The echo chamber

When I ran for the .NET Foundation Board, I found it odd that the legacy members were silent. There was no word from them on the experience. There was no understanding of their thought on the state of affairs in the .NET Foundation. There was an election. We shuffled them out without a word and brought in new board members in total silence. The silence I heard was loud enough for me to realize the potential problem. I proceeded anyway, with caution.

My intent in sending my resignation was to do the same, shuffle myself out silently. I knew there was an election in play, and I figured, let the community pick someone who could push the mission of the .NET Foundation forward. A mission that remains an active PR on the website, which means it isn't complete.

To my surprise, I was denied a silent exit from the .NET Foundation. A lot of people have asked me to break my silence. I have had DM's over the last year of people wanting me to open the curtain and shed light on the nobs and switches that make the machine move. I would gather nobody has done it for fear of reprisal, a friend and mentor has helped me past that fear. So now let me break some silence, and finally give you a response to the echo we have all heard so loud.

Refocusing on my personal life

I am fine. No issue in my personal life took me away from the Board. I communicated in my resignation I wanted someone who had more time and motivation to move the mission of the .NET Foundation forward. The mission that we just determined is still in limbo. So I left because I didn't have the energy to put into an organization that doesn't share my views and stance on what I think the community needs, Sustainable Open Source Software. Instead, I decided to return home to ReactiveUI and refocus on getting our house in order, and tackle sustainability where I could make an impact.

I did not mention anything about my personal life. Those closest to me know I am very discrete when it comes to my person. I am happy to talk your ear off about Xamarin, .NET, OSS, Reactive, and all manner of things technical. I very rarely post anything that can be traced back to my endeavors. This is for good reason.

I resigned, and I went on my first vacation in four years. I had a great time. When I returned to life, I noticed people were concerned about me and I had an inbox full of messages voicing that concern. I didn't know why until one of my friends in the community sent me a message and asked directly

"Rodney what are you refocusing on in your personal life?! You aren't leaving the community are you?!"

... well ... what gave you that idea?

"The Foundation Election email, have you read it?"

Let me state again. I am fine. For everyone who reached out, I am grateful you think enough of me to care about my well-being. For those who read it and were concerned, I share your concern. Now I am wondering, should I take the .NET Foundations advice? I guess in a way I am. I am back where I belong. A member of the community, not some overseer of Microsoft Open Source Software (MOSS).

Not for profit

I started my tenure with my normal upbeat attitude. I was excited, and naive in thinking I could steer the .NET Foundation towards a community-focused organization. I was hopeful that I could make a difference. I took on obligations and probably over-reached when it came to .NET Foundation projects. All the while, everything I committed to seemed to get me no closer to why I was there, to help tackle Open Source Sustainability. So my motivation tanked. Communication around how the .NET Foundation viewed member projects became more and more clear, and in some instances was stated in plain English. The .NET Foundation is a 501 C6 not for profit entity. This means their purpose is to foster better conditions for their members that share a common goal. As of the time, this is written that consists of the following.

  • Member Projects
  • Individual Members
  • Corporate Sponsors

From what I have seen, the .NET Foundation has not fostered anything for any of its members, and constantly undermines them.

Parting is bitter, not sweet

My departure from the Foundation Board was not an easy decision. I struggled with staying but I didn't fit into the Diversity that the Foundation is looking for. Per the election email, the Foundation wants a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-gender Board of Directors. I see diversity differently. To me, it isn't diverse because I have a black one, and a blue one, and a red one. Diversity, to me, is about the diversity of thought. I have concluded that this is not what the .NET Foundation wants. The .NET Foundation doesn't appear to want diversity of thought, more than it wants to meet an HR quota for Diversity Hires. I figured it was better to leave quietly than double down and work twice as hard to make it back into a select few people's good graces. Especially when it was clear, the .NET Foundation was not concerned about its membership.

Message Delivered, Message Received

When I read the .NET Foundation election email, my heart sunk into my stomach. While I appreciated the intention, I question the purpose. The entire second paragraph of the email was about me when I wanted to remain silent. I understand that the intention was probably to send me off with good wishes. It just seemed odd that nobody else got such a glorious review. When previous Board members left or didn't decide to re-run there was no mention of it to the community. If nothing had been said directly, it would have seemed like I was shuffled out like everyone else. Instead, we made a point to be transparent about bylaws. This struck me as extremely out of place. The .NET Foundation hasn't been transparent with the community about anything. Why this? Why now? That is the number one complaint I hear about the .NET Foundation is lack of transparency. So being "transparent" about my departure, without my consent or accurate information, and using it as an opportunity to give the foundation good optics seemed out of turn.

Pay attention to the people behind the curtain

The .NET Foundation needs to be clear and honest with the community, and tell us once and for all; Are you here to enforce Microsoft's will on .NET Open Source, or are you here to help foster and promote a healthy community? The scoreboard doesn't look good for the latter. In my time on the Board, I watched a Foundation Project I loved wither away to support on-demand. I watched another determine its licensing model didn't fit with the .NET Foundation. All handled discretely, behind the curtain. Even as a member of the Board, I don't know I have the full story. I watched Microsoft kill an Open Source Project, while my friends in the community demanded the Foundation say something, I felt powerless to do anything. It was clear the reasons I joined the Foundation weren't important. So like any person who has suffered defeat, I went home to regroup and find comfort in the fact someone somewhere appreciates the work I provide. I have received many communications to that effect. So thank you all who helped me realize I add value to this community, it is appreciated.

I will be interested to see if the .NET Foundation will side with the .NET Open Source Community, or will they create a MOSS Community? Where you have to be mature enough by Foundation standards to be a player and be seen as valuable. Have they created it already and we just haven't seen the writing on the wall? I would like to ask any member project that hears the echo and can relate to open dialogue around how we are going to ensure long-term sustainability for our projects, so our users can depend on our quality software for years to come.

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