[openskills-dev] [Fwd: Re: [SLUG] NSW Tender meeting]

Bruce Badger bbadger at openskills.com
Thu Oct 7 13:54:09 BST 2004


On Thu, 2004-10-07 at 14:03, Taryn East wrote:
> .. actually I was kind of biting my knuckles about
> this in the first place hoping I hadn't horribly insulted everyone...

It's great to get such feedback.  Thank you for sacrificing your
knuckles :-)

> - I don't know what I'm getting for my money, whereas for most clubs I
>   can see definite returns such as going to meetings
>   = education + socialising + networking

Clearly we need to do better here.  I've started a new page on our wiki
which is intended to answer this specific question.  Once it is in a
presentable state, we can add links to this page from the main
OpenSkills web site.

The page (very scanty at the moment) is here:
  http://wiki.openskills.net/OpenSkills/Why+be+a+member%3F

It needs more work, but do you think this would be the kind of thing to
help people to understand what OpenSkills does for members?

> - there are similar (though not so specific) services offered for free
>   (to me) elsewhere - eg seek.com  and so far the openskills website
>   (while intriguing) doesn't have anywhere to explain what they can offer
>   that is better than what I can find at somewhere like seek.

The OpenSkills SkillsBase system allows you to maintain your resume in
its entirety, and publish only the parts you wish to make public.  You
control your resume.  You retain the copyright.

You can export your resume from the SkillsBase in the industry standard
HR-XML format.  There is no lock-in.

OpenSkills does not take a cut of any deal that results from the use of
the SkillsBase.

But, again, we need to make these points more obvious. 

> I understand... however, I think this is my main "gripe"... For me to
> value this service over other services, I need to know enough about it
> to trust that what it will offer me is worth the (admittedly small, but
> still not zero-cost) price

The $$ costs are mainly:

 o Systems - re run several servers in the UK which host the OpenSkills
services.

 o Legal - We are trying to create a contractual framework that makes it
easier for members to work together.  Also there have been legal costs
associated with getting the association set up.

> Agreed - so why does openskills offer a different scheme, here it is
> "employee pays"... or perhaps "both pay together"... perhaps the reasons
> are fully justified, I guess I am asking for some more information to be
> able to make up my own mind.
> Don't get me wrong - I know that someone has to pay, and perhaps
> employer-only pays is not really fair... perhaps it would discourage
> eimployers from offering projects? I admit I do not know enough about this
> business to offer educated comment... I am simply explaining my own
> impressions.

The party that pays is the party that controls.  So with OpenSkills, the
members are in control (via an elected committee).

Because the SkillsBase is free to search, there is less friction & less
resistance to using it.  You may view this as a benefit too.

> I vaguely remember from the previous time I looked that OpenSkills had a
> page that talks about a few projects that have occurred as a result of
> it... but it was very brief and sketchy, and I don't seem to be able to
> find it any more (maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places).

No, it's not there anymore.  As you say, it was sketchy and out of
date.  I'd like to see it replaced with an RSS feed of some kind from
the Effort Tracking system - but that's for the future.  For now, it
seemed better to say nothing than have such a vague thing there.

> I am also aware that I have not offered any alternative solution - in
> full understanding that I do not know anything much about their business
> model... I have too much ignorance to offer a useful solution, I was
> simply outlining the way I felt.

Our busines model is quite simple: help members make the most of their
skills and not make a loss doing it.

Non-profit does not mean for-loss! :-)

> however, the site does not (at least that I am aware of) make it clear
> that any remuneration is intended for the projects that will occur
> through the site... I guess my saying the above was simply pointing out
> one more thing that I was not certain of when I looked over the site,
> and my email was inspired by my first impressions...

Oh, yes.  OpenSkills is definitely about professional paid-for
engagements.  I certainly hope you manage to get many multiples of the
$20 AUD membership fee per year during your career!

> I guess then my question would be: how do I know that my skills will
> ever be useful? Perhaps I would pay my $20 and my CV would sit on the
> website forever languishing... thus the site would not be useful to me
> at all... I wouldn't know.

That's a matter of judging the market, and going out of your way to get
the skills you think will sell and (importantly, I think) that you will
enjoy applying.

> If I could see, for
> example, that the site was fostering a thriving community of
> consultants/companies that did a lot of projects (especially if it
> covered the sorts of skills I have to offer) then I would consider it
> worthwhile doing...

Well, this is a bit of a chicken and egg thing.  To be a thriving
community, we need members.  To get members we need to be a thriving
community.

It's still early days for OpenSkills.  We are growing, and many members
have got professional value from their membership.  People see that, or
happen to be looking for a job right now, and join.  And so it goes. 
You  have already seen some members saying that they have benefited from
membership, and been willing to say so.  I hope one day you too will be
a member, and benefit, and say so :-) 

> The SkillsBase page is a good start - it shows what people have to offer
> that are on there... but a page or so on the sorts of projects on offer
> perhaps, or a page of statistics (avg project turnover per month, x
> developers available, y projects on offer etc) or even a page of
> testimonials (as dodgy as that can often be) would certainly help.

OK, now you are talking about the effort tracking system which is in the
works.  This lets members define projects and then invite others to join
them.  So, there *will* be projects you can browse through once this
system is up and running - and members establish projects.

Stats can be useful and misleading, yes.  We have no firm plans on the
stats front.  Perhaps we should wait until we have enough data to be
useful.

> I guess I am also aware that I have *just* joined the OSS community and
> don't really have any street cred yet... I have a good feeling that I
> would not be highly sought-after. Thus again the worry that my CV would
> rot away on the site for ages... 

Yes.  This is another chicken and egg game.  How do you get experience
if you always need experience to get a position.  Well,  here the FOSS
community can help you - look around for a project that interests you
and start making contributions to it.  Document your involvement in the
SkillsBase to promote your increased skill set.  Rinse & repeat.

> I guess I don't want any guarantees (obviously they can't be made), but
> it would be nice to be shown some examples of where it has worked... 

There are examples among members.  Perhaps if you post a nice message to
the OpenSkills-dev list, some of them may email you their experiences.

> of course I also know that to make a community you have to have people
> willing to just jump in and give it a go - however the non-zero start
> doesn't encourage that for people like me that are newcomers... so you
> will have to rely on only old-timers or those with greater confidence,
> or with greater cash-reserves... maybe this is what is intended (to keep
> out anyone not willing to support the community a bit also) - maybe not.

Right.  Many of the members today are members because of the *potential*
of OpenSkills, rather than the value it delivers right now.  As had
already been noted, though, there are many members who have already
benefited, so perhaps we're over that hump.

> I guess I'm here giving my impressions to just test the water and see if
> these issues have been considered...

There has been much consideration :-)   We just need to deliver on more
of the things we've decided to do.

Thanks again for taking the time to raise all these points.  OpenSkills
will be that much better as a result.

BTW, you can join the OpenSkills-dev mailing list for free :-)  Through
the list you can see more of what OpenSkills is up to, and even
contribute your comments and help make OpenSkills be something that is
useful to you.

All the best,
	Bruce
-- 
Make the most of your skills - with OpenSkills
http://www.openskills.com

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