[sword-devel] Open Content Creation

Paul Gear sword-devel@crosswire.org
Sat, 03 Feb 2001 12:28:23 +1000

Bryan Fordham wrote:
> Paul Gear wrote:
> > I agree, but how far do you take it?  Do we let Buddhists, Muslims,
> > and New Agers in?  My gut feel is no, but it's very hard to draw the
> >  line. We've already got a Christadelphian - do we allow JWs and
> > Mormons, too? I really don't know what to do about this issue.
> >
> > Darwin is right - as the body of Christ, we have a responsibility to
> > guard against heresy.  But how can the line be drawn?  That is a
> > really tough one, especially when we want to remain "open" (in your
> > "looser" sense).
> The difficulty, as others have pointed out, is that we're not dealing
> with a closed group, but with whomever wants to get involved.  I see
> three options.
> 1) Close the development.  Meaning Crosswire forms a core group and
> issues a doctrinal statement.  Developers must agree to this to be
> allowed into the "inner sanctum."
> The obvious flaw is I download the code and do whatever I wish, neatly
> nullifying all that hard work on a doctrinal statement.

Not really.  CrossWire can trademark the product names and require
permission from people to use them.

You can still have 'free software branding' - that's exactly what
AbiSource <http://www.abisource.com> and Ximian (formerly HelixCode
<http://www.ximian.com>) have done.  You can do whatever you want with
the code, but if you want to release a product based on it, you have to
a) have their permission, or b) call it something else.

Thus, we could trademark certain names (like "The Sword Project" and
"CrossWire Bible Society"), and have an icon that only approved software
can use.

> 2) Allow all content, regardless of source.
> Completely shunning all Christian responsibility, of course.  It's not
> viable, but an option nonetheless.

I think everyone agrees that this one is not viable.

> 3) Get out of the module business.  Seperate the Sword engine from the
> modules entirely.  The base install can stay the same, but additional
> modules are produced by third parties.  (Of course a third party can
> consist of all Sword developers, if they want.)

My understanding of what Darwin was getting at is that with Christian
software, software development is a ministry, and therefore it is just
as important that the developers be doctrinally pure as those who create
modules.  Thus, getting out of the module business doesn't solve
anything.  (Not to mention that it becomes a pain for end users who want
to download the whole shebang at once.

> I think 3 is the only real option.  It is simply not possible to stop
> someone from creating a NWT module and putting it out for downloading.
> Period.

Personally, i'd like to see a NWT module.  Not because i believe it, but
for purposes of comparison.  I have a print copy of it on my shelf
already.  Online Bible ships with a Quran module!

> That's not too comforting, I know.  As a lay-preacher and as a plain ol'
> Christian I don't like the idea of JW's or whomever using Sword.  But
> that's the nature of the GPL.

Indeed it is.  I think that to choose GPL for Christian software is to
choose to trust God that, regardless of who uses the software and how,
he will get the glory.

"He must become greater; i must become less." - John 3:30