The OSI Membership Project

Submitted by coar on Mon, 2006-07-24 21:27. ::

For the first eight years of its existence, from the time it was created in 1998 through 2006, OSI has been a small number (5-9) of people primarily focussed on licensing issues. However, the continual references to OSI's role vis-à-vis 'the community,' and the actual words of the organisation's chartered purpose from the Bylaws, have finally generated enough energy-of-thought to see about expanding its role.

... this corporation shall: (1) educate the public about the advantages of open source software [software that users are free to modify and redistribute]; (2) encourage the software community to participate in open source software development; (3) identify how software users' objectives are best served through open source software; (4) persuade organizations and software authors to distribute source software freely they otherwise would not distribute; (5) provide resources for sharing information about open source software and licenses; (6) assist attorneys to craft open source licenses; (7) manage a certification program to allow use of one or more certification marks in association with open source software; and (8) advocate for open source principles.

So the Membership Project was formed in 2005 and tasked with coming up with recommendations for the Board about how the organisational structure could/should change to support a more grass-roots involvement through membership.

Request for Proposals

In April 2006 the Membership project openly solicited proposals for how a membership structure could be applied to the OSI.

Unfortunately, 'openly solicited' doesn't mean 'solicited far and wide;' the request was restricted to the project's own mailing list, to which people have been directed and invited in a wholly ad hoc manner.


One of the issues is the organisation's composition: should it remain a small number of largely self-selecting people, or should it be expanded to provide for and solicit participation from the entire community of developers, providers, end-users, and everyone else? Should the organisation remain focussed primarily on developers, or should companies, governments, and end-users be considered 'customers' of OSI?


  • Individual membership
  • Corporate membership
  • Area/regional reps
  • 'Assembly'
  • Fee/no-fee, membership tiers
  • Membership as fund source?