General policy on polls and democracy in FreeOrion

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General policy on polls and democracy in FreeOrion

#1 Post by Aquitaine » Sat Dec 04, 2004 8:56 pm


This is more for the benefit of new people, since those of you who have been here for a while know this. It hasn't been a problem, particularly, but we don't really come out and say it anywhere so I thought I would post here rather than having to explain it in every thread where this happens.


FreeOrion is an open source, community-driven project. It is not a democracy or a plutocracy. While we make every effort to reach a consensus on just about every major issue (at least in the design team), 'officially' speaking, FreeOrion is run by a group of benevolent dictators who realize that, without the support of lots of other people, they will have to do all the work themselves, and so we bend over backwards to accommodate the public more often than not.

Consequently, there is really no point to creating polls to gauge public support for an idea. Even in the instances where we are looking for community consensus, we are going to read the entire thread and weigh arguments. We never count heads. The fact that you voted on something doesn't mean you were at all involved in the discussion or even in FO. It just means some user pressed the submit button.

Furthermore, even if you had a hundred friends, all of whom at PhDs in Computer Game Design with special foci in Games Like Master of Orion, and you got them all to sign a petition saying that some feature we passed really sucks, it doesn't make a difference. We value input from people who are dedicated to the project and who show their dedication by taking part in the official (and often messy) discussions. This is not to say that we are so rules-bound that we will never revisit something once we've passed it. But you should not expect to alter the course of any of the FreeOrion development teams through application of a Forum Poll. If you really think we've screwed up, and you can argue your case without regurgitating the contents of the official discussion on the subject (translation: you really have something new that we didn't consider the first time), then by all means, email myself and Tyreth (or one of the other leads, if it's for the graphics team or the programming team or the music/FX team).

Just don't, for the love of Spathi, make a poll.

If this sounds heavy-handed to you, try and appreciate that we are always doing a balancing act between remaining a very public project that welcomes outside participation and actually getting things done. These two are not always antithetical, but at least for the design team, I think 'design by committee' generally carries a negative conotation for good reason. We do, in fact, do quite a lot of our design by committee, but as those of you who have been with us from the beginning know, when the time comes to make a call, we don't hesitate. From my perspective, my job is to do my part to see FreeOrion through to v1.0, because when that happens, a lot of the things people complain about (there should be no starlanes, there should be sliders, whatever) can be addressed via handy plug-in modules that seem a bit far-fetched for our currently limited resources, but will be much less of a pipe dream by the time we reach v1.0. Think about it: a completed MOO-esque project, open to the Internet and all of the modding capabilities of people like us with too much time on their hands.

I think there's a lot to be said for choosing different paths than the ones we've chosen for FO, whether it be for starlanes, the tech tree, the story, or anything else. But as we can't accomodate everyone and we do have to make these choices, please respect that we do agonize over each and every one of them (see the design archive if you don't believe me). I hate having to email somebody and say 'nice idea but no' because I don't want to be the bad guy, but ... okay, who am I kidding, I love being the bad guy. MuahAHaHAAHAHahAh....

Last edited by Aquitaine on Mon Dec 19, 2005 2:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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#2 Post by a_claudiu » Sun Dec 05, 2004 9:34 pm

I'm sad to find out that here is not a democracy. In almost all strategy games this is the path to victory :wink: .
From your mail I just found out that this is not a developer driven process, but more a software company like driven proccess. Some open source projects are driven by companies and some more others by developers. Here you have a design team, more design leadears and "dictators", an infrastucture often found in companies (with real money). I hope that the project will go forward and advance faster than now. What the hell, I'm just waiting for a good game.

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#3 Post by Bastian-Bux » Mon Dec 06, 2004 10:00 am

Actually it IS a developer driven process. Though we don't "vote" on an issue every time someone finds the way to brainstorming board and starts screaming "thats completely wrong".

There is a lead team, that is finally the one to make decisions.

There are working teams, that work out the basics for that decisions and support them later (yes, even if the decisions are against our own suggestions).

Those two parts together are the developers, and no, its not democratic. But very cooperative. So if you ask those old guys from the creative team (like me), then you will find out that almost everyone has already had one of its suggestions adapted into FO, and also at least one critizised and dismissed. ^^

And there is the broad mass of people that jump in, drop an idea, and forget about this project again. Or come back later on.

To accomodate all desires of that third group would be impossible. Especially as this group more often then not doesn't care to read old posts on the very theme (or can't as they are lost with old forii).

Yes, this group IS important for the development, and if people stay longer then just a few days and support the development of FO, they surely will get credited in the game. But if they do so, they become part of the second group, dont they? ;)

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#4 Post by emrys » Mon Dec 06, 2004 9:25 pm

Freeorion is a massively Developer driven process. No matter how determined any or all of the the design team or even The Dictators (oooh new race name maybe... nah) are, if the developers won't code it, it ain't going anywhere.

I guarantee you that the single most persuasive argument anybody could ever make on the design forums, far far more pursuasive than a poll result where half the planet voted, would be the simple phrase "well, I coded up my idea and checked it into CVS, and I think it works pretty well, anybody disagree?."

(And when the first person actually posts that, I'll buy shares in the Porcine Aviation Co. :D )

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#5 Post by Tyreth » Mon Dec 06, 2004 11:46 pm

The developers do not have free reign of the code, they are subject to the requirements of the game design and other teams also. tzlaine watches over all contributions made, and developer access can be revoked if/when we think it is appropriate to do so.

I'm closing this thread now.

Edit: You are right that this project is nothing without the developers. They are the hands that give form to the clay :)