You are not your code

26 Oct 14

I admit that it feels strange to freely disclose legal text that you've grown quite proud of over the years. It's your IP, your know-how, your craft. You feel like you are somehow giving away a piece of you, and for seemingly nothing in return. I actually hesitated a bit before volunteering the legal text in this query, or in this one.
But here's the lesson I've learned from Redline: I am not my legal text, but the counselor and advisor behind it. My years of accumulated experience and wisdom cannot be reduced to a mere indemnification clause. I share what I consider to be extremely valuable legal text on Redline because I know that I'm never as good as I think I am, and that there's always someone who can teach me something.

I'm validated in this by the quality of the work product on Redline. It far surpasses anything I've seen in any online or offline form libraries or repos, and it continues to improve as more seasoned lawyers join us, increasingly from members inviting in trusted colleagues. I've had my mistakes corrected and my assumptions challenged, and I'm a far better lawyer because of it.

In order to advance the state of the art, we have to be willing not only to try new ideas, but to retreat when those ideas prove untenable or when something better comes along. And we have to be able to speak candidly about problematic code without fear of offending the egos behind it.
I have learned that in the open-source world, you are not your code. A critique of your project is not tantamount to a personal attack. An alternative take on the problem your software solves is not hostile or divisive. It is simply the result of a regenerative process, driven by an unending desire to improve the status quo.

Sam Stephenson (programmer, 37signals), You are not your code (2012).