[Owasp-board] [Governance] Stepping down from Project Reviews

psiinon psiinon at gmail.com
Thu Sep 3 08:42:38 UTC 2015

First of all I'd like to thank Johanna for all the effort she's put into
reviewing the projects.
Its been a huge and mostly thankless task, and the projects as a whole have
really benefited.

Secondly, I'd like to wade into the Projects Vs Chapters debate :)

I have a theory:

People who are 'part' of OWASP tend to think that the Chapters are more
important _to_them_ than the projects.
Chapters are where we meet people, exchange ideas and learn things. They
are social events.

People outside OWASP think that the Projects are more important _to_them_
than the Chapters.
They dont go to chapter meetings, they might not even be aware of them.
They use, or at least are aware of, the main OWASP projects, mostly the
Flagship ones.

Anyone agree or disagree?
And yes, I'm conveniently ignoring conferences, the wiki etc etc ;)

I think Chapters and Projects are fundamentally different 'beasts', and
I've started and run both :)

Chapters are relatively easy to start and maintain.
You need to be based in a city with a thriving security and/or software
You need to spend time organising and publicising events, but its not hard
- you dont need specialized skills.
Its relatively easy to find people prepared to speak, arrange rooms and
help with other organisational things.
Its something you can do in your spare time.

Projects are much harder.
They are relatively easy to start - you 'just' need a good idea.
They are _really_ hard to bring to fruition and maintain.
I'll focus on software projects (as I know much more about those) but I
have no doubt documentation projects can be just as difficult.
A professional software project is the result of the hard work of managers,
designers, developers, QA, support, technical authors, sales and marketing
(and probably others I've forgotten;).
Its a huge amount of effort, and is ongoing - it only lets up when you
'sunset' the project.
Ok, so (non commercial) open source projects dont need sales staff, but
they do need people doing all of the other roles. Its definitely _not_ just
Its way too much for one person (for a non trivial project).
Luckily we have the open source community, but that means a project leader
needs another skill: community building!
And to be honest most volunteers are developers (and security people for
OWASP projects), its very rare for people with other skills to get involved.
I dont think its something you can do in your spare time, at least for long
(I did for a while, and my wife described herself as a "ZAP widow";)

So Chapters are relatively easy to maintain, projects _much_ harder.
I suspect OWASP as an organisation supports Chapters more effectively, but
even if it supports both equally Projects dont get as much support as they
I think OWASP Chapters are thriving and the Projects are (as a whole)
If I'm right and people outside OWASP see the Projects as more important
than the Chapters then this leads to the impression that OWASP is

What to projects need?
I dont think its possible to maintain a 'significant' open source project
unless you are able to spend the majority of your working day on it.
This means projects really have to be sponsored by someone.
This is a significant investment for a company, and its often difficult to
justify this sort of investment. Especially if its difficult to monetise
OWASP projects.
Does OWASP want to sponsor projects directly?
I think thats what it would take to build a thriving set of Projects.
Is that something that could be done?
I'm lucky, Mozilla allows me to spend most of my time working on ZAP, and
thats been invaluable.
But I'd love to be able to employ some of the ZAP contributors to work full
time on ZAP :)
Would OWASP pay for that??

It would require much more 'project management' - the kind of things that
people _think_ OWASP is doing, but it doesnt.
I often see posts from people asking "why the hell is OWASP developing X".
They seem to think that theres an OWASP committee that meets and goes "We
think we should have project X". Whereas its actually an individual coming
to OWASP and saying "I'm doing X, could this be an OWASP project?".
OWASP Projects are very much 'bottom up' rather than 'top down'.
It may surprise people outside of OWASP that I get _no_ direction at all
from OWASP as to how ZAP should move forward.
note that I'm _really_ not complaining about that ;)

OWASP does not really invest in projects. It does provide some support, but
to be honest not a great deal.
If we decided to invest significant amounts of money in projects then there
would need to be real debate as to what we should invest in.
And I realise that thats difficult, particularly as OWASP is supported by
commercial organisations, and they wont want OWASP investing in projects
that compete with their own offerings.

There are other things that OWASP could do other than paying developers
We could spend much more effort encouraging companies to contribute to
OWASP projects, especially by donating engineering effort.
We could help projects with the 'non programming' aspects - documentation,
testing, marketing etc.
We could provide more advice and guidance - I dont want people to dictate
where ZAP should be headed, but I'd love constructive feedback :)

Ok, thats ended up being a pretty rambling email ;)
I'll end there and see what responses I get :D



On Wed, Sep 2, 2015 at 6:05 PM, johanna curiel curiel <
johanna.curiel at owasp.org> wrote:

> >I certainly cannot speak for all Projects, but every time I tried to get
> the things I needed for a project, I got either a deny or a big silence. so
> the first thing needed is, if there is money available, more communication
> and an easy way to get to it[....] In summary, my experience in getting
> money or support for OWASP projects is bad. IMHO, this is why so many
> projects die.
> [...]And lastly, I did not compare Chapters and Projects. I did compare
> the treatment that they get from OWASP.
> You are not the only one with the same issues. I have the same experience
> too and as also many others.
> Let's accept that we have a problem and no, I don't blame the Board for
> that, but I'm asking your attention and we have to admit that we need to
> work on this. And the person asking your attention is a volunteer who has
> dedicated her time the last 3 years trying to improve a system and
> contributing in multiple activities, I think I deserve a small
> acknowledgement for that.
> This is part of the evolution OWASP is having from small to bigger
> organisation. A natural process. From US to Global.
> What I mean with a good platform in place is more than money in the
> community fund.
> That money  feels like a banana hanging too high to reach and no stairs to
> reach it for project leaders.
> Platform means communication, managing resources , support and much more.
> And money helps but a good plan is necessary.
> It means having the stair (the platform) to make available those funds, so
> they become available.
> And I know that the problem is we have not work on creating the 'stair'.
> This is where I want to dedicate my efforts so I will submit to form a
> committee to create the stair for better development of OWASP projects. I
> care about them, I use them I want to see fair opportunities for everyone.
> On Wed, Sep 2, 2015 at 11:42 AM, Lucas Ferreira <lucas.ferreira at owasp.org>
> wrote:
>> Josh,
>> I certainly cannot speak for all Projects, but every time I tried to get
>> the things I needed for a project, I got either a deny or a big silence. so
>> the first thing needed is, if there is money available, more communication
>> and an easy way to get to it.
>> I will put here my experience. Others can say if they face similar issues
>> or not.
>> First, as part of the
>> https://www.owasp.org/index.php/OWASP_Brasil_Manifesto, I tried to get
>> money to pay for a professional public relations person/company to help us
>> promote the manifesto to the Brazilian congress. I learnt the hard way
>> (from organizing AppSec conferences) that a good PR person can make a real
>> difference. At the time, I asked for USD 2600 to pay the PR but could not
>> get the money.
>> Second, as part of
>> https://www.owasp.org/index.php/OWASP_File_Hash_Repository, I needed a
>> server to use to deploy the initial code and help collecting data. I also
>> needed a DNS entry. I ended up paying for the VM myself and used my own
>> private domain for the DNS because I could not get it from OWASP.
>> Lastly, as part of
>> https://www.owasp.org/index.php/OWASP_Portuguese_Language_Project, we
>> tried to get money to hire translators and professional writers to work
>> with the more tech oriented volunteers with no luck.
>> In summary, my experience in getting money or support for OWASP projects
>> is bad. IMHO, this is why so many projects die.
>> And just to be sure, unlike Johanna, I think money is a big issue as it
>> could be used to remove some of the load from volunteers. An example is the
>> translation projects: we could leverage the knowledge of our network of
>> volunteers, without requiring them to do all the work, by relying on
>> professional services. So, the issue is to have money to buy the services
>> needed by the projects, from VMs to professional services.
>> And lastly, I did not compare Chapters and Projects. I did compare the
>> treatment that they get from OWASP.
>> Regards,
>> Lucas
>> On Wed, Sep 2, 2015 at 5:06 PM Josh Sokol <josh.sokol at owasp.org> wrote:
>>> I believe Johanna said "It's not about money".  Every time I hear
>>> someone say that it is, I cringe a little because I know that we allocated
>>> $50,000 in Community Engagement Funding this year to projects alone and
>>> have $15,650 of that remaining (
>>> https://owasp.org/index.php/Community_Engagement_-_Payments).  I also
>>> know that if there's a need that goes beyond what is budgeted, we have ways
>>> to make that happen outside of this channel.  For example, when Dinis asked
>>> for $100,000 for a Project Summit, we said "Give us a plan and we'll
>>> discuss."
>>> I also cringe when I hear people compare the Projects to the Chapters or
>>> vice versa.  They are both unique and important to OWASP.  Both have needs
>>> that we need to satisfy.  Chapters have historically been more successful
>>> in fundraising because of the large volume of people involved with them,
>>> but that doesn't make them better or worse.  Just different.  Let's be
>>> honest, the Chapter model of fundraising doesn't really work for Projects.
>>> That's ok...we just need to find other ways.
>>> So, let's assume that money is not an issue.  What are the needs that
>>> our Projects have that OWASP is not currently fulfilling.  I don't claim to
>>> be an expert on Projects.  I don't routinely work with them and the one
>>> project that I tried to start at OWASP died a very quick death.  It was an
>>> issue with time and volunteerism, though, and had nothing to do with the
>>> OWASP platform.  I understand and agree that it's not about things you can
>>> get for free like GitHub or wiki pages.  So, what is it?  What do you
>>> need?  We have an in-house graphic designer.  We have companies that we
>>> work with for publishing.  We hired a full-time person to help with
>>> projects.  If there are needs that aren't being met here, then what are
>>> they?  What can OWASP do to make Projects more successful?
>>> ~josh
>>> On Wed, Sep 2, 2015 at 9:39 AM, Lucas Ferreira <lucas.ferreira at owasp.org
>>> > wrote:
>>>> Dear Johanna,
>>>> it is very sad that you are stepping down, but you nailed it when you
>>>> said:
>>>> "I hope that in the future there is a clear perspective how to help
>>>> projects develop better. So far I have not seen major initiatives directed
>>>> on improving a platform. A platform is not a wiki page, not a github
>>>> account, these things are already free without OWASP support."
>>>> For a long time already, I have the same feeling that OWASP is always
>>>> discussing about chapters and their bank accounts and never about projects.
>>>> I just hope one day OWASP will be able to see that projects are what makes
>>>> OWASP known and respected.
>>>> I have talked to a few leaders of open-source projects about bringing
>>>> their projects to OWASP and, in the end, the feeling is that all they would
>>>> get is the ability to benefit from the OWASP "brand". We should offer
>>>> project leaders more than the opportunity to beg chapters for money.
>>>> Regards and good luck,
>>>> Lucas
>>>> On Wed, Sep 2, 2015 at 4:19 PM johanna curiel curiel <
>>>> johanna.curiel at owasp.org> wrote:
>>>>> Members of the board ,
>>>>> I have decided to step down from the project reviews activities.
>>>>> I have been doing continues reviews the last 2 years, especially the
>>>>> last year I was quite involved in a major clean up in the project
>>>>> inventory, together with other members that participated in and on/off
>>>>> basis.
>>>>> That does not mean I'll step down from every activity I have been
>>>>> working on the last years at OWASP. Indeed, now I'll focus my attention in
>>>>> those activities that I feel have provided me with higher level of reward
>>>>> and a grateful feeling.
>>>>> Unfortunately,  I cannot say the same for reviewing projects. The
>>>>> greatest reward I had from that activity is what I learned from many
>>>>> project for the last 2 years, not just looking, but download , testing and
>>>>> using them and volunteering on their activities.
>>>>>  It is a ticklish activity that have provided me very little
>>>>> satisfaction but disappointment. Never seems to be enough even when people
>>>>> have little idea how much time is needed to use an open source project ,
>>>>> let alone understand it. I'm a volunteer , not an OWASP employee. Lets
>>>>> clarify that for people that might read this.
>>>>> I think Claudia  , as her predecessor, Kait-Disney did, can surely
>>>>> help maintain inactive/active projects monitoring. Another ticklish
>>>>> activity that we hear many complains regarding inactive projects wanted to
>>>>> keep alive. Political driven necessities to have wiki pages of empty
>>>>> projects, thats what we finished and hope you can continue for the sake of
>>>>> users.
>>>>> The actual situation is that Project leaders are definitely on their
>>>>> own, and they should understand that: when it comes to having a platform at
>>>>> OWASP for developing projects, they have very little support on this.
>>>>> It's not about money, is about a platform, a process and a way to be
>>>>> able to make a project a reality no matter if you are in India, Pakistan,
>>>>> or Africa. The inequality between these worlds is very obvious when we look
>>>>> at  projects in US or EU compare to 'developing countries'. Big security
>>>>> companies are not behind these leaders  to support them with time or
>>>>> resources.
>>>>> I hope that in the future there is a clear perspective how to help
>>>>> projects develop better. So far I have not seen major initiatives directed
>>>>> on improving a platform. A platform is not a wiki page, not a github
>>>>> account, these things are already free without OWASP support.
>>>>> I think people hoping to secure their web applications using OWASP
>>>>> tools, can have better ways for doing it if more energy is directed towards
>>>>> supporting a better structure for developing OWASP projects.
>>>>> This is where my energy will be from now on. Hopefully with the right
>>>>> support.
>>>>> Regards
>>>>> Johanna
>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> Governance mailing list
>>>>> Governance at lists.owasp.org
>>>>> https://lists.owasp.org/mailman/listinfo/governance
>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>>> Governance at lists.owasp.org
>>>> https://lists.owasp.org/mailman/listinfo/governance
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OWASP ZAP <https://www.owasp.org/index.php/ZAP> Project leader
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