3

Note: I understand this is very long, but be sure to read and understanding everything in this post.

Alright! Day 6 into the beta, and we're about to introduce a new addition to the scope!

The issue of neutrality has been big since the definition phase of this site. Conflicts and arguments over the inclusion of Free Software in the site name would spark nearly everywhere you can go. It seems as if it has provoked the departure of valuable members of the community.

The answer was clear, if the community wanted to foster a healthy site that is accepting and inclusive of all organizations and ideologies, we need to start by creating a neutral environment for them to grow. Being called Open Source, we were already sending a message that this site will mostly be of Open Source, and not much else.

Many community members realized this, and set off to figure out how to develop the site, neutrally. We needed a way to help create a neutral environment, from one that has since been hurt by political biases. Therefore, we asked questions. Our possible affiliations with organizations had to be stopped, or we needed to invite all.

Keep in mind too, however, that this is still a draft. We can still tailor it with input from the community, community managers, moderators from other related sites and so on.


We took a look at our existing scope, and tried to find what was in common. Each element seemed to have a goal, to make information accessible to all. The ideologies all pointed towards this common goal. We decided to "redesign" the site around this.

Before we started, we tried to find things that were possibly detrimental to neutral site development. We found things such as:

  • The site name
  • Relations with organizations

and so on.

With a common goal, we decided to recreate this scope, possibly including or excluding elements that we would've had. With the main idea of having information accessible to all, we started.

First off, was finding alternate names that gave a message about what the site was trying to achieve, and what we want in this site. We thought of names such as:

  • Open Info (or Open Information)
  • Ask Freely

We decided with the former, Open Info. We thought that this would convey the message that we wanted to give: to provide information that is easy to access to the world, and make it open. Next, was re-evaluating the scope:

You can ask about... Boldfaced and italicized is new.

  • Anything related to Free/Libre and Open Source Projects
  • Anything related to Creative Commons and Free Cultural Works
  • Anything related to the Open Knowledge Movement and Open Data
  • Anything related to the organization, management and marketing of open projects
  • Anything related to the Open Definiton, and efforts to make information free and accessible to all

(stuff about licensing, marketing, financing, management and philosophy)

Don't ask about...

  • Anything primarily related to Law
  • Anything primarily related to Open Science
  • Anything asking for tools or resources for Open Data
  • Anything too broad, or primarily opinion based

We want to create an open information atmosphere, accepting things on open information.

In order to help smooth the transition and addition of this to the site, we thought of some example questions:

  • How can I trust Wikipedia if everyone can change it?
  • What is Open Knowledge? How does it differ from Open Data?
  • What is the Open Definition?
  • How important is transparency of open projects?
  • Do I need to offer [this] in other languages to make it accessible?
  • Does the public have more say in open knowledge?
  • What’s the purpose of Open Data when I can just Google things?
  • Is open data harmful to competition between for-profit companies?
  • Is open data harmful to innovation?

Bottom line, these are the points to our proposal:

  • Change the name of the site to Open Information (or Open Info short form)
  • Broaden the scope to include open information concepts (boldfaced and italicized above)

We've tried hard to make the site more appropriate on what we want, created a general goal, and set out a plan to make the site friendly, welcoming and inviting to all communities. If you have any disagreements, or would like to see something change, kindly post an answer! We'd love to here your thoughts, and suggestions! If there's anything you've think that we've missed, let us know as well!

Thank You!


Updates:

  • Some were concerned that this new scope would be duplicating the site Open Data.SE. I'm aware of this, and I would like to show how we're not duplicating the site:

    From the Open Data Help Center:

    If you have a question about …

    • where to find any kind of open data
    • software tools related to open data
    • best practices regarding open data
    • licensing and releasing open data
    • open data formats and standards
    • linked data, ontologies and related semantic technologies
    • analysis and visualization of open data … then you're in the right place!

    Data requests ("Where can I find data about … ?") are usually welcome for any topic. For more in-depth questions, there are several related expert sites available:

Some things will overlap, but Open Data looks like Software Recommendations, in that you can ask for locations of data, tools, resources, and technologies. We differ in that we would ask for organization, philosophies and so on...

  • Do we need to explicitly exclude freeware? See opensource.stackexchange.com/questions/700/… – Michael Schumacher Jun 30 '15 at 13:45
  • This is just a draft, but I don't think specific things are necessarily mentioned. – Zizouz212 Jun 30 '15 at 13:45
  • Excluding freeware may be a big point for some people, though - as it blurs the line between the meaning of freedom and gratis otherwise. – Michael Schumacher Jun 30 '15 at 13:48
  • Also, if there is any extended discussion or if you have any questions, feel free to @ping me in chat :) – Zizouz212 Jun 30 '15 at 14:23
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    For all the talk of political biases and wars, I haven't seen any... – curiousdannii Jun 30 '15 at 22:02
  • @curiousdannii There's lots of political biases around. Just take a look at meta. – Zizouz212 Jul 1 '15 at 14:23
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    Please add your site name suggestions to the brainstorming list :) – curiousdannii Jul 6 '15 at 9:09
  • @Zizouz212 This is not a feature request. It does concern the site name. Please respect others edits. – curiousdannii Jul 6 '15 at 11:43
  • I'm the author of the question: It's a feature requests because certain parts of it would require a change to existing functionality. – Zizouz212 Jul 6 '15 at 11:47
  • Ziz and @curiousdannii: let's not have edit/rollback wars. Danii, if Ziz is refusing your edits just let it go. Ziz, in principle, if edits don't damage the question (and this one doesn't) then just leave them alone. – ArtOfCode Jul 6 '15 at 12:07
  • @ArtOfCode It should be tagged feature-request, imo. And I'm slightly suspicious as to this: why now? – Zizouz212 Jul 6 '15 at 12:07
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    @Zizouz212 I suggest this post is just left alone now. Why now? Because I've just come along and found an edit war between two users who are banging heads a lot recently, so I'm attempting to stop the conflict before it overshadows the question. – ArtOfCode Jul 6 '15 at 12:10
  • @ArtOfCode No, I meant why the retags now... – Zizouz212 Jul 6 '15 at 12:11
  • Ah, I see. Just the normal course of editing, as far as I can see. – ArtOfCode Jul 6 '15 at 12:12
  • @Zizouz212 What part of this is a feature request? – curiousdannii Jul 6 '15 at 12:22
13

Let me take a second to introduce myself to those that don't know me. I'm Tim Post, the Director of Stack Overflow Communities here at Stack Exchange. I'm an associate member of the FSF, and a former contributing member to SPI. Most of my professional career as a programmer was built on free & open source software. I haven't been as active as I planned to be here, mostly due to time constraints, but I have been watching and smiling quite a bit.

I thought about this quite a bit before writing a reply, in fact, I hoped to get something written prior to the weekend arriving to give folks a chance to think about it. I like the principle behind this suggestion, which is to do our best to not actively alienate anyone that might be interested in contributing. To that, I'm all for putting 'Libre' or 'Free' in the site's title and description. Libre & Open Source has a kind of nice ring to it, and we maintain indexing for what folks actually search for. It's a small change that goes a long way toward saying you're not unwelcome. I'm open to suggestions about the wording.

I also like that this community has been reaching out to many different organizations, such as the OSI, FSF and others. This is what a passionately welcoming community does, and we're extremely proud of what you're doing. This leads me to my point, there's only so much we can do with the appearance and wording of the site to make everyone feel at least not unwelcome, what's going to make or break a truly neutral place for these groups to come together is how we bend over backwards to help new users and the degree of warmth and respect that we give them.

You've brought me, a card-carrying free software evangelist to this community and have given me every reason to recommend it to anyone that has questions that fit here. That is how you grow this community and make it for everyone, by doing it, just as you have. Changing the entire scope at this point is going to leave people confused, fail to attract many of the people we wish to serve and take a good bit of wind out of your sails. I'm strongly against doing it.

The FSF is highly unlikely to endorse any resource that doesn't make itself freely available. Changing the name of the site isn't going to change the fact that it runs on proprietary, non-free software, even though we've made every useful component of it available under a variety of free software licenses. While that's a whole other can of worms, it's .. less incentive ... for a radical change. We've got a great site, it looks like we'll have the support of the OSI, build on what you've built, it's a tragic mistake not to do so.

This is what I recommend going forward:

  • The URL remains opensource.stackexchange.com (we may be able to set up additional redirects, if they make sense)
  • The site title becomes "Libre & Open Source"
  • The site description becomes "Q&A for people organizing, marketing or licensing free & open source development projects"

We then have to be very proactive when it comes to looking how folks from various ways of thinking actually experienced the site. Free, open? Christian, atheist? Woman, man? We want you to have the best possible experience here, and when people find out that's the bar we hold others to, you've built the Mecca you describe.

  • 1
    Please add your site name suggestion to the brainstorming list :) – curiousdannii Jul 6 '15 at 10:01
  • Hello! I figured I'd just let you know that we've also built along the scope of the site, adding things such as Creative Commons - Got us cc licensing questions and the like. – Zizouz212 Jul 6 '15 at 11:32
  • @Zizouz212 I know, and that's great :) I'd expect to be able to ask about CC stuff on a site devoted to questions about free / open source software, licenses, culture, etc. The fact that you've gone all inclusive is great, – Tim Post Jul 6 '15 at 12:35
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    Are you guys having a "find the grammar mistakes" competition on this post? – ArtOfCode Jul 6 '15 at 16:26
  • I do have one question for you though: Should we include questions concerning open knowledge? I understand the concerns in scope changes and that there is so much that we can do, but should we consider adding it? In my view, they share many fundamentals with open source: licensing, availability and the like. – Zizouz212 Jul 6 '15 at 17:23
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    Your site description is not good. This site is not limited to development projects. – Gilles Jul 6 '15 at 20:06
  • @Gilles I'm tempted to use "Free & Open Source" as a noun, though taking 'development' out and just leaving 'projects' is a more technical fix. – Tim Post Jul 7 '15 at 7:53
8

I don't like "Open Information". I think it has the connotations of open knowledge banks/ontologies etc. Which, in regards to their licensing, would certainly be ontopic here! But it suggests too small a scope for the site. I don't think we do need to change the name as long as we make it clear in the site description/tour page etc. that the site is about more than the OSI definition and more than just software. Site names are often not exactly about the site's topic and scope. But if we are to change the name, I'd prefer something along the lines of "Free Culture".

  • How does Free Culture widens the focus further? – Mnementh Jun 30 '15 at 21:33
  • Free Culture was also a suggestion of mine, but that feels a bit wrong when we're running this on a closed platform. – overactor Jun 30 '15 at 21:34
  • @overactor Heh, I'd think the movement is about making the most of the situations we're in. That's the whole point of licenses after all - working within existing crappy copyright law to improve the situation for the future. – curiousdannii Jun 30 '15 at 21:35
  • @Mnementh Free Culture is an existing movement, which has an advantage over coining a new term, and it's much wider than just programming (but certainly includes it too.) – curiousdannii Jun 30 '15 at 21:36
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    As the OpenInfo proposal does too. Hmm, maybe we should extract the name-issue to a simple voting, as it seems generally you agree with the proposal to rename and widen the scope in the way Zizouz said. Am I right? – Mnementh Jun 30 '15 at 21:50
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    @Mnementh I'm okay with the current name as long as we make it clear in the site description/tour page etc. that the site is about more than the OSI definition and more than just software. Site names are often not exactly about the site's topic and scope. But if we were to change the name, then I'd prefer something along the lines of "Free Culture". – curiousdannii Jun 30 '15 at 21:53
  • One of the issues with Free Culture is that Creative Commons has Free Culture under their belt, and there would be the possibility of Legal issues with the name. Because of the affiliation, it could possibly spark neutrality issues again – Zizouz212 Jul 1 '15 at 19:46
  • @Zizouz212 Yeah, which is why I said something along the lines of it. But I can't think of what that would actually be :P – curiousdannii Jul 1 '15 at 22:07
  • @curiousdannii I just want to be sure, do you agree with the proposal or not? – Zizouz212 Jul 2 '15 at 0:26
  • @Zizouz212 The proposal to change to Open Info(rmation)? No way. – curiousdannii Jul 2 '15 at 2:12
4

I agree with both proposals. I like OpenInfo more than Open Information, but that's my personal taste.

I really think we should go with the broadened scope. We already included Creative Commons, that already includes stuff that isn't Open Source (CC-NC, CC-ND). We have already included stuff that hasn't a source at all. As far as I see most agree with this. Including open knowledge doesn't broaden the scope that much, as most stuff supported by the Open Knowledge foundation is Open Source anyways. Open Data is a bit more critical, but I think we also should go with it. Many Open Data projects use Open source licenses.

-3

The site described sounds interesting and useful, and should be proposed in Area 51. The site we currently have is opensource.stackexchange.com, and it is unlikely it will be agreed to change that.

The site as it stands may have fluctuations in direction and scope, but it will always be Open Source. Anyone is free to start a new site with an overlap or in competition, but we are at too late a stage for fundamental changes.

My personal opinion is that expanding the scope so far beyond open source will remove the focus on open source and result in losing out on acquiring the experts we seek.

  • 4
    I have a case study in Stack Exchange that seems to show that this would work. Interestingly, enough it's Programmers.SE Note that the scope and purpose of this proposal changed DRASTICALLY during the beta. Along with the name. Please refer to the Programmers FAQ for the current definition. – Zizouz212 Jun 30 '15 at 14:11
  • And we already have a OpenData.SE though that's mostly about the data itself – ratchet freak Jun 30 '15 at 14:11
  • @ratchetfreak Actually, I checked on that. We wouldn't be duplicating it. I'll make a mention of that in the main post. – Zizouz212 Jun 30 '15 at 14:14

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