Governance and responsibility

Ben Tilly btilly at
Sun Sep 25 23:52:36 UTC 2005

On 9/25/05, Ian Jackson <ijackson at> wrote:
> Eric S. Raymond writes ("Re: License Committee Report for September 2005"):
> > The OSI Board makes policy.  The license-discuss list advises the Board,
> > and I promise you we do listen very carefully.  But when we have
> > made a policy decision, your responsibility is to either assist us in
> > implementing it or recuse yourself from the process.
> ...
> > You knew or should have known those rules when you walked in.  [...]
> What's really going on here is that the OSI Board are a self-appointed
> bunch of people who reckon that they've got the moral authority to
> tell other people what to do.  You say that this is OK because those
> other people can always choose not to do as you say.

Can this be moved off of license-discuss?

Yes, I know that it is a response to a thread here.  In fact I was the
one that ESR was ranting at, and I did my share of being unhappy back.
 But the episode has passed, everyone's points were made, and
conversation has progressed in useful directions.  Therefore I'd like
to request that this particular dead horse be left in a quiet grave
instead of being dragged back to the village square for another round
of beatings.

Thank you,

> But of course you must know that many important decisions in our world
> are not made by (a) competent people or (b) the people whose work and
> lives are affected - including the decision to follow OSI's
> recommendations about licenses.
> For both this reason, and because self-interest ought to suggest to
> the OSI Board that they want to retain people's respect, it is
> important that the OSI Board do more than pay lip service to the
> idea of open consultation and consensual, community-based
> decisionmaking.
> Whereas, in fact, the apparent official position of the OSI Board is
> _opposed_ to consensual, community-based decisionmaking !  They won't
> even pay lip service.  Board members are explicitly rejecting the
> notion that they have any responsibility to behave - in this public,
> governmental role - as we the people expect them to.
> Russell and ESR and perhaps others may live in a world where OSI is
> just a private bunch of people (perhaps because in their libertopian
> nightmare world everyone is just a private person), but out here in
> the real world OSI is one of the institutions of governance.  The
> clear and repeated denial of the corresponding responsibility to have
> open (participatory, not just consultative) processes is outrageous.
> Standing there and saying `and if you don't like what we do you can
> set up your own body' is one of the best ways of encouraging people to
> do so.
> Ian.

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