ZDNet article - why attribution matters

Chuck Swiger chuck at codefab.com
Tue Nov 28 20:19:17 UTC 2006

On Nov 28, 2006, at 11:06 AM, David RR Webber ((XML)) wrote:
> Personally I'm very happy with the way things stand right now.

You are perhaps fortunate to hold such a positive perspective.  Good  
for you.  :-)

> However - I believe the issue is not that but how to address the  
> behaviour of people who do not embrace the spirit and the intent  
> behind open source and instead use the very openness as a tool to  
> disadvantage those who are playing by the rules.

Some systems are designed so that people who try to take advantage of  
those playing by the rules end up losing out rather than gaining by  
their misbehavior; for an example, while the Bittorrent filesharing  
protocol permits people to download without being willing to share  
with others, such leachers are identified by the other servers and  
preference is given to clients which permit downloads over clients  
which do not.

> This does get us into some sort of area where we expect this to be  
> self-policing to an extent by the community at large.   The snag is  
> that community to now becoming vastly bigger than the original geek  
> foundation.

Given the choice between self-policing and policing imposed by people  
not part of the community, I'd prefer the former.

> So often customers are not the ones hanging out in linux chat rooms  
> reading about how despicable their particular supplier is.  Perhaps  
> the way forward is to establish some kind of grading scheme where  
> those with gold ratings can get extra marketing kudos from the fact  
> - compared to competitors who are less than open about what they  
> are doing or not doing to support the community or the code base  
> they are hijacking.

Hmm.  Some sites like SourceForge provide ratings for projects, and  
various magazines like Byte or ZD/PC-mag sometimes review or rate a  
bunch of software like web browsers or operating systems against each  
other via benchmark testing, and people like Netcraft analyze web- 
server and -browser popularity, I'm not sure this is quite what you  
were looking for.

Also, to some extent, I'm not sure it is possible to "hijack" an open- 
source project short of ("except by"?) violating the terms of the  
license or removing copyright statements...?  If you take a project,  
and make a better version, isn't this accomplishing the goal of open- 


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