Governance and responsibility

Eric S. Raymond esr at
Sun Sep 25 20:27:18 UTC 2005

Ian Lance Taylor <ian at>:
> > Our "apparent official position" is that we're here to get a job done
> > that the community has entrusted us with.
> That statement is a nice example of what I and others periodically
> complain about.  The community did not entrust you with anything.  You
> don't speak for the community.

You don't get to make that judgment, Ian.  You're only one person.

We know that the community entrusts us with certain important jobs by its
behavior.  Most hackers will refuse to work on projects without an OSD
certified license.  Major project sites, including SourceForge and Berlios, 
reflect that policy by not accepting new projects under non-OSD-compliant
licenses.  That's a pretty good indicator of the community's trust.

When corporations or governments want the open-source community's 
cooperation or imprimatur, they generally come to us -- not just
for licence approval, but for other major initiatives as well.  When the 
technology trade press wants the open-source community's take on 
an issue, they normally do likewise.  These are good indicators of the
OSI's ambassadorship role outside the hacker community.

In four days, the President Emeritus of OSI (that would happen to be me)
will address a web seminar of approximately 200 corporate CEOs and CIOs,
having been asked to do so specifically as a knowledgeable and 
authoritative spokesperson for the open-source community.  And this
sort of thing is *routine*.  Our Board members could fill their
entire calendars with requests like these without looking for them.

You can insist all you like that we aren't entrusted with anything and
don't speak for the community. But the behavioral facts say otherwise.
Wake up and smell the zeitgeist -- we set out seven years ago to build
an organization that could speak with authority for our community *and
we succeeded*.  When you attempt to deny that, it is not OSI that
leaves the conversation looking petty and self-marginalized.

As long as the behavioral facts continue to say otherwise, we will
continue to take our responsibility to the community seriously.  That
includes, by the way, our responsibility to *you*.  Which is, as I have 
previously noted, a matter primarily of goals rather than process.

When you say "The community would be better served if OSI focused more
on issues X, Y, and Z", that's interesting and useful -- especially if
you're willing to help us serve the community, rather than just
back-seat drive. But complaining that you don't think we're "open"
enough or "participatory" enough -- well, I used the phrase
"content-free political yattering" before, and that about sums it up.

Nothing you individually believe or say can change the fact that
we have a job to do -- actually, several jobs, each one rather 
important.  As Thomas Paine once put it: "Lead, follow, or get out of 
the way."
		<a href="">Eric S. Raymond</a>

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