We’re going to need more sharks.

When an open source project regards talk of forking as ”treason”[img], rather than as the defining characteristic of freedom, that’s a sign that it’s a dead project walking.

The last big example I can think of was XFree86 versus Xorg. XFree86 was all but stalled, with Linux vendors having to maintain huge patches themselves because the main project was so slow to accept changes. When Keith Packard, who’s personally driven X for twenty years, finally said “enough” and started organising Xorg, they expelled him.

Compare with Wayland, the new display manager to replace X in Ubuntu and Fedora. (Not a code fork, but in practical terms a developer effort fork.) The three people pushing for Wayland to replace X in Fedora are all Xorg lead developers. “Traitors”? No, people who have the actual aim in mind: making good open source display software.

Xorg remains alive and well even as several lead devs work on its replacement. XFree86 appears to have been abandoned, with no release in two years and no commits since February 2009.

Wikipedia has had any number of forks. Fred Bauder has been with Wikimedia since it was wikipedia.com — his Wikinfo fork has not led to him being regarded as a “traitor” in any way, he’s as highly respected as ever. Wikipedians have always had great interest in its forks and wished them well, including Citizendium. The community regards the forks as family, not enemies. We’re all on the same side: free educational content.

And not to mention that the project crying “treason!” at the word “fork” … started as a fork.

You can’t keep your project together with paranoia. There is no Iron Curtain around an open source project.

(There’s much wackiness around Citizendium at present. I haven’t edited there in three years, but Matt Innis has taken care to block me anyway for writing about them on RationalWiki. Gosh, that’ll sure show me! The point being, of course, internal signalling rather than anything that would affect me at all. “I will not answer any more questions and will ask the Constabulary to delete all discussions that in my view require open debate which is being suppressed here.” You can get running updates and discussion at RationalWiki. Bring your own popcorn.)

4 Responses to “We’re going to need more sharks.”

  1. There’s a Citizendium WIGO now? That… actually makes perfect sense. (I almost regret not keeping up with the going-ons at RationalWiki.)

    Conservapedia no longer provides enough schadenfreude for us—fear us internet, for soon every site shall be subject to the terrors of WIGO! Our many tentacles grow and reach ever outward, ensnaring countless sites in our merciless grasp.

  2. Nix says:

    I note that XFree86, which celebrated the departure of nearly all its users with the comment that they were only ever producing XFree86 for themselves anyway, not those ungrateful “users”, hasn’t had any commits since 2009, and had almost none then or in 2008 or 2007 either (X.org gets more in any week, even Christmas week, than it got in those two years).

    Dead project walking, indeed.

  3. Nix says:

    And, uh, you said that. I should read the whole post before commenting. BAH.

  4. David Gerard says:

    :-D

    I wonder when AOO will reach the same realisation. They’re already talking on the mailing list about accepting the MPL.

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