Comments on: “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” Keepin' static like wool fabric since 2006 Wed, 08 Oct 2014 14:33:23 +0000 hourly 1 By: Leenie Sat, 07 Jul 2007 06:25:50 +0000 this is hands-down the best post you’ve ever written, Dan. You should do this for a living. Are you posting this on Amazon?

By: danvk Fri, 06 Jul 2007 22:17:44 +0000 Good to hear that ESR is a nut case.

I think you overestimate the importance of admins on Wikipedia. It’s not as though every edit has to be approved by an admin. In fact, almost none are. If you edit a page, only the people who have that page on their Watchlist will notice. And they’re just random, unimportant people like you. There’s very little centralized oversight. You’re right though, in that Wikipedia may be a bit large to compare to a single open source project. Perhaps individual WikiProjects are more analogous.

Are you talking about the Pugs commit bit? I’d heard that Audrey Tang was known for being quite loose with that. Have you contributed anything? Given that Perl 6 has been in development for almost seven years, I’d hesitate to say that it’s a good development model. =)

By: Evan M Fri, 06 Jul 2007 15:33:42 +0000 Linux is an aberration among free software projects (both for its size and its management process). The majority of free software has one or two main developers who either manage all patches contributed by users or at least have the ultimate say-so in whether a commit stays committed.

And there are very few, if any, open source projects that are as well-organized as commercial software. Most are just messes of patches that fly around haphazardly. I think that’s a good thing, though; it’s sort of the only way things can work once you have a sufficient quantity of contributors.

A better (more modern) model is the Perl6 model, where they really will give anyone commit access (I have commit access, for example) and they just use reversion (like wikipedia) to address problems. I think part of the problem historically has been a technical one: that everyone used version control systems that required giving everyone login access to your repository, so you really had to trust people.

Wikipedia’s no panacea. You could make the same argument you made about wikipedia and its admins — anyone is welcome to add to wikipedia but if you disagree with an admin you always lose. A possible free software analogy to the wikipedia model is that anyone is free to submit a patch, but only the committers decide whether it lives. And Wikipedia’s a bad project to try to fork from because they don’t provide the source in any useful format — in the software world it’s like those people who occasionally release a tarball of their code and say “oh yeah, we’re open source, see we gave away some code last november”. That’s sorta like Linksys’s “support” of the Linux kernel (there had to be a lawsuit to get them to release their modifications), or the way Apple used to “support” webkit (the “throw a tarball over the wall” method).

With all that said, Wikipedia’s undoubtedly more open than anyone else, primarily because (I believe) it’s much less harmful to let anyone edit prose than it is code, and because its domain for contributions is much larger. Maybe a more analagous project to Wikipedia would be the entire Gnome system, where there are stewards overseeing which projects are considered part of the desktop (sorta like the RfDs on wikipedia) and anyone can submit their own program for adding if they want. Check out how many projects they have (this doesn’t include all the stuff hosted off-site):

ESR is kind of a nutcase so don’t take anything he says too seriously. He’s especially widely mocked for never having written any free software himself. (He brags about fetchmail but it’s pretty crappy software and tends to eat your mail.)

By: Craig Fri, 06 Jul 2007 11:52:30 +0000 Did you read the essay or the book of essays?