On 2013-04-18, at 11:59 PM, Shigeki Sugita <ssugita@chiba-u.jp> wrote:

Someone please teach me about the original meanings or implications of "green" and "gold" at the time of the first BOAI recommendation. Why was self-archving named as "green" and OA journals as "gold"?

green: green light? "RoMEO-green"?
gold: highest grade? (like "Gold Medal")

The original BOAI in 2002 consisted of two strategies, BOAI-1 and BOAI-2:

To achieve open access to scholarly journal literature, we recommend two complementary strategies. 

I.  Self-Archiving: First, scholars need the tools and assistance to deposit their refereed journal articles in open electronic archives, a practice commonly called, self-archiving. When these archives conform to standards created by the Open Archives Initiative, then search engines and other tools can treat the separate archives as one. Users then need not know which archives exist or where they are located in order to find and make use of their contents.

II.  Open-access Journals: Second, scholars need the means to launch a new generation of journals committed to open access, and to help existing journals that elect to make the transition to open access. Because journal articles should be disseminated as widely as possible, these new journals will no longer invoke copyright to restrict access to and use of the material they publish. Instead they will use copyright and other tools to ensure permanent open access to all the articles they publish. Because price is a barrier to access, these new journals will not charge subscription or access fees, and will turn to other methods for covering their expenses. There are many alternative sources of funds for this purpose, including the foundations and governments that fund research, the universities and laboratories that employ researchers, endowments set up by discipline or institution, friends of the cause of open access, profits from the sale of add-ons to the basic texts, funds freed up by the demise or cancellation of journals charging traditional subscription or access fees, or even contributions from the researchers themselves. There is no need to favor one of these solutions over the others for all disciplines or nations, and no need to stop looking for other, creative alternatives.

These were then dubbed Green OA and Gold OA, respectively, in 2004:

Harnad, S., Brody, T., Vallieres, F., Carr, L., Hitchcock, S., Gingras, Y, Oppenheim, C., Stamerjohanns, H., & Hilf, E. (2004) The Access/Impact Problem and the Green and Gold Roads to Open Access. Serials Review 30.  Shorter version: The green and the gold roads to Open AccessNature Web Focus. 

None of this has anything to do with "highest grade" or "Gold Medals". 

And SHERPA Romeo's colour-code is regrettably (but incorrigibly, despite repeated requests across the years) at odds with the BOAI distinction, because it arbitrarily restricts "green" to publishers who endorse the self-archiving of both unrefereed preprints and refereed postprints, and "blue" for publishers who endorse the self-archiving of regereed postprints only, but not preprints: Both SHERPA/Romeo "green" and SHERPA/Romeo "blue" are of course BOAI Green.

Metaphorically, one can say that Green OA is an ecological, self-help solution, on the part of the research community. Gold OA is a "de luxe" solution that also depends on the conversion of publishers to another cost-recovery model.

My own view is that Globally Green OA mandates will first provide 100% OA and then induce publishers to convert to Gold OA (at a fair price: Fair Gold).

Stevan Harnad