This post originally appeared on the OSHWA blog.
Today, for the first time in the history in the Open Source Hardware Certification Program, OSHWA is revoking the certification for hardware. OSHWA is revoking the certification for the MOTEDIS XYZ 3D printer, with the UID ES000001, because the documentation is no longer publicly available. We have attempted to contact Motedis with a request to re-post the documentation but they have not been responsive.
Since this is the first time OSHWA has revoked a certification, we want to explain what happened, as well as what we will do in order to help prevent this type of situation in the future.
A few weeks ago, a community member wrote in and noted that the documentation link for the XYZ was no longer live. After reaching out to the contact person listed in the certification application, we have been unable to obtain a copy of the documentation to post publicly. Without the documentation, the XYZ is no longer in compliance with the program. Therefore OSWHA revoked the certification.
What it means
Revoking the certification means that going forward the XYZ can no longer be advertised as being certified open source hardware. It does not mean that Motedis’ failure to provide documentation today makes them retroactively in violation of the certification rules. The certification requires that the documentation be available at the time of certification. It does not require the certifying party to commit to making a copy of that documentation available in perpetuity. This is a burden that is unreasonable to expect of a party applying for certification.
When the Certification program was being developed, there was a debate over whether or not OSHWA should try and host a repository of all of the certified hardware. One advantage of such a centralized repository would have been to allow OSHWA itself to maintain archive copies of documentation.
However, that approach also comes with costs. Developing and maintaining a feature-complete documentation hosting solution is beyond OSHWA’s core competency. Many good solutions for developing and maintaining software and documentation already exist online. Requiring certifiers to update and maintain yet another repository of documentation in order to certify was determined to be unnecessarily burdensome. Instead, the certification directory supports links which point to the place where the developers already host and maintain their documentation.
OSHWA continues to believe that this decentralized approach is correct. Nonetheless, the first revocation of certification provides us with an opportunity to consider improvements. OSHWA has started to investigate a process that would allow us to archive a version of all documentation. This archive would not be used at the primary documentation storage location. Instead, it would only be used in the event that the original documentation was no longer available. That would allow users of hardware to access documentation even after the responsible party stops supporting it as open.
If you have thoughts about this, please let us know in the forums.