License Committee Report for September 2005

Forrest J. Cavalier III forrest at
Fri Sep 9 17:46:28 UTC 2005

Russell Nelson wrote:

> Forrest J. Cavalier III writes:
>  > I don't blame you for making an honest mistake.  But because ESR
>  > was writing to Ben, not Alex, the meaning of ESRs "when you walked in"
>  > is quite different.
> Oh, yes, I see what you mean.  I totally lost the "rules" under
> discussion.  But you're still wrong about "Someone changed the rules."
> OSI has always done exactly what Eric describes.  If you want to
> maintain that we changed the rules about how OSI operates, then you
> should explain what you thought the rules were previously, and what
> you thought the rules were changed to.

To the OSI board:

At the end of the day, the OSI board gets credit and blame, so of
course they get to make the decisions however they like.  No change there.

Here's how I now understand the change in a nutshell....

First, some history: The OSD's predecessor, the DFSG, were decided
post-facto. In other words, someone sat down and said "Here are the
licenses we are comfortable with, let's determine the boundaries
of this set, and then we can use the criteria to evaluate if other
licenses also are inside the boundary."

(This method of creating criteria is good, and much better than
writing such a constitution by thought-experiment, for example.)

Then the OSI board basically decided, without explaining or justifying
to volunteers that.....
       There are some "unwritten" criteria that we have been applying,
       like reusabilty, and non-duplication, that we ought to codify
       into the approval process.  We aren't changing the boundaries.  We
       aren't changing what we think of "good for the community" vs
       "drain on the community."  We need to formalize it.

       Since we aren't making a change to the boundaries, just being
       more formal, we do not need to get input or encourage our volunteers
       to support this.  They are already with us.

Assuming my description is an accurate picture of how the board acted, I think
the assumption that the volunteers needed no encouragement was not true.

My understanding of this has been enlightened recently, and I have a suggestion
I would like to submit to the board:

I think we need to be guided by this principle: Many eyes make all bugs shallow.

Discussing the previously omitted criteria being adopted into the OSD proper
will probably go a long, long way to encouraging the grumbling volunteers to continue
participating in that this valuable community.  This has to be approached as an
examination of describing the pre-existing boundary of "goodness", not as it was presented:
moving the boundaries to let the lawyers work easier.

I am confident that after this process, the 3 extra criteria will survive, maybe a
little less agressive, but very much more clear and easy to apply.  The license
wizard/recommendation will cover any lost ground.

Respectfully submitted,

Forrest Cavalier

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