As part of the OSI’s governance reform, we are planning to establish a mechanism for individuals to join the OSI. We recently conducted a survey to ask people about their interest in joining, and to learn some preferences about how best to proceed. We received more than 350 replies to the survey, which was initially announced at FOSDEM in February 2012. The respondents came from many different countries, and had widely differing experiences with open source software. We are grateful to those who took the time to participate in the survey.
We were pleased to see that the vast majority of respondents were in favor of creating a category for individual participation. We asked people to choose the main reasons for their interest, which were, in order: 1) showing support for open source software (76%); 2) showing support for the OSI’s mission (66%); 3) interacting with other members and with OSI leadership (39%); 4) participating in one or more OSI working groups (39%), and; 5) wanting to show their membership on their resumes (29%). (People could choose one or more of these reasons.)
We asked how much people would be willing to pay for annual membership. Of those who responded, about 64% chose either 25 or 50 USD or Euros, with 19% saying that they would only join if there were no charge for membership. A single annual membership payment was preferred by far over periodic payments.
We asked people to select the benefits that they would expect to receive in return for their membership, again allowing them to select any number of the options. The top two choices were a voice in OSI governance, such as the ability to vote for Board members, and a discount on conferences sponsored by OSI Affiliates. Fewer people wanted their names publicly displayed on a membership list. There were also people who wanted to receive items displaying the OSI logo, such as T-shirts, caps, and decals.
While the overall sample size was very small when compared to the number of people involved in the development and use of open source software, the demographic data that we collected leads us to think that the responses are sufficiently representative of a larger population. A summary of the results is attached for those who want to see the data.
The OSI Board is planning to discuss this topic further at our forthcoming Board meeting in mid-May, with the hope that we can make an announcement by the time of OSCON in Portland in late July. We will, of course, post any news on this site.