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Developers and the Mambo Community React - BrainDump

What happens when a corporation tries to restructure (or even power grab) an open source project? Miro found out the hard way, when they tried to reorganize the development of Mambo. The case could prove to be a warning for all open source projects that have associated corporations.

  1. Joomla is the New Mambo
  2. Mambo Backstory, a Very Brief History
  3. Creating the Mambo Foundation
  4. Development Team Abandons Miro
  5. How Miro Angers the Core Developers
  6. Developers and the Mambo Community React
  7. Future for Mambo and Joomla
By: Developer Shed
Rating: starstarstarstarstar / 66
September 26, 2005

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The Developers' Immediate Response

To oversimplify things, these conflicts sound like a result of horrible communication. Both Miro and the core developers seem to have good intentions, and both could have done a little more to recognize that. The problem seems to arise from Miro revising the foundation documents without developers in mind. But Miro says the core developers did not voice their concerns about how the foundation was implemented until they wrote the resignation letter. Needless to say, this isn't a way to resolve differences. Miro did listen to objections that people presented after the developers left. On August 22nd, five days after all the lead developers resigned, Peter Lamount announced that he had begun to transfer Mambo's intellectual property to the foundation.

Over the past few days, a few people in the community took the time to come to me directly to help me understand why it was so important that the Foundation should own Mambo’s copyright and trademark outright, and not just a license. Transferring the copyright was an easier decision to make now that there is a responsible structure to manage it. (source)

Perhaps more could have been accomplished if the developers had tried to communicate the problems to Miro. Brian Teeman commented that he and other developers saw no reason to try working with the company, because their trust in Miro was destroyed when the company changed the Mambo Foundation from the MSC's plan.

Also, in a way, the Core Developer Team failed the developer community just as Miro did not meet the developers' expectations. The core developers did not consult or discuss anything with the community to resolve what they should do. The developers' lawyers, The Software Freedom Law Centre, advised them not to disclose certain things, but it is still unfortunate that decision was not more of a community effort. In short both sides have made questionable changes, despite their intentions.

The Mambo Community Reacts

The Core Development team, as they mentioned, decided to simply take the Mambo code they had been working on and keep developing it on their own. The code is issued under the GPL, and the team confirmed with their lawyers that they could start their own project using it. The only things they have to remove are the Mambo logos and the Mambo name. Everything else is starting out the same and continuing the way it would have originally.

The letter-writers started their own website as a platform to rally support, OpenSourceMatters.org. Advocates of their cause posted links, arguments and flames on Mambo’s message boards to direct people away from Mambo. It's also worth mentioning that none of the signatories of the developers' letter were involved in this. Miro responded by deleting all posts related to the renegade site and banning offending users. This only caused further outrage.

Some forum users managed to talk to Miro employees about the Mambo Foundation, but after a couple days, Miro got tired of responding and stopped. Peter Lamont told interviewers that Miro still welcomed feedback, but so far only 2 people had contacted the company outside the forums. Meanwhile, they never announced other means to contact the company, leading the developers to feel like they were being shut out.

As Miro was deleting posts, banning users, and ignoring questions directed to them, they launched MamboLove.com. The website was a love-filled attempt to advocate Mambo, and was basically a copy of SpreadFirefox.com. This was a means to bond the community by giving them “love points” for link referrals, and it was also a means of cementing the Mambo brand.

The core developers recruited factions on OpenSourceMatters, and within a few days over a thousand people had joined the site to express support. The new community received free server hosting and software from donors. The site has since announced the name of their new project, Joomla, and recently found a new logo. The site has also published extraordinarily simple directions for upgrading to the new Joomla 1.0 CMS.

Now is the time for Mambo and Joomla to differentiate themselves from each other, without losing current Mambo users. How the two groups develop their product in the next few months will help determine which is more distinctive and useful to users. Let’s see what the companies have announced they will prioritize.

>>> More BrainDump Articles          >>> More By Developer Shed

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