Wednesday, October 6, 2010

School yard bullying is alive and well

Remember the schoolyard bullies of childhood?

Two groups of kids playing similar games on adjacent courts. One group, slightly nerdy maybe and certainly not the 'in' jocks of the other group, seem to be having heaps fun. Laughing, loads of kids on each side, all playing together, really friendly, with rules tweaked as the game progressed to even things up a bit so everyone can play.

The other court has a small team of uber-jocks playing hard and fast 'properly', right number of players on each side, referee, complicated rules, lots of people standing on the sidelines just watching. Slowly, one by one, the onlookers start drifting away from the jocks to the nerds; just watching at first then joining in to play as well.

The jocks look around and realise that they aren't the centre of attention anymore because of this 'mad' inclusive game on the other court which anyone can play because it doesn't need expensive gear, or insider knowledge or years of training.

So the jocks barge onto the court and take the ball, claim they own the court and the rules of the game are xyz. The nerds cry foul but the teacher just nods and says oh thats ok - they don't mean any harm.

The game carries on for a bit but the bullies don't get the nerd game, keep trying to bring in the old rules - not remembering that the nerds had already walked away from the old rules to play their own game.

The nerds try to play nicely but dont get a lookin with the bullies, they eventually wander off, find another place to play, a grassy paddock, another ball and carry on. The grassy paddock is pretty good actually, heaps softer to fall on, makes the game even better. Heaps more people join in. People still come to the courts to find a game, but its not the one they heard about. Their ears pick up the happy noises over in the paddock where the 'real' game is being played and they wander over and start playing too.

The jocks don't get it ... they took the ball, got the court - why havn't the nerds just given up?

Koha bullying
Well this is not dissimilar to the situation the Koha community finds itself in with LibLime / PTFS.

The game was library management systems. Some of us couldn't play - couldn't afford the gear and didn't really like the game that much anyway. So we started a new game, Koha, and pretty soon heaps of people were playing it to. Soon the 'real' library management systems started noticing that people were moving over to Koha. Funding issues just made Koha seem even more attractive, and of course the game was one anyone could play and it evolved really fast because everyone has influence.

So LibLime PTFS grabbed a piece of Koha. They took the ball, the code, and played with it a while cutting out the orginal players by not pasing it back in the way of bug-fixes and enhancements. They got the court too,

After a while, the koha community realised that it just wasn't getting a look in and decided to go get its own court to play on, and they have another ball, the code. Everyone is welcome to join in and the community is strong.

PTFS just dont get it.

They keep calling their forks Koha - but they are not. Its a different game. LEK and Harley are Koha forks because they were both built on the Koha open source code at some point in the past. They are not Koha now. PTFS have just released a new LibLime website where they still call their forks Koha and have invented a new logo for Koha. This is provocative, aggressive and just not on.

I was told off in Twitter today for swearing - and yes, sometimes I feel so angry and so helpless against such bullying that I do resort to swearing. I am so annoyed that our philosophically beautiful Koha is getting sullied through association with such ratbags as LibLime and PTFS who think nothing of lying in order to 'win' the game.

What is the game we are playing folks? What will a win look like to PTFS? Total domination of Koha by a single vendor? That will not be a win for anyone.


Brendan said...

Thanks Jo - That's a great post and I'm so glad that I'm on the nerd side of things - I can't wait for you to meet Nicole, Ian and Nate. (Sorry I won't be able to make it to KohaCon) I know it's going to be an excellent conference...

Brendan A Gallagher

Lee said...

Nice metaphor, Jo!

Joann Ransom said...

Thanks Brendan - I feel I know Nicole already and can't wait to meet your crew in person :) And the thing with nerd movies is they are always the cool ones in the end.

Thanks for the feedback,

cheers Jo.

Nicole C. Engard said...

First, I can't wait to see you in person Jo!!!

Second, what an amazing post with perfect imagery. I was having a talk with hubby last night about the fact that forks are not bad, and are totally within the letter of the law - but this is not how they happen. The company that wants to fork is supposed to go off and start over and earn their reputation the same way the original software product did.

I think you put it much better than I could have in my frustration and anger.

See you soon!!

MJ Ray said...

Interesting post. Rather than worrying about what PTFS is trying to do, can I ask what your readers feel the other conributors (librarians, support company owners, and so on) should do?

(MJ Ray, but struggling to get this comment form working)

Ben Ide said...

You swear at more people than just me? That's reassuring. I thought I was the only person you've bullied out of the Koha Community, Joann.

Joann Ransom said...

The "Hard-Working Staff at LibLime/PTFS" have left a comment for this post containing a link to their new website and a photo of the individuals who work there.

I rejected the comment because I do not want to encourage Koha traffic to the new Liblime website as it contains a large amount of untrue and out of date information.

My post was not directed at the individuals who earn a wage working for PTFS / Liblime but the corporate entity itself. If any individuals have taken this as a personal attack then I am sorry and wish to assure you that it was never my intention.