The Community and Vanilla - Please Read
Hey it’s been a while. We’ve been really busy focusing on the business side of things. However, I want to address some complaints from a few loud people. A small number of community members have been making noise complaining for a while now, and you know what? It really sucks. But I don’t want to let a few people keep me away from the community that I’ve been a part of for so long.
So I’m going to address the criticisms here in hope that it explains where Vanilla is at, where it’s going, and who we are. This is an amazing community made up of really smart and interesting people with many different and valuable viewpoints, and we love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Transparency is something that is part of Vanilla’s DNA, and I want to look forward to participating in the discussions and sharing the reasons for our decisions. I’d love to hear from you even if you don’t agree with me, but only if the conversations are constructive—or at the very least cordial. I just don’t have the time, and honestly, I don’t really care to hear from anyone who thinks they’ve earned the right to insult my co-workers/teammates and me, just because they’ve been here a while and have a different opinion.
So I’m just going to brain dump some fundamentals about Vanilla and then say what I want from the community.
Vanilla Produces Open Source Software (OSS)
Vanilla is open source software (oss) licensed under the GPLv2. Being oss means a whole lot more than being free. It’s fine if someone doesn't know all of the history and implications of oss, but it’s worth it to get familiar with the basics of its philosophy. There are a lot of different types and takes on oss. We get it. We think about it a lot. We actually speak to a lot of other companies and we know a lot about how we compare to other oss projects.
One thing that you need to understand about the GPL though is this: Once something is GPL it will always be open source. Vanilla can't legally close source what we've already released under GPLv2. Don't
worry about us doing so. And please don’t accuse us of doing so.
Vanilla Makes Money by Hosting our Software and Customizing our Software
We have a hosting company at vanillaforums.com that provides hosting to people and businesses using our forum software. We also provide services to customize our hosted software to those businesses.
There are lots of other ways of making money, but this is how we do it. Some members of this community want us to make money a different way, and some get angry that we are doing it our way. Some
people get angry that we make any money at all.
Again, we have thought a lot about other ways of making money. All startups think a lot about how to make money. We've even tried making money in other ways. It seems to me though that a lot of people that want us to fundamentally change our business plan think that a) we've never thought of it before, and b) it's trivially easy to do so. Neither are true.
Vanilla Does Not Open Source All of its Software
Vanilla produces closed source code alongside open source code. We have a very sophisticated hosting infrastructure that is closed source. Vanilla makes some add-ons that are closed source. Vanilla develops customised middleware for customers that is closed source. There are several reasons why we do this and we've talked about them many times before on this forum. I understand how some people can find
this controversial, but it's not going to change.
The number of companies that are 100% open source is almost zero. The difference is, we are maybe too honest and transparent about it, so we draw a target on ourselves for some open source purists. We believe in open source and doing everything we can to not abandon it, but we need people to cut us some slack and let us also earn a living.
Vanilla is a Small Business
Vanilla is not a giant faceless corporation. We are a small business. This means several things, but first and foremost it means that Vanilla is run by human beings just like you. We have feelings. And sometimes we speak with imperfect human emotion. We also make mistakes. We don't have a PR department.
Right now Vanilla is small enough that I should be able to talk like a human being. I really want to do this. Remember, I am a developer, not a social media professional. Please afford us the leeway of our imperfection in the same way that you expect us to afford you leeway with what you say.
Vanilla is Growing
Vanilla has started growing faster and faster over the past year. This is fantastic news. There is a “but” though. This is fantastic news, but our rate of growth means that we are incredibly busy and stretched thin right now while we look for talent to join our team. This means that we can't devote as much time as we’d like to the community right now, so we want the time we do spend with the community to be more productive.
But mostly this means that our future is incredibly bright: both for our business and open source. There is so much we have in store for Vanilla and we want you to be there with us.
What do I want from the Community?
Fundamentally, I want to be able to participate in this forum, make comments, respond to questions, or just drop by and be available to the awesome members of this community without it devolving into an endless argument.
That doesn't mean you have to agree with what I say or not respond to it, as long as it’s civil. We value and respect the members of this community, and their fierce devotion to open source. We ask for the same in return.
- Don't engage in an endless debate with us. I promise, we think about these things just as much if not more than anyone.
- Please don't needle us with mentions after we've said our piece. Don't restart discussions on stuff you know we've talked about before.
- Please remember that we believe we have good reasons for doing what we do. Try and understand that we think about Vanilla all the time.
- Don't speculate on what we may or may not be thinking or planning. Don't put words in our mouths. Especially don't voice speculation in this community in a way that could confuse other people.
Please also remember that we’re trying here, but sometimes we can’t answer your every question or address your every concern. Sometimes for different reasons, but the main one usually being we just don’t have the time.
This is a Starting Point
I've recently come to realize that I’ve just got to start talking about Vanilla more. Some of that
discussion will take place on vanillaforums.com and some of it will take place here. What I really want from the community is a mutual understanding that we can base that discussion on. This is our starting point.