☞ Grow Roots In Season

What Does Not Kill Me Makes Me StrongerThere’s been a development in The Netherlands which you may have missed as it has been evolving. Sadly the XOOPS community has not prevailed in court against their former leader in the battle for control of their domain name and funds, losing soundly.

The reason? Despite a case that sounds reasonable, it turns out that they never built the governance structures into their community to ensure that, when the trust basis on which they were founded ended, the community was still run for the general good.

There’s an important lesson for all open source communities; get your governance right, with actual legal control distributed among the members. You may trust each other now, but that won’t help in a few years time when you no longer trust each other and something has gone wrong. The time to put a sound foundation in place is before you build the building, not after it’s built.

An environment of trust at the start of a community is exactly the right time to put a solid legal framework in place. It may be hard to talk about failure at the start of success, but “what does not kill us makes us stronger”.  XOOPS sadly teaches us that the time to do this is well before you need to go to court to fix things…

4 Responses

  1. And this is the quandry that the openjava and opensolaris communities face. In an ideal world an apache-like governance for these communities would mean that a diverse group of contributors collaborated on community owned platforms to community owned code. Unfortunately it seems that Oracle are keen on winding back on anything open about these projects.

  2. I knew xoops (hey, I even installed it and ran it for a try) but I did not know about the case.
    As a member of various “open” communities, your post brings me food for thought since it sounds like a valuable feedback you seem to have gained from your own experience.
    Thanks for that.
    Arnaud ZIEBA

    • Sadly yes. In some cases my recommendations for open governance have been declined for commercial reasons, and in others the community involved has seen no point in the complexity.

  3. […] Phipps hits the nail on the head, saying that open source communities need get their governance right up-front: There’s an […]

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