[OpenID board] Getting Membership Management Under Control

Chris Messina chris.messina at gmail.com
Tue Jun 2 18:59:53 UTC 2009

I'm certainly disappointed on Carsten's behalf as well.
It does appear that we not only have not built out the membership management
tools for the board (it's unclear whether this was ever prioritized or
provided resources for), nor have we articulated a clear and ongoing value
proposition to the membership.

That said, having first been on the outside as a critique of the foundation
and now being on the inside, I can attest to the meager human resources that
the foundation has at its disposal to correct these issues.

I am open to Eddy's point about large companies steam-rolling the
foundation, but am unclear what contributions smaller companies have
attempted to make that have been thwarted because of their participation. If
anything, the larger companies have validated the protocol in the
marketplace and driven a great deal of value for its adoption, though not
without creating a compromised situation with directed identity where big
brands are placed in priority against self-hosted OpenIDs.

Still, there is plenty of room for members of the community to step in and
organize the membership, either in the context of the foundation or in
general, with projects like SpreadOpenID, that are not directly controlled
or sponsored by the foundation.

Moreover, we have a marketing challenge where OpenID itself isn't a product
like Firefox that is easy to explain or to "show". Instead it requires
people take the time the understand the technology, what's good for and then
to spend resources implementing it, and so the adoption cycle is longer and
more involved.

Personally I'm hoping to work more on our overall marketing, communication
and web strategy this summer, but I'm just one person. Participation on the
mailing list is one thing, but going out and donating time and energy, which
is then surfaced to other members of the community is another.

None of this negates or excuses Carsten's poor customer experience, but it
is important to recognize that the board is comprised of volunteers and only
at the beginning of this year brought in Don to serve as the executive
director. It's been five months and the lack of solid infrastructure beneath
the foundation is still apparent, but progress is being made. I've had it on
my plate to do a "progress interview" with Don for the blog; I'll get
cracking on that today to at least better surface some of the things that
have been going on behind the scenes over the past couple months.

I hope (and expect!) that in the next few months we will continue to make
progress and hopefully correct the institutional problems that lead to
Carsten's experience in the first place.


On Tue, Jun 2, 2009 at 11:11 AM, Eddy Nigg (StartCom Ltd.) <
eddy_nigg at startcom.org> wrote:

>  Unfortunately the OpenID foundation hasn't lived up to the promises to its
> members, various brought to the attention of the board and previous and
> current execs were simply ignored. At the moment StartCom has no intention
> to renew its membership - I might do so as an individual...maybe.
> But the foundation has been steam-rolled by the big corporations, making
> the contribution of smaller companies and individuals pretty irrelevant. The
> below issue of Carsten only highlights how this organization is run and
> further confirms our own impression and decision to pull out.
>   Regards      Signer:  Eddy Nigg, StartCom Ltd. <http://www.startcom.org>
> Jabber:  startcom at startcom.org  Blog:  Join the Revolution!<http://blog.startcom.org>
> Phone:  +1.213.341.0390
> On 06/02/2009 08:44 PM, David Recordon:
> If you haven't read Carsten's post this morning, you should.  It looks like
> Carsten's membership now ends on July 1 and that we still owe him $75.
> I've left a comment on Carsten's blog and emailed Don, John and Marisa
> asking that we sort this out today.  Is Carsten's membership different than
> others or do we have a larger membership management problem on our hands?
> http://notsorelevant.com/2009-06-02/about-losing-a-supporter/
> Thanks,
> --David
> In February 2008 I happily joined the OpenID Foundation (OIDF). For
> the first time it was possible for individuals to join the OIDF and I
> was certainly among the first to join. While the annual membership fee
> of $100 was a little high, I thought it was only natural for me to
> join the foundation and support something that I believe in. This blog
> and Spread OpenID are document of that.
> By the end of last year the membership fee for individuals was lowered
> to $25/year. So I was surprised when I got notified by PayPal in
> February 2009 that $100 were transferred to the OIDF for another year
> of membership, starting April 1 2009. I was a little confused since I
> wasn’t aware that it was a subscription model, that was probably my
> fault, and that I was charged $100 instead of $25.
> So first I cancelled the subscription - the $100 for period April 2009
> to March 2010 were paid, though - and got in touch with David Recordon
> and Scott Kveton who are both board members of the OIDF. Obviously,
> something was wrong with the subscription model and I wanted to make
> sure this didn’t happen to other members as well. Also I wanted to
> work out a way that I only paid $25 as well. Both forwarded my email
> to Don Thibeau, who was appointed the executive director of the OIDF
> in February.
> Until March 21 I didn’t hear from Don so I got back in touch with him
> and asked about the matter. I got only a short reply, two short
> sentences without salutation or complimentary close (hey, he’s
> probably busy or that’s some cultural difference), that he was working
> on the issue with Marisa Kihlthau (of Inventures). Marisa got a copy
> of his reply as well.
> Since I didn’t get another information until May 2 I emailed Don
> again. Well, something happened in between: the end of my membership
> status changed from April 1 to July 1. Don’t ask me why, though. As
> you can guess, I was rather frustrated by the time and I wrote to Don
> that I didn’t care about the OIDFanymore and that he should keep the
> $100 for whatever period of time my membership was good for.
> Once again he replied that he was sorry and copied the email to
> Marisa. He wrote another email and asked if he could do anything else
> for me. I negated. Marisa also got in touch, explaining that the OIDF
> was under new management (wow, that’s news in May 2009  ) and that
> they were sorting the membership database, hoping things to be solved
> by the end of May. I should get in touch with her if I had any more
> questions.
> Until today nothing happened. No way will I get back in touch with
> anyone about the matter. I don’t care anymore. However I want to make
> the story public because I think it is a bad example of customer
> service. I will no longer support theOIDF as it is unprofessional and
> won’t accomplish much if all issues are dealt with the same way.
> I tried to support OpenID in many ways in the past and still think it
> is a great concept. But why should I waste more time, energy, and
> money?
> Annoyed, frustrated, disappointed!
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Chris Messina
Open Web Advocate

Website: http://factoryjoe.com
Blog: http://factoryjoe.com/blog
Twitter: http://twitter.com/chrismessina

Diso Project: http://diso-project.org
OpenID Foundation: http://openid.net

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