A message from Lunny on Gitea Ltd. and the Gitea project - Blog

Sun Oct 30, 2022 by lunny

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://blog.gitea.io/2022/10/a-message-from-lunny-on-gitea-ltd.-and-the-gitea-project/

Okay, but none of this really tells us anything new, or addresses the crucial question of governance.

Typically, for-profit forms of incorporation simply do not provide any possibilities for community governance in terms of legal structure - which means that de facto, you would retain control over the project in perpetuity, and even if you promise to listen to community input, there is nothing preventing you from suddenly choosing not to do so anymore.

This is unlike the stricter forms of non-profit incorporation, where the organization must have bylaws and/or mission statements that define such governance structures, with the organization being legally required to follow those governance structures. Which would provide an actual legal assurance to the community that the project will remain under community governance, and the incorporation just serves to handle contracts.

Which leaves a number of unanswered questions:

  • Why was a for-profit form of incorporation chosen, instead of a bylaw-guided form of incorporation?
  • If you believe that the community governance can be turned into a legal requirement within the Ltd (as this varies by jurisdiction), how will you demonstrate to the community that this has been done?
  • If you cannot do so, then legally this is no different from any other private corporation that is centrally controlled - why should the community believe any promises of community governance, especially when you’ve just violated their trust by incorporating without discussing it within the community first?
  • Why is incorporation of the project required to handle things like contracts in the first place? Why could eg. an independent consulting company not be established instead, which holds no special power over the project or its assets?

I also agree with this. A Non-Profit would be a good path forward while also adding the potential benefit of tax deduction (country depending) for larger donations.

I also see the same concern as others have mentioned with regards to similar traits of other softwsre that has a company counterpart (i.e Gitlab, Sentry, etc.), where there exists the FOSS or “Community” version of the software that works, and is OpenSource generally, but without a support subscription or a premium plan, certain features are locked off. This, imo is going to be one of the linchpin worries.

I do apologize if any of this has been addressed btw, i was trying to peg where discussion was happening but there doesnt seem to be much anywhere from what I’m seeing.

I agree that there are examples where the commercial open source model doesn’t work well, but there are also some which in my opinion seem to properly work for the community, e.g. Nextcloud (which started as a fork from less good commercial model of Owncloud).
So maybe just wait and see how it evolves…