SourceForge Removes "Blanket" Block

by Ostatic Staff - Feb. 08, 2010

After just a few weeks, SourceForge has backed off its policy of imposing a blanket ban on all users trying to access the site from countries on the U.S. "banned" list. Instead, it announced on Sunday that it's putting the decision in the hands of each project that hosts on the site.

According to SourceForge's Lee Schlesinger, the company has no way of knowing which projects should or shouldn't trigger a block. So it will leave that up to the individuals running the project:

We have no way of knowing exactly which projects should trigger a block. But each project’s leadership is positioned to make such determination – so we've placed that power in their hands.

Beginning now, every project admin can click on Develop -> Project Admin -> Project Settings to find a new section called Export Control. By default, we've ticked the more restrictive setting. If you conclude that your project is *not* subject to export regulations, or any other related prohibitions, you may now tick the other check mark and click Update. After that, all users will be able to download your project files as they did before last month’s change.

Of course, people probably won't be as quick to publicize the reversal. ArabCrunch blasted the site and questioned whether the ban was an indication open source wasn't so open after all. We'll see if they give the company props for reversing the policy as quickly as they took shots at the site for the ban in the first place.

The initial move was overkill, but the company should get some credit for listening to its community and putting the control in the hands of the individual projects. This is exactly the right solution, and it's important to realize not every company is going to get it exactly right the first time. What's really important is that companies listen to the communities they work with and continually work to improve to get to the right solution.