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

Bruce Badger bbadger at openskills.com
Fri Oct 8 03:06:49 BST 2004


Many thanks again for your thought & comments.  Please forgive me for
snipping out much of your discussion in my responses below.  If you
think I missed something important, please just give me a kick.

On Fri, 2004-10-08 at 10:22, Taryn East wrote:
> Actually, as an aside, the wiki seems to be lacking something like an
> index/contents page

The wiki has 3 things that might help here:

o The "recent changes" page (there is a link to this on the wiki home

o The "Pages" page (just choose the Page item at the right of the
menu).  You can then search the page titles using <ctl>+f (or the "/"
option in firefox) page search in your browser :

o Then, every page has a "Find" form at the bottom.  This will do a text
search of the wiki and list the pages that match.

BTW, I'm looking into getting a RSS feed out of the wiki reflecting the
contents of the recent changes page.  Then you can track changes to the
wiki using your RSS aggregator.

> Anyway, to the point - yes, that's a good start for the page. I'd
> include some examples where possible, but again that may be just me. :)

Good :-)  Feel free to tweak the page yourself if you see something that
needs fixing - that's what wikis are all about.

[NB:  Soon, though, wiki updates will be restricted to members.  We have
had lots of valuable content from non-members, but the wiki has been
vandalised a few times too.  Nothing lost, but a hassle.]

> An example might be to link to your DevCon - which obviously is intended to
> promote FOSS - though I note that the pages for that only have "upcoming"
> info, a "this is how it went" spiel would be good too.

The Dev-con is really about promoting OpenSkills.  If we benefit FOSS in
the process that that's a Good Thing.

Yes, we should also record what happened.  We have a very diligent
association secretary, and so we have an excellent record of the
committee meetings.  But yes, we should do this for everything (want to
volunteer to help with this? ;-))

> Your marketing pages talk about a breakfast meeting thing (looks like these
> are plans for the first one in mid-Oct?) - something about this would also
> help to show how you're promoting FOSS (and yourselves) to the community...

There was a specific plan to have one.  It didn't happen.  I've edited
the page to be a generic template for such an event:


> In fact, looking over your marketing stuff - you've got some important
> points in the SWOT analysis table... the strengths/opportunities is the sort
> of stuff that I'd love to see on the "why be a member?" page - obviously
> with a bit of explanation on how openskills fulfils these (or is aiming to
> do so).

Ah, you'll make a young chap called Shawn Rogut very happy with that
observation :-)  Shawn had me do the SWOT analysis as a key part of the
2003 DevCon.  Tho be honest, we have not used much of this information
yet, but as we move into a more overt marketing mode, I suspect it will
be very valuable.

>  It's important to know the relationship that I (as an
> individual) will have with OpenSkills... what's mine, what's yours, how a
> "deal" is done, perhaps.

Yes indeed.  We are working on a social contract to go hand-in-hand with
real contracts that will help members to work together.

> That's interesting, can you explain more about the contractual side of
> things.

The idea is that members are bound to abide by the social contract. 
Members may sign a contract with the association that establishes
business ground rules between members who have also signed this
contract.  To work together, members who have signed the umbrella
contract may enter into a contract with each other using a simple SOW
(statement of work) which would specify things like NDA, goals, $$,
timing etc.  The SOW would be small - a page or so, but would be based
upon the umbrella contract.

The intent is to make it very easy for members to work together.  So,
even if a job is only to provide a few hours of consultancy, you can
have a proper contract in a few minutes.

> I have worked once contractually through another company, ie I was
> officially hired (and paid for) by company A who was paid by company B - who
> I was actually doing the work for. Is this the sort of thing you mean here?

Only sort of.  OpenSkills does not handle any money.

This is a good thing.  OpenSkills is a global entity, and to have to
deal with the different legislation around the world would be a massive
job.  The way things are set up, OpenSkills provides a framework within
which you can work, but the local details (time, $$, insurance, tax
etc...) are up to you.

We fully expect there to be members who don't want the hassle of doing
all the admin stuff.  In these cases, the member should either consider
full time employment, or working through a third party.  And in fact, we
have already had situations where one member has acted as an "agent" for
another, taking a commission in return for looking after all the admin

> I think an important consideration for me (as someone that has yet to really
> get her toes wet) is whether I would be in-demand enough to actually support
> myself.

Yes, this and your other points in this space are good.  Once we build
up a good body of data, we can start to think about making some stats
available to give members a sense of what the market is doing.

Of course, this will be *much* more valuable that the kind of stuff
produced by companies to promote their products or strategies :-)

> definitely and I understand this... though I know that you are already doing
> stuff to promote this sort of community, and there are things in evidence
> such as virtual library and conventions etc... which show that there is a
> community developing already. I think it just needs to actually be shown to
> potential members in an easily-accessible form :)

I do agree.  I have updated the Why be a member page in the light of
your comments (please do let me know what you think), but even this is
just a beginning.

We are working on this, and input such as yours *really* helps keep us
on track.  So, thanks again!

> Though something like a "now we have x members" is simple and can sometimes
> be good for members too - it can show you how the community is growing and
> you can feel proud of how far you have come.

Well, some of these numbers are available through the minutes of the
committee meetings.  Frankly, the numbers and growth rates are too small
to make a big deal out of them.  That will change, but we have to get
the MMS in place before we can seriously grow.

> Tracking your development on SkillsBase is also a good idea. I read
> something about having people comment on how well you went? how does
> that work?

Nothing concrete yet.

The first form of this will be references, just like the ones you get
having worked at a company.  It would basically be one member agreeing
to be a reference for another, and in so doing agreeing to be contacted
by phone or email.  Clearly you need to be confident that you know what
someone thinks of you *before* getting them to be a reference for you
... but that holds true outside of OpenSkills too.

The next step will be commendations, where one member can commend
another for a specific skill.

(So, references are *engagement* specific.  Commendations are *skill*

We need to tread carefully with these things, though.  There are many
example of people gaming such systems (e.g. two or more people agreeing
highly recommending each other without merit).  I think because we
insist on getting a handle on the identity of members we will be able to
minimise gaming, but we need to take things one step at a time.

> also, I'm guessing you don't just put OSS skills up on skillsBase, but can
> you explain what does/does not "count" as experience?

Same rules as for a resume.  If you have an engagement that starts on a
given date and runs for six months, it's is generally accepted that you
have six months of experience in the skills you applied during that
engagement.  And this is just how the SkillsBase works.

In the SkillsBase you create an engagement, and then just use
check-boxes to select the skills you applied during the engagement.

Resume creation is all very subjective whether in the SkillsBase or on
paper.  Where the SkillsBase does score, though is that it is
transparent.  So if you make a public claim to have done something you
have not, you run the risk of being seen by someone who knows the truth.

At the most extreme, you could loose your membership.  I'm hopeful that
the transparency will tend to keep people honest, though.

> I know that I often wonder whether to put on CVs stuff that I've done "in my
> own time" at home... stuff at uni is generally frowned upon, but if you have
> knowledge of certain skills but just haven't had the chance to put them into
> practise in a workplace what can you do?

If you can honestly describe what you did as an engagement or a project,
then I'd say it's OK to include things in your resume (whether on the
SkillsBase or on paper).

Again, this is subjective.  A judgement call.  No right answer.  Sorry.

> I guess I've moved from asking whether OpenSkills is useful to me... to
> trying to think of ways that would better help other people find out the
> same information that I would have liked to have had straight away...

:-)  Haha - we have you now :-)

> Personally I think I'm convinced that the site is worthwhile :)
> Now to make sure other people are convinced of that when they first get to
> the site too ;)
> Cheers and thanks for all your help,

No.  Thank *you*.  Really.

All the best,
Make the most of your skills - with OpenSkills

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