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( IMPORTANT ) Fwd: An Analysis of TheSII.pdf


Hello Everyone,

Jonathan Marsden was so kind to do a an Analysis of TheSII.pdf
This was proposed by the SII to be the final draft.

The results below are disappointing for the SII.
If modifications are not made we, SpeechControl will have to choose
our own path.

Besides the analysis of below, me and manuèla would also like to point out this:

(15) in draft [1]: the community has a limited voice, which can be
overruled by the council if they wish to do so.
Now I have 2 versions of this document and in draft [2], as Phill send it out,
there is no more Community Representatives ....

[1] http://dl.dropbox.com/u/7607669/a/TheSIIdraft1.pdf
[2] http://dl.dropbox.com/u/7607669/a/TheSIIdraft2.pdf

"Community Representatives
The sole role of community representatives is to ensure that the
members of SII have a voice
in the actions that affect the foundational structure of the
institution. It gives the SII a limited
democracy of sorts."

As the project leader or appointed project representative,
you are allowed to vote when asked to do so, but the rules are unclear.
It seems like you can vote when that makes the council happy,
but if you are considered not in line with their opinion,
they can simply ignore your voting capabilities.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jonathan Marsden <jmarsden@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: 2011/2/27
Subject: An Analysis of TheSII.pdf
To: manuela popping <manuela.popping@xxxxxxxxx>, UndiFineD <undifined@xxxxxxxxx>
Cc: Phill Whiteside <phillw@xxxxxxxxxx>

Manuela and Keimpe (and Phill),

Here is my analysis of "TheSII.pdf" -- basically my notes as I worked
through it, and tried to understand it.

There is a wiki page at:


which seems to be collecting comments on this definition.  I am
considering adding these comments (enclosed below) to that page.



An Analysis of "TheSII.pdf"

Author: Jonathan Marsden
Date: 25 Feb 2011

This document is notes on information gathered from the file
"TheSII.pdf" which was published at Fri 25 Feb 2011 04:25:11 PM PST.
These notes were made as I read through and tried to understand the
intent and nature of this document, and of SII.

(1) SII is an Organization

"The SII is an non profit institution..."

This means SII is not a project.  SII is not a commercial for-profit
company.  SII is not just an idea.  It is clearly stated to be an
institution, that is, an organization.

(2) SII is a non-profit Organization

SII is clearly setting out to be a non-profit: "The SII is an non
profit institution..." .  This is fine, except that this document does
not look anything like the usual articles of incorporation for a
non-profit organization in the USA, and in the USA, stating that you
are "a non-profit" is generally understood to mean "according to the
definition in Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code.

(3) SII's goal is ensuring work on open source AI related projects

"... designed to ensure that open source projects related to
artificial intelligence are worked on in a community-like effort."

How will it "ensure" this?  What resources, strategies and approaches
will it use to "ensure" this?  This is not made clear.

(4) SII is a membership organization

"An interest in AI is the only requirement for membership..."

(5) Unspecified rules and regulations exist for members

"...certain rules and regulations are to be upheld".

Mention is made of an "SII Code of Conduct", but apparently this has
not yet been published, and no specific URL pointing to it is used
within TheSII.pdf .  All SII members will be required to agree to the
"SII Code of Conduct" (despite an earlier statement that "An interest
in AI" is the only requirement).

No mention is made of how any possible infractions (members acting in
ways that violate this document) will be handled.

(6) Long term goal hidden under open source definition

"Our large term goal is to bring about a new line of computer software
that’ll, branded under the SII, not revolutionize AI but will
reestablish open source software’s important position in the software

Why is this buried in an answer to a 'FAQ' about the definition of an
open source project?  Also, if SII is simply a membership organization
to help other projects succeed, why would any software those projects
create be "branded under the SII"?

(7) Wintermute is singled out unnecessarily

"... one of the reasons why the S.I.I was founded is the Wintermute

Given that later a statement is made that "Every project is equal", it
seems unfortunate and unnecessary to mention just one project in the
SII defining document.

(8) Requirements for joining SII unclear

"Joining the SII is a painless process. First and foremost, you’ll
need an OpenID account..."

The more significant issue in joining is not having an OpenID, but
that one is required to agree to (sign) an as yet unpublished SII Code
of Conduct, but this is not stated or even mentioned in this part of
the document at all.

(9) Benefits to projects of being "registered" with SII are not stated

There is a FAQ about "How do I register my project".  There is nothing
about "Why would I want to regsiter my project" or "What are the
benefits of registering my project".

(10) Governance does not indicate how council members are determined

There is no indication of how council members are selected, whether
they are voted on and by whom, how long their terms run for, whether
they must step down after N consecutive terms, etc.  In other words,
all the usual information one expects to see about governance of a
non-profit is missing.

(11) Head of Development role implies existence of SII project development

"The duty of the Head of Development is primary to manage and oversee
tasks in relation to SII project development."

This assumes there are "SII project development" tasks, which would
appear to contradict the earlier statement that project leaders retain
full authority over their projects.  If project leaders retain such
authority, SII "Head of Development" has no projects to be "Head" of,
or to "manage", because all projects are the responsibility of their
respective project leaders.

(12) Leaving SII is possible for people but not projects

"You can deactivate your account..." and "...any projects that you own
that you have under SII will be still under your name but inaccessible."

There is no stated way for a project to "de-register" with SII, and
when a user leaves, their projects will become "inaccessible".  This
does not seem consistent with project leaders retaining all authority
over their own projects.

(13) A few rules and regulations?

"... the SII has a few rules and regulations configured to set out
those goals. For a guide of conduct, it’s required that upon making an
account, you sign a document stating your compliance with it."

Since this document is not referenced (no URL or other specific
pointer, and not included as an Appendix), those considering SII
membership have no way to read what they would be agreeing to.

(14) Control, and "Project Equivalency"

"The SII holds no control over any of the projects it represents" and
"Every project under the banner of the SII is to be:
 * treated equally (no one project is more important than the other)"

If SII has no control, then by definition it cannot control whether
people treat a project with 1000 active participants, a large working
codebase, good documentation and clear goals in the same way they
treat a new one-person project of unclear utility.  It is unclear why
SII would want two projects that are so different in scale "equally".
They are simply declared equal, by SII fiat, no rationale is provided.


TheSII.pdf appears to be an incomplete and perhaps self-contradictory
definition of a proposed non-prodit membership organization.  It does
not appear to satisfy the requirements of US state or federal law
regarding Articles of Incorporation for a non-profit.  It also does
not seem to offer any specific benefits to members, either as
individuals or as projects "registered" with it.  It requires
committment to a code of conduct that is as yet unpublished.


In its current state (which has been declared to be "final"), this
document does not define the SII in a way that is likely to be
attractive to open source software projects and their leaders.  The
logical response from a project leader whose project is invited to join
SII, based on this definition, should probably therefore be to politely
decline: "Thanks for the offer, but no thankyou."


Met vriendelijke groeten,
Keimpe de Jong