It was decided at the Board Meeting FOSS4G2007 that the Service Provider Directory should give searchers some guidance on which service providers are actually supporters of the foundation and projects. This helps searchers highlight the more involved service providers, and provides an incentive for organizations to support development and the foundation.
One common way to do this is by issuing certificates. This is a slippery slope and therefore OSGeo will implement an alternative way of documenting competency and involvement by leveraging existing structures. This results in multiple benefits for the potential customer, the service provider and also the software project.
Prioritization is envisaged to involve placing the contributing organizations at the top of the search result, and to result in some sort of note placed beside the provider indicating they are foundation sponsors, or have been identified as project contributors for a particular project.
Currently active foundation sponsors and Project contributors will be listed higher up and highlighted with a contributor note indicating the sponsorship level.
Other Service Provider Prioritization Examples
Links to how others go about this. This may educate us and help find the middle way.
- http://www.openbravo.com/ (good start, little content yet but they already have a map...)
- http://forum.joomla.org/index.php/topic,6856.0.html (just a list)
- http://www.postgresql.org/support/professional_support (anybody can apply)
- http://drupal.org/drupal-services (only contributors are listed)
It is proposed that an additional column be added to the provider description, labelled Contributor with textual items indicating projects for which the organization has been named a contributor, and the organizations foundation sponsorship level if any.
Imagine the table from this result: http://www.osgeo.org/search_profile?SET=1&MUL_COUNTRY%5B%5D=00001
Being replaced with this: http://home.gdal.org/tmp/search_profile.html
- Contributors are listed ahead of non-contributors.
- Sponsors (imagine Timberline and DMSG were sponsors!) are listed based on the level.
- Projects are listed if and only if the PSC has approved them as contributors.
- Sponsorship levels are linked to the sponsorship page for more information.
- No specific prioritization among contributors - not ranked by degree of contribution, sponsorship level (perhaps we should but we will need to come up with a valuation algorithm which might be iffy)
- perhaps we would also like to link the project names to a contributor page on the project site with details of who the contributors are and anything else the project sees fit to list?
The no. of employees column has also been shortened to staff to make the table width more manageable.
Some sort of management web applet will be developed allowing those with "admin" privileges in Drupal to update the "contributor" column. Those who prepare service provider entries will need to contact webcom staff (perhaps via info at osgeo.org) to request contributor status be added, and the administrator(s) will need to verify contributor status (with the sponsors page, or projects) and then update.
Ideally the web applet interface would show a list of available projects and sponsorship levels and let them be turned on/off with check boxes. The values would be stored in the database along with other SPD listing info, but would not be editable by the folks preparing the rest of the service provider listing.
Project Contributor Rules
Project contributors are to be determined by the project steering committees by what ever means a given project deems appropriate. This needs to be discussed with the project leads so that they can work out any foreseeable trouble with their projects beforehand. Project contributors can be organizations employing a committer, employing PSC members, being a project sponsor, or any other criteria a PSC wishes. Criteria have to be worked out, published by the corresponding project and should be discussed and officially approved by the board prior to applying it. Then Projects will nominate organizations (or individuals) as contributors. The SPD management interface (tbd) would be used to "award" them contributor status.
- PSC members are encouraged to nominate themselves (or their employing companies). Nominating oneself is a perfectly sound way of recognition.
- Anybody from the single contractor to the multinational commercial enterprise can provide services for Free and Open Source Software.
- We will only collect contributor credits from OSGeo projects. Do we want to restrict the project contributor mechanism to projects that have fully graduated incubation?
How to apply as a service provider (SP)?
- Subscribe to the mailing list
- Introduce yourself to the community.
- Collaborate by providing help, etc. (see below)
- Add yourself to the OSGeo Wiki
- Request PSC for nomination
Level of Involvement
There are several ways in which a service provider can get involved:
- Become active on the mailing lists
- Write documentations
- Translations (docs, interfaces)
- Create Tutorials, educational material
- Support systems architecture (OSGeo SVN, Trac, Mailing Lists, Web Site, etc.)
- Become part of the core development team
- Join project sponsorship program (if Project has opted in)
Vetting these activities will put an additional workload on the Project Steering Committee of the corresponding OSGeo project. This should be compensated by the positive effects resulting from higher exposure and so on. This should be broadly discussed if required. The additional work for the PSC should be compensated by higher attractivity to the project to new collaborators and sponsors.
The spatial attribute (location of the SP) and language proficiency (which languages are spoken) are not controlled by OSGeo in any way but will have a high level of influence when it comes to spatial distribution. Therefore the number of staff available locally should be explicitly specified as one employee can only be in one place at a time.