GENEVA, Switzerland, May 27, 2021 — The Organization for Ethical Source (OES), the nonprofit helping open source developers ensure that their work is being used for social good and in service of human rights, today announced that it is taking on the stewardship of Contributor Covenant, the preeminent code of conduct for open source communities.
“Today, this historic document enters the next phase of its evolution,” said Nathan Schneider, professor of media studies at the University of Colorado Boulder and OES member. “This milestone marks its ‘exit to community,’ as Contributor Covenant graduates from a passion project into a community-owned asset.”
Contributor Covenant was created in 2014 by Coraline Ada Ehmke, an internationally recognized engineer and activist. In 2019 she created the Hippocratic License, which prohibits the use of software in the violation of internationally recognized human rights, and launched the Ethical Source Movement. Ehmke co-founded the OES earlier this year, and is announcing her new full-time role as the organization’s first executive director.
Codes of conduct are a critical tool for facilitating healthy and constructive behavior in a diverse community. Contributor Covenant has been adopted by thousands of organizations and open source projects — such as CNCF, Creative Commons, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Linux — signaling a commitment to making their communities more welcoming, diverse, and inclusive. Bringing Contributor Covenant under the OES umbrella makes its continued development the responsibility of a broader, international community.
“Microsoft’s adoption of Contributor Covenant represents our commitment to building healthy, diverse and inclusive communities, as well as our intention to contribute and build together with others in the ecosystem,” said Emma Irwin, a program manager in Microsoft’s Open Source Program Office. “I am honored to bring this intention and my expertise to the OES’s Contributor Covenant 3.0 working group.”
The Fedora Project announced in early May that it had adapted the Contributor Covenant to create an updated code of conduct for its thriving open source community. “We are thankful to have an established tool like Contributor Covenant to draw from as we aim to strengthen our culture, and we look forward to other tools the OES may create to help open source communities thrive,” said Marie Nordin, Fedora community action and impact coordinator, Red Hat.
The Organization for Ethical Source is at the forefront of the debate around the ethical responsibilities of technologists for how their work is used. Contributor Covenant, the Ethical Source Principles, and ethical licensing are all key components of what the OES calls an “ethical stack” — an evolving set of tools designed to promote ethical practices and pro-social outcomes in open source.
“Contributor Covenant helped usher in a new era in open source, bringing focus on our communities and their health and sustainability,” said Ehmke. “Contributor Covenant will be enriched by the experiences and perspectives of the Ethical Source community, and I can’t wait to see how it evolves.”
The Organization for Ethical Source is devoted to empowering technologists to take responsibility for the impact of their work on our global society. We develop tools and practices to leverage the promise of open source to promote social good and protect universal human rights, ensuring that software freedom is always in service of human freedom.
To learn more about the Organization for Ethical Source, visit https://ethicalsource.dev. You can help us transform tech culture by joining our global, multidisciplinary community at https://ethicalsource.dev/join.