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Open Source Awards Charter


  1. Purpose Of The Open Source Awards.
  2. Who Issues The Awards?
  3. What The Awards Are.
  4. Who Is Eligible.

Purpose of the Open Source Awards

The purpose of the OSAs is to reward and encourage excellence in open-source software. To reward and encourage volunteer contributions to the net and the "hacker culture" in its broadest sense, including the Internet and Usenet and all places elsewhere that our traditions of voluntary code- and information-sharing, creativity, and cooperative individualism reach.

Open-source projects and good works done for the Internet ought to be rewarded. While the Internet culture of the past has been generally good at recognizing talent and hard work and rewarding it with prestige in the community, the close-knit community awareness that sustained this implicit reward structure needs to be supplemented with more formal and explicit mechanisms as the community's population explodes.

The precedents for the Open Source Awards are the Nobel Prizes in science, the Fields Medal in mathematics and the Hugo Awards of SF fandom. The Nobel and Fields prizes offer a model for appropriate ritual and reward in fields not too distantly related to open source. The Hugo tradition offers many procedural tips and half-explicit guidelines useful for organizing an award that rewards excellence, affirms the community feeling of its constituency, and manages not to be stuffy.

Who Issues The Awards?

The Open Source Awards will be issued through the Open Source Initiative, a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation. OSI has recruited a Collegium composed of eminent members of the open-source and Internet cultures, who will hand out the awards based on recommendations received from the Internet at large.

The Collegium shall consist of Electors and Legates. Electors, who will vote awards, must be people who write code. Legates may be drawn from among allies of the community and sponsoring organizations; they will not vote awards, but may speak on the record at meetings, place award candidates in nomination, and vote on other business. Legate status may be granted to an individual person or a specified organization's designated representative.

What The Awards Are.

There will be three different classes of awards:

  • Merit awards for work on specific open-source or network-service projects. These will consist of a bronze medal, a certificate, and an award of $500.

  • Grand Master awards made to persons with an outstanding record of contributions to the open-source and Internet cultures. Ideal candidates will have a record not only of technical excellence but of community leadership and service. The award will consist of a gold medal, an award of $10,000 and an entailed invitation to serve as a Elector on the Awards Committee.

  • Special awards made at the Committee's discretion. These will consist of a silver medal and a $1,500 cash award. The special awards will offer a way to experiment, and will be expected to occasionally lead to the development of new "regular" categories to go with the Merit and Grand Master awards.

Award medallions shall have an obverse consisting of an Open Source logo surrounded by a laurel wreath, and have the reverse engraved with the recipent's name, the category of award, and the date likewise surrounded by a laurel wreath. The ribbon will be red, white, and blue.

All awards will include a certificate suitable for framing and a lapel pin in the form of an OSI logo, suitable for wear at professional conferences and backyard beer bashes, and be recorded on the OSI website.

Who Is Eligible.

Rewards will typically go to individuals, but may occasionally at the Collegium's discretion be presented to a project group as a whole.

Merit Awards

To be eligible for a Merit award, the candidate(s) must be responsible for a program or information resource that is:

  • Available under a license conforming to the Open Source Definition.
  • Deserving of recognition for utility, technical elegance, and/or sheer hack value.
  • All other criteria being equal, programs that tend to promote the use of open source to a wider audience will be favored.

Grand Master Awards

To be eligible for a Grand Master award, the candidate(s) must have made an outstanding contribution to the open-source culture in either of these ways:

  • Unique and exceptional technical innovation that opened up possibilities still resonant within the culture,
  • A long-standing record of service to the hacker culture and/or the net as an organizer, role-model, doer of the utterly necessary but unexciting, and/or tribal elder.

Ideal candidates will combine both modes of contribution.

Where Merit and Special awards are intended to confer recognition, the Grand Master awards are intended to confirm a reputation already well-earned. Every Grand Master awardee should be someone of whom the knowledgeable will say "Well, of course!"

Special Awards

Special Awards may occasionally be conferred at the Awards Committee's discretion in cognizance of the charter purposes of the Open Source Awards, as a way of recognizing praiseworthy projects or conduct not covered by the existing regular categories and experimenting with new categories.

Timing of Awards and Annual Meeting

From one to three Merit Awards will be given out at or near the end of each quarter.

The Collegium will host an annual ceremony, open to the public, preceded by a business meeting. At that ceremony it will present Grand Master and Special awards for the previous year.

A quorum of the Electors shall consist of a minimum of five. If the quorum is even-numbered, the Chair shall break ties.

Eric S. Raymond <[email protected]>

Copyright © 2005 by the Open Source Initiative
Technical questions about the website go to Steve M.: steve at fooworks.com / Policy questions about open source go to the Board of Directors.

The contents of this website are licensed under the Open Software License 2.1 or Academic Free License 2.1

OSI is a registered non-profit with 501(c)(3) status. Contact our Board for further donation information.

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