[Evangelism] SPI vs Plone Foundation

Jon Stahl jon at onenw.org
Sun Aug 24 19:46:49 UTC 2008

Karl Horak wrote:
> In a recent LinkedIn dialog, I replied to a MR Ray about why I was not a
> member of SPI (Software in the Public Interest, Inc.).  I explained that
> the Plone Foundation handles the same functionality without the
> distraction of numerous disjointed smaller projects vying for attention
> and funding.  
> Ray replied, "Playing devil's advocate: Why isn't the Plone Foundation
> just a waste of money duplicating overheads (bank fees, corporation filing
> fees, ...) when Plone could be part of SPI? Is debian (SPI's largest
> project) really smaller than Plone?"  

I don't think the Foundation has an obligation to respond to any questions
that aren't posed to it directly. ;-)

But what I can say, as a current-but-not-there-at-the-founding Plone
Foundation board member is this:

I don't know SPI, but I am willing to assume they do good work in the world.

The Plone community chose to create Plone Foundation as a standalone entity
for several important reasons, including (but not necessarily limited to):

1) Control over our own fate.  Plone is a very special community with a
strongly inclusive ethic.  It was important to the hundreds of people who've
contributed thousands of person-hours to Plone that the Plone Foundation be
by, of and for the Plone community itself.  We have been fortunate to have
had the considerable human (and modest financial) resources that have made
this possible.

2) The Plone Foundation, unlike many (but not all) other open-source
foundations, actually owns the trademark and intellectual property of Plone.  
This is a significant and very valuable asset, and stewarding these assets
is a great privilege and a great responsibility.  The Plone community wanted
to be sure it -- and nobody else -- is in full control of our shared
intellectual property, and the PF allows that to be possible.  

Finally, I'd point out that most of the work involved in maintaining the
Foundation's operations is done by volunteers, including the board of
directors and Toby Roberts, our indefatigable Treasurer.  The financial
costs are pretty minimal.


Jon Stahl
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