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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • Be careful. The phrase "open source community" is nearly meaningless. It includes longtime Unix graybeards, BSD fans, Linux users, distributors, hackers, skinners, Emacs users, kernel programmers, thin client users, zealots, pragmatists, book publishers, people who hate Microsoft, libertarians, communists, people who want to fire handguns on airplanes, corporations, scientists, librarians, people who write documentation, parents, children, people who pause live television, graphic artists, political campaigns, governments, security freaks, black hats, journalists, and probably a few thousand other groups.

    Many complaints I've read about "the open source community" are really lazy, failing to take into account the fact that just about everybody pulls it in a different direction.

    If you think there's an open source community, you're not really in it.

    • Mea culpa. I stand corrected. (though I still think it would be a good idea if people started coming forward and saying "these are the things that I screwed up on with my project").

      • I really meant to aim more at the original article and not your comments. It bothers me to see so many (admittedly poorly-written and ill-conceived) articles confuse "open source" with "Linux for home users".

        The open source world is quite a bit bigger than any one project and there are a lot of groups who just don't care about that particular issue. I wouldn't want to be accused of unprofessionalism or marginalized as a crank because, for example, Zope doesn't work very well on Windows. (I use that as

    • Which leaves me wondering what the right metaphor is. The Open Source country, inhabited by vast numbers of interlocking communities which disagree about almost everything.

      My gut feeling is that the biggest problem with the phrase "The open source community" is that presumptious use of the definite article.
      • The problem's in needing to use the phrase. What could anyone possibly say that would be true about all of the people who'd be in the open source community, if there were one?

        I haven't heard or read anything insightful or interesting. That doesn't mean it's impossible to say or write anything about such a community. It may merely be exceedingly difficult. Another possibility is that tech journalism is full of amateur thinkers and writers. I'm okay with that idea too.

    • Are the ones who want to fire handguns on airplanes the libertarians, or the communists? :)

      --
      J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
  • Regurgitated Memes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ziggy (25) on 2003.12.02 11:44 (#26247) Journal
    Perhaps the biggest flaw in this article is the presumption that there is a single, coherent "open source community". Yet working within the context these two authors present, that criticism is just another incident of "with us or against us". You could look at the «there's a logical flaw in your argument» as yet another instance of the «your question is stupid, and doesn't deserve to be answered» that the authors complain about.

    Be that as it may, this article is seriously flawed. Perhaps the biggest flaw is that it not only says anything new, but it regurgitates a lot of memes that have been circulating through open source for years, and regurgitates them poorly.

    For example, there's the issue that «we all love a good feud». Well, yes, that's true. If we could decide the one true way to do something (like write a desktop environment, or build a text editor), then we could all pull our resources and do so much more. Maybe even displace Microsoft as the primary software provider for Joe Average User. Unfortunately, there's no one true way to write software, which is why there are long-standing arguments: System V vs. BSD, BSD vs Linux, vi vs. emacs, Gnome vs. KDE, MySQL vs. PostgreSQL, Perl vs. Python, Perl/Ruby/Python vs. Java, and so on.

    Funny, but this mimics the real world. Imagine how much more productive the US Federal Gov't would be if we just dropped all of this party nonsense and just agree on what was the best way forward and do it already. Reality isn't like that. Sometimes, having a strong opponent is the best way to better yourself (or your project, or your codebase, or your political party). And what was the counterpoint to this argument? An unsatisfying, «with diversity you get feuds but you get choice and the consumer wins». Sigh.

    There are lots of other regurgitated flaws in this piece. This is possibly the worst missed opportunity to really address the fundemental issues.