[Framework-Team] Plone Messaging (was: How would you position Plone?)

Ross Patterson me at rpatterson.net
Tue May 5 22:35:45 UTC 2009

It seems that a lot of the things we can improve on in our community can
trace their origins back to messaging.  Witness Chris Calloway's
observations regarding damage to our reputation from consultants trying
to solve any and every problem with Plone and poor expectations
regarding how much adopters should expect to have to engage the services
of consultants.  Witness the confusion regarding whether Plone's sweet
spot is an enterprise CMS or a small organization CMS (I think it may be
both, but we're not good a communicating how that is).  Witness the oft
cited expectations problems with the 2.5 release and the pain I now feel
about the surrendering already established expectations about the 4.0
release.  Witness the framework vs product debate.  We're now targeting
the notion of Plone Base and Plone the Product and a Plone API but are
we going to do enough to communicate what that means to the far reaches
of Plone communities?  I know that I and others appreciate the openness,
democracy, and introspection in Plone communities that allows us to be
honest about how the glass is half empty but regret that more isn't done
to share and express how the glass is half full.  It also seems that our
marketing story could be significantly improved with a better shared
understanding of the various different messages we'd like to get out

To be sure, I like the decentralized and democratic character of Plone
communities and I don't in any way suggest we sacrifice that.  I do
think, however, that there's a lot we can do in the way of instilling
sufficient messaging discipline without sacrificing those qualities.
Bringing good release discipline by canonizing a release manager, for
example, has been a huge win for Plone user experience without
sacrificing the openness of Plone development.  I think appointing a
"Messaging manager" would be a bad idea, I only cite that as an example
of how discipline can be improved without sacrificing openness.

I know the PSPS did a lot to address messaging in the Plone world.  I
wonder, however, if recently we're not once more drifting too far from
sufficient messaging discipline.  It seems likely such drift is bound to
recur without some sort of somewhat central institution concerned with

I don't think control is necessary here.  This is one of the great
things about Plone communities.  We respond well to a sense of shared
mission.  The value here would not be in policing, but rather in
ensuring that we have a continuous dedication of resources to the matter
of messaging.  The mission might be merely to start the discussions that
need to happen but aren't and to take the messages that come out of all
relevant discussions and ensure their wide dissemination to the far
reaches of Plone communities.  It would also have to be a broad, rather
than narrow, team with strong technical, marketing, and user voices to
ensure integral messaging.  Messaging like this can have a subtle effect
that may become very powerful when compounded through shared
understanding and repetition.

So could a team be formed or delegated with the responsibility of
reviewing Plone messaging?  Would such an institution be a slippery
slope to too much dogma or other stifling restriction?  What might be
some other ways to improve messaging in Plone communities?  Is this an
issue we're already addressing sufficiently and we just need to give it
time?  Is there a value to enshrining this process even if it's already
happening?  Is this not an issue?  :)


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