I blogged some time ago about my belief that the OMG had to make some changes in order to remain relevant in today's industry. It seems that some of Bjorn's recent thoughts have led some people to express similar beliefs about Eclipse. I delivered a presentation at EclipseCon last year, comparing and contrasting various aspects of these two organizations; I'd like to take moment here to comment on their models of participation.
At Eclipse, participation in projects is open to individuals (as committer members) and, indeed, membership is not even required to participate as a contributor. Privileges (e.g. the ability to write to the source code repository and vote as part of the Eclipse Development Process) are associated with the individual rather than the organization - if an organization discontinues its membership or an employee leaves his/her member employer, the individual retains those privileges. This is good for the individual but not so good for the organization - as Jochen reminded participants of the Eclipse Open Source Executive Strategy Summit, the risks of losing knowledge, leadership, and write access to code when a participating employee (committer) leaves his/her employer should not be underestimated.
At the OMG, on the other hand, participation in task forces, submission teams, and working groups is generally restricted to representatives of member organizations. Privileges (e.g. the ability to evaluate draft specifications and vote as part of the OMG Technology Adoption Process) are associated with the organization rather than the individual - if an organization discontinues its membership or an employee leaves his/her member employer, the individual loses those privileges. This is good for the organization but not so good for the individual - after all, it's the efforts of individuals that make open specifications a reality, and it seems unfortunate to exclude what could be valuable contributions from individuals just because they don't work for a member company.
I'm not sure whether one model is better than the other, but I'd like to think that maybe a different participation model might better serve the needs of both member organizations and individuals. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions?