A code of conduct makes a community’s norms and values explicit and enforceable. Governance makes decision-making within a community explicit and accountable. A license makes the conditions of adoption and reuse of the community’s work explicit and legally binding.
What’s missing is “connective tissue” bringing norms, governance, adoptions, and use together into a cohesive whole, supported by a robust ethical framework that promotes just, equitable, and pro-social outcomes in the work of our open source communities.
We are inviting collaborators to help develop the Open Social Compact (OSC), a novel governance toolkit that open source communities can use to create a “citizenship model” for everyone who participates in that community, whether as a leader, maintainer, community manager, collaborator, adopter, or user.
The Open Social Compact lets communities define the fundamental rights of all their participants; the specific responsibilities that participants have toward the community; and the privileges that are extended to participants who respect these rights and meet these responsibilities.
The Open Social Compact will also provide an innovative model for centering and elevating the safety and well-being not only of maintainers, collaborators, adopters, and users, but– most importantly– the safety and well-being of those who are most impacted by technologies we create, whether explicitly or implicitly, directly or indirectly, consensually or coercively.
For more information, you can also watch the Open Social Compact introduction presentation recorded at the Metagovernance Seminar in November 2022.
We are a global community of open source maintainers and contributors, tech ethicists and advocates, legal experts, academics, sociologists, human rights workers, and others who work together on ways to center justice and equity in the software commons.
OES stewards the continuing development of Contributor Covenant and developed the Hippocratic License, both examples of innovative policy instruments specifically designed to meet the evolving needs of open source communities. You can find out more about us on the OES website.
We are convening a working group to collaborate on the Open Social Compact. While we are open to help from anyone, we are particularly interested in collaborating with people experienced in community management, digital governance, and maintaining large, successful open source projects.
OES will commit to managing the development and long-term stewardship of the Open Social Compact, following an open, collaborative, and iterative approach to its evolution over time. We will provide a permanent home for the living document, develop and maintain any complementary tooling, and facilitate adoption through raising awareness, promotion, and education.
Most OES projects are volunteer-driven, including both contributor and leadership roles, with support and sponsorship from one or more members of our Board. The working group may request a budget allocation for consultation with outside experts and similar needs.
Sign up to join the OES Slack community, which is hosting the Open Social Compact Working Group, by filling out this form.
You can also participate in our open-social-compact-template repo on GitHub for discussion and contributions.