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thoughts on LWN "how many Fedora users are there"

My fellow Fedorans,

I have some thoughts on the LWN article/discussion that was taken from a few of the recent postings to fedora-advisory-board.

Rather than send the same message to a bunch of different Fedora lists, I'm just going to spit it out here on fedora-announce-list.


All of the "interesting" threads about Fedora that we've seen on LWN tend to begin with one of the LWN editors browsing the Fedora Advisory Board archives and commenting on some of the discussions that take place there.

It's not like that's an accident.

When we set up that mailing list, we said two very specific things:

1) This is *the list* where the controversial conversations about Fedora will take place.

2) This list is completely open. Anyone can read it. Anyone can post to it. And we hope that people will!

I'm glad people are reading it. I'm glad people *care* enough about the issues that are discussed on it to write a large number of comments to a story about Fedora.

So the *particulars* of this thread about Fedora metrics to me are *less important* than the fact that these conversations -- in their raw, unedited form -- are being had 100% in the open. And that they are being had in very large part by people who do not work for Red Hat. And that people who don't work for Red Hat are making decisions about Fedora policy that are then implemented.

That was the goal of the Fedora Board, and the Fedora Advisory Board. And it's working.

Seth Vidal and Dave Jones summed it up well in the comments on LWN. There was an idea. That idea was discussed in public. It received criticism, others were proposed, options were weighed, and a decision was made. That's how it's supposed to work.

So what's the purpose of taking parts of that conversation and sticking them on a news site like LWN?

Is it to:

A) be critical of the *initial idea* and made Fedora look foolish for having thought of it to begin with?

B) be a case study of "the lifecycle of a controversial decision in Fedora"?

C) *incorrectly* imply that Red Hat might want to cut funding for Fedora?

D) demonstrate a problem with Fedora (lack of strong metrics) and show some of the conversations around that problem?

The Fedora Advisory Board list is made up of all sorts of different types -- engineers both inside and outside of Red Hat, lawyers, marketing experts, folks who are considering business issues, folks who are considering technical issues, etc.

When the ideas of one group come up against the scrutiny of other groups, it isn't always pretty.

But the *end result* is what matters. And since we inaugurated the Fedora Board in April, I think the Fedora Project has a solid track record of doing the "right thing" in the end.

The fact that the rest of the process is transparent should, in my opinion, be held up as a good thing.

It is a side effect that looking into that process can occasionally lead to a fun comment/flame thread. Laugh at us if you want to. Flame us if you want to. We're still going to talk about it in the open, because as an organization the Fedora Project is committed to that transparency, even when it isn't necessarily the *easiest* choice.

So please, judge us based on what we actually DO, not just what we talk about and then throw away.


P.S. RED HAT IS NOT GOING TO CUT FUNDING FOR FEDORA! Quite the opposite, in fact. But I can't just walk into the magic room full of gold and take a pile of it. There has to be justification. There has to be a Plan. It has to be treated like Serious Business(TM). :-) And I think that any product (free or otherwise) that can't at least give a ballpark guesstimate of how many people use it is going to have some problems being taken seriously.

Max Spevack
+ http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/MaxSpevack
+ gpg key -- http://spevack.org/max.asc
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