On my (ex-)maintainership of the DRBD User's Guide

Posted on Tue 20 March 2012 in blog

Here's a quick summary of my past and current relationship with the DRBD User's Guide.

As you probably know, I created the original DRBD User's Guide several years back, and I maintained it throughout my time at Linbit. When I left last year, it was originally mutually understood (or so I thought) that I could continue to maintain it – as a non-employee, in a community capacity, without compensation, just as it's common in many other open source projects. I tend to enjoy technical writing, and it was something I certainly was looking forward to. And things got off to a promising start, the first (trivial) patch to the documentation which I submitted in my new life was quickly merged without issue.

When I made my second and third submission to the documentation, the latter of which was a a bit more elaborate, things got a bit strange. This was after hastexo went operational, although whether that is at all related to the sequence of events I don't know. At any rate, I was being served with a "Documentation Contributor License Agreement". Which wasn't considered necessary in my earlier patch. Which involved copyright assignment. Which I balked at. I don't necessarily object to copyright assignment if I write on a contract, as I occasionally do for technical magazines -- but what I wrote definitely hadn't been contracted out to me. I had simply submitted it unsolicited in the mere hope it was going to be useful, and I wasn't interested in contract work, either. In addition, the documentation was (and is) under a liberal CC-BY-SA license which made any copyright assignment unnecessary for a simple contribution. In my humble opinion, that is.

So I raised these points, and my concerns were rejected, and my patches didn't make it in. Note, I have no quarrel with this at all – it may well be a perfectly sane business decision. But that's none of my business anymore, and I respect their decision just fine. They have stuck to their decision, and that is just fine too.

It only means that I don't maintain the User's Guide anymore, and I'm evidently also unable to contribute patches, corrections or improvements unless I consent to copyright assignment, which I disagree with in this instance. So unless the policy changes at some point in the future, I won't be contributing to the User's Guide any longer.

My name will remain in the authors list pretty much indefinitely (unless someone publishes a complete rewrite) as that is required by law, but you should interpret that as my being the original author – technically a co-author, as I always made a point of crediting Lars' and Phil's earlier work that the User's Guide was based on. My co-authorship doesn't imply, however, that I'm a currently active author or maintainer.

This article originally appeared on my blog on the hastexo.com website (now defunct).