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From Donald Whytock <>
Subject Re: [RT] Community over policy, and similar thoughts
Date Mon, 16 Jan 2012 15:48:14 GMT
Like Apache, But Sexier...LABS?  I can totally see that.  Anyone want
to start an Apache LABS podling?

I'm speaking as someone who lurks on a few prodling lists, plus the
incubator.  There's stuff I've picked up sort of by osmosis (absorbing
through membranes and the skin, rather like how one learns in a
college class by falling asleep on one's book), stuff I assume from
what I perceive as the nature of the beast, and stuff I may well be
dead wrong about.

I like what you've said about community.  I appreciate the idea of
community over policy, community over bureaucracy, people over rules.

Having said that...My understanding is that Apache is a legal entity.
It has a registered life and purpose.  It has assets, both tangible
and non-tangible.  It receives assets and distributes assets.  And it
does this, in cooperation with governments and financial institutions,
by following specific rules.  Rules that have to be followed so that
various other legal entities, not limited to governments and financial
institutions, don't take the assets away from it.

I'm not sure, but I believe accepting contributions from people incurs
certain rules in and of itself, along the lines of, "We will use the
assets you transfer to us in such-and-such a way.  You can trust us
when we say that."  I assume that to use assets for something other
than what one says when one asks for them constitutes
misrepresentation and can lead to civil incivility.

Because of this, Apache has a duty to require that these rules be
followed by people that Apache invites to participate in activities
voluntarily.  On the one hand, there are Ts that have to be crossed
and Is that require a pixel or two over them.  On the other hand, if
people don't want to participate, for whatever reason (duty, fun, ego,
a drive to participate in something bigger than oneself), they're not
going to.

It has to be hard to deal with both of these things at the same time.
I think I've seen "The Apache Way" used to describe both rule
adherence and social curling[1], though not typically in the same

Depending on the person, one or the other may make more sense.  Some
people may be more bureaucractically sensitive, others may be more
community savvy.  Both people will, in response to a "What do I do
now?" query, present their answers as they see them.  These answers
may seem contradictory, but nevertheless represent answers that need
to be taken together.

But while community can be flexible in a lot of ways, policy generally
can't be.  The rules are there; exceptions can be made, but in terms
of law it's generally safer to assume they won't be.  So, as much as I
hate to say it, I don't think "community over policy" can actually
work.  "Community within policy", or "community in the context of
policy", perhaps.  But the policy kindasorta has to be there.  It has
to be visible, and it has to be explained.  And in some cases someone
might actually have to explain what a T is, and how it can be crossed.

I look forward to being proven wrong.



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