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What is the purpose of the Open Source Financial Developers Association (OSFDA)?


Who runs the OSFDA?

The OSFDA is run by financial software developers, for financial software developers. A governing "Board" made up of existing "verified" members decides on various guidelines through a parliamentary two-thirds majority. The Board is not to exceed twenty-four members, and must be a multiple of three in number to insure that two-thirds majorities can be arrived at. New members may request to be seated on the Board after six months of continuous membership.

Do I have to possess outstanding technical abilities to become a member of the OSFDA?

To become a member requires technical competence and conscientiousness. While some of the OSFDA's members have extraordinary technical abilities in various areas of specialty, that is not a prerequisite for membership. But it is the OSFDA's objective to provide members access to the information and guidance needed to eventually become outstanding in the areas of open source financial software development that are of interest to them. The OSFDA certainly encourages members to excel in their technical abilities.

How do I become a member?

At the present time there are two categories of membership: "verified", and "qualified". The OSFDA maintains a forum community where its members assist other members, in addition to non-members. Verified and qualified members are able to post to the forums without "pre-moderation" (review of a post by a moderator before it appears on a forum); posts by non-members always require pre-screening (unless you become an identified forum participant, which is discussed in another question below...) Qualified members can remain anonymous, but have established a history of forum posts that demonstrate that they have been of assistance to the larger OSFDA forum community. Verified members on the other hand require a more in-depth background check or sponsorship by an existing OSFDA member, formal vetting of technical competency in software development, and require at least one photo of themselves to be taken by a verified member of the OSFDA at a software developer event (as listed on the software developer events calendar at osfda.org...) This photo (or a subsequent one) is linked to their forum identity, though does not necessarily need to serve as their forum "avatar" (the visual representation one always sees...) Besides showing to the public that a vetting process has been cleared attesting to a commitment to the OSFDA Code of Ethics and Professional Practice, verified members may be nominated for Board membership, and thus can directly participate through voting in the shaping of OSFDA policy.

If my photo is on the forum, does that mean my name has to be too?
Does that also mean the photo has to serve as my forum avatar?

While a visual identity can be maintained at the OSFDA's forum community, for privacy reasons a forum participant is NOT required to use their actual name at the forum community; shortened or abbreviated names (as long as they are deemed by the Board to be sufficiently unique so as to avoid confusion with regards to identity), pseudonyms, and "joke" names are all accepted. The only names not permitted to be used in the forum community are names deemed by the moderators or Board to be for the purposes of possible impersonation of people interacting in any plausible capacity with the financial services community. [So while a name like "Genghis Kahn" would be permissible so long as no well-known person in the financial services community were to have that as their actual legal name, use of names like "Ben Bernanke" or "Gavin Andresen" would not be sanctioned unless the forum participant can prove to the moderator or Board through some secure channel of communication that it is their actual legal name...] When a possibly misleading forum identity is detected by a moderator or Board member, the moderator can take the initiative to immediately rename that profile and send a notice to that user citing the reason for the renaming. Through a subsequent exchange with a moderator, it might be possible to rename that profile to some other name of the user's choosing that is not found likely to lead to impersonation.

The photo on file will be accessible from the forum participant's profile page, but does not need to serve as the participant's avatar (the visual identity one always sees with each post...)

How do I become a "verified member"?

New candidates for verified membership who want to join the OSFDA go through a vetting process. First a resumé is submitted along with two character references (which may or may not be a past or present employer or client); at this stage of vetting, what is of more concern to the OSFDA are character references that speak to the candidate's ethical integrity. The resumé should demonstrate that the candidate has at some point developed a financial application, even if it might not have been done for hire (for example, as a formal open source project developer).

Pending a positive review of the resumé by the Board, a candidate then schedules to meet with a member of the OSFDA at any developer event venue listed on the OSFDA's developer events calendar; a picture of the candidate is recorded at the event which will be used for the candidate"s forum identity should they eventually be vetted for verified membership.

After a photo is recorded of the candidate at a developer event, the candidate must either get an existing member to vouch for the character and integrity of the candidate, or a background check must be carried out of the candidate by an investigative service of the Board's choosing.

Existing members who vouch for a candidate must realize that termination at a later date of a candidate's eventual membership for having not been found to be in compliance with the OSFDA's standards and practices could also result in the termination of that vouching member's membership, as decided by the Board. Only one candidate can be vouched for by a member in any given six month interval. New members cannot vouch for a candidate until they have been a member in turn for at least six months.

If a candidate opts instead for a background check, the candidate must first submit payment for it to the Board. The money submitted for the background check is non-refundable, even if the candidate ultimately fails to be vetted by the Board. Only legal offenses that speak to a member's ethical character are considered by the Board (so minor offenses such as speeding on a desolate highway, violation of an obscure local ordinance, etc., are generally disregarded...); but any past offenses the candidate knows of should be brought to the attention of the Board before the vetting process is commenced, so that the candidate can first know if membership will even be possible. On a discretionary basis the Board might consider mitigating factors for past offenses, the amount of time since an offense, and extraordinary and exemplary behavior in one's life since the offense had taken place. So this background check can be thought of more as an "ethical background check".

After either an existing member has vouched for a candidate, or a background check has been determined by the Board to indicate that there are no significant past ethical compromises, the candidate then meets with a group of Examiners, who are selected by the Board for their general technical expertise and experience with financial applications development. An interview is conducted by the Examiners (all are present for a single interview). The primary concern of the Examiners is to insure that the candidate's skill level and technical abilities will reflect reasonably well on the OSFDA. A candidate to the OSFDA need not be a "guru", but must demonstrate to the Examiners some general level of competence and conscientiousness with regards to software development and the use of open source software for financial applications. Examiners can opt to have a candidate accomplish a development task at the time of the interview, and can determine what resources are to be accessible to the candidate for the assigned task.

The impressions of the Examiners are submitted to the Board, and the Board makes a final review of all candidate information -possible background check considerations, work history, technical appraisals by the Examiners- and finally accepts or denies the candidate as a member. The member finalizes their acceptance at this point with the remittance of an annual due (presently $25).

As a verified member attends more events on the OSFDA's developer events calendar, they can opt to schedule in advance (minimum: one week's notice) for another OSFDA member sanctioned by the Board to show up at the event and make a photographic record of their attendance. This picture gets added to an integrated photo album in the user's forum profile, documenting the date, location, and topics covered by each event. The purpose of this personal gallery of events attended by the verified member is to make the case to other parties that the member is an active and qualified participant in the open source financial software development community. This gallery, along with a history of informed and instructive forum posts, makes the case to potential employers and clients that the member would be a valuable asset to retain for their business.

How do I become a "qualified member"?

After a forum community member has been registered for three months, that member's posts are reviewed by a moderator. If the number of posts are considered to be sufficient in quantity and regularity (at least two a week, on average), and advice furnished to other forum members in the posts was apparently helpful and reflected no viewpoints that were at odds with the OSFDA Code of Ethics and Professional Practice, that forum member becomes a "qualified member" of the OSFDA. Qualified members are unable to become Board members.

Note that the qualified member program is provisional, and at the discretion of the Board of the OSFDA can be discontinued in its entirety should it eventually be felt that the program is being abused by some qualified members for the purposes of "trolling". Should that ever happen, select qualified members will be "green-lighted" for approval as a verified member, pending their sponsorship by an existing verified member of the OSFDA or an "ethical background check"; but attendance at a developer event as listed on the OSFDA's calendar will still be required, and a photo of that attendance will need to be linked to that member's forum identity. In the eventuality of the termination of the qualified member program, should the exiting qualified member want instead to keep their visual identity anonymous, they can choose to continue to participate at the forums as an anonymous non-OSFDA member, where all their posts will then require pre-moderation.

Is there any way that I can post without "pre-moderation" at the OSFDA forum community without having to become a member?

Yes; to be able to make posts to the forum community without having them pre-screened by a moderator, you can become what we call an identified forum participant. Choose an event from the OSFDA developer events calendar and notify the OSFDA that you would like to become an identified forum participant (preferably well in advance of the event...) Once an OSFDA verified member has recorded your picture for the event and your forum profile becomes updated with it, you will be permitted to post without pre-moderation. Note that even though your forum profile has a link to your photo, you still do not have to use your actual name nor does the photo have to serve as your forum avatar (see the answer to the question above, "If my photo is on the forum, does that mean my name has to be too?"). Also note that you are still not considered an OSFDA member until you become verified, since without the membership vetting process there is no way we can be sure as to whether you have conducted your affairs in a manner consistent with the Code of Ethics and Professional Practice (though you very well may have...)

As of yet there is no charge to become an identified forum participant, and most probably none will ever be levied after you have registered as one; but at some point in the future should the forum community grow considerably, in order to sustain this community the OSFDA might at that point have to charge a nominal fee for subsequent new registrations of identified members to help cover the costs of moderation and transportation to events for verified members who need to record the event attendance of prospective identified forum participants. So if you would like to participate at the forums without pre-moderation, we would strongly recommend that you become an identified forum participant at your first opportunity in order to avoid these charges.

So can we be assured that OSFDA members conduct their affairs in a manner that is consistent with the OSFDA's Code of Ethics and Professional Practice?

To the best of our knowledge: yes. If you have specific knowledge of that not being the case with regards to any member, please contact or visit the meeting place of the OSFDA to bring it to our attention. But any allegations of unethical behavior against a member will be subject to the scrutiny of the Board, with regards to their basis in fact and possible ulterior agenda(s) of a complainant.

I'm afraid the commitment to ethical standards that the OSFDA seeks might be frowned upon by my present employer (or client) in the financial services sector, and thus could put me at risk of losing my job (or client) or impeding my career advancement in my company; what should I do?

It's unfortunate that some companies look upon adherence to higher ethical standards as only an added and unnecessary "cost" of doing business. Some in management of the financial services sector have lost sight of the fact that unethical behavior has a longer-term cost, by poisoning "the well of good-will"; many businesses who earn a reputation of being "ethically challenged" eventually end up losing the trust of the marketplace, and ultimately their business.

That being said, if you are presently employed at such an ethically challenged company, or as a contractor rely on such an ethically challenged client for your livelihood, and especially if others such as family members rely in turn on your income for so much as a modest level of existence and day to day functional integrity, members of the OSFDA can sympathize with your dilemma and can only hope for the best that you succeed in finding at the first opportunity another employer or client who can respect such practices as are advocated by the Code. Until you do, feel free to participate anonymously at our forum community. But note that the OSFDA is not a venue to promote disparaging comments and level negative criticism against specific bad actors in the financial services sector; the purpose of the OSFDA's forum community is to advance technical excellence in open source financial software development.

I have a question that's not listed here; how can I get an answer to it?

Submit it via the OSFDA's "Contact" page.