[AUUG-Talk]: What's wrong with the AOSA Awards.

Michael Paddon michael at paddon.org
Tue Dec 7 11:25:29 EST 2004

David Bullock writes:
> I'm putting this out in the open (where the relevant AUUG
> committees also can read it) - I think the AOSA awards are
> bit of a waste of time, as presently structured.

I guess I should respond as I have been involved in the AOSA process for a 
few years now.

It's great to get some discussion happening around this. First some 
background (from my perspective):

When Patryk Zadarnowski suggested the idea of the awards, I thought it was 
well timed. It addressed a need to raise awareness of the great open source 
work being done in this country, to recognise some of the culprits and 
(hopefully) to encourage others to get involved.

The AUUG Board then determined a structure for the awards, and found some 
suckers^Wvolunteers to run the process.

The awards have been running for three years now. On the positive side, I 
think they have some much of what was intended: a somewhat raised awareness,
some publicity for projects, and some acclaim for some hard working and 
selfless people.

That's not to say that there haven't been problems. The first awards involved
all the well known star players being nominated and a few consequently winning prizes.
The next time, it seemed that the non-winners (in general) weren't renominated 
by the membership, even though by any yardstick they were giants in the 
Australian open source world. This has the benefit of not having the same 
old faces every year, but it also means there is effectively only one shot at
winning for a project that might consume a decade of your life. Hardly fair.

Another problem has been the fact that the really big projects have already 
been nominated. A huge number of people use Samba, for instance, so there 
is a natural constituency to nominate and vote for it, and a broad 
agreement that it is worthy of recognition. But what now? There are lots of 
smaller projects out there, but many are aimed at a niche that only a 
cognoscenti appreciate.

So we come to a juncture where the Awards need rethinking. Which makes your 
email quite apropos.

> Forget the gold tuxes and besties - let's put up some research
> money to encourage projects which promise progress towards some
> problem which AUUG thinks is significant.  For example, a domain-
> specific-language for writing video-drivers [I know nothing of device drivers
> , 
> but I know that C is a monster], some good-quality
> tools, documentation, and a registry-style website that engaged
> device manufacturers [in multiple languages] might make a difference
> to availability of drivers for various open-source operating-systems.
> Heck, if the DSL was good enough, hardware vendors might even stop
> regarding their drivers as expensive secrets.

So if I understand your argument, it might be more valuable to provide
a priori grants and bounties rather than (or in addition to) a posteriori trophies.
It seems to me that there is some merit to this. Given AUUG's resources, I 
imagine this would be more effective directed at smaller projects, which is 
probably a good thing.

Does anybody else have comments or ideas?


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