Coraline Ada Ehmke

Thoughts on the Ethical Source Movement and the 2020 OSI Board Elections

Coraline Ada Ehmke | March 14, 2020

The results of the 2020 Open Source Initiative Board elections have just been released. I'd like to extend my congratulations to Josh Simmons, Megan Sanicki, and Italo Vignoli. I don't know Megan or Italo, but Josh has been great to work with over the past few months: humble, helpful, and collaborative. I'm looking forward to working with all of them as we move forward.

Although neither Tobie Langel (the other Ethical Source Movement candidate) nor I got enough votes to win board seats, we did collectively secure votes from 35% of the voting membership, which strengthens my belief that a significant portion of the open source community believes in the mission of Ethical Source.

The lesson to take away from this is that we have a journey ahead to reconcile our differences, but I am hopeful that we can achieve our goals through collaboration and good faith efforts.

I see the role of organizations like the OSI as essentially conservative; they play a vital stabilizing role in the open source ecosystem. The mission of the OSI is primarily around regulating licensing, although community-building, education, and public advocacy are among its stated goals.

Our goal in the Ethical Source Movement is to support creators with tools and processes that allow us to exercise the ethical responsibilities that come with what Edmund Berkeley called our greater-than-average impact on the world around us.

Ethical Source thus plays the role of an emerging change agent challenging the status quo. That is the essential conflict. But I strongly believe that our differences can largely be reconciled for the better of the community.

In this spirit, I have a few requests and suggestions for the new board:

  1. I ask that they allow us to appoint an official liaison to the OSI to work toward resolving our differences and finding a path forward.

  2. I ask that they form a public, diverse, and widely representative working group to establish a mechanism for reviewing and potentially revising the OSD to ensure its continued utility and relevance now that its initial goals for open source viability have been met.

  3. I am concerned that the OSI is out-of-step with the growing needs of the OSS community, and that establishing a community advocate or developer relations position within the organization should be a high priority.

  4. Finally, after the abuse & harassment I and others experienced through the process, in mailing lists and even on official candidate pages, there is a desperate need for a well-trained & experienced community manager to deal with the rampant toxicity present in the community.

My congratulations to the newly elected (or re-elected!) board members, and I'm looking forward to working with you all in the future.