@tomsmyth, thanks so much for the work you are doing on the @TSC and the offer to help.
I've spent a couple of sleepless nights thinking about the messages in this topic and the ongoing transition. None of this is easy, but I figured I'd put my perspective on where we are and propose a way forward.
And to be clear, while I'm a member of the PMC, I'm not speaking for the PMC in this message. I'm speaking for myself.
Quick PMC background
From my perspective, the PMC has been wrestling with two problems: the website and naming.
The current website is out of date and it's confusing to users. The site text is not relevant, most of the binaries are old, certain resources now live elsewhere (e.g., forum, docs).
The ODK 2.0 name is confusing. "ODK" means a certain thing to people and "ODK 2" is not a perfect map to that thing. Further, the "2" implies a replacement which it isn't.
The PMC, after some difficult conversations, decided to start with the website with the hope that it would get to completeness quickly. It's been slow going because community processes take time. And it's also been slow because PMC members all have a lot of other work to do.
The feedback on this topic so far suggests that the PMC should put the website on hold and complete a renaming. This is a tough pill to swallow given how hard it's been to get to this stage.
My current thinking
I strongly believe that open source works best when the people who are doing the day to day work make the decisions. And so when long-time and active contributors who've not complained for years speak up, I think the community should bias to their suggestions.
I was hopeful that the website could help the community find positioning that would work well for ODK and ODK 2, but it has not turned out that way. I've come to realize that the push back from long-time contributors is a manifestation of a deeper problem that should have been taken on earlier.
And it's a problem that I can relate to. At the convening, I committed to help ODK transition out of the UW and I committed to focusing on the most widely deployed tools. We've made great progress but it's been extremely difficult to provide support, write docs, recruit contributors, build marketing, raise funding to push ODK forward when there is a seemingly competing set of tools operating under the same brand. I've spent a lot of time talking to other open source maintainers and working on the positioning over the last year. It's not solvable with disclaimer text. It is confusing and that burden falls on the folks doing the day to day work.
From what I can see, sharing a brand isn't great for ODK 2 either because of their relative size. Everything from pinned repos to forum posts to grant proposals from ODK tends to drown out ODK 2. It's hard to grow a community and ecosystem that way. And as the lines between ODK and ODK 2 continue to blur, it will get harder to live under the same brand. Case in point, ODK has started work on improving repeat groups and longitudinal data collection and ODK 2 has started reducing the technical skills required to deploy it. Building a consensus around positioning is not going to get easier.
I understand that the PMC laid out a tentative transition plan, but I think plans should be readjusted as the situation changes.
A way forward?
I think a website launch or a minor renaming does not help ODK or ODK 2 maximize their potential and while I understand that the following might be a painful thing to propose, I believe it might be a good way forward. I propose the following:
ODK 2 spins out as a standalone sister project with shared goals and ideals.
ODK 2's active contributors and most trusted users come up with a name without the ODK prefix and positioning that they agree on.
The various TSC's launch websites that work well for their respective tools with prominent links to each other as sister projects. The various pieces of infrastructure that ODK 2 needs are migrated.
The current PMC disolves and assigns project leadership to the various TSCs and calls the transition finished.
I think the beginning of this idea was proposed at one of the breakout sessions at the convening and I'm raising it again because I think it's a reasonable solution to a complicated problem.
I understand that there was some opposition at the convening, but I strongly believe that before we take an option off the table, contributors who have had a long history with the project and have actively contributed during the transition should have a chance to weigh in publicly.
I also like this idea because it addresses the remaining tasks that the PMC proposed to take on. The reality is that we are eight months beyond the initial transition end date and I argue these remaining tasks are no longer necessary because the transition is functionally finished.
And by functionally, I mean members of the community who are interested in the various tools have already stepped up to take ownership and those folks should be given the control needed to move things forward.
To support this proposal, I will commit my time to helping make sure ODK and ODK 2 has whatever resources it needs to ensure a smooth spin out.