Should a citizen based IT team be implemented?

Total votes: 45

97.8% Yes

2.2% No

Jan 31, 17 06:56 UTC

Proposal - ACIT - Asgardia Civic IT  

So I have seen a lot of heat placed on our mods and admins about the state of the forum; bugs, security issues, problems not being addressed, etc.. From what I have come to gather, our current IT team is the AIRC IT team. I would imagine that they already have a workload that is pushing them to the extreme without having to govern and manage this pet project of ours. We already have a Civic Asgardia section that seems comprised of current members, why not implement an IT section from our existing members? I have seen a lot of good ideas that would, in my opinion, help this forum, as well as boost current morale. Deadlines have been pushed back, or missed entirely with no rescheduling, or a very vague idea of when they might be implemented. I think if we had a citizen based IT that could develop and submit a finished, working product, it would be able to be put into effect immediately after a board approval. Merely transfer existing user data over. The Asgardian IT could be selected the same way our current Mods and Admins are, resume/testing of skills. We have 150k+ people, over half of which are just waiting for the word to help, why not start letting them help? We could pull a lot of the weight off of those who already have a lot on their plates to begin with. Just to clarify, I am not bashing or criticizing anyone already a part of the forum/IT/civic relations department, merely trying to lend a hand. The last I checked, there are no supermen amongst us, share the burden.

~~Paul

Edit: Here is the link to the current proposal

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1oRu-IbuqzKZ0yBNQ-bKTjLM3EnjBh2UgfLPVSI6LOZ0

  Last edited by:  PaulWMillerII (Asgardian)  on Feb 11, 17 20:26 UTC, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: Edit.

Jan 31, 17 13:46 UTC

It's not just a possibility, it's the only way significant progress could be made with such a complex project. If one was to attack the problem sensibly. This does ofc have the massive flaw of being able to recognise sanity.

The "IT team" is AIRC's and if this service is anything to go by, then likely their systems are in constant disarray meaning the time and attention they are able to drop into this initiative is minimal. It's either that, or they made themselves systems that actually work, spend all day looking at cat videos in reddit and just threw together any random crap in thirty mins(I really hope it didn't take longer, but there was a EC2 unit mapped to forum.asgardia.space for some time - I bet large sums that, as well as the EC2 instance asgardia.space started on wasn't sanitised, either) in the hope it'd keep us out of their hair. Neither of those senario leave me feeling happy. I'd be honestly too embaressed to push people towards this service if I was responsible for it. It, along with it's mistakes, really doesn't come across as professional, at all.

The "actual team" I think would be most unwise to attribute to various interwebs randoms. It's definitely wise to crowdsource, however, on this and many other subjects. All it'd really take is somewhere to input. As long as anyone can input then solutions can be provided and implimented readily at convenience of "admin". I'm to understand effort is being made to provide "collaborational tools" which if done right should almost entirely encompass needs here, system specifications would be useful, also but not critical. Quite why we're still waiting for this over a month later when there's plenty of open source initatives in this field that can be deployed in less than thirty mins speaks volumes. As do things like absence of PM, abuse reporting, ticketing generally, user authentication, data security policies - and disturbingly, the list is nowhere near exhausted. I cannot help the prediction that even with doing all the actual work for them, the implimentation of will still take disturbingly long times. Eventually - most likely post June - I would predict a massive shakeup in a lot of structure. If we do that right, we can end up with something that has a chance of working.

The selection for such a team really wouldn't want to follow the current scheme at all - the technologies utilised in such suggest anyone willing to actively engage with privacy invasive malware have already proved themselves unsuitable.

Commonly I suggest core focus to be the foundation and construction of our governmental systems, as a logical path, but I honestly think IT takes priority here as really about now we have little else, and it will be the core of our operations for the observable future. A lot of work needs doing with this to fabricate some sort of legitmate voting system for example, as opposed to the opinion polls current capacity allows for generation of - which are probably fine for "market research" but are lacking for almost anything else.

With this in mind, I would suggest that once we get collaborational tools to focus on rebuilding the current services. I personally would envision a common landing page as is currently, but instead of jumping straight into the forum instead a "portal" in which other services - including the forum - are accessible. From here we can begin to define and build a framework around which our services operate, whilst avoiding useless feature creep. Luckily the existing structure - Drupal if I'm not mistaken - should make this pretty easy. To begin constructing these services in a modular fashion would make it easy to upgrade/maintain any individual component and or swap it for another as needs change. There should be no reason for data to move anywhere, it should be able to absorb and operate around the existing DB structure. Modular.

There are supermen amongst - some have grown quite used to commonly encountering incompetence and thusly long since formulated the opinion that the only way to ensure something is not just done, but done properly, is to do it yourself. Everything. Then the only person you have to blame in the unlikely event of failure is yourself - and you're left with something you can easily do about it. It is most unwise to underestimate the overal capacity of an individual. Sometimes all it takes to make(or break) something is just one person. A wonderful example here is Dashrath Manjhi, and what he did with nothing but raw determination and simple hand tools. Ofc, when you start adding the output of people like that together, progress can become impressive.

Just to clarify, I am bashing & criticising people already part of "teams" - if they have a problem with this then they shouldn't of gone out of their way to make it so easy, or at least made some effort in prevention. The dislike of such might even inspire change, if we're lucky. If they're incapable(either in time or skill) then they shouldn't of started, and someone that is capable would of been found. But it's not just bashing for bashings sake - I really shouldn't be left able to, and therin lies the problem. Problems need highlighting or they don't ever get solved.

  Updated  on Jan 31, 17 13:48 UTC, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Additional data

Jan 31, 17 19:37 UTC

Thank you for several of those words of wisdom, I am by no means IT savvy at all, so I really have no idea what would go into such a thing or know how to help short of giving very general and basic ideas. And my comments to not bashing was more towards our Admins and Mods, because currently they have the role of glorified baby sitters, no offense intended. They were put into place to take our questions and help where they can, but they aren't given many freedoms or powers to really "help". For instance, someone can pass the problems up the chain, but once the Mods pass it on to the board, we are at the mercy of whether the board actually heeds the question or not. Alot has been put on our Mods when they aren't in a position to solve the problem, nor given the tools or resources to help develop a feasible solution. I am in agreeance with you that this forum does seem that no actual thought was put into it. With it being a nice idea, it was very poorly implemented. The layout is more generic than some of the free web design chat rooms I have messed around with. I am pretty sure if I went to freewebs.com right now I could probably make a carbon copy of this site in about an hour, if it even takes me that long, and thats with absolutely no technical experience in this field at all.

Another thing that bothers me with this is that we can't even begin to gather a hard number on actual users/citizens due to the security being what it is on the site (nill/zero), we have no way of verifying anyones data without that data being open to just about anyone with a computer or smart phone. The only thing we have to go on is that each account was made with a separate email and name. Han Solo and his hsolo@generic.net could also be Princess Leia with pleia@simple.com, and this site sees it as two separate people. With that in mind our actual numbers could be far lower than what is posted on the home page (which I believe is the case). With the state it is in now, though, we can't guarantee anyones identifying information is protected from less than honorable agendas.

How can we go about selecting from our current group the right people for the job?

And I can relate to the supermen comment, having worked in industrial construction the majority of my life I have spent a ludicrous amount of time telling people to go sit in a corner while I fix their screw ups. What I had meant was that if there is someone who can help, without becoming a hindrance to the project itself, let them. Sharing a workload amongst multiple people with the skills and proper mindset can increase the speed and efficiency at which the work gets done. Granted, multiple people does have the possibility of multiple points of failure in a system, but at the same time, having colleagues in an endeavor allows for different views, different solutions, and more eyes to spot a possible oversight. It also allows for forward progress whilst someone can follow behind and remedy minor problems. But this is wholly dependant on having a team comprised of competent people who can work well together.

  Last edited by:  PaulWMillerII (Asgardian)  on Jan 31, 17 19:38 UTC, edited 1 time in total.

Feb 1, 17 01:05 UTC

When relying on the general public for data input, it's not overly reliable in assuring the input is valid or genuine - this is indeed an issue and our actual user count may be lower.

I'd like to think more than the name/email was sampled at signup - I know I would of. But, there again, I wouldn't of used a third party spam remailer to archive a copy of our citizen, or attempted to conduct affairs through docile media.

For selecting the "right" people, I'm entirely unsure, but professionalism speaks for itself over time. I'm sure the database intent for creation of various skillsets, knowleges and experiences might be of use. At some point. Multiple points of failure are adressed by only actually running one copy in production - the net sum of everyone's particular lack of failing being what is implimented. Between all prepared to place input, something usuable should output - in theory at least. I've not seen it fail often in practice.

Feb 3, 17 05:13 UTC

If there is to be a Asgardian citizen based IT team, I would like to put my name forward please for consideration

Feb 3, 17 14:30 UTC

I'd honestly not envision it working like that. Instead more like any of the open source projects you can find littered the web.

Anyone can submit input - the sane fixes and feature upgrades get pushed to the testing rig, then roll out to the production server. Collective descision could potentially be made on what to actually impliment. The actual implimentation is something that sanity dictates is possible by the fewest number sensible, whilst still retaining spread of geographical seperation(ensuring one man can not be run over by a bus, a fire/flood/earthquake/meteor strike destroy the one person with root auth, and the passphrase to the password database that has the encryption key to unlock the FDE thusly locking everyone else out).

Once we've more solid details on the infrastructure deployed - instead of guessing at FreeBSD using ngnix to serve Drupal 8 - then it'd be possible to fabricate our own testing environments - if our services was to be open sourced then it'd be trivial to pack up an installer that would roll out a copy of our setup for testing on. Development can happen a lot faster, then, as everyone can have a copy(deployed baremetal or VM) that they can work with and it doesn't matter if they break it as they attempt to impliment and test solutions.

Feb 3, 17 21:50 UTC

I found a decent breakdown of the site at builtwith.com

Current web server is nginx.

The most recent frameworks I see are

Ruby on Rails Token - asgardia.space (last use Dec 2016)

Django CSRF - asgardia.space/* (currently Live)

Django CSRF - sentry.asgardia.space/* (currently Live)

Current Email Hosting Providers

MailChimp SPF (Nov 2016-Live)

Google Apps for Business (Nov 2016-Live)

DMARC (Jan 2017-Live)

SPF (Nov 2016-Live)

There is a lot more information on there, these are just a few I felt would be immediately relevant.

  Last edited by:  PaulWMillerII (Asgardian)  on Feb 3, 17 21:52 UTC, edited 2 times in total.

Feb 4, 17 00:14 UTC

I may of meant Django, not Drupal - but I get them confuddled.

The mailchimp has no real excuse being live,or ever being used IMHO the sendmail on the server should be able to more than cope with requirements, and I'm still waiting several months later to find out why they thought it was clever, and who's bright idea it was to allow a third party spam remailer to index a list of citizens. Pretty much the same for screwgle, I don't see no valid reasoning behind http://h-email.net.dnstree.com/ either.

Feb 4, 17 02:24 UTC

Would this be enough information for us to start selecting a testing rig and development of new projects?

I am in agreeance with not allowing one person to hold sole root authority over the database, I would think 3-5 IT leads would be sufficient though, keeping it large enough to avoid loss, but small enough to still be managed easily (avoiding possible breaches). These leads could then be our coordinators of different sections: cyber security, information and database management, coding/programing of new applications, etc.

Feb 4, 17 20:37 UTC

Not quite.

It'd be enough to do most of the testing, certainly. What strikes me as instantly absent would be the PHP version installed, the ngnix version installed, the django version installed, the freeBSD version installed etc. We could build an "about right" testing environment, but the precise differences between versions may create problems that make the entire affair futile, it'd ideally require the same versioning to ensure that the testing environment behaves precisely as the production environment.

Feb 5, 17 18:18 UTC

An Asgardia IT team composed by volonteers is of vital necessity for this project to work. And, sadly, I don't see that happening anytime soon.

We have a lot of people willing to help. But so far I've seen nothing coming from Officials about starting an IT team.

When I applied as translator and moderator, I also applied as web developer for Asgardia. I've never received any response about the former. And, by reading the forum and fb, I can see I'm not the only one who has applied. But until now, nothing has changed.

The current IT team is a joke, at least. Or non-existent (or they're all working on something else that we don't know about). They built a kinda-functional website in what? 2? 3 months? They're reinventing the wheel instead of using open-source software. Too bad, their wheels are squared.

Did you notice much improvements to the website since it's out? (Basically about half a month ago) I didn't. We have the same stuff in the "Pipeline/Roadmap", and if things are getting done then I'm not aware, we're not aware. I feel like they gave life to this and then left to do something else. At best it's a HUGE communication mistake with no changelog of what happens, at worst it's a non-maintained website.

I have seen a lot of good ideas that would, in my opinion, help this forum, as well as boost current morale. Deadlines have been pushed back, or missed entirely with no rescheduling, or a very vague idea of when they might be implemented. Totally agree... We have no idea whatsoever of what is currently running. Things feel like they don't improve much.

I think if we had a citizen based IT that could develop and submit a finished, working product, it would be able to be put into effect immediately after a board approval. Merely transfer existing user data over. The Asgardian IT could be selected the same way our current Mods and Admins are, resume/testing of skills.

Once again, I totally agree. Asgardia should be its own maker. An IT team should be made of Asgardian individuals who have skills on IT fields, and get started with building projects for the community. There are plenty to be done, like a way for volonteers to register, a website for Civic.Asgardia to manage the volonteers, a way for Asgardians to propose projects and ideas and decide a roadmap all together.

Such IT team would need funding, because hardware cost. Software too, sometimes, even if we focus on open source most of the time.

About the development environment, I'm pretty sure we'll find solutions. They already exist. Either use some kind of scripting like @Eyer said, probably using Chef/Puppet or alike. Or maybe a Virtual Machine using VirtualBox, or a VM using Docker. There are free, professional, adapted solutions to our needs.

We will go nowhere if there aren't professionals engineers to build the products we need to communicate and build things together.

But all of this needs to be backed up by Officials, and they're rather silent on the matter so far.

Feb 5, 17 19:59 UTC

+1 "Asgardia should be its own maker."

Yes solutions already exist - which is why I find it concerning they take so long to appear. Such an IT team shouldn't require funding, at all - they should be prepared to do it for the sake of the output or the reasons they are there will cause later issues. Existing infrastructure should be able to cope for existing needs and other less required functionality can be considered a lot later, when we are more able to appropriate for. The entire thing should be possible to pull off just by basically making a web-based frontend "portal" that stiches together a collection of already existing and functional open source projects featuring active devel - like git, collabora, XMPP, owncloud etc.

I'd personally suggest Xen over VirtualBox, but that's just me - most users would cope VB "better" I'd imagine. A docker container would be incredibly easy for "randoms" to deploy a setup for testing - but unless people use FreeBSD setup as per server as their host OS then it's likely to result in inconsistencies somewhere down the line. I sense less than ⅓ would actually know what freeBSD is, let alone how to use it, especially on their home hardware. A nice tidy .iso could work in any "standard" VM however, and deploy the precise same envinronment.

The current IT team is a joke, at least.

Unfortunately, not a very funny one.

Feb 5, 17 21:14 UTC

Ok, so it may be because "patience" isn't really one of my virtues, but from what I have gathered reading the proposal outline Civic Asgardia has posted, they are recommending getting a team together, explaining the why and how the proposal will help Asgardians, a list of pros and cons, a delegation of duties among team members, and a timeline listing when each stage will be completed. As well as the fact that this post has been up for 6 days so far and nobody from the Admin/Mod team has posted anything saying that we can't. Now correct me if I am wrong, but I am of a mind set that actions speak much louder than words, and I am kind of getting the feeling that they have already given a go ahead to start team building and testing, otherwise a lot of the data that they want in the proposals would merely be speculation on the team's part until they had a quasi functioning product to begin with, or at least reached a point in development where either funding was needed or board approval to implement, testing the new product with existing software to make sure they were compatible. I am in agreeance with Eyer that the majority of what an IT would be doing can be open sourced, requiring little if any funding, and what little funding "might" be needed can be fronted by team members. If we want them to take us seriously, let's show them how serious we are.

What messaging software should we use for team communication? Should I start a separate post for prospective members to put their names and areas of expertise forward? As well as a secondary post on Asgardia's FB that directs them to the forum post, where all applicants have to sign up, showing that they are registered members of Asgardia. We still have the problem of verifying qualified individuals. Possibly have them complete a questionnaire or test that verifies relevant skills?

Feb 5, 17 22:58 UTC

Hey all!

I've been talking it over with the team, having a citizen based IT team has it's possibilities, for things that would be non-Asgardia website related and citizen driven initiatives that need IT specialists. If a proposal could be put together to cover all of the bases of running such a thing and presented to Asgardia Official, I'm willing to bet we could get approval for it.

You can put together the proposal based on the one listed in the Administrative Affairs forum here:

https://asgardia.space/en/forum/forum/civic-asgardia-public-sector-145/topic/quarterly-project-proposal-2017a-now-open-guidelines-and-process-2556/

We look forward to seeing the proposal and helping you guys pull it all together. :)

Cheers, Rebekah Berg, Lead Community Administrator, Asgardia

Feb 6, 17 02:01 UTC

Actions do indeed speak louder than words.

Not the majority, everything can be open sourced - or there's some inherent problem with the model you're hiding. Transparency matters. If we need to write software ourselves to perform a task, that can get open sourced too. Freedom of knowlege is kind of a founding ethic after all.

Regarding communications, I've been trying to wait for them to deploy something sensible. Again, in the name of transparency if we are to take it upon ourselves to involve ourselves with such affairs then anything to do with should remain open, IMHO. Unlike the current setup. I've already got an XMPP server that would be more than capable of such tasks, but I'm loathed to push "official" traffic through it. IMHO it'd be "better" to use a lower technology, like IRC - possibly somewhere like freenode, they host for a lot of Open Source - know of at least two other Asgardian on there, too - we can keep a bot in there archiving, links to which can return here. FB isn't the sort of place to sensibly recruit, they've already proven themselves shoeless if nothing else in security or privacy, being unable to account for these things will not make for good outcomes. There's a reason any sensible DoD or even many lower organisations advise their employees to avoid use of. You can skip taking signups and verifying individuals skills by simply having input areas that anyone can submit into - git has a suitable industry standard model and could be easily deployed in our current setup. Stronger push may be required if the provision of such tools takes much longer, they have been working on it for some time. For the ease of access to the greater majority, one of the web-based frontends might be sensible, although at the current glacial rate this could add another decade onto the initative. Such could host current payload as well as previous devel revisions and allow for input submissions. Let skill speak for itself.

Ofc, with anyone being able to submit, I'd suggest the current admin/mod staff take control of it initally - especially those within their number with interest in this topic - and they can eventually delegate various responsibilities over time as the appropriate people prove themselves.

And no Rebekah. Not "non-Asgardian website related and citizen driven initatives" - Why would we possibly require to make use of this architechture to do that? We'd just rent a server and deploy it like everyone else sane does, and save a lot of messing about. In fact, that could of been done in the time it's taken me to write this post. We're talking everything Asgardian, specifically. There's much slack, and there's many hands doing nothing. You don't need to be a rocket surgeon to do that math. I'm willing to wager we'll get approval for it - even if it involves waiting until post June. I'd hope for some sense before then however.