I'm trying to help the Rebol project re-engineer its web presence now that it is open source as Apache 2 — after nearly two decades of proprietary license!
The language's creator currently has registrar control of the rebol.com/.org/.net sites. He wishes to keep control of the
rebol.com domain as a holding for his Rebol Technologies company (and its remaining non-open codebases). But he has indicated a willingness to let the community take over
rebol.net — which are sites that show their age at present. They need large overhauls in terms of organization / content / visual theming; and the current proposal is that the .org become a neutral Wikipedia-like documentation and curated module library (with few outbound links), while the .net be a more sociable "developer network" of diverse community resources.
While the creator is trusted as being benevolent, he can't really be a benevolent dictator for the project, as he has largely released his interest in Rebol due to a new career. Moreover, the turnaround in responding to community concerns has historically been on very long timescales... and hence many alternative sites have popped up to fill in the gaps.
The question of how to take control of the issue and get the community to invest in content hosted under the nice domain names—rather than each going their separate direction—is a thorny one. For comparison, I did WHOIS domain-name checks and a little research on the main go-to sites for Ruby and Python.
- Admin Name: Matsumoto.Yukihiro Matsumoto.Yukihiro
- Admin Organization: Ruby Users Group
It seems that the source to ruby-lang.org is maintained on GitHub. If I read it correctly, there are 35 members of the ruby GitHub organization, though I don't know enough about that to know which of these people have commit access or what the checks and balances are.
I don't see any official link defining the "Ruby User's Group". There is a non-profit called Ruby Central that seems to do some organization, but the only holdings I could find was some controversy when the Rails guy tried to prevent people from using the rails logo. ruby-lang.org seems to have almost no remarks on legal structure.
- Admin Name: Domain Administrator
- Admin Organization: Python Software Foundation
This seems significantly more formal, as they have bylaws and you can either buy your way into the voting structure with sponsorship...or be nominated / elected by a member of the existing membership.
I like how lightweight and trusting the Ruby model is. But if Matz were hit by a bus—then other than people being sad—what would happen? Whose hands would ruby-lang.org fall into? What if the situation were slightly different such that Matz were very trusted on technical matters, but not to follow up on getting site issues fixed in a timely manner?
Python seems to have this more planned out, but is rather heavyweight. According to Wikipedia the Python Software Foundation was formed in 2001, has 124 members with Guido Van Rossum as president, and had a budget of $750,000 in 2011!
So how might a project with fewer resources manage something as simple as a couple of domain names, and how content disputes will be resolved? There's a desire to reboot the identity...but without some form of enforceable contract it's not likely going to please the parties involved.