[License-discuss] Discourse hosting

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Mar 19 19:55:47 UTC 2019

Quoting Kevin P. Fleming (kevin+osi at km6g.us):

> I have quite a bit of experience in this area and can state that none
> of this would be necessary (and some are not even options). CDCK does
> not request or hold rights to any content on the Discourse sites they
> host. I have no doubt they would happily offer an instance to OSI and
> allow OSI to set the content policies, terms of service, and content
> license.

I appreciate your speaking, Kevin.  I continue to be curious about
whether users would be expected to enter a contractual relationship with
Civilized Discourse Construction Kit, Inc. (CDCK), in order to participate.

I'm not at all suggesting that there is anything specifically unsavoury
about CDCK, but I've encountered two similar situations.  One is the
system administrator guild BayLISA, a 501(c)(6) non-profit corporation
of which I was a Board member and corporate officer for a decade and a
half, and which holds monthly lecture meetings open to the public.
During my last couple of terms on the Board, a strong Board majority
elected to outsource practically all of BayLISA's Internet presence to
Meetup.com (Meetup, Inc.), and require meeting attendees to RSVP via
Meetup -- agreeing to Meetup, Inc., contract terms, their data-mining,
etc.  I politely made clear that I considered this bad policy for a
number of reasons, including conveying a lack of competence by system
administrators to host Internet operations _and_ it being inappropriate
to require BayLISA meeting attendees to enter a contractual relationship
with an NYC for-profit corporation, but didn't push matters to Board
votes because I'd evidently be outvoted.  I sat for one more two-year
term hoping this policy would be reversed, but it wasn't.  After I left
the Board, the new Board accidentally broke BayLISA's Mailman mailing
lists and didn't fix them, and also turned the front page of
http://www.baylisa.org/ into an HTTP 301 redirect to Meetup.

Because I felt obliged to set policy about Meetup events for my BALE
(Bay Area Linux Events) technical events calendar anyway, I addressed
BayLISA as an object lesson in my Meetup policy page for BALE
http://linuxmafia.com/faq/Essays/meetup.html :

  Let's say you are interested in BayLISA, the San Francisco Bay Area's
  guild of system administrators (and non-profit corporation), that I used
  to help run as Secretary, Treasurer, and Board Member for almost two
  decades.  You seek BayLISA out, and the first thing you read is that, if
  you wish to attend BayLISA meetings, you must first RSVP for each such
  meeting via Meetup.com, which means you must enter an ongoing
  contractual business relationship with Meetup, Inc. (register a login),
  and create your BayLISA RSVP entirely via the Meetup.com Web site rather
  than on BayLISA's own site (whereby the Meetup, Inc. firm is certainly
  logging detailed tracking information about your Web activity, which
  data then becomes part of the data-mining product it sells to others).

  So, as a BayLISA attendee, you should be wondering:  Why am I suddenly
  dealing with — and entering into a contractual business relationship
  with — these clowns in NYC at all?  Wasn't I just trying to attend a
  local meeting of sysadmins?  And well you should wonder:

  I was on BayLISA's Board of Directors for about a decade and a half.  My
  last two terms of office were marred by the Board majority's sudden (and
  then ongoing) mania for outsourcing of the guild's entire Internet
  operations to Meetup, Inc. — as if we, as Unix system administrators,
  were no longer competent to run Web sites and mailing lists — and by
  late 2013 I was so extremely disaffected by this ignominious trend that
  I declined to serve any more terms of office, and let my (always paid —
  unlike the other Directors) BayLISA membership lapse.

  Why on earth should you need to maintain a separate business agreement
  with an NYC-based commercial company, just to attend meetings of your
  local sysadmin guild?  It's absurd.  And I would maintain that it's
  particularly shameful for system administrators or Linux, BSD, and other
  open-source software groups to impose these outsourcing requirements
  onto attendees, as if Internet operations were not their own core

Around the same time, one staffer at Linux Documentation Project, for
which I maintain a HOWTO and a FAQ, decided to migrate LDP's
version-control repository from its own hosting to GitHub, operated by
San Francisco for-profit corporation GitHub, Inc.  Soon thereafter,
LDP's established submission path for documents' SGML source code via
e-mail silently broke, which fact I inferred after LDP failed to pick up
three of my HOWTO revisions in a row.  Upon inquiring, I was told 'Oh,
sorry, you'll want to do a GitHub pull request.'  I said this would
require me to enter a contractual relationship with GitHub, Inc., which
I would rather not, and that I just wanted to upload some SGML, fellahs.
After some discussion, the latest revision of my HOWTO got entered into
GitHub by a helpful third party, but in effect my HOWTO has now forked
from LDP, and I'm pretty sure many other HOWTO maintainers are doing the
same.  We didn't seek a contractual agreement with some corporation in
NYC; we just wanted to participate with LDP.

So, I am curious:  To participate with OSI on a hope-for CDCK-hosted,
outsourced Discourse instance, would contributors need to enter into a
contractual relationship with for-profit corporation CDCK?  (I cannot
help notice Luis replied to the other part of my comment, but not that

Cheers,              "I am a member of a civilization (IAAMOAC).  Step back
Rick Moen            from anger.  Study how awful our ancestors had it, yet
rick at linuxmafia.com  they struggled to get you here.  Repay them by appreciating
McQ! (4x80)          the civilization you inherited."           -- David Brin

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