egzthunder1 · Aug 22, 2012 at 06:00 pm

Sharing, XDA, and You! New Addition to Sharing Policy on XDA-Developers

We are going to deviate a bit from our regularly scheduled programming to let you know about an upcoming change in the rules in the XDA forums. As time has gone by, our site has grown by leaps and bounds from what it was a couple  of years ago. With a membership base of over 4.5 million registered users and an average of 35-40 thousand people active at any given time, we need to ensure that this place can offer the best possible environment for all people, both experienced developers and people who come here looking to learn about mobile devices. Because of this reason, the rules of our site need to be amended from time to time to accommodate the needs and wants of such a large user base, but without losing our principles and forgetting what XDA was founded on in the first place.

Just a bit of background: XDA was a website founded by hackers and developers for hackers and developers. People coming here shared one common goal, which was to get more and more out of their expensive toys and they did so by reverse engineering, creating new code to expand the device’s capabilities, and doing things with hardware that most people cannot do (mainly due to lack of knowledge or technical ability). The site prospered to what it is today because these very same people knew that their collective ideas and efforts would yield more results if they collaborated by sharing what they knew with others. More often than not, this resulted in fantastic feats such as the original XDA online kitchen, the very first port of WM5 to the mythical HTC Blue Angel, and many more accomplishments that are stored in the depths of XDA’s forums.

XDA-Developers has always been a place for sharing knowledge. People spend countless hours on their projects and give back to the community in several different forms, either by releasing the complete work to the community, or by sharing its source and methods by which the work was conceived. The latter allows others to pick up the work and tweak it to improve it (think of the Linux kernel for this to make sense). XDA’s own foundation is much like that as well. However, often times, this concept of the sharing of knowledge gets confused with the concept of sharing everything. If you frequent our site, you will have undoubtedly come across a few threads were discussions about sharing are on going. Essentially, some people demand for work to be released or even think that they can take as they please without following rules already present on our site. Likewise, people sharing their work sometimes have rather bizarre ways of doing so, which has a bad tendency to develop in what we like to call “dev wars”.

We (administrators and moderators of this site) truly believe that intellectual property (IP) is a very important part of what is done on xda-developers. As such, we cannot and will not support any kind of action which forces a developer to share their work with others if the developer does not wish to do so. A developer of anything has rights over their work and as such he/she can choose to do with it as he/she pleases (give it away, share the source, burn it, give it to an orphanage, or eat it for breakfast). We support whatever decision is taken by its developer. Having said that, over the years people have found what can only be categorized as a loophole in our current sharing policy, and thus people are forced to do things in exchange for permissions to use certain pieces of work by others.

After a long deliberation with the entire moderator and administrator staff, we are implementing the following addition to our sharing rule (Rule 12) – revisions are in bold:

12. Using the work of others.

If you are developing something that is based on the work of another Member, you MUST first seek their permission, and you must give credit to the member whose work you used. If a dispute occurs about who developed / created a piece of work, first try to settle the matter by private message and NOT in open forum. If this fails then you may contact a moderator with clear evidence that the work was created by you.

Convincing evidence will result in copied work being removed. If there is no clear evidence you created the work then in the spirit of sharing all work will remain posted on the forums.

As an addition, developers have the right to hold exclusivity over their work for as long as it is deemed necessary by the dev or freely share it. However, if the work is claimed as exclusive, it must remain as such. No selective sharing will be allowed (ie allowing certain people to use it and not others). Should the dev decide to start sharing the work with others, the work automatically becomes fair game for all to use.

In regards to permissions, same rules remain for this but if permission was already given, unless there is a very valid reason, it cannot be revoked (same applies to major updates on the work). Under that same premise, permissions cannot be denied unless the work is exclusive or under severe circumstances.

In plain English: If you want to keep your work exclusive, go for it. However, if you are going to share your work, do it fairly.

These rules apply to all software posted on XDA (including but not limited to ROMs, RUUs, apps, games, kernels, themes, icons, etc) unless that software comes with a license that waives these rules.

The problem with the aforementioned permissions is that the rule never really stated anything regarding continuity or longevity of said permission. On top of that, selective sharing creates a massive problem on our site as it tends to give place to kanging (unauthorized copying and/or redistribution of work), fights between devs (so called “dev wars”), and tons of time wasted on investigations, which normally involves a large number of people from our staff. This needed to stop as it was reaching critical mass and high levels of anxiety were generated for no apparent reason on something that should be a hobby.

So, if you are a developer on this site and would like to keep your work as something exclusive, we encourage you to do it. If you would like to freely give it out so that others can use it and make it better, we encourage you to do it as well. However, we will no longer accept claims from anyone who picks and chooses who gets what. As stated in the rule, you either share or keep, but if you do share, do it fairly. Favoritism has created a great divide in our site and our community and it is only hurting development as a whole. People focus more on pointing fingers than they do on trying to create original work.

Permissions should still be sought as a matter of common courtesy, much like the original rule stipulated. However, unless a valid reason is provided, a simple “no, you cannot have it” will not suffice, especially if the work is being shared with others and permissions are denied out of spite.

Lets all work towards a new, rejuvenated XDA that is based on the core principles placed by the site’s founding fathers. Sharing of knowledge is what brought many of us together on this site and we should strive as a community to keep it that way. Please share your thoughts on this.

Thank you for reading.



XDA-Developers Administration Team

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egzthunder1 is an editor on XDA-Developers, the largest community for Android users. I have been an active member of xda-developers since 2005 and have gone through various roles in my time here. I am Former Portal Administrator, and currently part of the administrator team while maintaining my writer status for the portal. In real life, I am a Chemical Engineer turned Realtor in the Miami area.
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