Explict Social Contracts for Community….

Some chatter around the recent dust-up triggered by mySQL’s change of heart regarding close-sourcing portions of their Enterprise Edition.

Savio jumps right in and questions if the Community is hurting the OSS business model. Matthew Aslett of the 451 Group follows up today noting that there seems to be….:

…. growing animosity of some sectors of the open source software user community towards commercial software vendors and activities. Where once the commercial success of an open source vendor was to be celebrated, increasingly it seems it is treated by some as a reason for caution and doubt.

Like Savio, I was disappointed to hear of mySQL’s decision, but I think this problem was initially of their own making, and changing their mind will only make matters worse. To me the social contract that exists between the community and an open source business should be crystal clear laying out what is expected from everyone. Debian and Fumambol make their social contract explicit and document them here and here.

I think that’s a great idea and is something every open source business ought to do. When you start changing things, as mySQL did, is when you start to get crosswise with your community.

Perhaps explicit Community Social Contracts are something who’s time has come.


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