OBF Affiliated Project Status Policy and FAQ

  • Open Bioinformatics Foundation affiliated and core project FAQ

  • How do I apply to become an Affiliated or Candidate OBF Project?

    Assuming your project meets, or intends to soon meet, all of the requirements in our affiliated project policy, please create a GitHub issue with the following details:

    • URL of the project
    • Contact information for the project maintainers
    • Proof of compliance with Affiliate Status requirements where possible, e.g. licence, code of conduct, etc. or plan to implement any missing requirements in the near future.

    Filling out and submitting this issue template constitutes a formal request to be put on the next ballot for voting on OBF affiliation status. If your project has not previously been affiliated with the OBF, your application is for attaining Candidate OBF Project status. If your project is currently a Candidate OBF Project, then your application is for attaining Affiliated OBF Project status.

    You can also feel free to drop us a line if you have questions about your eligibility before applying.

  • Why apply for affiliate status? Are there benefits or obligations?

    A: The benefits of affiliate status include access to umbrella resources such as domain / site hosting, mailing list hosting, a community of active open source developers, and a tremendous pool of open-source collaborative development know-how. Furthermore, affiliate status officially signifies that a project has met certain requirements promoting community and collaboration, which may improve its ability to attract more users as well as potential developers. Finally, OBF, through its fiscal sponsor SPI, can sustainably hold assets on behalf of a project, such as domain names, and financial assets, in a way that is robust to changes in the project's (and even OBF's) leadership, and that does not risk tax implications for an individual.

    The obligations of affiliate status are few - primarily projects must remain active and maintain a good standing within the community, e.g. by enforcing their code of conduct if necessary.

  • Can I sign my project over to the OBF's ownership?

    A: The OBF is primarily a home for projects that are actively maintained. If you fear your project doesn't have enough community contributors we can share a call for contributors within the OBF community, but the OBF does not provide software maintenance services.

    If by signing over ownership you only mean assigning intellectual property rights (in particular, copyright) for a project's source code artifacts to the OBF, please contact the OBF Board. Note that due to OBF's current status as an SPI-associated project, this would have to mean to assign copyright to the SPI. Note also that currently OBF does not own any intellectual property rights in any of its member projects, neither directly nor through the SPI.

  • I'm interested in taking donations for my project, or I've recently received a grant. Can the OBF handle my cash flow?

    A: The OBF can accept donations and grants on behalf of its member projects through SPI, the OBF's fiscal sponsor. The OBF also can, again through SPI, request the disbursement of funds earmarked for a member project. Management of cash flow with a high rate of transactions, will, however, likely exceed the capacity of SPI's (almost entirely volunteer) financial administrators, and we therefore advise projects expecting this need to apply independently for fiscal sponsorship. Organisations providing fiscal sponsorship for software projects include SPI, Software Freedom Conservancy, NumFocus, and OpenCollective.

  • OBF Affiliated Project Status Policy

  • Background

    The Open Bioinformatics Foundation (OBF) is a non-profit, volunteer-run group dedicated to promoting the practice and philosophy of Open Source software development and Open Science within the biological research community.

    OBF originally grew out of the volunteer projects BioPerl, BioJava and Biopython. Later BioRuby, BioSQL, BioLib, DAS, MOBY, EMBOSS, and OBDA joined the OBF umbrella, primarily as a consequence of requiring project hosting support, existing community relationships, and through informal consensus among members of OBF's Board of Directors. OBF has since become hesitant to include new projects under the official umbrella, in part because the growth in OBF-hosted project resources has reached the capacity of OBF servers, and in part because of OBF's mission and scope as an organization. Furthermore, the OBF Board resolved that the listing of projects related to OBF use affiliation categories that are based on a formal definition, and a community process for attaining them that is consistent with the OBF's values of transparency and fostering community.

  • Motivation

    This policy formalizes criteria and a community-driven, transparent process by which open-source software projects can gain, lose, and maintain certain types of affiliation with the OBF.

    Establishing an affiliation between an open source software project and the OBF is intended to have value for both the project and the OBF. It stands to promote a project's overall health and long-term sustainability, which is among the OBF's primary objectives. The user and developer communities of affiliated projects constitute the primary pool of volunteers for OBF as an umbrella organization.

    That notwithstanding, it is not the OBF's mission to serve primarily as a project hosting or resource provider for bioinformatics open-source projects. Instead, as an umbrella organization the OBF's focus is on projects that serve, or have the potential to serve, a large variety of bioinformatics research applications and users. Therefore, the group of projects with some status of affiliation with the OBF is expected to always be limited in number. In keeping with the potential benefits of affiliation for a project, the criteria formalized here aim to maintain OBF's focus and mission.

    Projects differ in terms of their activity, community, audience, and wider impact on bioinformatics. Also, over time, projects change, become more active, or less relevant and even dormant. This policy aims to provide mechanisms through which projects' affiliations can reflect such dynamics.

  • Project affiliation status types

  • Affiliated OBF Project

    Affiliated OBF projects are bioinformatics open-source initiatives with an active developer and/or user community. Affiliated OBF Projects include mature long-standing projects with a broad user base, as well as projects in earlier phases of adoption, a smaller user base, or a narrow focus. In either case, their focus will be highly relevant to the stated mission of the OBF.

    Expectations for Affiliated Project status To be an Affiliated OBF Project, a project should show all of the following:

    • A developer and user community, with defined project leadership. A project must also be active when seeking to become an Affiliated OBF project. Evidence of this could include recent pull requests being reviewed / accepted, blog posts, or community events/conferences.
    • An Open Source licence, either OSI-approved or one that was agreed upon by the OBF Board as compatible.
    • A community culture welcoming newcomers and a diverse group of users and contributors. Specifically, the project must have or adopt a Code of Conduct, either that of the OBF, or another one found acceptable by the OBF. Other evidence of a welcoming culture will usually include an informative, up-to-date, and inviting web presence; documented guidelines for how to contribute; and instructions for how to ask for help.
    • Being an active member of the OBF organization. Evidence of this includes active participation by project members in OBF flagship events, such as contributing to BOSC and GSoC, or in OBF leadership.
  • Candidate OBF Project

    Candidate OBF Projects have the aspiration and promise to develop themselves into an Affiliated OBF Project. They may already meet most or even all expectations for Affiliated Project status, except, for example, for not yet having been active members of the OBF organization.

    This status is the path for projects previously unaffiliated with the OBF to attain official affiliation. Candidate OBF Projects will be in this status for only a limited amount of time, typically one year, and no more than 3 years in a row. A project that loses Candidate OBF Project status due to exceeding this limit can re-apply for Candidate OBF Project status later.

  • Other projects

    Projects other than those under the stated affiliation categories may have a de-facto relationship with OBF or one of its official member projects, but they do not have a recognized affiliation status. As such, their status is not voted on.

    These projects may include student projects with OBF community participation, including projects executed under the OBF umbrella, and other projects considered active and interesting to the wider bioinformatics community. They may be listed and described on the OBF website so long as it is evident that they do not have an official affiliation with the OBF as per the ones defined here.

  • Community voting on project status

  • Explanation

    Projects can change or attain an affiliation status once a year by a vote of the OBF community.

    The OBF community for the purposes of this policy may be represented by, but need not be limited to the OBF membership. For example, the collective attendees of a BOSC meeting, or of similar OBF-endorsed events, also qualify as representative of the OBF community. Voting may be by electronic means, or simply by physical signs such as raising hands. The exact details of voting are intentionally left to the OBF volunteers organizing the process in a given year so long as the process is reasonably consistent between subsequent years.

  • Ballot preparation

    The group of OBF members overseeing the ballot preparation for the annual OBF community vote will conduct the following steps at least 14 days before voting is scheduled to take place:

    • Identify currently affiliated projects (i.e., in Affiliate or Candidate status) that may warrant a status change.
    • Identify currently unaffiliated projects that seek Candidate OBF Project status.
    • Solicit mission, scope, and metrics from project leads as suitable for each project to be voted on.
    • Compile this information online, disseminate it to the OBF membership as well as the larger developer and user community, and solicit feedback from these communities.
    • Incorporate feedback as suitable into the online documentation.
  • Voting

    A group of OBF members overseeing the voting process for the annual OBF community vote will in general conduct the following steps:

    • Ensure that the OBF community to cast votes is aware of the projects on the ballot, and the argument(s) for or against the status changes that are on the ballot.
    • Ensure an opportunity for each project on the ballot to present its viewpoint, not to exceed five (5) minutes per project.
    • Organize and execute the voting.

    For an affiliation status change on the ballot to become effective, a majority of 70% or more of the cast ballots must be in favor of the change.

    Projects seeking Affiliated OBF Project status
    To become an Affiliated OBF Project a project has to have had Candidate OBF Project status for at least one (1) year, and it must be active. A Candidate OBF Project failing to achieve Affiliated OBF Project status will remain a Candidate OBF Project unless it has reached the maximum time a project can remain in that status, in which case the project will lose their Candidate OBF Project status as a consequence of the vote.

    Projects seeking Candidate OBF Project
    A project not currently affiliated with OBF can seek to attain Candidate OBF Project status. A project failing to achieve the necessary majority in favor of becoming a Candidate OBF Project can be on the ballot again the following year, unless it has failed three (3) times in a row.

    Removal of affiliation status
    The ballot can include a vote on removing OBF affiliation from a project. Possible reasons for such a vote include consistent failure to meet expectations for OBF affiliated projects; consistent failure to adhere to OBF's Code of Conduct; and a project being no longer maintained.

  • Maintenance of affiliation status

  • Explanation

    The status of Affiliated and Candidate OBF Projects that are not voted on stays the same, unless one of the following conditions occurs:

    A Candidate OBF Project has reached the maximum consecutive length of time that Candidate status can be held. This will result in the project automatically losing its OBF affiliation status.

    An Affiliated OBF Project is no longer actively maintained. In addition to the possible evidence for demonstrating that a project is active (see above), evidence of a project's active maintenance includes the following:

    • A maintainer attends yearly OBF public board meetings or BOSC to provide a project update.
    • Posting a project update on the OBF blog.
    • Updates on the project's main code repository or website.
    • Participation in GSoC, whether under the OBF umbrella or not.

    Affiliated OBF projects that have not been actively maintained for over twelve months may have their affiliation status archived as a result of a review by the OBF Board of Directors. The OBF Board of Directors will conduct such reviews in regular intervals, and will make reasonable efforts to contact the project maintainers before taking action.

  • Projects with grandfathered affiliation status

  • Explanation

    The projects considered OBF member projects prior to enactment of this policy are grandfathered to Affiliated OBF Project status. These projects are the so-called Bio* Projects, which consist of BioPerl, Biopython, BioJava, BioRuby, BioSQL; DAS (Distributed Annotation System); and EMBOSS (European Molecular Biology Open Software Suite).

    Other projects that existed prior to enactment of this policy can be grandfathered to Affiliated or Candidate OBF Project status as well upon approval by the OBF Board of Directors. It is expected that the Board will do so in public session. For pre-existing projects grandfathered to Candidate OBF Project status the minimum waiting period for seeking Affiliate OBF Project status is waived.

  • Dispute and Board Veto

  • Explanation

    Any dispute on votes or current affiliation status of a project must be brought before the OBF Board of Directors, who will arbitrate, if necessary by public meeting and vote. The Board's decision is final and binding.

    The OBF Board of Directors may, at its discretion, veto, instate, or terminate a project's official affiliation status, if the Board determines the need to do so. It is expected that the Board will do so in public session, whether at an annual Board meeting, or at a specifically convened one.