On the @Hubzilla Support Forum
, there has been a very lively and quite good discussion going on about community development and becoming more "organized" and formalized. In the course of that discussion, I have been able to clarify my own thinking a bit and get some thoughts "on paper."
These are MY OPINION. They are a beginning point for discussion and I don't expect there will be full agreement (though if everyone just wants to agree with everything I say, I won't complain, LOL).
If (and that is a big IF
) the project as an independent entity aligns itself with any sort of "corporate interest" or takes on any sort of corporate "feel" - the path I see for that to happen is for a number of hubs to arise and form an organization to do so and task that organization with curating the codebase according to a set of broadly agreed upon community standards. If the individuals were already identified today and they already had their hubs spun up and were themselves seeing a return on their investment, that process COULD take as little as 6-9 months, in my opinion. They aren't identified, and I don't know if any have hubs spun up with any sort of serious intent to serve "the masses." So this isn't going to be quick.
But really, the only way forward I see is for at least a handful (I think 5 is the absolute minimum though, honestly, 25-30 would be far better) of admins to commercialize their installations and make a serious go of it and reinvest some of their profits in the future of the codebase for the benefit of all. Although we are in some ways a distance from making that EASY, I think we are in reach of making it POSSIBLE. I've already released "Zot.Social" as a public hub (against my better judgment - I don't think it's 100% prime time, but we won't truly know where the hitches are until there are some test cases). I've written a few customized apps that are installed there and available nowhere else to make it better and done some pretty significant optimizations (including having virtually unlimited storage available even though it's running on a VPS). Some of those tools will likely be released to the project, others have already been released into a separate repository. Others may be created with the intent that hub owners will need to purchase them or in some way contribute to the ongoing support of the addon. Others are yet in the pipeline to increase the value proposition of Hubzilla in contrast to other platforms (See the channelreputation and defaultapps addons for examples)
For anyone desiring to participate, I would suggest finding an "absolute minimum standard" for initial release and make those needs known then work through the iterative process of ratcheting to the next level. I wish it wasn't so, but honestly, I'm a big believer in the old fashioned self-funded "boot-strap" model. Venture capital and corporate cash are corrupting influencers.
In my opinion, what won't happen is that the community won't be like sheep herded by dogs. And since there's no "shepherd" leading in a specific direction. In that way they're vulnerable - and the wrong person or a person with the wrong motivations "stepping up" can do a LOT of damage very quickly.
We need to think of this in terms of a different model to get things moving forward and do so in a sustainable manner. Having seen DAC's (Distributed Autonomous Companies) in operation in the Cryptocurrency world - I think much can be gleaned from that basic structure. Take a look at some of Dan Larimer's "Proof of Stake" crypto projects (BitShares, Steam and the new EOS ecosystem) - abstract out the "crypto-currency" aspects - and you'll begin to see what I'm talking about.
One way to think about the path forward is the model of honeybees at this point. A few scouts go out, find a path forward - come back - do the dance to tell some of the others how to get to it - and repeat the process. That may mean scouts go in very different directions - and none of them are "right" or "wrong." They all come back to the "hive" for what they need to do in common. The "queen bee" doesn't tell them where to go or how to get there, she curates and cares for the community inside the hive. I think this is the model we need to follow. Very "Agile" not "Waterfall" very individual but all ultimately all working toward a common goal - even sometimes without realizing it. THIS is decentralization - and it needs to be baked into the core of even the organizational structure that gets built around Hubzilla.
The fact is, I only started working on Hubzilla because I was looking for a platform that made it possible to do exactly what I just described in an entirely different context -- Hubzilla does - though I think all of us can agree it isn't quite ready for "prime time" mass adoption. It has gotten MUCH closer over the last 12 months - and I think the gap is now small enough that the first hubs can begin to make an appearance and at least cover their costs and maybe begin to turn a profit and the benefits of Hubzilla as a platform can become self-sustaining through the good will and honest intentions of the community that gathers around it.