Even more transparency, openness, and internationalisation

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In 2012, we started an open project to build an international database of food products and make transparency of food product data a reality.

Transparency, openness and internationalisation are indeed 3 core values of Open Food Facts, and since 2012, we have done a lot to live by them and promote them:

  • The project encourages open discussions and feedback, in particular in our numerous Slack channels
  • All our code is open source, all our data is open data
  • Everyone is welcome to participate in all aspects of the project
  • Our database is global, our web site and apps are translated in dozens of languages, and we have products and participants in almost all countries.

But there is an important part of the project where we could be more transparent, more open and more international, and that is the management of the project itself.

The current situation

Most of the project management and day-to-day operations are coordinated by a team of about 10 people: board members of the Open Food Facts association (a French non-profit organization) and people who spend all or a very significant amount of their time on the project (including 2 employees and currently 2 interns).

For understandable but not so good reasons (like convenience, speed, time, or just habits), we have not been as transparent, open, and international as we could be:

  • We are not always using public channels for discussions.
  • We have a lot of discussions in French.

As a result, it is quite difficult for newcomers and non-French speakers to get involved in the core of the project.

We would very much like to change that.

Why making Open Food Facts more transparent, open, and international is a good thing?

The benefits are probably obvious, but there may be more of them than you think:

  • Transparency improves communication with all of the project community
  • Openness allows more people to be more involved in all aspects of the project, to manage more things and to do more things
  • Transparency and openness allow for easier internationalization, with less bottlenecks
  • Internationalization enables more sharing of resources, with what we do in one country benefiting all others
  • Transparency and openness encourage us to not take shortcuts, and to not only do "the right thing", but to aim for "the best thing".

How to improve and make Open Food Facts more transparent, open, and international?

The first thing we would like to do is to involve as many contributors to the project as possible in this discussion!

We thought about some proposals that we are listing below, but we would be very interested in hearing and discussing your proposals as well.

Make all communications and documents public by default

Make English the default for all communication and documents

  • Unless the communication and documents are related only to a particular language or country.

Create open and public channels for project management and day-to-day operations

Note: we use Slack for discussions and collaboration between project participants. If you are not on it already, you can join us here.

  • #team in English
  • #team-france in French for matters that are strictly limited to France
  • Anyone who wants to be involved in the project management and/or day-to-day operations is welcome to join
    • Other topics should stay in the relevant public channels

Your ideas

We would love to hear your suggestions and thoughts. You can do it here on the wiki (e.g. in the talk page), and/or in the new #team channel on Slack.