Proposal: Open Source

Open Source projects are not necessarily limited to IT. Do we want to limit the scope of this site to just coding projects or do we want to include other open source projects too?

As a related question, if we do include other types of projects, are programming questions still on topic here or do we then leave those to sites like SO and Programmers? What about other technical questions that don't directly relate to Open Source but rather the field the project fits in? Or should we maybe be inclusive, leave out technical questions but allow programming questions as an exception?

Open Source hardware is catching-up, though not as prevalent as open-source software yet. – TheCodeArtist May 11 '15 at 5:56
@TheCodeArtist It may be catching up, but it's nowhere near the level of maturity. And, frankly, even the current level of software maturity isn't good enough for real hardware; most of the people doing open source hardware don't have a solid background in hardware, and approach it like software. As a result, they write stuff that won't work outside a simulator, or that hasn't been anywhere near adequately tested, or that fundamentally misunderstands the hardware paradigm. So, I wouldn't hold my breath. – Parthian Shot Jun 23 '15 at 3:05
up vote 16 down vote accepted

Limit the proposal to coding/programming only, and it will be closed as obvious subsets of both Programmers.SE and Stack Overflow.

If the scope does not include significant areas of interest to just the open-source world (licensing, hardware, DIY projects, robotics, whatever), then it really doesn't need to exist.

I think Creative Commons would be in the open source range too. – user128443 Feb 9 '15 at 15:17
@purplehuman - some CC licenses are :) – warren Feb 9 '15 at 18:46
don't forget public domain – albert Mar 25 '15 at 3:13
@Warren better to add an explicit No at the beginning of this answer. Currently the initial part of the answer is framed in the negative. The first couple of times i read it, i was thinking it was advocating limiting the scope to only open-source software. (which i am sure it is not; but only after reading it for the Nth time though.) – TheCodeArtist May 11 '15 at 6:00
@TheCodeArtist - obviously I thought it was pretty clear that if it's limited to software, it's already covered :) – warren May 11 '15 at 13:20

I think you may be touching on the differences between "open source software" and "open source development." I would suggest open source software might cover topics related to types of open source software out there as well as the features and functionality of that. It might also cover areas related to licensing, distribution, advocacy, etc. All of the topics related to advancing specific software distributed with an OSI Approved License.

Open source development might shift the discussions toward the practices that communities engage in to create open source software. This, as warren suggests would be applicable to the other areas of interest beyond software he describes. This might be called "openness."

In my opinion, there are already plenty of resources available to discuss coding/programming and even specific open source software projects. I would be interested in seeing topics related to the ecosystem that enables open source development and community.


the tenets of openness tend to bleed into one another and limiting the site will constrain its growth, as well as what @warren said. @massonpj also pointed out there are already a plethora of sites for coding, so the real question/thought to me is, what makes this site niche? why would someone come here, and how could they find benefit(s) here? lastly, how to create a meaningful ux via community that is strong enough to drive/build itself.

having a defined scope/focus/etc., is extremely beneficial for giving purpose and guidance to users, as well as builds the basics for your generic "intro to open source se" guide.
i use opendata se daily, where this question rises daily, in one form or another. aside from a definition for guidance, its critical to have user leaders that have read the guide and are leading by example. that sounds kind of obvious for community building, but its well worth repeating.

users that follow the guidelines when posting typically are not, but i'd say there's one or two sent to gis se, data science se, stackoverflow, etc., daily.
here leaders are key: you want welcoming/helpful comments to newcomers, not only to put them on the correct path, but also to make them feel welcome, and encourage them to come back.

open textbooks falls under this category; i like to think of it as open source/free software for content.
teachers, authors, publishers (some, this also crosses into open access ;) ) and the like are going to be branching into the world of openness in droves in the future, and this is a great place for them to come and engage/learn/give back.


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