Fig Follies, Part 2

This is the second of three posts I intend to make regarding the condition and actions of the FIG, and what they reveal.

The Present

The complaint against me (and the subsequent show trial and vote) are only a symptom of an underlying cause. The true cause behind the complaint, as well as many other events, is that there is a rivalry of visions regarding the FIG.

One vision holds that the FIG should remain true to its originating mission: focus on member projects, find existing commonalities among them through research and discussion, and codify those commonalities as PSRs. It is a more bottom-up approach, and is represented mostly implicitly, in the minds and actions of those who hold it. (Some artifacts of this vision remain on the FIG website, but I realize now they are not explicit enough.) I will call this the “founding” vision.

Another vision holds that the FIG should change its mission and broaden its scope to the entirety of PHP land, and in doing so accept the role that some people feel it should have: that of an overarching PHP Standards Group for all PHP coders, member projects or not. It is a more top-down approach, and is represented explicitly by the FIG 3.0 proposal. I will call this the “grand” vision.

These two visions are mutually exclusive. They are rivalrous.

This rivalry of visions might not matter, if the FIG had not already gained a level of perceived authority to many people in PHP land. It has earned a level of legitimacy through wide adoption of PSRs 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 (and to some extent 6 and 7). That authority and legitimacy are valuable commodities, hard to come by among PHP developers (who are notoriously independent-minded). That means the FIG is perceived as a high-value property, which makes it worth being rivalrous over.

Those holding the “founding” vision, under which the vast majority of accepted PSRs have been published, believe the high value of the FIG derives from that “founding” vision and mission. Those holding the “grand” vision wish to use that value to launch what is effectively a new organization, without any achievements of its own, and claim the value built under the “founding” vision as its own.

To me, as a holder of the “founding” vision, the “grand” vision is an expression of conceit, of hubris. I think the holders of the “grand” vision believe they are entitled somehow to capture the successes earned by the “founding” vision, and claim those successes as their own. They have not earned those successes through the vision they espouse.

Until the conflict between these visions has been resolved, the contention within the FIG will continue, because neither set of vision-holders wants to relinquish the FIG territory.

I see only two ways out of this dilemma. I will present them not tomorrow, but the day after.

Are you stuck with a legacy PHP application? You should buy my book because it gives you a step-by-step guide to improving your codebase, all while keeping it running the whole time.

6 thoughts on “Fig Follies, Part 2

  1. While we’ve had a discussion from different viewpoints before, I feel these posts aren’t necessarily helpful.

    At the moment you have been nominated as a Secretary, and while this post is interesting in explaining what you perceive as a core issue (& it may well be), the previous post, IMHO, is an attack on the establishment, so to speak. You specifically made an ad-hominem attack against the Secretary who would be your partner in a triumvirate if you win the vote.

    While your dislike of that secretary is well known, to me it doesn’t seem the best idea to start off “working together” in a way where you place the blame for past and existing issues squarely at his feet. The secretaries, by definition, are not one person. Any failure, perceived or otherwise, by one rests on the shoulders of all of them.

    I have a question for you, hopefully you’ll answer it. Considering the past issues around your membership to the FIG, and the expressed concern that others have over your influence on the FIG & the PHP community as a whole, have you ever considered that your behaviour/opinion has a deleterious effect on the FIG in particular and the PHP community in general? And if so, have you ever considered self-moderating to progress the aims of the communities?

    I ask, as it seems that a lot of the responses to perceived issues others have with you has been either “grow a thicker skin”, “don’t take it so personally” or “get out of the kitchen if it’s too hot”. Yet, as part of the “problem” (so to speak), I haven’t seen any indication that you accept some responsibility for those perceived slights. And considering the NUMBER of people affected, it seems to me that you should accept some responsibility for how your behaviour/opinion is perceived. It’s not a secret, quite a few people have been very vocal with their issues.

    We are, after all, human, and we all have feelings and opinions that are affected in every interaction with every other person – via email, blog posts, in person and all other ways.

    • First, I appreciate your polite and civil approach; too many in this conversation have not been so. Thanks for that.

      As to “your partner in a triumvirate” — it’s more like “another secretary in the secretarial pool.” This is one of the core problems with the role. It is misunderstood by many to be a steering, guiding, leadership, authoritative role. It is more properly seen as an *assistive* role, and has far too much power assigned to it for such.

      Regarding “have you ever considered self-moderating” — I have self-moderated more than you know. 😉 You should have seen the earlier versions I passed through some trusted editors; they were far more incendiary.

      Finally, on “I haven’t seen any indication that you accept some responsibility” — if you will permit me, I find it analogous to stating that a well-dressed man should accept some responsibility for the thieves who try to rob him.

  2. I see it as equal hubris on the part of those holding to the “founding” vision to wish to keep the FIG for themselves, rather than to make it an open, public, and community driven entity.

    I do not see the “grand” vision holders as wanting to claim the past achievements of the FIG as their own, I see it as them want to expand the “founding” vision to incorporate the whole of the PHP developer community.

    Indeed, I am not a coding member of any member project, nor of any open, non-member project. I am a simple PHP developer that has benefitted from the PSRs and the weight of influence the FIG holds.

    Your analogies are ripped straight from political rhetoric. The Libertarians and Republicans against the Socialists and Democrats. Your views echo the Libertarian cries of “stop stealing my money to help other people, it’s my money, I’ll help people if I want want people to be helped.” While the views of many in the “grand” vision seem to be more along the lines of “It is every person’s moral obligation to aide those in need.”

    As such, I can definitely concur that the two visions are diametrically opposed and further postulate that a majority from each of the two warring camps are likely to be politically inclined along the same lines.

    I have no questions to put to you. I have no need of retort (though I expect one will likely be forthcoming.) I simply wanted to add what I see, as an outsider, looking in upon the FIG Follies.


  3. “Regarding “have you ever considered self-moderating” — I have self-moderated more than you know. ”

    Based on Paul’s mailing list communication, it does seem that he has changed direction. Over the past few weeks, he has added more the PSR conversations than anytime in 2016. With the exception of responding to a few comments from the ‘league’ members, all comments have been on-topic with the purpose of pushing PSR work forward.
    Contrary to what some say, I believe we’re about to see some great work from the FIG. A few more members will probably drop in the coming weeks but I believe the drama is about to subside.

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