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Mark Shuttleworth: “I Really Screwed Up”

Mark Shuttleworth at work

Ubuntu’s founder has admitted that he ‘really screwed up’ an announcement on community-developer changes in 13.04.

His plan, to open up formerly internal-projects to community input, was misread – likely intentionally in some cases – resulting in criticism from community users and news sites alike.

Many ran headlines claiming that Ubuntu was ‘moving development behind closed doors‘ to keep it away from ‘prying eyes’.

Mark Shuttleworth later issued a blog post to clarify what he had originally meant to say, urging people to ‘disregard the commentary by folk who assumed that the public discussion of Ubuntu development would somehow change.’

‘I Screwed Up’

Talking to attendees of the bi-annual “Ubuntu Q&A” following a release of Ubuntu, Shuttleworth spoke of that initial post, saying:

“I really screwed up that blog. 

It never even occurred to me that people would interpret [that] as aiming to be MORE CLOSED when the obvious intent was to open everything up, while still preserving the delight of the reveal.”

Humble Pie at the wrong table

It’s interesting to see Mark personally take the flak for ‘screwing’ up  the ‘Skunkworks’ announcement when the blame clearly doesn’t lay with him.

Having read the original post at the time, and fully understanding the move as a positive one, I couldn’t help find the resulting storm-in-a-takeaway-coffee-cup as bemusing as it was frustrating.

The criticisms were muddled. Many were berating Ubuntu for (allegedly) planning to develop projects in less public forums as if this was a dramatic change to the way Ubuntu was developed – an argument that inherently flawed when one remembers that Unity, the HUD, Web Apps, The Shopping Lens, Ubuntu One, etc were all developed in precisely this way.

What Mark’s announcement was actually saying is although they will, for certain pieces of Ubuntu, continue to incubate and build them until they’re reading for wider testing, the plan to include more community members in this development process.

So, far from Mark signalling a ‘closing’ in Ubuntu’s development, he was actually announcing that private internal-projects will be ‘opened up’ to include the talents, views and feedback of the community.

There are only so many ways to grab the wrong end of the stick – but in this case some people weren’t even trying to get a-hold of it at all.