To me, the biggest threat is not anything about the current state of the team. If you look at it from the perspective of governance, purely on a technical level, everything is pretty good. The biggest issue is not about governance, but about perceived governance. The clarification post by the rails core team is a really good start. But the fact that it was necessary highlights reality: many people think rails == DHH, or at least, rails += DHH += Basecamp.
I personally suggest something like the following at minimum. I think that clearing up confusion for the average person is a good first step:
Rails core team members should take turns making “The Tour” video that’s displayed prominently on the RoR front page, or at least, the video shouldn’t just always be DHH. I love DHH’s video style, and I’ve always found them the best part of rails. But to the average person who looks at them, it looks like he’s the “absolute top person.” If we want people to accept rails as having a governance model that isn’t led by one person, then the next logical step is to change easy things that can mislead people.
The rails main site should probably emphasize or link to the governance model/team/etc.
People are going to make whatever judgements they’re going to make. Basecamp has contributed a significant amount of time and effort on the project, and many people create a 1:1 link mentally. For better or worse, it is extremely trivial for people to write off rails – even if that’s a terrible idea, and even if it diminishes the impact of all other contributors – when this assumption is true.
In terms of actual governance changes that need or don’t need to be made: I think that there’s just a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of things that need time right now. I struggle to come to a conclusion myself about it.
What is clear to me, though, is that a lot of the innovations Basecamp has brought to Rails are extremely valuable, and I don’t want to lose them. Hotwire, Turbo, etc., which are all potential candidates for Rails inclusion or deep integration are the only things that have me excited about web development again. I really do not want to lose these things. I would love to see us fighting to keep the project together and build constructive solutions, rather than being divided.
All humans are flawed in some way or another, and errors happen. Sometimes it’s a genuine mistake, and sometimes it’s more systemic. But we can’t be so brittle as to fracture over one thing from one contributor.
I don’t know the right answer, but it would be a shame to lose everything that rails is in search for it.