It appears that there are some questions about the content in the open letter that I posted earlier this week. Simon Phipps (Sun’s chief open source officer) posted a comment on my blog that summarizes these questions, so I will use this post to reply to it. The original text from Simon’s post will be indented and italicized, and my responses will be in plain text.
Despite the fact you didn’t actually contact the Sun ombudsman service, I have had several referrals of your postings. I’ve done a little investigation and I have some questions about your story.
Actually, I did contact the Sun ombudsman service. The exact same text that was included in my blog post was also sent as an e-mail message. That message was sent from neil.a.wilson[at]directorymanager.org with a timestamp of “Wed, 28 Nov 2007 09:57:03 -0600” (9:57 AM US Central Time), and was addressed to neil.a.wilson[at]directorymanager.org. It was blind copied to the following recipients:
I did not receive any bounce messages in reply, and my mail server logs confirm that Sun’s mail server did in fact accept the message for delivery. If my message never made it into the ombudsman[at]sun.com inbox, then perhaps the problem is on your end (e.g., over-eager spam filtering, which happened to me on more than one occasion when I was a Sun employee).
It’s very regrettable that you were laid off, no question. That’s not a part of your narrative I can comment on for HR/legal reasons, but it’s always sad when business pressures force layoffs.
Thank you for the sentiment. While I wasn’t particularly happy about being laid off, I don’t hold a grudge against Sun because of it. Regardless of whether I think it was an intelligent move, Sun did have a justification for it (geographic consolidation). If the only thing that had happened was that I got laid off, then I fully expect that I would still be actively participating in the project. I believe I demonstrated that through my continued involvement in the project even after having received my layoff notification.
However, I do question how you characterize the requests to change the OpenDS governance. I note that the OpenDS governance was changed on April 28 by sshoaff and that the original line reading:
“This Project Lead, who is appointed by Sun Microsystems, is responsible for managing the entire project”
was replaced by one reading
“This Project Lead, who is appointed and removed by a majority vote of the Project Owners, is responsible for managing the entire project”
I have not been able to find a discussion of this change anywhere, and I understand from your former managers that they were unaware of this change. While you characterize the request made of you as:
“demanded that the owners approve a governance change that would grant Sun full control of the OpenDS project”
it seems to me that what in fact happened was you were (collectively) asked to revert that change to its original state. On present data, it appears to me that far from Sun acting in bad faith over the governance, they were in fact making a reasonable request to correct an earlier error. Indeed, all that has happened to the governance document since then is to revert the change.
This is not the whole story.
First, the change to which you refer (committed in revision 1739 by Stephen Shoaff on April 28, 2007) was absolutely not unauthorized. Stephen Shoaff and Don Bowen both served as officers of the company (Stephen as the director of engineering for directory products, and Don as a director of product marketing for all identity products), and David Ely was the engineering manager and the Sun-appointed project lead for OpenDS under the original governance. This change was also discussed with Sun’s open source office, and while you (Simon) may not have been directly involved with those discussions, Don Bowen has informed me that there was a telephone conversation in which you told him that each project should make the decisions that are best for its respective community. We also involved the OpenDS and Identity Management communities in the process, although those conversations were on a personal basis with key members rather than at large on the public mailing lists. Unfortunately, none of us can currently produce any evidence to support these claims. When we received the layoff notification we were required to return or destroy any Sun property that we may have had, and since all of these discussions would be considered Sun-internal communication we no longer have access to any record of them in compliance with the notification requirement. However, full documentation to support all of these claims should exist within Sun should you feel the need to verify them.
Second, this was not the governance change to which I referred in my original post. In the meeting that the owners (including Ludovic) had on November 13, 2007, we were informed that it was Sun’s intention to replace the governance with something different and that the new governance would be chosen and managed by a Sun-selected committee. This change has not yet been applied, and as I am no longer involved with the project I cannot comment on whether there is still intent to make it. However, Eduardo referenced this future change on the OpenDS user mailing list today (https://opends.dev.java.net/servlets/ReadMsg?list=users&msgNo=627) when he said “We want to improve these governances, ideally in a consistent way.”
There was no discussion at all during the November 13 meeting of the change made in revision 1739, and it was not brought to our attention until the following evening. To the best of my knowledge the request to revert the change made in revision 1739 was never discussed with anyone other than Stephen Shoaff. I know that I personally never received any communication from anyone within Sun asking me to approve reverting this change.
Finally, I would ask Sun to justify their subsequent reversion of that change and how they believe that it was in the best interests of OpenDS, or how doing so was consistent with Sun’s public stance on the importance and value of community-led projects. Despite the fact that the change we made had more than sufficient authorization, I fail to see how reverting it is in any way an improvement. How is reverting to a Sun-appointed absolute authority better for the community than the consensus-driven model we thought Sun wanted?
I would be happy to continue to investigate this case, so if you would like to submit a complaint to firstname.lastname@example.org with full data supporting your accusations I would be pleased to investigate further. I’m afraid I don’t usually read your blog so you’ll need to alert me (email@example.com) to any postings here that need my attention.
I am afraid that there may not be any benefit to further investigation. It appears that you are using your position to attack my credibility and focus on damage control for Sun rather than acting impartially on my behalf as per your claim at http://blogs.sun.com/webmink/entry/open_source_ombudsman. Even if for some reason you did not receive the message that I originally sent to ombudsman[at]sun.com, I find it very discouraging and disappointing that Sun’s community advocate would choose to respond in such an inflammatory manner via e-mail messages and blog comments without even making an attempt to contact me for further clarification. You have accused me of launching an attack with partial facts but apparently have made no attempt to contact me to get the complete facts for yourself. I had gone out of my way to indicate that I felt that this was an isolated incident and not in-line with Sun’s true stance on open source, but it’s hard to continue to hold that position when Sun’s ombudsman and chief open source officer behaves in such a manner.