Transparent Communication Make Open Source Excel

Only yesterday I agreed with a colleague on how it is a bad thing to hide support pages to the public. Indeed, this is what Watchguard does. You can only reach their support pages if you have a login, validated through a support contract for their respective products. Even resellers don’t get special access, they need to use the credentials of their respective customers. Quite funny, for a company who’s basing their products on FLOSS software (at least GNU/Linux and ClamAV AFAIK – there are rumors about how they violate the GPL).
As a result, one does not easily find support information on their products. Google is not as helpfull here as it is with other products who have information in the wild. I even find it surprising that there ain’t many community based or other support sites helpfull with Watchguard products. Or just maybe the latter results from the former?

Open source projects can teach us a great deal about transparency. This goes a lot further than just using FLOSS software and giving the source back. It’s the whole process that needs to be transparent. This reminds me of a quote from Philip Paeps who says it all:

(original in Dutch:) Open Source is niet enkel een brok legalese die je boven je code plakt, het is een Way of Life. Als je er niet echt in Gelooft, kan je het niet verkopen.
Translated: “Open Source is not only a scrap of legalese which you stick above your code, it’s Way of life. If you do not really Believe in it, you cannot sell it.”

ONLamp features an interesting and related shameless plug, entitled What Corporate Projects Should Learn from Open Source. The article focuses on software development, but it’s really about transparent communication in (project) management. Open source projects can teach us a great deal about transparency, but transparency requires more than just installing a wiki or mailing list software; it requires a real commitment from the team to make decisions openly and to keep everyone in the loop, and this is where open source projects really excel. Seems like Philip’s quote paraphrased to me.