You might not have seen MySQL as an open project, but I guess we can agree based on the outcome that it turned out to be one? If it hadn't been, open forks would not have been able to form.
Of course when you're talking about community, every project seems to have a different atmosphere. Linus Torvalds is famous for not accepting patches or contributions to the Linux kernel, so is that project really open? From the perspective of a developer using MySQL, the community has always been massive, diverse, and helpful. Maybe it was a different experience on the dev mailing list, I wouldn't know. But I do know that in the end, MySQL was open where it really mattered.
I can understand though that it was probably easier and more rewarding for an outside developer to get into the inner circles of Postgres than it was to essentially join MySQL AB back in the time when they still existed.
> I hope one of the forks does manage to foster a more open community, but communities aren't built overnight nor are they transplanted easily.
I assume you're talking about the actual engine development community, and I'm not certain that's really how a lot of open source projects actually work. It seems in most cases you simply have a core group of developers doing their thing, with occasional discussions and input from the outside. I might be wrong, but that's certainly my perception. The Postgres dev community might be different, again I wouldn't know.
As an app developer, I have different expectations about that. I'm not going to take part in any discussions about implementation details, nor am I likely to submit any patches. What I care about is software quality and proper documentation, those are not necessarily a function of community.
"I guess we can agree based on the outcome that it turned out to be one?"
Agreed. My perception is more that it is turning out to be one and that is a good thing.
"But I do know that in the end, MySQL was open where it really mattered."
The GPL means that there's no real fear that licenses will be scarce. And the large user community means that there will always be people to offer basic support (free or paid) and consulting. To that extent, I agree.
As far as getting bugs fixed, adapting to new use cases and changes in the market, or just moving the product further, the jury is still out. Will Oracle do it? Can any of the forks do it?
Or the larger question: are you OK with calling MySQL, as a product (i.e. the engine), "done"? I'm not saying that in a negative way. We rarely talk about software that's done, or what it would take to finish a given product, or how much sense being "done" even makes.
"It seems in most cases you simply have a core group of developers doing their thing, with occasional discussions and input from the outside."
That's not how I would describe postgresql. There are lots of people that only occasionally submit patches and lots of people that take part in design discussions even if they never submit much code. It's pretty easy to start out as an application developer and then be sucked into a design discussion, and before you know it you are criticizing a design because it doesn't fit your needs.
Even if nobody has ever seen you before, if you jump into a design discussion and have a legitimate concern or use case that hasn't been considered then it will be taken as seriously as any developer.
"What I care about is software quality and proper documentation, those are not necessarily a function of community."
Absolutely correct. Although those things are also not a function of being open source or free of charge.