WB is right. Although, you might blame the documentation issues on the management issues. Note that I'm not criticizing anyone's management style or ability. The Devs have done a magnificent job getting the project to where it is. The project is a victim of its own success, which is a natural result of growth (the Devs can only be stretched so far), and there are commonly practiced techniques to solve these issues. There is a widely accepted Harvard model of small business growth phases (see http://www.enotes.com/small-business-encyclopedia/organizational-life-cycle
). This project is facing issues described in Phase 1 ("crisis of leadership") and Phase 2 ("crisis of autonomy"). In order to grow, these issues must be addressed or the project will stagnate, and there is no room for stagnated products in the IT industry. A stagnated IT project will die through competition.
Schmich raises some further symptoms of these growth challenges that are not purely technical in nature. Marketing is vital. We need to get the word out to the public that LMCE is here. That means talking to the press, doing press releases, interviews, demos etc. The web site must look professional, the logo and name should be good, and ideally there should be a spokesperson.
It is also vital that the UI is improved. I know that it's only the icing on the cake. But most people buy the cake because the icing looks good! OK, so LMCE is free, but people still weigh it up against commercial products to meet their needs. If the UI looks and feels clunky (and, sorry, it does), it will put off all but the most geeky people who are used to clunky database forms. We need an easy to use interface that looks great (think Apple iPhone).
Finally, I want to impress the importance of time. I once developed a commercial software product that, when I started, was an industry first. It had the best features and a great interface. It took 2 years to complete. It flopped. Why? Shortly into the process, someone else independently thought up a similar idea. They got funding, and because they had more resources, they completed their product months before mine. It was technically inferior, but they got first-to-market advantage. They worked with the press and got plenty of press coverage. My product didnt stand a chance. We tried to sell it for a year, but it could not compete. I learned my lesson, and for our next product, we had more funding, more people, and we gave the UI a higher priority than new features. It because a market leading success.
The moral of the story here is that we have limited time. If the project continues to grow organically, the competition will catch up (even, come out of nowhere with a few million in VC funding). Before we know what happened, there'll be a better, more supported product out there and LMCE will be dead. Sorry to have to put it that way, but its survival of the fittest. Fundamental changes must be made to how this project is run, and it has to be done now.
I think we need to hear all of the (6?) key Devs acknowledge that this is where we are and that they are willing to work with the community to restructure and formalize the management (that doesn't mean step down). Without their backing, I don't think we can achieve what must be done.