[CentOS] CentOS Project Infrastructure

James B. Byrne byrnejb at harte-lyne.ca
Mon Aug 10 20:12:11 UTC 2009

On Sun, 9 Aug 2009 03:23:57 +0100  Marko Vojinovic <vvmarko at gmail.com>
> Unfortunately, governments are typically not made of experts, but of
> opportunists. Name one president of <insert your favorite political
> entity here> that has been elected because he has a PhD in political
> sciences/history/law/whatever, or because he had enough hands-on
> experience in governing the state (maybe without a formal degree).

Woodrow Wilson.  Ph.D. in Political Science (John Hopkins), 
President of Princeton University, Governor of the State New Jersey,
President of the United States of America.

> Even if one such exists, I doubt he would listen to whatever
> random non-initiated group of people are "suggesting".

Then you would be wrong.  Once his mind was made up then Wilson
became quite closed to further suggestion on a subject.  Up to that
point he sought as wide and varied a range of opinion as he could

Your pride in what you know is blinding you to the value of
knowledge of others in areas where you know little and presume much.

I have had much experience with volunteer organisations.  I now stay
well clear of any involvement with them.  This recent string of
interrogations by concerned people, whether ignorant or not, and the
aggrieved tone of the responses of some of the inner circle
demonstrate the type of emotional blackmail which I frequently
encounter and find so distressful in these bodies.

I have no doubt that everyone involved with CentOS is pursuing some
goal that they believe serves the greater good.  However,
difficulties ofttimes arise when one encounters another who either
does not share ones belief or, as is more often the case,
understands the nature of the shared goal, or the means by which it
is attained, in a fashion fundamentally at odds with ones own.

These uncomfortable collisions with political reality often occur at
junctures such as CentOS recently experienced.  Most of the people
here were no doubt quite content to allow the sages of the project
whatever leeway that the sages desired.  In return we got a free (as
in beer) copy of a very reputable Linux distribution. Had the recent
inner conflict not become public then this happy arrangement might
have persisted indefinitely. I still consider this arrangement a
very good bargain having neither the talent nor the desire to become
a sage myself.

However, when the mortal nature of the sages is revealed together
with the possibility of a project collapse as very real
consideration, regardless how unlikely, then those dependent upon
the stability of the project become fearful.  Fearful people seek
reassurance that their fears are baseless. A bald statement by the
sages that the fear is baseless is in itself insufficient. 
Doubtless the fearful have told themselves that many times already.

Having inoculated doubt it is now incumbent upon those who sowed it
to address specific concerns raised by those who fear.  Telling
people who voice concerns to get lost and find another distribution,
even if their concerns are presented in the form of ill-considered
suggestions, smacks of arrogance to me, however it appears to
others.  Further, it does absolutely nothing to address the fears
that prompted the suggestion.  The baleful effects of these kind of
replies upon those who read but choose not to participate may only
be imagined, but be assured they are neither positive nor

The fact that one is a volunteer leader does not lessen the
requirement that to receive the trust and support of others one must
meet satisfactorily the expectations of those who follow. I am not
clamoring for any immediate changes.  I do not propose a program
that I wish anyone else to follow. I do appreciate very much the
efforts of all who contribute to the success of the CentOS projects.
I further acknowledge that those who presently form the core support
team are probably best equipped to evaluate the bona fides of
prospective core members.

Nonetheless, it is very evident from the heated exchanges on this
mailing list that there exists a substantial divergence on which
path to take from here.  It seems to me insupportable that the past
practices of a small coterie of initiates deciding on everything
without community input will suffice for the future. If that does
become the choice taken then I foresee the community splitting in
the future in consequence.

Finally, please drop the word "meritocracy" in future
communications. It implies a natural worthiness of those to whom it
is applied which is simply not appropriate to these discussions. 
The proper word in this circumstance is "oligarchy."

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