Open source chief makes swift exit after "racist" gaffe

Open source chief makes swift exit after "racist" gaffe

By Stuart Finlayson

Barely a month after taking up the post of chairman of the Open Source Initiative (OSI), Russ Nelson is stepping down after being asked to leave following an allegedly racist posting by Nelson on his personal weblog.

Nelson claims the posting, which was titled "Blacks are lazy", was actually an attempt on his part to refute such views. The whole affair became somewhat farcical when Nelson, having removed the offending posting, replaced it with one entitled "Blacks are not lazy." But this did little to quell the disquiet within the open source development community, many of whom still believed that whether he intended to or not, Nelson still appears to have racist views, and as such, was not suitable for such a post.

In a statement posted on its website, The OSI announced that Michael Tiemann would be taking over as interim president, but made no reference to the Nelson furore. It said it will select a full-term president following the addition of new board members, and would focus its immediate efforts on working with the community to evaluate the OSD licensing process.

Announcing his intention to quit his post as president on the outlet which had caused him to do so in the first place – his blog, Nelson was frank in admitting his shortcomings. He said: "I'm resigning from the presidency of the Open Source Initiative. I have waited to make this announcement because it is not easy to admit inadequacy publicly. I have no trouble telling people that I am a poor swimmer, but that is of no matter to me since I don't care about swimming. I care very much that OSI have a good president. I don't like politics, and it's become evident in recent weeks that OSI's role has rapidly become much more political. I am not ready for the position of president; certainly not by training and perhaps not even by temperament. The entire board is unanimous in agreeing that we need a president with more political savvy than I."

Nelson also offered his congratulations to his successor Tiemann, and said he would continue to serve on the board as the chairman of the license approval committee, and as an at-large member.

"OSI's mission is very important to me," said Nelson. "My hope is that the community can continue its focus on working together to advance the integration of open source software into the wider society. I look forward to continuing to assist OSI as a board member."

Related Article:

Open source group's driving force makes way in structural change