Today is a great day, 3 weeks ago, almost all of the TWiki developers started a fork of the project because they were disagreeing Peter Thoeny (TWiki founder and project leader) strategies and initiatives.

The heir of TWiki
As of October 27th 2008, ‘TWiki’ is no longer the same – it is now commercial open source.
The people that drove TWiki development for the past decade feel the time has come to do so under a different name.

I was an addicted, satisfied and active TWiki user since the September 4th 2006, installing, upgrading and using it for an enterprise I’m working for.

But things change, wrong founder strategies and politics convinced most of all the community members to leave the project and to found a new one.
Of course, for obvious reasons, I support the Foswiki community

Let’s see the main reasons of the fork (from the Foswiki site):

January, February 2008: conflicts arise

In January 2008 Peter thoeny attempted to release TWiki 4.2.0 with a press release that suggested that TWIKI.NET were responsible for the release. This was withdrawn after community protests, and a request for clarification of the governance model added to the agenda for the summit.

July 2008: first governance proposal not accepted by the community

Peter Thoeny wrote up a proposal for the new TWiki governance model (link to that page revision). In short:

  1. Peter Thoeny is a Self Appointed “Benevolent Dictator for Life” (BDFL) — spiritual leader of the TWiki project. The BDFL appoints members of the Technical Board.
  2. The TWiki name and brand, and the domain name are the property of the project founder Peter Thoeny and he has sole discretion in decisions related to these matters.

This proposal met considerable opposition from the community. It seemed to go against some already established, and more democratic decision structures. The role of BDFL met some strong resistance, although some members acknowledged the need for leadership.

September 2008: emotions rising, creation of a democratic board

Just before the TWiki Community Summit September 2008 in Berlin, the community learned that Peter Thoeny was not willing to discuss the role of BDFL or the TWiki brand.

Moreover, Peter would not be able to join the summit; instead Tom Barton would be attending.

At the summit, the attending TWiki community members (present physcially and by conference call) made these stands:

  • The BDFL position is not needed or appropriate for the community. The majority position was that this would not be an acceptable element of governance.
  • The participants expressed very strong reservations about TWIKI.NET’s control of the TWiki brand whose value, the participants felt, is primarily based on the volunteer contributions of many individuals.

At the end of the day, the group summarized it’s positions on these questions as follows:

  1. The license on the brand name “TWiki” should be a free (as in free beer and free speech) Public License given to the entire community, without having to sign an agreement.
  2. Peter Thoeny is considered the Chief Evangelist, but he will not have veto right, nor will he have the right to overthrow community decisions.

These demands should be followed, or the community would create a fork.

October 2008: undemocratic takeover

As a complete surprise, at 27 October 2008, 21:00 GMT, just a minute before the regular TWiki release meeting, the company TWIKI.NET announced unilaterally that the best for the project would be for them to take over governance (read the IRC logs).

In an undemocratic move, all TWiki Community members were barred from editing the website. All contributors were required to accept a newly introduced set of terms of use in order to access the TWiki software. This implicitly meant accepting the new TWiki Governance model, in spite of the fact that the community had previously rejected this model. In addition, a new privacy policy was effectuated.

TWiki is now led by TWIKI.NET instead of the Open Source community.

No core contributors have agreed to continue development based on the new governance model.

Result: contributors split from

Immediately after the announcement, a large group of community members have joined forces to continue development of TWiki. Working title: Foswiki.
The goals of Foswiki are:

  1. Found an association as a formal body for the project, including the reorganization of its governance down to all operational questions
  2. Guarantee a volunteer-friendly and democratic environment
  3. Release a new version of TWiki-compatible as soon as possible

790 commits in 3 weeks, and the project has now a name! Foswiki is growing up fast, strong and most of all Free!

As the Foswiki community is working like crazy to deliver the 1.0.0 version, I expect soon will be possible to switch from (almost) any TWiki installation to a Foswiki one.

There are not good excuses to keep the TWiki installation, as most of all the developers and TWiki freelancers moved to Foswiki. More over after the kick in the ass Peter gave to all the brilliant people worked for free to improve what was a good project.

Join it, taste it and spread it!