[License-discuss] [License-review] Evolving the License Review process for OSI

Pamela Chestek pamela.chestek at opensource.org
Sat May 25 12:07:55 UTC 2019

On 5/24/19 9:15 PM, Bruce Perens via License-review wrote:
> The complaint which spurred this action was ad-hominem in nature, and
> this continues to be the case. Let's please not try to hide that it's
> directed squarely at me, except that we have just for the first time
> had Nigel complain that Richard Fontana also dominated the mailing
> list in 2012. Let's also be clear what the action is: I, and others,
> have today been ejected from the license committee.
Bruce - This is simply not true. I don't know what complaint you are
referring to, nothing like that came up in the Board conversations
around the email I sent.

No one is being ejected from anything; in fact the opposite is true. The
OSI highly values the opinions of everyone who has an interest. However
the Board perceived, as have many others, that the license-review list
hasn't done a good job lately of being a welcoming place for discussion
and capturing the diversity of views that exist. That's what we're
trying to improve, making the lists more valuable, not less.
> I believe the main offense I've committed is being a vigorously
> participating authority on the matter of the OSD and Open Source
> licensing. OSI has been eager to make use of this authority where it
> is convenient to them, and currently has me representing their
> organization to the European Union government and global industry.
> OSI is increasingly being pressured to adopt licenses with /a common
> anti-user theme. /As an individual, I believe it's important to push
> back against such licenses, and that they should be disapproved on the
> basis of the OSD and Software Freedom.  As an investor in a
> significant number of Open Source companies, both individually and on
> behalf of my employer, I also have a legitimate interest to represent
> in keeping the terms of Open Source close to those which led to its
> success and are essential for its continued success.
I personally value what you say on the lists. I find it insightful,
knowledgeable, and helpful. However, what I sometimes find problematic
is your tone and aggressiveness. That makes it more challenging to read
your emails for the value they offer.
> Discussion of the last license reviewed easily topped an arbitrary
> number which, I am told, repels people from participation. There
> naturally will be need for further discussion when the license
> submitter is incomplete in their responses, ignores issues, or
> presents them in the light most favorable to their client, which are
> all things we can expect. Thus, I reject such arbitrary counts.
Again you are assuming something that isn't true; in the Board
discussions about this communication no one ever said that there should
be a limit on the number of emails and I expect no one ever will (or at
least I would object to it). I know in an earlier email you mentioned
this concept also, although I don't know where it came from. I assume it
was someone sharing with you the simple observation that people tend to
ignore long threads, as something to keep in mind when participating.

This paragraph is also what I mean by tone and aggressiveness. I read
this paragraph as accusing Van ("the last license reviewed") of being
"incomplete in their responses, ignores issues, or presents them in the
light most favorable to their client." I believe Van has been a paragon
of responsiveness, openness and honesty in his efforts to respond to all
questions raised. He has responded quickly, in detail and thoroughly. I
believe your accusations against him are unwarranted and unfair. This is
the kind of statement that I don't think anyone should be making; aside
from it being incorrect it also reduces others' desire to participate.
When I see someone wrongfully attacked, or even correctly attacked but
done in an aggressive way, I am less likely to participate myself.
> A board member, perhaps acting as an interim moderator, recently
> dinged me for using the word "absurd". This is the only moderation
> communication I have received this year. I have been an eager
> participant in implementing codes of conduct on Open Source projects,
> and am not clear just what part of the code /that /one falls under.
> Separately from codes, collegiality obviously has value, and should be
> maintained, but I would not have though that one non-collegial.
You didn't give the full context. In response to an email from Van
defending data portability as an open source value, you said "I am
unable to run the program as I /wish/ unless - which can be followed by
any number of absurd requirements on top of the one you should have a
right to: simply being able to run the program."

I agree with the board member who wrote to you that this is a tone and
style of engagement that is inappropriate. You called Van's argument
absurd when it is far from it. As Van has argued, it is quite close to
the policies underlying anti-Tivoization. Your hyperbole was unnecessary
and counterproductive and doesn't belong on a collegial list.

> I am having trouble valuing the complaints of the
> so-far-non-participants when their main distinguishing characteristic
> is that they /don't/ participate. If OSI is changing the policy, OSI
> will need to show that people with diverse viewpoints actually
> participate to a greater extent than they did before - not that
> discussion is globally reduced.
That is our goal, to increase the diversity of viewpoints and increase
participation. I hope that everyone shares that goal and will help us
work towards it.


>     Thanks
>     Bruce
> On Fri, May 24, 2019 at 7:51 AM Pamela Chestek
> <pamela.chestek at opensource.org <mailto:pamela.chestek at opensource.org>>
> wrote:
>     _Summary_
>     The directors of the board of the Open Source Initiative recognize
>     the process for discussion and review of new licenses proposed for
>     approval by the organization can use improvement and would benefit
>     from evolution. In particular, it does not appear as though all
>     points of view on open source licensing are represented in the
>     discussion here. To address this situation we have created a Board
>     Committee for license approval to evaluate responses on-list,
>     appointed more moderators, and will devise a new moderation strategy.
>     _Proposal_
>     We anticipate that the effort to improve the quality of discussion
>     on the license lists will be an iterative process. This email
>     describes our first step, which is to approach the community and
>     elicit feedback on this approach. We anticipate further steps
>     including a review of tools, but we’re not yet at that stage.
>     _Channels_
>     License review vs. License discuss lists
>     License-review at lists.opensource.org
>     <mailto:License-review at lists.opensource.org> is the email address
>     for submitting a license for which you seek OSI approval following
>     the process at https://opensource.org/approval. The list is open
>     to the public, so anyone can give their opinion about a license.
>     The OSI License Committee considers the viewpoints expressed on
>     the license-review list in making its license approval
>     recommendation to the OSI Board. Since the purpose of the list is
>     to inform the Committee and the Board, discussion of substantive
>     issues off-list is not recommended. If a license submitter elects
>     to respond to a substantive question submitted to them off-list,
>     the submitter is encouraged to copy the license-review list also
>     on their response after redacting the identity of the person
>     sending the communication.
>     License-discuss at lists.opensource.org
>     <mailto:License-discuss at lists.opensource.org> is for general
>     questions about open source licenses and for licenses in early
>     stage development. The list is open to the public and anyone can
>     give feedback. A moderator may decide that a license submitted to
>     license-review isn’t sufficiently developed and will move it to
>     license-discuss for additional work. We recommend that you carry
>     out your license development process on a publicly viewable venue
>     (preferably one where collaboration is also possible) and
>     regularly seek views on license-discuss. Note that agreement on
>     license-discuss does not guarantee agreement on license-review, as
>     the audiences differ.
>     _Moderation_
>     The board recognizes that the license-review mailing list would
>     benefit from further, more concerted moderation, both to ensure
>     appropriate conversation and to maintain the pace of discussions.
>     This more concerted process will evolve in the following steps:
>       * We will develop rules to encourage wider participation. We
>         perceive that some are discouraged from participating because
>         of offensive tone, frequency, or repetitiveness of messages.
>         We will develop moderation standards to address these hurdles.
>       * A moderator will also advance the conversation, by following
>         up with the license steward on unanswered questions and
>         ensuring that all topics of interest have been fully fleshed out.
>       * We will assure observance of the Code of Conduct for the
>         mailing lists, available at:
>         https://opensource.org/codeofconduct/licensing.
>     _Changes to the Website_
>     We have also made a minor change to the language describing the
>     license review process on https://opensource.org/approval. The
>     page formerly said “Approve, if (a) there is sufficient consensus
>     emerging from community discussion that approval is justified, and
>     (b) the OSI determines that the license conforms to the Open
>     Source Definition and guarantees software freedom." The page now
>     says “Approve if, after taking into consideration community
>     discussion, the OSI determines that the license conforms to the
>     Open Source Definition and guarantees software freedom.”
>     We have also clarified the timing of the review decision.
>     _License Review Committee_
>     The License Review Committee is an OSI Board committee made up of
>     the following board members, as of May 2019:
>     Pamela Chestek, chair, pamela.chestek at opensource.org
>     <mailto:pamela.chestek at opensource.org>
>     Elana Hashman, elana.hashman at opensource.org
>     <mailto:elana.hashman at opensource.org>
>     Chris Lamb, chris.lamb at opensource.org
>     <mailto:chris.lamb at opensource.org>
>     Simon Phipps, webmink at opensource.org <mailto:webmink at opensource.org>
>     The License Review Committee will summarize and report the
>     license-review discussions to the Board for the Board’s approval
>     or disapproval of a proposed license. Members of the Committee
>     also serve as moderators for the two mailing lists.
>     _What We’re Asking_
>     Let us know what you think of these changes.
>     Pam
>     -- 
>     Pamela Chestek
>     Chair, License Review Committee
>     Open Source Initiative
>     _______________________________________________
>     License-review mailing list
>     License-review at lists.opensource.org
>     <mailto:License-review at lists.opensource.org>
>     http://lists.opensource.org/mailman/listinfo/license-review_lists.opensource.org
> -- 
> Bruce Perens - Partner, OSS.Capital <http://OSS.Capital>.
> _______________________________________________
> License-review mailing list
> License-review at lists.opensource.org
> http://lists.opensource.org/mailman/listinfo/license-review_lists.opensource.org

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