­­­­Dear Members of CoActivate.org,

We want to let you know about an important transition in the life of CoActivate.org that will occur on Monday, June 14, 2010. Overall responsibility and day-to-day care for the site will be changing hands, but otherwise things will primarily just keep running as they always have. You, your projects, and your teams will still have access to the same free suite of tools and space for collaboration.


  • OpenPlans (formerly known as The Open Planning Project, or TOPP) will no longer be actively involved with CoActivate.org, and will be transitioning the site to new management.
  • You can continue using the site just as you always have! There will not be any new costs or obligations, and the site will remain at its www.coactivate.org home address.
  • Ethan Jucovy, a long-time developer and supporter of CoActivate.org, will be assuming primary responsibility for maintaining the site. Ethan is excited about supporting the CoActivate community and looks forward to working with you to make it an even better space for online collaboration in the future.
  • As part of this move, steps are being taken to ensure continued privacy of your data, but it will no longer be possible to verify that the site remains subpoena-free.
  • If you are the administrator of a project on CoActivate.org, and do not wish your project data to be transferred to the new server, you will have an option to have your project removed from the site instead. If you have any concerns, you MUST contact info@coactivate.org by Thursday, June 10, 2010 to discuss options and withdraw your project and data from the site migration.

For more information, read the rest of this post. To ask questions, speak with OpenPlans and Ethan about the new management, or leave a comment, just leave a comment on this blog post.

Thank you!

- Paul Winkler, Nick Grossman, and the rest of the CoActivate team at OpenPlans.

The Details

Why the change?

CoActivate.org was originally launched by OpenPlans in 2005, as part of its mission to enable online collaboration and grassroots organizing.  (At the time, the organization was known as The Open Planning Project and the website was known as OpenPlans.org; both were later renamed.)

In the years since CoActivate.org was first launched, OpenPlans has grown and diversified considerably, and has moved in new directions with its development and advocacy efforts. As these priorities have shifted over time, we at OpenPlans came to a point where the CoActivate project no longer fit well within the greater constellation of our efforts, and we have not able to give it the attention and support it deserves.

Fortunately, an ideally qualified member of the CoActivate community — a former OpenPlans employee who has been intimately involved with the project for years — came forward to approach us about taking over operations and support and continuing to improve the site, in partnership with the wider CoActivate community.

We know that there are a lot of people making good use of the site, and we want them to be able to continue to do so, so we’ve agreed that it would be best to transition the project to this enthusiastic caretaker.

Without further ado, allow us to introduce Ethan Jucovy.

Who’ll be running things as of June 14, 2010?

Ethan Jucovy will be taking on stewardship for the CoActivate.org site, working as a non-paid guardian to ensure the site’s stability, fix bugs, implement new features, and collect community input. He hopes to see the site continue to grow, both as a place for effective collaboration on projects, and as a community of practice with a living knowledge base about purposeful collaborative action both online and offline.

Ethan Jucovy has been involved with the CoActivate project since 2006, as an employee at OpenPlans until 2009 and as a volunteer for the past fifteen months.

During this time, Ethan has acted as a release manager, coordinating upgrades to the site, and has also developed features and fixed bugs reported by site users. He is currently the primary active developer of OpenCore, the software at the heart of CoActivate.org. He also assists and communicates with users, developers and maintainers of the diverse collection of websites that use OpenCore such as OpenFSM, the NIDA International Virtual Collaboratory, Gaia Permaculture, and other community-driven sites for collaboration and collective action. To learn more about other entities using the OpenCore software, click here.

Ethan is very enthusiastic about continuing to improve existing functionality and to add new features requested by the CoActivate community of users to better support their projects and improve the experience of using the website.

Ethan currently works on web-based educational technology for Columbia University’s Center for New Media Teaching and Learning. His commitment to OpenCore and the CoActivate.org website is personal and independent from his job responsibilities at Columbia. Ethan is also the founder of socialplanning.org, a technology consultancy that builds custom software and a collection of tools to make it easy to create, publish, and build community around content for the web.

To learn more about Ethan, please see his profile on CoActivate.org. You can contact him privately here.

OpenPlans will provide $6500 in sponsorship to cover the costs associated with hosting CoActivate, which will fund the site’s infrastructure until Fall 2011. During that time, Ethan will continue to explore options for sustainable funding for site operations and maintenance into the future.

I’m a CoActivate.org user, what does this mean to me in practice?

Probably nothing at all. The site will keep running just like before, but hopefully a bit faster on the new server :)

It will continue to reside at www.coactivate.org, and be free of charge for users and projects.

Your data will be unaffected, unless you specifically ask us to remove it … see below for more information about the important Thursday, June 10, 2010 deadline to opt out.

There is one difference regarding privacy of your data under the PATRIOT II Act, described below.

Privacy Implications

As part of this transition, the CoActivate.org website and its database will be hosted by the Slicehost web hosting company instead of OpenPlans’ infrastructure.

User and project privacy on this website has always been a priority, and measures have been taken to protect this privacy as best as a hosted application service provider (and humans) can.

There are limitations on this privacy and the reach/scope of what can be done to secure it, because of the way the internet works and how people access it. For an overview of the different points where privacy can be compromised, please see this article on Internet Security and Privacy for Activists and Citizens.

The change that will result from the move to a web hosting company is that a subpoena for any data collected or hosted on CoActivate.org can now be issued directly to the hosting company, whose response will be made independently of CoActivate.org’s maintainers. The web hosting company and the subpoenaing agency are not required to notify us (and under the PATRIOT II Act, may be forbidden from notifying us) that information has been requested or supplied. This means that we will be removing the ‘Subpoena free for ### days’ information from the News page , because we will no longer be able to confirm that this is indeed the case.

Highly sensitive information shouldn’t be on the Internet.

What if I don’t want my project to be on CoActivate.org anymore?

If for any reason you do NOT want your CoActivate.org project(s) or user content to be transferred to the new third-party hosting along with the website and its database, please email info@coactivate.org before Thursday, June 10, 2010 to discuss possible options.

By June 14, 2010, all content that we are not specifically notified about will be automatically moved over to the new server.

Who owns the data on the site?

As creators of content, users of CoActivate.org have always owned their own content, and will retain that ownership and copyright after the transition.

Copyright over CoActivate.org site-wide assets will be transferred from OpenPlans to Ethan Jucovy in the course of this transition.

In the future, we hope to provide options that will make it easy to support reuse of user-created content by adding tools to enable Creative Commons Licensing of content hosted on CoActivate.org.

I have another question…

If you want to say something publicly, just leave a comment on this blog!

If you have any private questions or concerns about this transition, please send an email to info@coactivate.org or visit our contact page. Your message will reach both OpenPlans staff and Ethan Jucovy.

And the Oscar goes to…

Lastly, OpenPlans would like to thank all the people who dedicated their time and hard work to building the CoActivate website and community over the past five years, specifically:

Chris Abraham, Mouna Andraos, Aubrey Arago, Jackie Arasi, Phil Ashlock, Nick Bergson-Shilcock, Lily Bernheimer, Ian Bicking, Josh Bronson, Mel Chua, Andy Cochran, Tim Coulter, Jeff Hammel, Scott Kupferschmidt, Bryan Lence, Tom Lowenhaupt, Anil Makhijani, Robert Marianski, Doug Mayle, Rob Miller, Alec Mitchell, Whit Morriss, Chris Patterson, Rolando Pe­ñate, Sonali Sridhar, Luke Tucker, David Turner, and all the other developers who have contributed to the underlying OpenCore codebase that powers CoActivate.org.

Thanks for your support!


- Paul Winkler, Software Engineer, OpenPlans

- Nick Grossman, Director of Civic Works, OpenPlans

- Ethan Jucovy, new administrator, CoActivate.org


Filed May 20th, 2010 under Uncategorized