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General Procedures


This page describes some common procedures and guidelines in the SBML Development Process. Other, specific procedures are described on the SBML Development Process main page.

Public participation

The SBML Project relies crucially on the participation of interested groups and individuals. The project is not as decentralized as (for example) the Apache Project largely because of the management needs that result from relying on government grant funding to support core work on software, the website, meeting support, specification development, etc. However, beyond that, the SBML Project strives to be inclusive and encompassing of community involvement, and works by building consensus. Newcomers are viewed as volunteers who genuinely want to help and are welcomed cheerfully.

Communication and transparency

As a general principal, discussions that have an impact on SBML development are conducted in public as much as possible, either at workshops or over one of the SBML mailing lists. All messages sent to the mailing lists are archived on The public discussions and archives improves transparency, provides a public record of arguments and reasoning, and stimulates the broader community. Written text also helps bridge language barriers, because written text is often easier to understand than speech for non-native English speakers.

The records of discussions and materials presented and produced at the various SBML workshops (the Forums, Hackathons, and focused workshops) are made publicly available from the website. The SBML Team is responsible for organizing, collecting and managing the workshop materials.

The sources to all SBML specification documents, as well as other related documents, are made freely available from the SBML repository in the /trunk/project subdirectory.

Achieving consensus

Many questions that initially appear to be a matter of opinion are ultimately resolvable on the basis of rational, technical reasoning. This is one reason why public archives of communications (such as the SBML mailing lists) are so valuable: they provide a trace of the reasoning (or at least the discussions) behind various technical decisions during SBML development.

In situations where a decision appears to have no obvious right or wrong answer on technical grounds alone, the SBML Editors may initiate a public vote on the matter. This is done either face-to-face at SBML Forum meetings, or electronically via a survey system. The vote is tallied and the majority choice is reported publicly by the Chair of the SBML Editors.

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This page was last modified 19:34, 25 November 2008.

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