[OpenStack Foundation] Thinking about the mission of the user committeee

Narayan Desai narayan.desai at gmail.com
Fri Dec 28 17:11:09 UTC 2012

I originally sent this mail to Tim Bell, on the subject of a document
that he (and the other members of the user committee) are preparing.

Tim suggested widening the discussion to this mailing list, so I've
forwarded the message here. I'm particularly interested in others'
opinions about the mission of the user committee, and aspects of the
openstack community culture that this mission reflects.


Hi Tim.

Thanks for the update on the user committee.

When Lauren (Sell) originally mentioned the user committee to me, I
was most excited about the addition of user advocacy into the
openstack community. From early on in the project (at least back to
Bexar when I started paying attention), openstack has primarily been a
developer-focused community. While this culture has been excellent for
encouraging contribution of code,  I think that this is a tendency
that needs to be moderated in order for openstack to grow to its full

I have a few comments; these aren't so much comments about the
document that you're circulating; rather, they speak specifically to
the mission of the user committee, which is only discussed briefly at
the end.

This mission of the user committee should (IMO) flow from a few basic questions:
 - How do users engage in the community?
 - How do we incentivize these participants to help fill the current
gaps that exist in the community?
 - How do we best integrate the perspectives of users into the design
process of openstack code?
 - How can the user committee facilitate a more productive engagement
between these two parts of the openstack community?

To the first point, there is often a tone of "patches welcome" in the
community, that is somewhat unwelcoming to users that can't or won't
develop code. This suggests that engagement solely on the development
terms is probably not a sustainable solution for the heterogenous
community that is developing around openstack. I think that it is
important to give these folks (ones that build systems, not so much
software) a role that they can identify with as a contributor to the

I think that there are a large range of gaps between the coding and
deployments today. Openstack supports a wide enough range of functions
(and IMO it is necessary, not incidental complexity) that it is
difficult to boil down to simple configurations. I think this poses a
serious difficulty for both documentation and testing. These issues
have been discussed at length, but make me wonder if a different
structure would address these gaps as well as the social split as

As I've written this, I'm realizing that the one thing that doesn't
sit well with me about the current structure you're proposing for the
user committee seems to institutionalize the current split between
developers and users, where I think that the committee should be
trying to figure out ways to blur the divisions between the groups.

I'd suggest adding in an explicit mission for the group at the top of
the document, in addition to the mandate. I think that might set the
tone for the rest of the document in a productive way. Considering my
lack of standing on the committee, I think that it might be
presumptive for me to suggest its mission, but I think that the four
questions above capture many of the things that I think are important.

I'm happy to help in any way you'd like. let me know if you'd like
additional comments, or participation in the documents in some

Happy holidays.

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