[Namaste-dev] Re: Weekly Plan June 2 - June 6

Paul Williamson kb5mu at amsat.org
Tue Jun 3 21:59:57 PDT 2008

At 1:45 PM -0700 6/3/08, Bruce Perens wrote:
>In the interest of polite discourse, please don't call us zealots, or religious, etc. We accept that you are speaking sincerely of what you believe is good engineering, we are too.

I apologize if you find the term "zealots" impolite. That was not my intention. I was intending to include myself among those described. I think everybody who has participated in this thread so far has strong beliefs in favor of open source principles, as I do. I only meant the term as shorthand to describe those of us who are already convinced that openness is good. My statement was not intended to deprecate your opinion, but merely to indicate that I would also like to hear opinions from others, in particular those who might not have thought much about the question before. It would also be interesting to hear opinions from zealots on the other side, if we have any on this mailing list.

We must face the fact that by promulgating any particular policy on this project, we are likely to alienate some number of potential developers who might otherwise be willing to help. An open-source policy will be a show stopper for people who can't stand to see others profit from their work. A policy requiring top-down design would alienate those who prefer iterative design methods. A policy requiring the terminal to be pink would offend those who think it ought to be purple. This means it's important to be careful in picking policies. To my (open development oriented) way of thinking, the best way to be careful about a decision is to discuss it thoroughly and get as much initial input (and, later, review feedback) as possible. That's all I'm advocating here: let's have a good discussion of what development policies we need in order to make this project work best.

I firmly believe that we do need a written policy on this (and that it should impose a high degree of mandatory openness). Among many other compelling reasons, a published policy will make the process of adding new developers to the project much smoother. Any new developer should simply be directed to the policy. Developers who can't agree with the policy should be able to know that up front. We should not get a long way into the project, only to find that a key contributor's work cannot be used as part of our open-source project, or that a key contributor refuses to work together with us in the way we've all agreed to work together. The written policy need not be long or detailed to accomplish this, but it does need to be carefully considered.

My firm belief is only that, of course. If somebody wishes to argue that a written policy would be counterproductive, I will listen respectfully and try my best to avoid words that might be considered impolite, and I hope and assume that everyone else will, too.

73  -Paul
kb5mu at amsat.org

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