About Fairphone transparency and community management

At Fairphone, “transparency” seem to be a relative concept. On one side was the traceability of minerals, the counts of production cost, etc… is a very good thing and high value of the company. For the rest - and I regret - this matter of communication.

In the values ​​held by Fairphone there is transparency, creativity, collaboration, community support …

In practice this is not always true. Recently, one of my messages was censored on the user’s forum. Another time it was moved and merged into and old post, etc… Probably too critical of Fairphone.

When the crowdfunding of the Fairphone 2 was launched, it was suggested to us that the Fairphone 2 will be an open-source phone, that we could install other OS (Cyanogenmod, Firefox OS, SailfishOS, …). An example of openness. But this is not the case and they sold us a full Google phone (even if there is a version socalled “open-source”, without Google apps).

At the same time, for months and months, enthusiastic users try to port other OS to the FP2. But Fairphone deigns providing any assistance or answer some basic questions (including the legal aspects of using the binary blob required). No time, try by yourselves.

Fairphone also announced the development of its OS would be collaborative, community developers could make their contributions, see the evolution of the code … But none of that side. It is always opaque. During the updates, we must be content changelog announced, but you can not actually see what has changed.

More generally, the level of bugs and defects that affect all users, Fairphone is not transparent (and this is probably deliberate).

Several times I saw it. Even by participating to the beta program, when reporting a new bug, there is no feedback. It is not known why introduced a new bug is still there after one or two updates or if the problem is followed by Fairphone, or when it will be fixed … But thank you for devoting time to Fairphone to test updates…

How many devices are defective, what causes problems, wich fixes are made, what are the difficulties, the status of bug fixes? And what about the shop and the availability of replacement parts? You said transparency…

After less than a year of use of Fairphone, though convinced of the approach, I must admit that I am disappointed. Not on the imperfections of the device, but on the way the company works and its relationship with “the community”. Month after month, Fairphone shines in the media on the occasion of the socio-environmental awards it wins (which in itself is a good thing to see that his approach is recognized and appreciated), but almost forget it still accountable to its users and forget that from a technological point of view, the Fairphone 2 is far to be really recommendable.

I do not know what you think but i’m sure that some people understand very well (and share?) my point of view. After spending so much time promoting the Fairphone and helping people (in particular in the french community group of users on Facebook), this little rant still very fair to Fairphone.

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Please look also this interesting thread about what expect community for more openness :

About software and hardware openness, the departure of @keesj from the Fairphone team reveals also what are the (hidden/real) priorities of the Fairphone company : sales and communication.

You can also read posts from @fp1_wo_sw_updates another very enthousiast Fairphone user who tried to make the Fairphone better. But as he says, for now:

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I felt that this topic better belonged into the #fairphone-road-map category.

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thanks to Stefan. It was fair to report the topic moving . I experienced one of my posts having moved without notice. So , this is a small but decent start for transperancy in small steps :slight_smile:

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The thing is that the reason for moving a post/topic is always the same. Namely, a moderator having the feeling that it belongs somewhere else.

Edit [5.11.2016]: Also, posting a reason for moving a post/topic on my Fairphone 1 (yes, I access the forum mostly on the go) is simply put a PITA.

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Note that this forum is not moderated by Fairphone themselves, but by community members. If you feel that a message you wrote was censored (or unfairly moved), take it up with the person that did so and not Fairphone itself.
I personally believe that it’s actually very good and transparent of Fairphone to allow the community to moderate itself. It means it’s harder for Fairphone to impose their own rules and restrictions on the forum. If the community doesn’t like the way the forum is moderator, the community itself can change that.

[quote=“alexisju, post:1, topic:23386, full:true”]
When the crowdfunding of the Fairphone 2 was launched, it was suggested to us that the Fairphone 2 will be an open-source phone, that we could install other OS (Cyanogenmod, Firefox OS, SailfishOS, …). An example of openness. But this is not the case and they sold us a full Google phone (even if there is a version socalled “open-source”, without Google apps).[/quote]

Just because the Google option is the default option doesn’t mean Fairphone is not being transparent. Like you said, they do offer a Google-free option so you are free to move away from Google without any limitations imposed by Fairphone themselves.

[quote=“alexisju, post:1, topic:23386, full:true”]
At the same time, for months and months, enthusiastic users try to port other OS to the FP2. But Fairphone deigns providing any assistance or answer some basic questions (including the legal aspects of using the binary blob required). No time, try by yourselves.[/quote]

Since we’re still talking about transparency (I assume), isn’t it actually quite transparent of Fairphone to admit they don’t have enough time for this? To me, it means that they would want to answer the questions if they could, but unfortunately, other more important matters take priority. Fairphone could also come with a standard PR message like “we are still fully committed blah blah blah” instead. I prefer them to admit to their own faults, even if they are currently unable to fix them.
Not making true to your promises is not a matter of not being transparent. It is at most a matter of mismanagement or overestimating their own ability. Them being open to admitting these this is actually refreshingly transparent compared ot other large phone manufacturers.

[quote=“alexisju, post:1, topic:23386, full:true”]
Fairphone also announced the development of its OS would be collaborative, community developers could make their contributions, see the evolution of the code … But none of that side. It is always opaque. During the updates, we must be content changelog announced, but you can not actually see what has changed.[/quote]

Isn’t the code to Fairphone 2’s OS open source? Doesn’t that mean you can simply follow the changes on code level?

[quote=“alexisju, post:1, topic:23386, full:true”]
More generally, the level of bugs and defects that affect all users, Fairphone is not transparent (and this is probably deliberate).

Several times I saw it. Even by participating to the beta program, when reporting a new bug, there is no feedback. It is not known why introduced a new bug is still there after one or two updates or if the problem is followed by Fairphone, or when it will be fixed … But thank you for devoting time to Fairphone to test updates…

How many devices are defective, what causes problems, wich fixes are made, what are the difficulties, the status of bug fixes? And what about the shop and the availability of replacement parts? You said transparency…[/quote]

I’m not going to deny this. Fairphone could certainly improve their communication. However, I believe they are trying. Stuff like the AMA with the developer working on the Android 4.4 update for FP1/FP1U are a big plus for Fairphone. Call me naive, but I don’t think the information you seek is withheld on purpose so that possible defects are kept shrouded in mystery. Fairphone probably hasn’t had the realization that people might be interested in such data.

[quote=“alexisju, post:1, topic:23386, full:true”]
After less than a year of use of Fairphone, though convinced of the approach, I must admit that I am disappointed. Not on the imperfections of the device, but on the way the company works and its relationship with “the community”. Month after month, Fairphone shines in the media on the occasion of the socio-environmental awards it wins (which in itself is a good thing to see that his approach is recognized and appreciated), but almost forget it still accountable to its users and forget that from a technological point of view, the Fairphone 2 is far to be really recommendable.[/quote]

That last sentence is subjective. I still use my nearly 3 year old FP1 on a daily basis and am still very happy with it. I does everything I need it to do and I have yet to encounter an app I couldn’t install or use on it due to the phone’s age or relatively old OS.

Again, I don’t think FP are forgetting about the community. Setting up a company, building and selling a phone, keeping said company afloat and doing all the ethical stuff they’re doing is hard. Add to that catering to the community and you’ve got quite a few balls to juggle.

Recently, there was a short documentary on Dutch TV featuring Bas van Abel (Fairphone CEO) about setting up a fair company, using Fairphone as use-case (for those interested, Google “VPRO Tegenlicht De eerlijke onderneming”. Note that it’s all in Dutch though). It paints a very honest picture of what he and his companions ran into when setting up Fairphone. And after seeing it, I have even more respect for the people at Fairphone. The thing to really take away from the documentary is that Fairphone started out as little more than an ideal. It was made real through setting up a company, but by doing that, they kind of condemned themselves to operate as a company. It appears that it’s actually quite a struggle for Fairphone to balance between being a successful company and sticking to their initial goals. Turns out they do so admirably, actually.

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Thank you to remember too the positive aspects of Fairphone :wink:

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3 posts were split to a new topic: Discussion about the rules of this forum

Actually I bought the FP2 because of what it already is, and not because of what it may or may not turn into in the future.
Buying a Fairphone speaks for specific values which cannot be adopted to any other mass marked smartphone. Hence to this it does not make much sense to have the same expectations compared to other manufacturers. So it should not make such a significant difference if FP releases each month or half a year an add-on, extension or advanced replacement module let alone an entire phone. At least it is delivering regular security-updates.

By the way we have the freedom to disassemble and if necessary repair our phone by our self and also run alternative operating systems on it. Try this with any other phone by full coverage of warranty.

Lesson learned from FP1 there were no promises made for FP2 which could not surely be kept. Initially there were no statements given that NFC, better camera, stronger battery, USB-C, Marshmallow or any other upgrade will be released. The only statement was that modularity would make repairs easier and offer longevity. So all FP2 customers bought the phone as is and not what it could turn into in the future.
I had order no. 9601 and this early model works fine so far although I did had to replace the camera module. An early response from the support to my request was: “The focus of the Fairphone 2 is more on repairability than upgradeability” so
if there is more to come - nice, but if not we still have a usable phone. And I have experienced that it is working reliable for every day use. Still Fairphone is a private company and must not reveal all business information to anyone. I think it has provided more to the public than many others in the pool of big boys.

I think if some people do not have a serious reason for complaints, they surely will find a simple one.
Purchasing a FP is just as voluntary as for any other product. Fairphone cannot be held responsible for anyone who has taken this decision based on false expectations. I could find enough information in advance before I placed my order. The rest was using common sense of mind.

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