Subject: [triage] Electronic Ombuds aka What the heck is this stuff?
From: "Zak Greant" <>
Date: Fri, 16 Nov 2007 22:08:25 -0800

Greetings All,

I've had a few questions about what I hope to achieve through through
this process and how it works.

First, the process is basically an ombuds process - a tool to help
build a just consensus within a group by fair representation of the
concerns of the group's members.

It is meant to give the OSI and the OSI community a sane way to
discuss and work together on issues like license approval, OSI
governance and so on.

From a high level, the process looks like this:

For every message that is part of a larger discussion (and let's
assume that it is a discussion on a mailing list or forum), do the

* Remove all noise, such as personal insults, inflammatory language,
egregious verbosity, off topic ranting, etc.

* Identify each atomic issue remaining. (By atomic, I mean that the
issue doesn't usefully break down into smaller separate issues.)

* Create a concise summary of each issue.

* List what issues were selected and what was discarded.

* If needed, adjust the selection or characterization of issues based
on feedback from the message poster and the mailing list.

* Store each issue and any supporting materials in a safe and public place.

After this, group all of the individual pieces of feedback on a given
issue together. This provides for a concise overview of key issues
within a discussion.

Modern issue trackers like Bugzilla, RT and Trac are excellent tools
for this kind of work. They are meant for managing and storing issues
and leave a nice auditable trail of what changes are made to a issue
over time.

Note that the discussions _should not_ happen in the issue tracker.
When you do this, you are simply turning an issue tracker into a forum
with some weird fields. People should discuss using tools that are
good for less structured discussion. Issue tracker are best used to
capture concise representations of the key issues within discussions.

From this process, community members gain a powerful tool for
effectively discussing key issues in their community.

The focus on storing concise versions of the discussions in a safe,
public place allows difficult recurring discussions to move forward
instead of just being continuously rehashed.

The focus on discarding noise also provides some resistance to
trolling and allows the community to extract value from some of the
more subtle (or unintentional) kinds of trolls.

There are a host of other benefits as well - FAQ lists are easy to
extract from this information, the people who triage the messages tend
to gain critical insight into the discussions, duplicate issues are
more easily detected, etc.

Of course, this doesn't solve all of the problems in the OSI
community, but it covers a few key ones.