need to hire an IP manager. This has been undervalued or ignored in the community as far as I see.
As you may have noticed, IBM contributed lots of source code in the last years. They have also assigned a team of developers for extension library, mobility and social enabler projects. Lots of companies are also contributing these projects with different motives. So if you are a 'code provider', it's an important factor to work in a regulated platform which provides legal protection for your code and intellectual property.
Get back to the consumer side; many large companies have restriction policies that regulates the use of open source codes. Suppose you are developing your own application (to use or to sell). You can't just google something and use the first code piece you have seen! That would end up a legal case, tagged with a number of figures. But you are pretty sure about that OpenNTF projects are cleared by an IP authority. That differs a lot...
So I hope you have been convinced till this point, about how important OpenNTF is...
Somehow, OpenNTF should be funded. Expecting this from contributors will not be fair. IBM should certainly arrange some funds (because, obviously they have the most benefit from OpenNTF). In addition, it is the time for member companies to pay something for our membership.
My company has been the member of OpenNTF. This has nothing to do with my personal contribution. I would prefer to be a personal contributor, but didn't. Why?
Because being the member of OpenNTF is an important title for my company. Customer looks at my company resumé, and they see OpenNTF contributions of Developi, not me... OpenNTF are keeping my brand name on their web site, retweeting my XPages activities and leveraging my brand in the community. That's why I owe some membership fee to OpenNTF.
My suggestion is simple. It's not going to cover all expenses of OpenNTF; but I'm sure it will help. OpenNTF would create a formulation for a membership fee according to some criteria (employee count, international presence, financial figures, etc.)
There are additional potential approaches, like building the famous AppStore for XPages solutions, getting more advertisements, etc. All these would be discussed in the future...
We should be open-minded about those alternatives. OpenNTF is more than a community right now. We are all part of it and we are receiving some benefits from OpenNTF.
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