Tagged: Totara Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Doug Belshaw 12:48 pm on September 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , LinkedIn, Totara   

    Codes of Conduct 

    I usually follow the POSSE model and write first in a space I completely own and control, and then syndicate or cross-post elsewhere. However, on this occasion, I wrote a LinkedIn post directly on that site. In Why your user community needs a Code of Conduct, I reflect on some work I’ve done for Totara Learning in my part-time role as Community Advisor:

    Even if you’re reading this and thinking everything is fine in your community, it’s clear that we can never be fully aware of the nuances of the multitudes of interactions that take place. We’re all subject to the ‘unknown unknowns’ famously pointed out by Donald Rumsfeld. Who knows if there are people put off joining your community because of what they see? What if your forums are implicated in a wider issue that a member has with another individual?

    You can read the article in full here. I look forward to your comments!

     
  • Doug Belshaw 11:14 am on August 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: free software, , Totara   

    Free software, open source, and sustainability 

    Image by William White

    I’m doing some work with Totara at the moment. Before I started, I had a couple of conversations with their CEO, Richard Wyles, as I didn’t fully understand their business model. I discovered that, instead of providing solutions directly to customers, they develop open source software for their partners, who then customise solutions for customers. Money flows back to Totara through partners to cover costs around development, administration, and co-ordination activities. Customers get access to the source code, and aren’t locked into a relationship with a vendor reliant on proprietary code.

    The reason I wanted to know more about Totara’s model before starting work with them is because there’s been a lot of sensitivity around ‘openwashing’ over the last few years. Openwashing is whereby a company uses the language of the open source world, without actually adhering to its principles. You can read more about how to spot (and avoid) openwashing in this excellent article. It’s a contentious area and involves some interpretation.

    Today, an article by Richard Wyles has been published on opensource.com. Entitled We don’t make software for free, we make it for freedom, Wyles reiterates Richard Stallman‘s point around the true meaning of software freedom:

    Basing a business on an open source strategy is undoubtedly challenging, because no matter how many times you quote Richard Stallman that software freedom means “free speech,” not “free beer,” there is a persistent expectation that open source means free: free software, free updates, free knowledge, free support. In part, the confusion comes because a lot of GPL software is “free as in beer.” Many open source projects come from individuals or small groups coalescing around a problem they want to solve. They publish their output for free because they want others to join their effort.

    The problem we’ve got here is partly one around semantics: Stallman focuses on the Free Software movement, which actually has nothing to do with cost, and everything to do with liberty. Unless you really care about this stuff, it’s difficult to see the wood for the trees.

    In any case, it’s an article that’s worth reading. I’ll just pull out one more quotation from Wyles:

    Many single-vendor commercial open source firms adopt [a] dual-licensing approach, with a free community version and a paid-for enterprise proprietary license. The risk here is that the company prioritizes the proprietary version, because that’s where their money comes from, and the community version is soon perceived as “crippleware” or even worse, “abandonware.” For example, SugarCRM suspended or slowed development on its Community Edition and now makes it clear that it is not suitable in a production environment. I’m not criticizing them—you have to earn enough to keep the lights on, right? But are they still an open source vendor?

    This stuff is hard, but I’ve been persuaded in my conversations with Totara that not only are they not openwashing, but they’re actively trying to make open source software development into something that’s sustainable.


    Photo by William White on Unsplash

     
c
compose new post
j
next post/next comment
k
previous post/previous comment
r
reply
e
edit
o
show/hide comments
t
go to top
l
go to login
h
show/hide help
shift + esc
cancel
css.php