[TOS] First draft of textbook: introductory chapter (foreword?)

Matthew Jadud mjadud at allegheny.edu
Sun Sep 6 17:29:36 UTC 2009

Hi all,

This is not meant to be tongue-in-cheek, nor is it critical of MJ
Ray's comments. I personally think this serves as a wonderful
highlight of something that students engaging in open projects will
likely encounter and, potentially, be unprepared for. David H., Chris
T. or others who have spent substantial time throwing students into
the *OSS space will know better than I.

On Sun, Sep 6, 2009 at 13:15, MJ Ray<mjr at phonecoop.coop> wrote:
> Greg DeKoenigsberg <gdk at redhat.com> wrote: [...]
> and if the current exclusive approach prevails, the book will have to
> be forked to be useful to my groups anyway.

Should there be an appendix on "holy wars" and zealotry in the world
of open-source projects? This is something that students coming into
open projects may not be ready for: the fact that someone, at the
start of a process, might be willing (or even eager) to walk away from
the group's work over definitions and terminology, the choice of
programming language, and so on. Each community has their own
standards for discourse and contribution, and requires you to be more
or less fireproof. The Scheme community, for example, requires
kevlar-plated asbestos on a good day. ;)

What strategies do you use to placate/include/encourage/support
differing points of view over what are typically considered the topics
of holy wars? (I'm over-simplifying; please don't take this as a point
to mince words...) For example, MJ has just suggested that if his POV
is not honored, he'll walk away from this particular project, and
perhaps fork it later to suit his own needs.

At the end of the day, this is actually a fundamental part of the open
culture: you can fork it and have your own sandbox to play in. Some
projects don't have clear guidelines about participation and
inclusion, while others do:  for example, I have always liked the
Subversion team's approach: your name is never in the code, so if you
submit work and insist on individual attribution in the source, we'll
throw away your patch. (I think I'm remembering that correctly.) This
clear, simple project guideline gives the team a way to enforce that
contributors check their ego at the door, and makes it clear what one
fundamental rule is for playing in their sandbox.

There's a half-dozen different directions these kinds of conversations
can go, and being prepared for deeply held beliefs and religion in
this space is part of the game. Does the text address it anywhere (it
shouldn't be in the introduction), and would this be a welcome
contribution that may, or may not, find its way into an appendix of


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