Assistance with Open Source adoption

Open Source

Hacktoberfest Celebrates 5th Anniversary

Open Source Initiative - Tue, 11/13/2018 - 07:25

Five years ago the community team at DigitalOcean wanted to create a program to inspire open source contributions. That first year, in 2014, the first Hacktoberfest participants were asked for 50 commits, and those who completed the challenge received a reward of swag. 676 people signed up and 505 forged ahead to the finish line, earning stickers and a custom limited-edition T-shirt.

This year that number is an astounding 46,088 completions out of 106,582 sign-ups. We’ve seen it become an entry point to developers contributing to open source projects: much more than a program, it’s clear that Hacktoberfest has become a global community movement with a shared set of values and passion for giving back.

To learn more about the results from the 5th anniversary of Hacktoberfest, please check this blog post from DigitalOcean:

The Open Source Initiative would like to thank DigitalOcean for not only for being a sponsor of the OSI and for hosting our website, but most importantly for creating such an inspiring program like Hacktoberfest. Happy 5th Anniversary, Hacktoberfest!

Categories: Open Source

COSCon Bridges East & West, Open Source Powers Now & Future

Open Source Initiative - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 15:50

The OSI was honored to participate in the 2018 China Open Source Conference (COSCon'18) hosted by OSI Affiliate Member KAIYUANSHE in Shenzhen, China. Over 1,600 people attended the exciting two-day event, with almost another 10,000 watching via live-stream online. The conference boasted sixty-two speakers from twelve countries, with 11 keynotes (including OSI Board alum Tony Wasserman), 67 breakout sessions, 5 lightning talks (led by university students), 3 hands-on camps, and 2 specialty forums on Open Source Education and Open Source Hardware.

COSCon'18 also served as an opportunity to make several announcements, including the publication of "The 2018 China Open Source Annual Report", the launch of "KCoin Open Source Contribution Incentivization Platform", and the unveiling of KAIYUANSHE's "Open Hackathon Cloud Platform".

Since its foundation in October of 2014, KAIYUANSHE has continuously helped open source projects and communities thrive in China, while also contributing back to the world by, "bringing in and reaching out". COSCon'18 is one more way KAIYUANSHE serves to: raise awareness of, and gain expereince with, global open source projects; build and incentivise domestic markets for open source adoption; study and improve open source governance across industry sectors; promote and serve the needs of local developers, and; identify and incubate top-notch local open source projects.

In addition to all of the speakers and attendees, KAIYUANSHE would like to thank their generous sponsors for all of their support in making COSCon'18 a great success.

2018 China Open Source Annual Report - Created by KAIYUANSHE volunteers over the past six months, the 2018 Open Source Annual Report describes the current status, and unique dynamics, of Open Source Software in China. The report provides a global perspective with contributions from multiple communities, and is now available on GitHub: contributions welcome.

KCoin - Open Source Contribution Incentivization Platform - KCoin, an open source, blockchain-based, contribution incentivization mechanism was launched at COSCon'18. KCoin is curently used by three projects including, KFCoding--a next generation interactive developer learning community, ATN--an AI+Blockchain-based open source platform, and Dao Planet--a contribution-based community incentive infrastructure.

Open Hackathon Platform Donation Ceremony - Open Hackathon Platform is a one-stop cloud platform for hosting or participating online in hackathons. Originally developed by and run internally for Microsoft development, the platform was officially donated to KAIYUANSHE by Microsoft during the conference. Since May of 2015 the open source platform has hosted more than 10 hackathons and other collabrative development efforts including hands-on camps and workshops, and is the first project to be contributed by a leading international corporation to a Chinese open source community. Ulrich Homann, Distinguished Architect at Microsoft who presided over the dedication offered, “We are looking forward to contributions from the KAIYUANSHE community which will make the Open Hackathon Cloud Platform an even better platform for your needs. May the source be with you!”

Open Source 20-Year Anniversary Celebration Party - Speakers, sponsors, community and media partners, and KAIYUANSHE directors and officers came together to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of Open Source Software and the Open Source Initiative. The evening was hosted by OSI Board Director Tony Wasserman, and Ross Gardler of the Apache Software Foundation, who both shared a few thoughts about the long journey and success of Open Source Software. Other activities included, a "20 Years of Open Source Timeline", where attendees added their own memories and milestones; "Open-Source-Awakened Jedi" cosplay with Kaiyuanshe directors and officers serving OSI 20th Anniversary cake as Jedi warrior's (including cutting the cake with light sabers!).

The celebration also provided an opportunity to recognize the outstanding contributions to KAIYUANSHE and open source by two exceptional individuals. Cynthia Xin and Junbo Wang were both awarded the "Open Source Star" trophy. Cynthia was recognized for her work as both the Event Team Lead and Community Partnership Team Lead, while Junbo Wang, was recognized for contributions as the Open Hackathon Cloud Platform Infrastructure Team Lead, and KCoin Project Lead.

"May the source be with you!" Fun for all at the 20th Anniversary of Open Source party during COSCon'18.


Other highlights included:

  • A "Fireside Chat" with Nat Friedman, GitHub CEO, and Ted Liu, Kaiyuanshe Chairman
  • Apache Project Incubation
  • Implementing Open Source Governance at Scale
  • Executive Roundtable: "Collision of Cultures"
  • 20 years of open source: Where can we do better?
  • How to grow the next generation of university talent with open source.
  • Open at GitLab: discussions and engagement.
  • Three communities--Open Source Software (OSS), Open Source Hardware (OSHW) and Creative Commons (CC)--on stage, sharing and brainstorming.
  • Made in China, "Xu Gu Hao": open source hardware and education for the fun of creating!
Former OSI Board Director Tony Wasserman presents at COSCon'18


COSCon'18 organizers would like to recognize and thank their international and domestic communities for their support, Apache Software Foundation (ASF), Open Source Initiative (OSI), GNOME, Mozilla, FreeBSD and another 20+ domestic communities. As of Oct. 23rd, there were more than 120,000 viewerships from the retweet of the articles published for the COSCon'18 by the domestic communities and more retweets to come from the international communities. We are grateful for these lovely community partners. The board of GNOME Foundation also sent a greeting video for the conference.

Many attendees also offered their thoughts on the event...

COSCon was a great opportunity to meet developers and learn how GitHub can better serve the open source community in China. It is exciting to see how much creativity and passion there is for open source in China.
---- Nat Friedman, CEO, GitHub

COSCon is the meetup place for open source communities. No matter where you are, on stage or in the audience crowd, the spirits of openness, freedom, autonomy and collaboration run through the entire conference. Technologies rises and falls, only the ecosystem sustains over the community.
---- Tao Jiang, Founder of CSDN

When I visited China in 2015, I said "let's build the bridge together", in 2018 China Open Source Conference, I say "let's cross the bridge together!"
---- Ross Gardler, Executive Vice President, Apache Software Foundation

The conference was an excellent opportunity to learn about "adoption and use of FOSS from industry leaders in China and around the world."
---- Tony Wasserman, OSI Board Member Alumni, Professor of Carnegie Mellon University

I'm very glad to see the increasing influence power of KAIYUANSHE and wish it gets better and better.
---- Jerry Tan, Baidu Open Source Lead & Deep Learning Evangelist

It is a great opportunity to share Microsoft’s Open source evolution with the OSS community in China through the 2018 ConsCon conference. I am honored to officially donate the Microsoft Open Hackathon platform to the Kayuanshe community. Contributing over boundaries of space and time is getting more important than ever – an open platform like the Microsoft Open Hackathon environment can bring us together wherever we are, provide a safe online environment enabling us to solve problems, add unique value and finally have lots of fun together.
---- Ulrich Homann,Distinguished Architect, Microsoft

I was impressed by the vibrant interest in the community for OSS and The Apache Software Foundation, particularly by young developers.
---- Dave Fisher, Apache Incubator PMC member & mentor

Having the China Open Source Conference is a gift for the 20-year anniversary of the birth of open source from the vast number of Chinese open source fans. In 2016, OSI officially announced that Kaiyuanshe becomes an OSI affiliate member in recognizing Kaiyuanshe's contribution in promoting open source in China. Over the years, the influence of Kaiyuanshe has been flourishing, and many developers have participated & contributed to its community activities. In the future, Huawei Cloud is willing to cooperate with Kaiyuanshe further to contribute to software industry growth together.
---- Feng Xu, founder & general manager of DevCloud, Huawei Cloud

Categories: Open Source

Handshake's $200K Pledge Extends Reach of Open Source Initiative

Open Source Initiative - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 10:39

PALO ALTO, Calif. - Nov. 5, 2018 -- The Open Source Initiative® (OSI) is thrilled to announce the largest single donation in organizational history, a $200,000 contribution from Handshake. Handshake is a new system for the internet namespace that builds in security, openness, and reliability from the start. Handshake's work—as a community-oriented organization, and the open technologies delivered—will jump-start a new era of public internet commons, where critical infrastructure is owned by the open source developers who build and sustain it.

As a symbol of Handshake's commitment to open source software, developers, and communities, the organization has pledged the entirety of their venture capital investment (approximately US $10.2M) to the free and open source software community. In addition to the generous support provided to the OSI, other recipients include, OSI Affiliate Members Debian, KDE e.V, Mozilla Foundation, and Wikimedia Foundation, as well as several other non-profits working in the public interest through openness and collaboration.

"These pledges serve as a long overdue thank you to the open source community both for the immeasurable contributions to the world, and making Handshake possible in the very first place," said Christel Dahlskjaer, Director of Philanthropy and Engagement at Handshake. "We thank the OSI for doing amazing work, while managing to maintain a proper grassroots approach—so much love for the work undertaken by the OSI."

Handshake's pledge arrives at a critical point in time for the OSI and the broader open source software movement. "Although the OSI and open source software have enjoyed tremendous success over the past twenty years, we're actually seeing greater confusion, even skepticism, around established norms, the principles and practices that have made open source development and technologies a standard across industries," said Patrick Masson, OSI's General Manager. "Handshake's funding will allow us to extend the reach and impact of our Working Groups and Incubator Projects, many which were established to confront the growing efforts to manipulate open source through "fauxpen source software" and "open-washing."

Contributions like those from Handshake, allow the OSI to maintain its internationally recognized status as a nexus of trust with a mandate to protect and promote open source. The OSI engages with open source developers, communities of practice, as well as the public and private sectors around the world, furthering open source technologies, licenses, and models of development that can provide economic and strategic advantages.

Masson added, "I know I speak for the OSI Board in expressing our deepest gratitude for Handshake's gift, which will support our ongoing work to promote and protect open source, but perhaps even more gratifying is Handshake's recognition of our commitment to, 'maintain a proper grassroots approach' in those efforts."

About Handshake
Handshake ( is building an alternative to digital certificate authorities using blockchain technology. It's a new system for the internet namespace that builds security, openness, and reliability into the protocol right from the start. Handshake will spark a new era of development in decentralized and secure internet protocols, which aims to redistribute ownership and control among internet users around the world. Blockchain technology has  the potential to create the internet imagined by its first pioneers: one free from corporate or government control. Handshake will be a key part of this movement.

About The Open Source Initiative
Founded in 1998, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) protects and promotes open source software, development and communities, championing software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition, and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement. The OSI is a California public benefit corporation, with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. For more information about the OSI, see (

Italo Vignoli

Image credit: "Reaching Out" by Andrew and Hobbes, 2009 (CC BY-ND 2.0) via Flickr (

Categories: Open Source

Progress in San Francisco's Open Source Elections Project

Open Source Initiative - Mon, 10/29/2018 - 18:50

As many within the OSI community may know, the OSI has been following closely—and supporting—San Francisco's efforts to develop an open source elections system. Below is an update from Commissioner Chris Jerdonek of the San Francisco Elections Commision.

1. San Francisco Hiring a Project Manager!

San Francisco is now hiring a Senior Technical Project Manager to lead the open source voting project! This is a major step forward for the project. The salary is $163K / year. The position was first posted on Tuesday, August 28 and will stay open until filled (but you should try to apply ASAP if possible). Here is the job posting:

Help spread the word about this key position so the City can get good applicants! Here's a tweet you can retweet:

2. Applications Now Open for Open Source Voting Technical Advisory Committee (TAC)

The SF Elections Commission is now accepting applications to fill a vacancy on its 5-member Open Source Voting Technical Advisory Committee, which meets monthly. Here are the application instructions (applications are due Monday, September 24):

Also help spread the word about this opportunity! Here's a tweet you can retweet:

Below are some other key developments since May:

3. More Money Budgeted for the Open Source Voting Project

Thanks to the leadership of Supervisor (and Budget Committee Chair) Malia Cohen and Mayor London Breed, San Francisco allocated an additional $1.255 million towards the open source voting project late in the City's annual budget process. Mayor Breed signed the City's new budget on August 1.

This extra money will let SF start actual development of the voting system sooner, instead of having to wait another year. This brings the total amount of money allocated for the project to $1.68 million. The breakdown is as follows:

  • $125K left over from the $300K allocated in 2016
  • $300K allocated by COIT this spring
  • $1.255M allocated late in the budget process ($660K for 2018-19 and $595K for 2019-20)

Thanks also to the California Clean Money Campaign for being instrumental in organizing public support for this additional funding.

4. Civil Grand Jury Report

On June 29, 2018, the SF Civil Grand Jury issued a 48-page report on the status of the open source voting project after studying it for a year (focusing in particular on why it's not happening faster). The report can be found here, along with the press release they issued:

5. Elections Commission Resolution #2

On June 20, 2018, the Elections Commission unanimously passed a second resolution on Open Source Voting. This resolution can be viewed as an update or "sequel" to the resolution the Commission passed in November 2015, taking into account the events and developments of the past few years. This new resolution (as well as the first one) can be found here:

Thanks for reading and for helping to spread the word!


Categories: Open Source

OSI Incubator Contributes to Success in STEM

Open Source Initiative - Thu, 10/25/2018 - 16:06

Siena College's Urban Scholars Program provides elementary and middle school students in the Albany, New York school district educational opportunities within Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) related fields through active, hands-on workshops. Participants work closely with Siena student-mentors, in small groups, that encourage critical thinking, teamwork, and persistence to never give up if something seems too hard.  In 2015 Siena's Urban Scholars adopted the FLOSS Desktops for Kids program, and combined with other activities, has led to astonishing student outcomes: increased interest, and greater success, in STEM courses.

Dr. Michele McColgan and Dr. Robert Colesante of Siena College have released a report on the program and its success, finding:

  1. middle school students that have participated in Urban Scholars have greater pass rates in middle school math and English language arts assessments.
  2. Urban Scholars' students passed New York State Regents Exams at a higher rate (68%) than non-participants (51%),
  3. those completing the program are more than twice as likely to not only continue on in STEM related courses, but also take advanced courses (i.e. AP courses),
  4. participants have higher graduation rates than non-participants for the two years in which data is available (2016-2017).

Congratulations to Drs. McColgan and Colesante, Siena College and of course the Urban Scholars themselves for their great success. The entire report is below.

Urban Scholars Program for the Albany School District - Outcomes from 2013-2017 I. Program Participants

The Siena College Urban Scholars Program (USP) has operated in conjunction with the Albany school district since 2003. It has focused on STEM content and activities since the 2010-11 academic year, and serves approximately 60 under-served, under-represented upper-elementary and middle school students each year. Students are bused to the Siena College campus on 14 Saturdays during the academic year, for a total of up to 70 contact hours per year. Students participate in short morning and afternoon meetings as a group, take two classes, and eat lunch in the college cafeteria. Classes are taught by college STEM faculty, STEM professionals, and undergraduate STEM students.

The Urban Scholars Program has a similar percentage of White and Latinx students, more African American students, and somewhat fewer Asian students than the district (see Figure 1). Participants were
very similar to non-participants in the poverty levels of the neighborhoods in which they live (see Figure 2).

Most students (93%) begin as 5th or 6th graders. Students in 5th - 6th grades comprise 41% of the participants and 7th-8th graders comprise 59% of the participants. Most students (92%) participate for 2 or more years, equating to 28 Saturdays or a approximately 140 contact hours. Of those, 26% participate for 3 years and 21% participate for 4 or more years.

Figure 1. Ethnicity of the students in the district (a) and students in the USP program (b).


Figure 2. Poverty level of the students in the district (a) and students in the USP program (b). II. Outcomes

A. Data Collection and Primary Questions
Recently, we began examining impact on New York State (NYS) assessments in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics during their middle school years, which take place while they are participating in
the program. Since many former students have progressed through high school, we also examine NYS Regents exams.

Participants are NOT self-selecting STEM achievers
The NWEA Math Growth score, a metric used by for schools to measure growth over time in math, was recorded for students from 2014-2017. As a baseline and to determine whether the students participating in the program are high achievers or are more motivated as compared to typical students in the school population, the NWEA score was recorded the year before participation and one and two years after the start of participation in the program. There was no difference in NWEA score before student participation and a very slight increase of 0.66 after one year of participation, showing that the students participating in the program were representative of the students in the school. As another potential indicator, final school grades in math courses (8th grade, algebra, geometry) were also analyzed and the participants in the program do not have higher course grades than their peers. Violent and Disruptive Incident Reporting (VADIR) scores were analyzed and there were no differences for participants in the program and a control group. Based on these three results, the students in the program do not self select due to STEM interest or due to higher achievement in STEM courses.

Middle School Standardized ELA and Math Assessments
A comparison of the proficiency of participants in the Urban Scholars program and district students is shown in Figure 3a. Differences comparing participants in the program and non-participants were
significantly higher for both tests (p < 0.0001). 25% of participants passed middle school math assessments while 32% passed their ELA assessments.

High School STEM Course Taking
The topics of the regents courses examined include Living Environments (Biology), Earth Science, Chemistry, Physics, Algebra, Geometry, Algebra 2, Global History, US History, and English Language Arts. The passing rates on the state exams for Urban Scholar participants and district students for test years from 2013 to 2017 are shown in Figure 3b. Participants in the program passed at a higher rate (68%) than non-participants (p < .0001 ).

Figure 3. (a) NYSED ELA and Mathematics proficiency for USP participants (n=329 ELA, n=309 Math) and Albany students (n=9780 ELA, n=9171 Math) and (b) and Regents passing rates for years 2013 to 2017.

Passing rates and exam scores by subject are shown in Figure 4. Participants are passing at higher rates (Fig 4a) and with higher scores (Fig 4b) than non-participants.

Figure 4. (a) NYS Regents Pass rates by subject for USP participants and Albany students and (b) and Regents mean scores for years 2013 to 2017.

The number of students taking advanced STEM courses is increasing, as shown in Figure 5a. This correlates with the percentage of students graduating with advanced designation (Fig 5b).

Figure 5. (a) Number of high school math and science courses taken by USP participants and Albany students and (b) and the percentage of students graduating with advanced designation for years 2013 to 2017.


Graduating with Advanced Designation
Graduation information for district students and participants is shown in Table 1. Since students begin the program in 5th or 6th grades, and our analysis begins with them in 2010-11, few have moved through high school to graduation. The data is preliminary from the school district. Still, participants have higher graduation rates than non-participants for the two years with data available (2016-2017).

Table 1. Graduation of District Students and Program Participants for 2016-17 (n=30)

  District Urban Scholars Program  Graduation Rate*  62%  93% - 100%  Regents with adv designation  13%  43%

Image credit: Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released. Public Domain,

Categories: Open Source

Open Source Program Benefits Survey Results

Open Source Initiative - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 08:37

There are many organizations out there, from companies like Red Hat to internet scale giants like Google and Facebook that have established an open source programs office (OSPO). The TODO Group, a network of open source program managers, recently performed the first ever annual survey of corporate open source programs and revealed some interesting findings on the actual benefits of open source programs.

According to the survey, the top three benefits of managing an open source program are:

  • awareness of open source usage/dependencies
  • increased developer agility/speed
  • better and faster license compliance
Corporate Open Source Programs on the Rise

According to the survey, 53% of companies have an open source program or plan to establish one in the near future:

An interesting factoid to see is that large companies are about twice as likely to run an open source program than smaller companies (63 percent vs. 37 percent). Also, technology industry organizations were more likely to have an open source program than traditional industry verticals such as the financial services industry. Another interesting trend was that most open source programs tend to start informally as a working group, committee or a few key open source developers and then evolve into formal programs over time, typically within a company’s engineering department.

Research Shows Giving Back Is A Competitive Advantage

It’s important to note that companies aren’t forming open source programs and giving back to open source for purely altruistic means. Recent research from Harvard Business School shows that open source contributing companies capture up to 100% more productive value from open source than companies who do not contribute back. In particular, the example of Linux was used showcased in the research:

"It’s not necessarily that the firms that contribute are more productive on the whole. It’s that they get more in terms of productivity output from their usage of the Linux operating system than do companies that use Linux without contributing."

In the survey, it was notable that 44 percent of companies with open source programs contribute code upstream compared to only 6 percent for companies without an open source program. If you want to sustain open source and give your business a competitive advantage, an open source program can help.

Finally, you’ll be happy to learn that the survey results and questions are open sourced under the CC-BY-SA. The TODO Group plans to run this survey on an annual basis moving forward and in true open source fashion, we’d love your feedback on any new questions to ask, please leave your thoughts in the comments or on GitHub.

 About the Author: Chris Aniszczyk is currently a Vice President at OSI Affiliate Member Linux Foundation, focused on developer relations and running the Open Container Initiative (OCI) / Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

Image credit: OSPO.png (CC BY-SA 4.0) by The Open Source Initiative is a derivitive of "Trollback + Company office.JPG" by Trollbackco from Wikimedia Commons, and used/edited with permission via CC BY-SA 4.0

Categories: Open Source

Knowledge Sharing in Software Projects

Open Source Initiative - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 13:15

In a special guest post, Megan L. Endres, Professor of Management, at Eastern Michigan University provides a debrief of data gathering from a recent survey on Knowledge Sharing promoted by the OSI.

Thank you!

We are extremely grateful to those who filled out the survey. We feel that our research can help create better environments at work, where team members can share knowledge and innovate.

Purpose of the Study
Our research is focused on knowledge sharing in ambiguous circumstances. Six Sigma is a method of quality control that should reduce ambiguity, given its structured approach. We ask whether the reduction in ambiguity is coupled with a reduction in knowledge sharing as well.

Who responded?

A total of 54 people responded, of whom 58% had a bachelor’s degree and 26% had a master’s degree. Average of full-time work experience was 13.9 years, and average of managerial experience was 6.7 years.

Most respondents (53%) reported working in an organization with 400+ full-time employees, although a strong second (37%) reported working with 100 or fewer.

Most reported that they work on a team of 3 members (21%), although a large percentage work on teams with 4 members (18.4%) and 5 members (13.2%). The complexity of the team tasks was moderately high, rated 3.66 on a 1 to 5 scale (least to most complex) (s.d. = 1.05).

Knowledge and Sharing

Respondents believed they brought considerable expertise to their team projects, which could be a result of good team assignments according to knowledge and skill. The average expertise reported was 4.13, on a scale of 1 (very low) to 5 (very high) (s.d. = 0.99).

Important variables we gathered are below with the mean and standard deviation. These are the average of a set of questions that was tested for reliability and averaged. It is important to note that standard deviations are all about 1 and, given a 5-point scale, this indicates general agreement among those who responded. The average of these variables was the same for varied years of experience, years of management, size of company, and level of education.

Variable Mean I share knowledge on my teams 4.35 My team shares knowledge with me 3.51 Knowledge sharing is valuable 4.43 My teams are innovative/creative 4.05 I have clear goals/feedback 3.17




Relationships in the Data

We will be gathering more data in order to perform more complex data analysis, but correlations show relationships that may prove to be important.

Significant relationships include:

  • Higher self-reported knowledge sharing is related to more clear goal setting at work, more innovative teamwork, and positive knowledge sharing attitudes. This is not surprising because an environment with positive knowledge sharing has better communication between team members and, therefore, clarifications are more likely when goals aren’t clear. Those who worked for larger organizations (400+ employees) said that their goal setting was clearer. This also is not surprising because more formal structure in the organization probably is associated with formal performance reviews and procedures.
  • Higher team knowledge sharing is associated with less likelihood one will have a Six Sigma belt and with lower Six Sigma knowledge. This may indicate that knowledge sharing, and Six Sigma are negatively related, but until a larger sample of responses is gathered, this is only a proposition.
  • The open source software questions did not reveal important information so far. That is because you are a part of a sample that uniformly has positive attitudes toward open source (in general). Others will fill out the survey in the future who are not affiliated with open source groups and variation in the responses will allow us to study relationships with other data.

Megan L. Endres, Professor of Management, Eastern Michigan University

Knowledge Sharing in Software Projects, by Megan L. Endres, CC-BY 4.0. 2018

Knowledge-sharing, by Ansonlobo. CC BY-SA 4.0. 2016. From Wikimedia Commons.

Categories: Open Source

California’s First Open Source Election System: Maybe not!

Open Source Initiative - Thu, 09/20/2018 - 09:28

OSI Affiliate Member, California Association of Voting Officials (CAVO), has expressed concerns that a recent announcement by Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk (Dean Logan) and the State of California's Secretary of State (Alex Padilla) was not accurate in their descriptions of a newly certified elections tally system, "Voting System For All People" (VSAP), as using "open source technology."

Both the Los Angeles County and California Secretary of State announcements stated the elections system was, "the first publicly-owned, open-source election tally system certified under the California voting systems standards" [emphasis added].

Initially, the OSI expressed praise for the announcements from California,

@CountyofLA's vote tally system is California’s first certified #elections system to use #opensource technology. This publicly-owned technology represents a significant step in the future of elections in California and across the country.

— OpenSourceInitiative (@OpenSourceOrg) August 27, 2018

The announcement appeared to be the culmination of several years of work by LA County in developing an open source voting system. Yet almost immediately after the news broke of the open source election tally system, doubts were raised. StateScoop reported, Los Angeles County's new 'open source' vote tallying system isn't open source just yet, The StateScoop article included a comment by John Sebes, chief technology officer of the Open Source Election Technology Institute, "My takeaway is that their intention is to make it freely available to other organizations, but today it's not. It's open source in the sense that it was paid for by public funds and the intent is to share it."  In a comment to the OSI, Tim Mayer, President of CAVO ofered, "Los Angeles County must share their code publicly now. They have a history of not collaborating with the open source voting pioneers and community members. In order for it to be open source they must meet the standards."

Chris Jerdonek, San Francisco Elections Commissioner and Chair of San Francisco's Open Source Voting System Technical Advisory Committee, requested a copy of the source code for VSAP. In response, while LA County, "determined that there are responsive records to [Jerdonek's] request," the county stated that the records are exempt from disclosure as the records:

  • are, "prohibited from disclosure by federal or state-law",
  • relate to, "information technology systems of a public agency", and
  • "the facts of the particular case dictate that the public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record."

All three of these responses conflict with global expectations of software described as open source, and contradict the specific benefits (i.e. "Linus's Law") extolled by Padilla and Logan for developing an open source elections system...

With security on the minds of elections officials and the public, open-source technology has the potential to further modernize election administration, security, and transparency.”
- Secretary of State, Alex Padilla.

We observed what took place in the last decade with this heightened awareness and sensitivity to voting technology at the same time as this kind of evolution of open-source.
- LA County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, Dean Logan

“Open source software” is a defined term, that is, software distributed with an OSI-Approved Open Source License. Each of these licenses are certified based on the Open Source Definition. The OSI's License Review Process guarantees software freedom though approved licensees, providing "permission in advance" to study, use, modify and redistribute the software.

For the Open Source Initiate, our concerns revolve around the apparent lack of regard for the open source label by county and state officials―its affordances and value―although perhaps the current state of the project is simply due to a lack of experience with, or in, open source communities of practice. Authenticity in principles and practice is of the utmost importance to the OSI in our efforts to promote and protect open source software, development and communities. Misuse (innocent or nefarious) dilutes the value, weakens trust, confuses the public, and reduces the efficacy of open source licensed software.

Both CAVO and the OSI have requested from the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, the open source software code and the OSI-Approved Open Source License distributed with the related project certification. CAVO has also requested a web link to a demonstration site and other surrounding information. As of today, neither organization has received a response from LA County, although the OSI has been assured a reply is forthcoming.

"We want to assure the open source community that Los Angeles' representations are being addressed with appropriate scrutiny," stated CAVO Secretary Brent Turner. "We will not allow 'open-washing' to interfere with our efforts toward the national security."

Although concerned at this point with the communications around, the "first publicly owned, open source election tally system certified under the California voting systems standards," we at the OSI are extremely enthusiastic that there is apparently interest and efforts underway to deliver open source voting systems. We are hopeful that these initial shortcomings are simply gaps in process and practice inherent to bureaucracies and operations as they evolve, adopt new technologies, and update policies.

The OSI and CAVO stand ready, and offer our support and expertise to Los Angeles County and the State of California to help develop, deploy and build community around their elections software.

Categories: Open Source
Syndicate content