Principles of Open Participation Software

Wiki brought to Coding

Wiki works. The concept of allowing anyone to change any document, at first, seems ridiculous and sure won't work. But it does. Most people want it to work, therefor it works. If it works for something as simple as web editing, why can't it work for source code?

We are convinced it does. Open Participation Software allows anyone to make changes to the codebase. Often these changes will be small corrections, other times larger contributions, and occasionally someone wants to destroy it. For the latter case (destruction), the answer lies in the effort ratio between the "process of destruction" vs "process of restoration". If it is hard for the perpetrator to destroy, and easy for the community restore, then the fun is gone and the perpetrator leaves.

No Barrier

Open Participation Software is ALL about a NO BARRIER principle. You want to commit something, then go right ahead. Noone is judging your skills up front. Noone is saying it can't be done, that it is of no use or doesn't belong here.


Free and Open Source advocates talks a lot about Freedom. There are several camps in how the word Freedom is interpreted, as the GPL camp tries to promote guaranteed source access to all distributed work, incl derivatives, whereas the BSD/MIT/Apache camp wants the direct user to have the freedom to choose what to do with the source.

But none of these discusses the Freedom to Participate. One can not waltz into the Apache Software Foundation and for instance experiment with the Tomcat codebase in public view. Not even provide a significant contribution, let's say a brand new authorization module, without severe scrutiny of the establishment.

Often one read user documentation, and stuff is badly written, missing or outright wrong. One can't simply make the relevant changes straight away, but have to follow a tedious process, which more often than not is not worthwhile.

Freedom sure is a relative word. In Open Participation Software, you are FREE to do whatever you like.

Flock of Birds

A Flock of Birds manages to fly in the same direction, get from point A to point B and doing so without any particular leader nor any democratic process. All birds have a general idea of where to go. They also have a instinct that if they leave the flock, they are more likely to become victims of predators.

Open Participation Software in its purest form work the same way. The flock decides collectively where to fly. Everyone is allowed to change the course, but if noone else follows, the individual is alone and vulnerable, and faced with a choice of returning to the flock or risk of dying