ClearlyDefined Incubator Project Proposal

Last modified by Stefano Maffulli on 2023/02/17 01:52

ClearlyDefined: OSI Incubator Proposal

For submission to OSI board meeting scheduled for January 11, 2018

Description and mission

Mission: Help FOSS projects be more successful through clearly defined project data.

Ambiguities around license metadata and vulnerabilities mean that FOSS cannot be consumed with confidence. This impacts the reputation and success of projects and drives duplication in the compliance and security maintenance work of consumers.

We propose crowdsourcing the curation of licensing, security, accessibility, and other data for FOSS projects. This project will harvest data embedded in projects and available in the broader community, and subsequently: curate the data in an open and collaborative process, contribute clearly defined data back to the FOSS projects, and make the data freely and easily accessible.

The project, ClearlyDefined, will initially focus on licensing data that facilitates understanding and complying with the legal obligations related to using FOSS. This includes license (declared and discovered), copyright holders, and source location (including revision/commit).

ClearlyDefined will build a community of data contributors, code contributors, and data curators who will work together to make sure the data is neutral, open, factual, simple, and routinely upstreamed for the community. The data will be licensed under CC0 and the source for any curation/management support tools will be licensed under MIT.

Alignment to OSI mission

ClearlyDefined’s mission and focus on neutral, simple, and factual data available for all in the community is directly complimentary with OSI’s mission to promote and protect open source.

Start date

Immediately, on approval by the OSI board. Public announcement in early March, 2018.


The group will communicate with the OSI board of directors on a monthly basis via a report detailing current or recently completed activities, as well as requests for future activities.


Infrastructure for this project is currently being donated by Microsoft. As the project matures, we expect to become self-funding and integrate with projects such as Software Heritage Project.

Adopters of the project will be encouraged to become general sponsors of the OSI to continue its housing and support of ClearlyDefined. If successful, the project may identify opportunities to engage additional people on a contracting basis for targeted curation work. All potentially funded work activities will be conscientiously sourced and then submitted to the board of the OSI for approval and funding.


Graduation out of incubator status

The success and graduation out of incubator status for ClearlyDefined will be determined by:

  • Its adoption numbers: 80% of the top 1,000 projects in a domain (e.g., NPM, Maven, Debian) will be the indicator of graduation from incubator status. We are optimistic this will happen within 18 months of the public announcement of the project.
  • Its funding: the project will be self-funded and integrated with projects such as Software Heritage for long-term data storage and sustainable access to the data for the community.


ClearlyDefined Charter

ClearlyDefined Monthly Reports to OSI BoD

ClearlyDefined Fiscal Sponsorship Annual Reports


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