I bumped into a difference between open source software projects and most model legal document projects. Overall the two are similar. Shared expertise results in better code and common points of reference.

A striking difference is that legal projects more or less stop before use. In software, the good part comes from actual use. People run the code. They tweak, find errors, extend, etc. The tweaks are patches to the code and can be posted back to the core, as queries or acts of generosity and display. Others can help.

The measure of the project is, pretty nearly, the vibrancy of the community that uses, contributes, comments, curates.

Software projects produce direct results and on-going, expanding communities.

In legal document projects, the model document is often put to bed. The form is released. The committee has done its work. This is not always or absolutely true. But iteration usually takes place in a more halting or localized way. An organization has a form document that gets updated internally. A standards board does an annual update (e.g., the many construction industry form sets).

Open source software has developed methods that are light-weight, continuous and fast. The key is appropriate tools, direct use of code, and community.

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