Why Do I Have To "Apply For Group Membership" To Take Part In The "Open" Web Foundation?

By M. David Peterson
August 2, 2008 | Comments: 10

Update: I think a pretty fair compromise has resulted from an open conversation on the Open Web Foundation group discussion list which makes the following post null and void. Please see my follow-up post on the matter for extended details.

Maybe it's just me, but when a "foundation" attempts to build upon the "Open Web" moniker, shouldn't membership be -- you know -- open? (click on and then see the right hand column of the screen shot to the right)


This has just got to be an administrative oversight, right? If no, then what's the difference between the "Open" Web Foundation and a pay-to-play consortium such as the W3C and, to a lesser extent, OASIS? Membership fees?

Apply for group membership?

The OWF is focused on establishing open approaches to intellectual property rights.

You sure about that?

Required: To join this group, please describe your interest and what you hope to contribute or learn.

Hey "Open" Web Foundation: Why is it that the only thing I need to do to become a "member" of the IETF is to first, subscribe to an *open* mailing list, to then begin taking part in the *open* conversation, and yet to take part in the "Open" Web Foundation I have to describe to you my interest and what I hope to contribute and learn such that you can then evaluate and -- xx-fingers crossed-xx -- decide whether or not you're going to approve my request? For what purpose? To convince you that I'm worthy enough to be a part of your elitist society?

(You may also include additional comments to the manager.)


With the above invitation in mind, let me be completely *open* with you: Ki$$ my a$$ you elitist phreaks! Either open up or shut-up. It's as simple as that.

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Bravo! Couldn't have put it better myself.


Thank *GOD* the first comment was from someone who agreed with my 'sentiment'. :D

The haters should be by any second, but for now... I'm enjoying the love. ;-)


I'll wait for Chris Messina to reply since he is the one managing that aspect of the list.

What we've found though in past efforts is that just asking that simple question leads to much higher quality discussions on the list. All we're looking for is that you took the time to read the question and wrote something even as simple as "I'm interested in what you're talking about doing" and then you're on. No elitist society, just reading comprehension.

@David: You know you're one of my most favorite people on this planet, right? I mean, you've accomplished more in the 3 (or is it 4 now) years you've been out of high school than most of the rest of us will accomplish in our careers. But come on: You've got to see that this is a silly bureaucratic decision that -- while made with the best intentions -- just doesn't fit with the purpose of the foundation.

Yes, there are going to be those that contribute their thoughts to the list that everyone will wish hadn't. But that's just part of the process.

I'm sorry for calling you an elitist phreak. I don't really believe that about you, Chris, or any of the others involved with this. And I'll tell you what -- I have about five years worth of a specification development that I would like to submit to this group (see: http://dev.llup.org ). But I'm not going to waste neither yours, mine, or anyone else's time until "open" means open.

If Chris is the guy yo make the decision, then Chris: Please look at this from the outside looking in. It looks like you have a good thing going. And I'm sure you have your reasons for taking this stance.

But you're not open at the moment. Would you at very least consider changing that?

Disclaimer: I'm just a regular mailing list "member" not an admin or insider.

I'd say the (free) "membership" is just a simple way to keep out spam. The other option offered by Google groups is to moderate all postings from first members and ban and delete spammers. Definitely more effort on the admin side. If you can't string together a sentence on why you want to join the mailing list than likely you're better off spamming other easier targets. Note, that all the mailing list postings are public and accessible to all.

> Ki$$ my a$$ you elitist phreaks! Either open up
> or shut-up. It's as simple as that.

How did you get to blog on the (elitist) O'Reily site? Why not practice what you preach and find yourself a better more democratic and open outlet.

What was your interest in joining? Maybe I missed something on the website, but I don't see any information relating to active projects that they are working on.


>> What was your interest in joining?

Fair question. Initially my interest was simply to better understand what it is the group was all about and what it was they felt they had to offer to those of us who are proponents of maintaining an open web.

Extending from this, I've been working on an open messaging protocol specification for the last five or so years (see: http://dev.llup.org ) which, minus a few minor details that are still being discussed, for all intents and purposes is both feature and functionality complete and simply needs to start the official standardization process. Dependent upon their answer it may make sense to utilize the services of the foundation in preparation for standardization of the LLUP/Blip Messaging spec. But when confronted with the "who are you and why should we care?" membership application my immediate impression was that in which I specified in the original post.

I have no doubt the groups intentions are legit, but it concerns me when approaching an apparent "open" group that the first thing I am confronted with when visiting the group list is one of being required to gain approval before being enabled to contribute to what should be a completely open conversation. In particular, I'm concerned with a portion of David Recordon's follow-up response from above:

All we're looking for is that you took the time to read the question and wrote something even as simple as "I'm interested in what you're talking about doing" and then you're on. No elitist society, just reading comprehension.

... A comment which begs the question: Does he or they honestly believe that anyone will join the group if they are unable to comprehend why they would want to join the group in the first place? And if someone did, would it really matter?

If someone honestly believes it would matter, I would really like to hear why.

I've posted my thoughts to the mailing list -- you can respond here, or sign up to the list (we'll certainly approve your request!) and join the discussion over there.


As David said, moderation is not meant to keep people out. On the contrary, it helps the admins get to know who's joining and yes, does allow us to play some pass interference in the case of spammers or other folks who can't be bothered to take a few seconds to answer a simple question.

I should also point out that all the discussions are open and available to be read by anyone; it's only when you wish to gain posting permissions that you have to go through the moderation bump.

BTW, your captcha system ate my comment once. That makes me sad.

Maybe you are right.The OWF is focused on establishing open approaches to intellectual property rights.DVD to iPod Converter fot MacDVD to iPhone for Mac OS XiPhone Converter for Mac OS X

What about OASIS ?

"OASIS is a non-for-profit consortium that drives the development, convergence and adoption of open standards for the global information society". The web is a part of the global information society no ?

Is it only political or conceptual ?

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