Being open

How open is your project? It’s a question that should be asked of any open source software development project. It goes without saying that the software being distributed in such a project has an open source licence. That ensures that the software itself is open. What about the project? What about the way the code gets developed?

Sometimes I tell people that the licence is the thing. Without an open source licence, it’s just not open source software. And that’s true. But it’s not enough.

Pia Waugh made just this point to me when I met up with her last week. Amongst a million other things she does, Pia also works for ASK-OSS, the Australian equivalent of OSS Watch. She argues that without open communities, open content, and open standards, open source software is stunted. More and more I begin to see her point.

Yet being open is hard sometimes.

It takes practice. Moreover it admits of degrees and may need to be approached one step at a time. A good start is to set up an open development discussion list. But if you do, treat it with respect. Once you’ve got such a list, then all development communication needs to take place on it.

Either the project is open and this open development discussion list reflects that, or its openness is a sham.

Posted in openness.