Forum Policy

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See update from 2015 at OSE Forum.


The Open Source Ecology project, like most open source projects, is based primarily on information. OSE is a team of people working together towards certain goals that we believe can have a fundamental impact on society at a local, national, and global level. The main output of that team is information in the form of designs, CAD drawings, etc. Such information doesn't appear magically. It is developed by a team of dedicated, committed people working together. Much of that work is communication.

OSE has several communication tools that it uses including the wiki, blogs, project management tools like Pivotal, etc. This document deals with discussion forums and describes the policies of OSE with regard to both public, technical, and private forums.

Before getting into the details of how these forums are structured, newcomers should realize that the forums, particularly the General Discussion forum is one way to make yourself known to OSE and it's project teams. We welcome all constructive input. However, we also recognize the destructive influence that individuals may inflict. It is for this reason that the general discussion is moderated. The moderator has the ability, authority, and responsibility to keep all discussions positive, project related, and fair.

To increase the quality of discussion - we recommend that new participants:

  • Read the Crash Course and FAQs
  • Technical contributors (both organizational and technological) should read the OSE Specifications
  • All participants in the forum should read the policies and standards described below.


OSE, like many open source projects (such as Linux, Apache, etc.) are based on the concepts of meritocracy. Meritocracy means that people are given access, authority, and responsibility in direct proportion to their contributions. Such as system is necessary as most of us are volunteers contributing our time, labor, and money to something we deeply believe in. It is a system designed to weed out tire-kickers, naysayers, complainers, and especially those who don't do any work. We're here to build things.

People who do real work for OSE or make a recognized commitment are designated as "Contributors". Those interested in becoming a Contributor should:

  1. Fill out the Team Culturing Survey
  2. Volunteer to work on an OSE project
  3. Wait for a project leader to invite you to join the project (Pivotal).
  4. Figure out an initial task together and complete it.

Based on your results, you will be invited to become an OSE Contributor, giving you access to the project forums. While there are other approaches to becoming a Contributor, (such as maintaining the wiki) we encourage people to contribute to technical projects. Successful contributions on one project will lead to opportunities on others. A meritocracy means you are being judged on your merits as measured by your contributions. One of those contributions is your ability to work smoothly with other members of the team.

It should be noted that a metritocracy is based on active and on-going participation. While it's reasonable to take a break, legacy accomplishments are insufficient to maintain your Contributor status. People can also be bumped off projects if they show poor behavior or are inconsisent in delivering on their promises.

Forum Roles

OSE has defined the following forum membership levels or 'roles':

  • General - can read most forums, but only post to the General Discussion forums.
  • Contributor - can post to technical forums they are a member of.
  • Staff - can post to all forums, including restricted organization forums.
  • Moderator - a Contributor with special permissions in the forums that he (or she) moderates.
  • Administrator - an OSE staff member tasked with overseing all of the forums, currently Elifarley Cruz.

Category Structure and Content

Shortly, OSE will be simplifying the forum categories and structure to make them simpler and clarify access. See the proposed new structure.

The General Discussion Forum

The general discussion forum allows people who are interested in OSE to express their ideas and explore OSE concepts through discussion. We have created separate forums for different languages to make people more comfortable and not worry about trying to translate their thinking into another language.

People new to OSE should be aware that the general discussion forum is regularly monitored by OSE project leaders looking to recruit new people to their projects. As such, give some thought to how you write your posts keeping in mind:

  • Clarity - how well you communicate your ideas or views
  • Support - substantiate your claims with links or references
  • Civility - manners and the ability to be polite are important in teams that work closely together
  • Expertise - the ability to contribute your own experience and learning to discussion threads

When in doubt of the above, ask questions. They may not get answered, but sometimes a well-written question is more valuable than an off-the-cuff opinion.

Please note that the general forum isn't a place to air personal grievances, but rather to hold substantive discussion, with the goal in mind of getting things done, and in particular, getting the GVCS designed and built.

Please review forum polices below, as well.

Technical Forums

Technical discussion is the next level of forum discussion. Technical contributors are required to fill in the Team Culturing survey prior to starting their contributions. This gives other contributors a view into your skills, views, location, etc.

The technical forums are communication tools focused on specific OSE projects. Initially, these include the 50 GVCS projects, various component projects (like the [Open Source Stepper Motor]]), community-oriented projects like Factor e Farm, agricultural projects related to farming and permaculture, and other projects (like product ecology, Systems Engineering, etc).

Contributors to technical forums are held to a higher standard than general members. They are expected to use the forum to communicate and discuss information, ideas, and concepts that are related to the project. Opinions and discussion are encourged - that's the whole point of the forums - but discussion should be positive in nature and contribute to the project as a whole. Contributors who abuse their access rights will see them removed.

Technical contributors are also invited to use the wiki talk: pages for discussion associated with particular wiki pages.

Organization Forums

Contributor and OSE staff have the ability to participate in and post to organization forums. This is the right place to discuss OSE resources, project management, improvements to OSE as an organization, information standards, and fundraising. It is also where new project proposals are made and discussed for formation into full OSE projects.

Staff Forums

OSE staff members have special duties and responsibilities that sometimes require private or restricted discussion of sensitive topics. Forums in the Staff category are restricted to OSE staff members and invited contributors.

Forum Moderator Duties

Forum moderators should have subject-matter expertise, practical experience, and at the very least, serious interest in, their respective topic of moderation. Moderators are to serve indefinitely, unless otherwise agreed upon, but other moderators may be added to a particular forum in case of increased traffic or other circumstances. Moderators should have sufficient time to read through postings, to make sure that they adhere to OSE Specifications and general goals of OSE as specified in the Crash Course. Moderators should seek assistance if the volume of communication exceeds their ability to handle the discussion. Moderators should contact Elifarley Cruz with any issues.

Moderators are generally associated with the roles of Project Managers and other members of the Development Team - both in technical and organizational development, to make sure that any discussion leading to substantial development on the project is handled accordingly or forwarded to responsible parties for further action. Moderators should be familiar with the membership of the Development Team, so that moderators can take initiative in linking contributors to further resources and team members.

Moderators should also start, contribute to, or maintain, an FAQ on their Forum, to help inform and orient contributors.

Moderators should also regularly provide a digest of their forum activity, after, say, 100 messages transpire. A digest would serve the purpose of regrouping and reorganizing discussion to facilitate progress, to point out worthwhile highlights, and to propose new initiatives. This digest can be a post on the forum, and it may be worthwhile to start a wiki page. If substantial activity warrants it, Moderators are invited to blog on the Factor e Farm blog to share their highlights.

Moderators are expected to facilitate keeping discussion on track, and making sure that spam, personal attacks, and any non-constructive behavior does not take over discussions. There may be a fine line in certain cases, so the Moderator should be keen in focusing discussion towards practical results, rather than philosophical discussion or armchair critique.

See OSE Forum Moderators for a list of current moderators.

Administrator Duties

The forum administrator is tasked with making sure that the OSE forums fulfill their role in the OSE process. These duties include:

  • Resolving infrastructure and software related issues
  • Maintaining software including upgrades
  • Maintaining backups and archives
  • Creation of new forum categories
  • Settling disputes
  • Review requests for banning members

Forum Policies

The following policies are established with respect to access and use of the OSE forums:

1. Intention

The purpose of the OSE Forums is to promote the Current Scope of the project. The general culture of the forums is summed up in the Core Values of OSE. OSE forums are intended to be a communication tool to explore ideas, solve problems, and general foster the progress of OSE projects. Contributes should review an Essay on Creative Problem-Solving.

2. No Spam

The OSE forum is not a place for spam. This includes blatant product pitches, advertisements, links to random promotal websites, etc... Ads will be removed on sight. Repeated posting of spam is grounds for being banned.

3. Mutual Respect

OSE has a zero tolerance policy for personal attacks, trolling, or other disrespectful behavior. Therefore, we will moderate such behavior actively, and eggregious behavior will result in an immediate ban from the forum. Violators and banned members may appeal to the forum administrator for resolution.

4. Citing Sources

The OSE forums are a place to post and discuss information relevant to OSE and OSE projects. Claims to performance, quality, etc. are expected to be backed up with substantiating links. Unsubstantiated claims only confuse current discussion and take away from progress towards solutions. Cite your sources!

5. Creative Approach

OSE forum members are expected to take a positive, creative approach to forum contributions. These may include suggestions, ideas, noting problems and challenges, etc. Constructive criticism is welcome, provided it is presented in a manner and spirit that advances the mission of Open Source Ecology.

Forum Use

To make the most of our forums, please see some Vanilla Forums usage tips.

RSS Feeds

See Also