Improving our integration with KDE application teams, and supporting companies

Cornelius Schumacher schumacher at kde.org
Fri Aug 24 09:56:50 BST 2018


On Freitag, 24. August 2018 00:23:29 CEST Valorie Zimmerman wrote:
> >> On Monday, 20 August 2018 10:58:05 CEST Cornelius Schumacher wrote:
> >> > I don't think that anybody has a problem with having a healthy
> >> > ecosystem of
> >> > companies around KDE. That's not the debate we are having.
> 
> Slight pushback here: Boud has gotten negative feedback for having a
> foundation to pay devels for Krita.

I think this is mostly a misunderstanding. I'm not aware of negative feedback 
about paying developers for Krita or having an organization being able to do 
that.

The negative feedback I'm aware of is about lack of coordination with KDE e.V. 
when creating the Krita foundation. The creation of the Krita foundation came 
as a surprise to the KDE e.V. board after everything was already done. I think 
we can do better there. A healthy ecosystem needs communication and 
coordination, and it's most effective when interests are aligned and not put 
against each other.

> Frank definitely got negative
> feedback, enough to take ownCloud out of the KDE ecosystem.

This was a quite complex situation, there were many factors involved. But 
again the negative feedback was not about the question if it's ok to pay 
developers but about other aspects of how the project was handled.

> >> The thread started with Valorie exclaiming surprise that there was
> >> pushback on the entire notion of having companies / paid development
> >> around the KDE community. Some people have chimed in saying that that's
> >> not what they hear at all, so at this point I'm inclined to say that
> >> Valorie had the bad luck to run into one or two grumpy people.
> 
> Possibly. However I've heard a lot of this over the years. It could
> have been the same few grumpy people though; I didn't keep track. :-)

I think we need to look very closely at what people are saying, grumpy or not. 
>From what I can tell, it's always about the way how things are done, and never 
a general objection against paying developers.

When money is involved, especially when it's money coming from donors, or 
money which belongs (or is perceived to belong) to the community, discussions 
quickly get more complicated and agitated. Conflicts of interest are more 
likely. That's why we need to have a thorough and careful discussion about 
this.

Luckily we have a strong foundation with KDE e.V. and we are in a position 
where we can move things in a positive direction. I would assume that we are 
all on board of doing this and putting the money KDE e.V. has to good use as 
well as enabling businesses around KDE to thrive.

> >> But we could run a separate email thread with this question:
> >>  - do we (as a community) want an ecosystem of companies and paid
> >>  development>> 
> >> around KDE?
> 
> This was my main question, and I and most answering here seem to say
> YES. I believe that this growth is crucial to the on-going growth and
> health of the KDE community.

You are absolutely right. I think the answer always has been yes, and the 
question probably is more about how we can recreate an ecosystem of companies 
which is as strong as in the past and ideally even stronger.

> IMO the e.V. should be spending money to develop KDE infrastructure --
> the website, both developer and user documentation, and our hardware
> and the sysadmins who care for it. In addition, we need Promo (which
> we now have, and paid and volunteer people happily work together),
> sprints and other meetings, which again I think could use paid staff
> and volunteers working together.

I think that's all good. There are two aspects we need to get right, though. 

The first is that we make sure that we treat this as an investment to enable 
more and better future work, not a way to just get some daily work done. We 
don't have a lot of sustainable funds we can reliably spend longer term, so it 
would be ideal if we can use the resources we have to leverage others to do 
their work easier, better, faster, so that it has a long-term effect, beyond 
the time when the work is paid.

The second is that we spend the money in a way which is compatible with 
volunteer work, which motivates volunteers, and doesn't push them away. This 
requires fairness in selection of projects and people so that we don't have 
the situations where we have two people doing the same work, and one is paid 
and one not. Getting rid of some mundane tasks nobody wants to work on might 
be great for volunteers who can then focus on more interesting work, doing it 
the other way around would be harmful.

> I think the coming effort to survey the state of our documentation is
> such an effort, and there was already some pushback over spending even
> a modest amount on that. I hope we've gotten past that, because we
> need someone outside of KDE to do the survey, in my opinion.

This is another example where the pushback was not about if to spend money or 
not, but about how to do it. How to avoid conflicts of interest, how to have a 
fair selection of people to pay.

I think it would be good to define some kind of process where projects for 
paid work can be proposed, vetted, and maybe voted on, so we get the right 
selection of projects. And based on that have another process where people or 
organizations can bid for projects and there is some selection process of who 
gets chosen to work on these.

With KDE e.V. and its board we have some critical elements in place to run 
such a process. Maybe it's just a matter of writing down how we want to handle 
that and let the membership vote about it.

-- 
Cornelius Schumacher <schumacher at kde.org>


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