I really don't think "the devs" get what I'm talking about at all. However, I'm not going to be drawn in to getting personal, as some of you have done.
Here's how it is. I want this project to succeed, but as someone who has plenty of experience in product management, business consulting, and running successful software companies, I see problems that I believe the devs are overlooking. These problems are preventing me and many others from getting involved any deeper. I'm not telling anyone how to code (despite having a degree in software engineering), so please respect well meant professional opinions from people who have talents in areas other than coding and who can still contribute. If you have a different opinion, then discuss it in an adult manner.
The problem here is that discussion regarding anything other than code is not only ignored, it is often childishly ridiculed or ferociously attacked. When you consider the size of the user base, it's obvious that there are people from all walks of life using (or trying to use) the software, who can contribute in ways other than coding. So, please stop referring everyone who tries to help to the developers section and making comments like "He who writes the code HAS THE FINAL SAY". Otherwise, this isn't a community, it's a dictatorship run by a faction of the community. In a true community, the community has the final say, and everyone has equal opportunity to contribute.
Here's just a short list of people, who are not coders, that are getting shut out of the project.
- Graphic designers - who could help improve the UI and web site
- PR professionals - who could write and submit press releases and articles that would raise awareness of the project and get more people involved (there's plenty of bad press about LMCE out there, if you've ever looked)
- Business analysts - who have access to information regarding other commercial and free products that may be competing, and industry trends that we should be discussing. They may even include LMCE in their analyst reports and further promote the project.
- Lawyers - who can interpret and advise on licensing issues, or deal with legal matters of ownership on things like shared equipment
- Accountants - who could manage any funds that might become available
- Business Angels - investors who are prepared to donate funds to the project (even if it it remains non commercial) for things like web hosting, test devices, development labs, marketing, travel, or even paid contributors. There's a whole bunch of ways that investors could monetize their involvement with the project while keeping it free to use.
- Venture Capitalists - investors who might be interested in a commercial version of the product
- Sponsors - who could contribute funds in return for a mention on the web site
- Marketers - people who develop strategies for improving the penetration of the product
- Journalists - who may be inclined to write articles regarding the product
- Equipment manufacturers - who may donate equipment to be used by the project as development beds, or as peripherals to be supported
- Management consultants - who can help organize the project as a whole
- Project managers - who can help manage specific projects, allowing the coders to focus on the coding
It was recently pointed out that there are plenty of good books and courses on development. Well, there's plenty of training available on product management (including of open source projects), project management, and team building too. If the devs don't feel it necessary to understand all this stuff, the they should just focus on the coding, and stop objecting to those of us who do have knowledge of this stuff and preventing us from getting involved.
Before you cry, "well just do all that stuff and stop complaining", you need to know that all that stuff falls into one or both of two categories. The first requires cooperation from the key developers (how can a graphic designer contribute to a GUI if he doesn't code, or how can a PR person describe to the press about where the project is going without a clear plan being agreed?). The second category is that stuff that requires a lot of effort/time/money for which the contributor wants a return (whether it be fun, acknowledgment, more money, personal development, or whatever). People only invest when they feel that their investment will be worthwhile. I've already invested a huge amount of time into trying to get LMCE to work and on trying to help the project move in the right direction. All I'm getting back from the devs is a brick wall. Where's the fun in that? The same applies to a lot of others, coders included, who would otherwise contribute.
It's appropriate that Thom made an analogy of the devs being down in the trenches. Well, that's true, but trench warfare needs more than the frontline soldiers. Firstly, there has to be a reason for it in the first place, then there is a whole host of other teams who support the effort, including funding, communication, leadership. Team work, that its, with teams outside of the trenches. Otherwise, what's going to happen is that one day the soldiers are going to wake up, realize that the war ended years ago, and they lost out to a better organized opponent.
I hope this project succeeds, for the thousands of users who have put their hard earned time and money into trying to get the product to work. Unfortunately, it doesn't work for me, and having now understood how this project is organized I'm not convinced that any further investment will be worthwhile. Clearly, little is about to change.
Good luck everyone.