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[jox] Problems in CSPP

Hi all!

Well, I think I should do this immediately. I thought about the
problems I see in CSPP and I think I were able to structure them. I
hope this will be perceived as a constructive attempt to improve the

Secrecy vs. openness

As Mathieu guessed this is an important point for me. One of the
characteristics of peer production is complete openness regarding the
work process. If this project wants to further peer production then it
should honor the principles of peer production by employing its work
style. Otherwise this project implicitly says that peer production is
pointless - at least for a scientific journal.

A very recent example of what IMO goes wrong was the "Plumbing" mail
by Mathieu:

Aaargh I did it again - sorry all.

On 09/06/11, Mathieu ONeil  <mathieu.oneil> wrote:
[Converted from multipart/alternative]

[1 text/plain]
Hi Nate

First I wondered what Mathieu is sorry for. Then I understood that his
original mail was meant as a private mail.

Why? That is certainly part of the work process. I don't see why it
needs to be kept private.

Or another example: I remember vaguely that Mathieu said that there
are already 20 submissions for one of the topics. Why isn't this
transparent? Why not share a success like this here? Step by step?

Well, you may take the following as a personal note, but I think this
is a more general topic. If things are kept secret like this then it
is very easy to suspect a hidden agenda. Why risk that?

Or to use wisdom from the ancient regime in spe: Transparency is a
pre-condition for participation. If you hide things from people who
*want* to be involved then you are basically telling them that there
involvement is not needed.

Another thing is that this style gives me the impression of an
authoritative style: Mathieu chooses who to contact and who to share
information with. That doesn't foster participation either.

In a nutshell: I think the work process of the journal should be as
open as possible. If there are necessities to hide things from the
general public this needs to be cared for of course but internally
things need to be transparent.

(Not) fighting alienated interests

In the very beginning we discussed that scientists have an interest in
being published because that promotes their scientific carreer. For a
peer production project interests like this are lethal. One of the
characteristics of peer production is that it creates use value - not
exchange value or other alienated stuff.

In this regard I think it's a bad idea that the editor himself places
one of his own articles in the first issue. I even wonder whether this
is common in academics.

IMHO one of the tasks of the project is to constantly fight these
alienated interests. Most of the contributors being scientists
themselves this may be hard - still I think it's a necessity not only
because of peer production but simply to create something good and
worthwhile. At the very least: I'm not in the science business and
thus I have no such interests. Why should I help others with their
career then when I can't receive anything in exchange [2]_?

.. [2] If you now feel this sounds like alienated logic then you are
       perfectly right.

An extreme solution would be to forbid articles from the project
participants. A less extreme solution would be to forbid articles from
those who are responsible for a certain issue.

Blurring project purpose

That aspect was already the topic of some of my recent remarks in the
"On-topic and off-topic" thread. I think a peer production project
*lives* from the goal it follows. To follow this goal is the purpose
of the project and this is why people are there and contribute to it
without any alienated reward.

Blurring this purpose or changing it is dangerous - to say the least.
Sometimes this is the reason for a fork but more often this is the
reason for people just leaving.

IMHO Mathieu is not clear enough about the purpose of the project
[1]_. For instance when he suggests that (activist) discussion should
take place here.

.. [1] I thought about others but since from others there is so little
       input I think it's ok to attribute this to Mathieu.

I agree that the purpose of a project may change over time or become
clearer. But then this needs to be a conscious process during which
everyone may decide whether s/he wanted the new or the original
purpose - and leave or fork in the latter case.

This said my understanding of the project is that we are here to
create a peer produced scientific journal about peer production. I.e.:
This is a work project. This is very different from a discussion
project and it is also different from building up a community *as

Fortunately we are in the Internet and one of the good things in the
Internet is that setting up new facilities is usually cheap. So *if*
the need for discussing content arises then it should definitely be
channelled to an own space. I.e.: Create an own mailing list for

Of course this does not apply to discussion which is part of the work
process. Of course it's necessary to discuss submissions with the goal
to improve them. Unfortunately this doesn't happen here :-( .

Blurring content direction

The last aspect are my concerns of blurring the direction of the
project. I discussed this aspect in the "Special issue on FLOSS"
thread and the threads leading up to this. 

Well, this is probably the weakest of my points because I agree that
it is the purpose of a scientific journal to present and compare
different approaches. Still: Since peer production really is a new
phenomenon it's far too easy to step into old traps.

I'm perfectly happy if there is a consciousness for this problem. If,
however, such a consciousness is regarded as personal whims then the
interesting part of this project is at stake.



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