• [draft] openfsm - issues, questions and suggestions

last modified September 1, 2010 by facilitfsm

OpenFSM – hosting WSF communication – issues, questions and suggestions

(this page has been created by thiago in august 2008  - ( see history of the page)

an update  is  being made late june 2009 by Pierre

1) Introduction:

In april 2008, during the IC meeting held in Abuja, there was a decision to migrate all the IC mailing lists to a new tool, called OpenFSM. Based on a project called OpenPlans, this new tool/website is not only a mailing list manager: it has some useful features for collective group work and plan, as well as for “public” communication.

Since april, the WSF office in Sao Paulo, along with some IC commissions' members and WSF participants started to test and use OpenFSM. The first draft of this document tends to highlight some personal impressions, doubts and suggestions to use OpenFSM as a main communication tool for WSF Commissions and Working Groups.

OpenFSM doesn't substitute other websites (as forumsocialmundial.org or the events websites, as belem 2009 one) and also doesn't solve (at least for the moment) the profusion of websites related to WSF.

The task of unifying the visual layout and the technical languages to build a coherent set of tools for WSF still a medium/long term challenge.

Nevertheless, OpenFSM can be used as a very porwerful tool to manage both simple and more complex needs for group work in/for World Social Forum process. From easy acessible mailing lists archives and documents to blogs for publicization of work.

2) Actual use of OpenFSM

situation in june 2009

OPenFSM is hosting 300 "spaces" and a significant number of IC related spaces - Communication commission is now 80 members (and more on the maiing list) - the mailing list is now unified -  on the occasion of Belem many wsf2009 spaces were created - in the perspective of 2010 some groups are starting

The activity on those spaces is quite diverse , communication comisison has a weekly activity, being aware that  this activty is done by a small group of people among the 80 . The profile of participation is  contrasted

for the time being 10% of registered users have had a log in in the last month , and 5% of spaces and mailing lists  have had activity in the last month - these figures are low however the 10% factor is not surprising in the social sites  -there is a high number of people who register themselves and register a space and then never come back to the site ( probably because they do not receive stimulus information by the site up to now

also the 10% figure can be compared with the low activty of wsf process between events  -at the moment of belem the activity was higher 30% of users ; spaces, and mailing lists  have been active

in any case there is room for progress ! ....


situation in august 2008

OpenFSM is hosting 25 “spaces” related to WSF process, including Communication Commission, 3 Expansion Commission Working Groups (Asia, Arab countries and Russia), Translation and Interpretation WG; WSF Office - Sao Paulo; FSM 2009 Communication and others.

Some of this spaces are more active then others. FSM 2009 Communication, for instance, has 31 members and they're using mailing list and also the collective documents feature (wiki) to host their meetings' memory and reports. WSF office in Sao Paulo started to use the task manager for it's internal work planing.


NOTE: the items marked with *** are the ones that need urgent attention, suggested to be solved BEFORE the IC lists migration process start.

3) budget and infra-structure ***

OpenFSM is being developed by the same team that is developing www.openesf.net (a website for the European Social Forum process). This team is being supported by ESF office until September 2008. To keep OpenFSM working after that period (human and technical resources), a budget will be required.

In order to continue the migration process from Rits (the actual provider of IC lists managing system) to OpenFSM, we need to:

a) be sure that the budget will be available for supporting the developing/maintaining the server after september 2008.

b) think in advance if any hardware upgrade will be needed and estimate it on the budget.

c) define the reference person/people on Communication Commission for contact with developers/maintainers

4) technical development ***

OpenFSM is being developed based in The Open Planning Project – http://topp.openplans.org/, that describes itself as “a non-profit connecting open technologies with civic engagement”.

The site still has some minor bugs and need some improvements to make it more usable.

It's mandatory that the site is stable and without critical bugs for us to start moving the IC Commissions and Working Groups to OpenFSM.

5) languages ***

A great barrier for any kind of world communication is language. The website interface is basically in english (some menus has been translated into other languages). Some issues/suggestions concerning the language barrier:

a) Discuss and define in which languages we wish to have the interface (utopic and realistic approaches), considering the human and technical limitations.

b) technical limitations questions: is there a limit on the number of languages used on the interface? Portuguese accents appear wrong: do the site support (or is there a plan to support) “diffrent” caractheres like accents, chinese, cyrilic, arab, etc?

c) How the translation work? Offline (via text files) or online?

d) After solving the questions above, define a responsible person, a working team and a calendar for interface translation

6) Creating standards for space and list names

In OpenFSM, mailing lists are created inside related “Spaces”. When a space is created, it automatically creates a mailing list by adding the sufix “-discussion@lists.openfsm.net”. This automatically-created list is the main one inside a space, and contains all the members of that space. Other lists can be created inside the same space (for instance, the expansion Commission has 3 mailing lists inside it's space).

As the Space name defines the main list name, we should think now on creating some standards for spaces created/mantained by “WSF instances” (office, commissions and working groups). This is not mandatory, but can facilitate.

If we decide to choose some standards for spaces and mailing lists

My suggestion:

- for IC comissions, use the name “IC-commission-name”. As the following: ic-communication, ic-expansion or ic-methodology. This makes the Communication Commission main list address as ic-communication-discussion@

- for working groups, the prefix 'wg' ahead of the commission and working group names. (i.E: wg-expansion-asia)

7) Commissions and Working Groups – one space or many spaces?

8) Settting up policies for mailing lists and spaces (open or restricted)

The discussion about IC Commissions and Working Groups list and space policies is necessary. Some different standards on archive and work transparency can be adopted for Comissions and Working Groups.

The general ones

9) Migrating now

Considering that some working groups are already working inside OpenFSM

- to produce and translate a general user guide for OpenFSM

- to produce and translate specific guides (emails) to invite people to the existing spaces.


10) Memory and Archives

- the actual IC mailing lists provider (Rits) have a long memory of IC Commissions and WG discussions. By migrating the lists to OpenFSM, there's no need to keep the mailing lists service with Rits, but it's extremally important to preserve the memory of the discussions.

- Check the technical possibilities of lists archive export 

- The same


comcom budget 11-12 discussion-1