Winding Down 2015-01-30

As some of you have noticed by now, I’ve started winding down my unpaid Chef user support. I’m still in the #chef IRC channel, but I no longer read it and will soon be disabling all notifications from it. I’m no longer reading the Chef mailing list, or the chef tag on StackOverflow.

Some History

For the past five years, I’ve basically been beating two drums: reusable cookbooks and community engagement. The former has started to show some improvement. A few major cookbook authors are embracing the “all resources all the time” approach, and while I think that is only the beginning of reusable cookbooks it is at least clear progress.

On the community engagement side, things are a bit more nebulous. We have the bi-weekly community meetings, but they are rarely promoted well and Chef Software hasn’t done much to spread the info from them back out to the community. Some new folks have started as maintainers, but there is clearly a lot of confusion about the lieutenant system. So far I’ve not seen any progress towards setting up the governance board, so the new governance policy is mostly just informational right now.

On Loyalty

Part of my problem in this whole journey is my feeling of loyalty to the Chef community. I am truly sorry to any new Chef users that will have a harder time getting started or others that will be less able to find the answers they need. I do genuinely enjoy helping people navigate the intricacies and tribulations of Chef, and hope to find a way to return to it. The sticking point is the unequal benefit of the whole process. The users obviously derive benefit in that (hopefully) their questions are answered, but personally I get little out of this exchange. This is even more tricky when you consider the benefits reaped by the company. Every time I help a user with Chef, I am contributing more to the paychecks of everyone at Chef Software than I am my own. That is the part I don’t think I can keep up any more. I don’t think the word “exploitation” is fair as Chef Software has never asked me to do any of this, but my emotional response is definitely somewhere on a similar spectrum.

Moving Forward

I have requested the official Community Engineering team up their efforts in the IRC channel and other places I was handing a large volume of user support. As I said above, I would love to find a viable to way to return to user support in the future. I’ll still be around the community as my contracts and benefactors allow, though the nature and scope of this relationship is hard to predict. I think we need to see more community leaders emerge to push for the needs of the users, especially non-big-co users since most of the active, non-Chef-Software users are from large institutional deployments. I hope that community engagement improves and that the apparent priorities of Chef Software come around, I’m just no longer prepared to do an unpaid, full time job while I wait for it.

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