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Koby Oz
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What do you write when you are about to announce the future?  What do you say when you are the harbinger of big changes to come?  When you have your finger on that red button and you are ready to launch?

I guess you just come out and say it!

After many months of hard work by many people, the Magento team, the members of the Community Advisory Board, as well as many members of the community, I am very proud to announce the general public availability of the Magento Contributor Agreement to the community. 

One of the goals we have been working towards is now a reality--the ability to accept code and other forms of contributions from community members around the globe!

What does this mean for the community?

Practically, it means that we can now start officially accepting code and other forms of contribution, such as documentation, etc. from the community for inclusion into Magento.  All you need to do is download, sign, scan, fax, mail or email back the contributor agreement and you will be an authorized and approved Magento contributor.

What can I contribute?

Almost anything that is relevant to the project that you feel would help enhance Magento.  That can be code, documentation, artwork, videos, etc. or even time to review other people’s work and participate in activities focusing on QA.

I want to just give you stuff. Why do we need an agreement to contribute?

If you’re really interested in the whole story, check out Intellectual Property and Open Source by O’Reilly.  The executive summary is simply that writing software is complicated, especially when it’s done by more than one person.  There are many legal rights and responsibilities that need to be protected and the Magento Contributor Agreement ensures that all community members, Magento users, contributors, developers and Varien have their rights for using, developing and contributing to Magento legally protected and ensured.

How do I get code to you guys?

The primary focus, initially, will be on code that revolves around bug fixes and/or performance enhancements.  This will help us review code contributions quickly and efficiently and merge them relatively easily.  It will also allow contributors to become more familiar with the code base, before moving on to more complex portions of the code and larger items such as coding new features.

You’ll want to join the Magento Development Google Group that we have set up to facilitate communication, discussion and submission of code.  Please join with the same email you put down on the MCA form.  Code should be submitted there, either through the web or via email in patch format only.  If you’re not sure what that means or how to create a patch, please see this tutorial for more information or ask your fellow community member.

How will code and other contributions be reviewed and accepted?

Code will be reviewed by members of the Magento team, the CAB and/or other community members.  If the code you submit is accepted, you will be notified, mostly likely via email.  If your code needs work, or if someone else has submitted something similar, or any other reason, you may also be notified that changes need to be made in order to be accepted.

We are also working on enhanced functionality and making more tools available to help make this process even quicker and give you more insight into the process.

What about other forms of contributions, i.e. documentation?

Contributing docs will most likely take place via the wiki and we are in the process of selecting someone to oversee the process. We are in the process of setting up submission and review mechanisms for other forms of contribution.  The CAB is also in the process of selecting other areas of focus for contributions and dividing up responsibilities for the community outlook and we will be meeting again at the end of October and expect to hear more then.

Who takes the questions?

That’s me!  If you have any questions or comments, I have opened a thread related to this post in the forums, please post them there and I will try my best to reply.  Also, as always please feel free to send me email about anything, especially if you have a cool Magento story!

I would personally like to also thank everyone who helped in this process, especially the many community members who have reached out to me over the last few months.  Thanks to everyone for helping to make Magento what it is today--the world’s fastest growing eCommerce platform.  We are all very excited and are all looking forward to working more closely with the community on this.  We are also planning some very special things for the future and you will hear about those soon.  For now, go grab an energy drink (or two), throw on that geeky t-shirt and start coding--the future is what you make it!

Koby smile

 
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Ross
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This is great news! In fact I haven’t even had a chance to read all the details yet, but just wanted to say thanks for listening to the community and making this possible.

Cheers,
Ross.

 
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Koby Oz
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Ross,

Glad we could make this happen and we are very proud and glad that we have a great community, of people like yourself, which we want to continue to support and strengthen.

Koby:)

 
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ladle
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Very cool.  Hopefully I can find someway to contribute other than code.

 
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RobOrr
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I like this - I think this will really help the community version start to blossom and take a really great platform even farther, and maybe even relieve some of the hate from the love/hate relationship I’ve had with Magento wink.  I’ve signed up for the google group, and will submit the contributor agreement soon.

 
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contractguy
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this is a great help to us

 
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Turnkeye
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Will join the Google Group

 
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AndyW
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The Magento Contributor Agreement that contributors are expected to sign is not based on open source ethics.

How does this Agreement fit in with the Open Source License (3.0) that the community edition is licensed under?

 
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lsujoe
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Just out of curiosity is the Magento Team still actively looking for enhancements from the community?  It would be nice to see what enhancements or bugs have been added by the community.  A little recognition might inspire others.

 
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kokonohp
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This is great news! In fact I haven’t even had a chance to read all the details yet, but just wanted to say thanks for listening to the community and making this possible.

Cheers,
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Yoakim
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AndyW - 12 July 2010 04:51 AM

The Magento Contributor Agreement that contributors are expected to sign is not based on open source ethics.

How does this Agreement fit in with the Open Source License (3.0) that the community edition is licensed under?

It doesn’t, I assume most be the correct answer although I haven’t checked all the details. But Magento is certainly not an ordinary Open Source project. I don’t want to act as judgment in any or other direction but I think it’s impossible to ignore that behind the whole thing is a company (Varien) and all what comes with it.

It’’s really hard to tell if the OS initiative with Magento really is/was genuine or just a cheap way to boost as business idea. I don’t doubt though that some like Koby Oz is sincere in their attempts but probably face quite some headwind from Magento’s financial interest or “fears” of loosing control.

It’s nothing wrong with being a company and aiming for making money, also involving Open Source, but despite this (good) initiative, it’s hard to find a better example of mismanagement of the user community. Now I don’t count myself to those who belive Varien is busy counting the $$ from the Enterprise and Professional versions, rather that they are all hands full to keep their customers happy because if you pay that sort of money tollerance for errors and no fixes must be very small. Well I have no insight so don’t take it for facts, just some thinking.

Although there are major differences, Magento (read Varien) could learn a lot about how to succesfully manage a community from the Drupal Project and really have “pay back” to you as a resourse, not only in $$. Still I think this is the best eCommerse solution out there and it’s great it’s available for free and even if I sometimes have had my doubts I decided to stay on and give it some more time to mature.

 
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cheeseandrice
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I am just surprise someone has not pioneered a movement to create a truly collaborative site for developers to work together to tackle and build extensions. The manageability for the general public to update outdated/bugs in extensions that are no longer serviced by the original developer. Not a real community… The name Community is a bit of a farce. :(

Varien may be a victim of the groundswell soon enough. Fighting the community only results in hostile action. When you create a community, you have to listen to it, otherwise it will consume you, it in fact owns you. Thinking that you own it and can control it is a lesson soon learned in frustration. The examples of this are endless.

 
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Rhonda_Rondeau
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Greetings all,

I joined Magento two months ago as the Community Manager and I can assure you that I am listening to your concerns.  My door is always open and please feel free to message me directly with any comments or feedback. I cannot address all the issues in this post, but I\’ve been keeping very close tabs on our community the last couple of months and we\’re making changes to make a better Community for everyone. These things won\’t happen overnight, obviously—and I won\’t send you a list of promises—but I am listening, and my virtual door is always open.

Rhonda

 
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Ross
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Hi Rhonda,

Thanks for posting. I think communication and transparency are a great way to keep the community onside. In this respect it is a bit of a shame that the community issue roadmap is not being kept up-to-date - http://www.magentocommerce.com/roadmap/issue-roadmap (it should be automated). Is this something you can chase up?

Thanks,
Ross.

rondata - 03 November 2010 11:57 AM

Greetings all,

I joined Magento two months ago as the Community Manager and I can assure you that I am listening to your concerns.  My door is always open and please feel free to message me directly with any comments or feedback. I cannot address all the issues in this post, but I\’ve been keeping very close tabs on our community the last couple of months and we\’re making changes to make a better Community for everyone. These things won\’t happen overnight, obviously—and I won\’t send you a list of promises—but I am listening, and my virtual door is always open.

Rhonda

 
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J_T_
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I’ve been to a number of UK and Dutch Magento events and speak with a lot of developers, some who do really amazing stuff with Magento.

I was/am also a member of MyFootballClub.co.uk - very much a crowdsourcing project that failed quite badly.

Putting two and two together, I’d like to see a way where Varien rewards contributors. And I mean code and documentation contributors much more than forum contributors.

Look for example at Experts Exchange. You have a leader board with experts, they get recognition.

I’d envisage a system where partners and developers can tackle bugs, commit code etc. and the community can vote to establish a value of that contribution. Partners/coders rise up through the ranks based upon this reward system and the higher they come, they more perks they get. Most of all, recognition as a Magento expert, which of course helps them market their services. As somebody who outsources Magento projects, I’d much rather get it done by a top Mage expert (as listed on the site) than one who has not contributed.

When set up well, this is almost an automatic system. All can post bugs, almost all (with coding skills) can verify and fix bugs, all can vote on how well it was fixed. The ‘points’ get credited to the solution provider and added to their tally. It becomes a race, people become incentivized to contribute.

Right now, when I come back from Meet Magento events, I have a feeling that a lot of expertise stays in-house and doesn’t filter through to the community effort. Of course, development agencies etc. should build up in-house intellectual property and don’t have to share everything. But I think they could be stimulated more in to contributing to the cause, with juicy perks as a reward. That empowers everybody and everybody profits/benefits.

Same could count for documentation. And if the forums were better suited for QnA type environment, like Experts Exchange, this crediting contributors can also extend to us forum posters helping out others.

Had we done something like that with MyFootballClub, I’m sure things would have been much better.

Here’s a prime example of how it works. It’s a mobile phone network ran by its users:

http://www.mobilebusinessbriefing.com/article/o2-s-people-powered-giffgaff-unleashed

This sums up the spirit perfectly:

http://giffgaff.com/index/us

We do things differently to the big mobile networks. We’re run by our members.

Our members get rewarded for running parts of our business like answering questions in the community, getting new members or helping make us famous. This means we keep our costs low and pass the savings back to our members.

But you don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to. Our amazing goodybags and prices will remain the same if you want to get involved or not.

We promise to always keep things simple. And to always do our best to be fair.

We believe in the power of the community. When the community succeeds, we succeed - and vice versa.

All the support etc. is done by the members, they earn credits to use on their call plan.

Put that into the Magento perspective…

Developers get recognition/prominence on the site and therefore can get new, bigger clients. And/or these development agencies (Magento partners) get support credits.

Regular users and partners get credits for answering questions in the forum and submitting documentation. Credits can be used to ask questions themselves (ala Experts Exchange) or towards support credits, official books, training discounts etc.

It’s all fine to ask people to contribute but in the end of the day, the majority is lazy and needs financial incentives. Rewarding them is key in stimulating them. Not everybody is content with the warm fuzzy feeling of helping somebody else, or a community. Not everybody does it for the love. The majority will, however, do it if they can expect something valuable in return. That’s how you grow a community.

Give us the tools and give us the rewards for using the tools. The rest will come naturally. I’ve been part of massive and small communities, I know how they work.

 
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RobOrr
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^^

I love the idea and comparison to experts exchange.  Would love to learn and love to contribute.

 
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