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Comments on Thursday 26 February 2004:
Haven't had one of these for a while - a rant!

It's an anti-open-source rant, or rather, anti the expectation of open-source. People will glibly ask programmers "why don't you make it open-source?" I'd like to draw an analogy, but I don't think there is one - instead I'll make do with a series of slightly broken analogies, and explanations thereof.

It's like asking farmers to give away food. You're asking for the results of someone's work, to be given to you for no reason, with no recompense. Nobody would say to a farmer "why don't you just give away your crops?" at harvest time. This analogy is broken, of course, by the fact that open-sourcing of code is an unlimited resource, and by giving it away the programmer still retains it.

It's like asking farmers to let other people grow crops in their fields, then. Why wouldn't they? It doesn't cost them anything, does it? No, but it would mean people trampling all over the crops they were growing themselves, and then when they try to sell their mangled crops the market would be gone because everyone would have grown their own food, or sold variants. But it doesn't cost them a thing. Nobody would ask farmers to let other people grow crops in their fields.

It's like asking secretaries to work naked. Why wouldn't they? It doesn't cost them anything, does it? No, but it exposes things they might rather keep private. It would probably make them uncomfortable. And you'd probably get a good solid slap in the face if you suggested it.

Before asking a programmer why they don't open-source something, ask yourself why you don't do your job without reward, naked, and with hundreds of extra people trying to micro-manage your work. Unless you're an open-source programmer yourself, in which case just shut up, I don't care.

I'm not suggesting there aren't reasons to open-source - just that there are bloody obvious ones not to, and that asking a programmer why they don't is very much akin to any of these other questions. Similarly, there are reasons for secretaries to work naked, reasons for farmers to give away food, and reasons for farmers to let other people grow crops in their fields. And similarly, people doing any of these are in a minority for a reason. [23:03]

Maxor
Ah reven it is and has been happening, the first two examples are called socialism, The secrataries one.... well you can't do it with secretaries but thats why theres interns. (would place here one of the smileys reven hates but I don't like what his blog response program does to them)

That said now that we've shot your examples full of holes, I agree with the concept if someone wants to develop something themselves, under what rules they govern its use should be up to the creator.

Digi
But socialism isn't asking farmers give away food, it's asking them to give it away for something other than money. And besides, that's not even socialism, it's communism. And it's not even communism, per se. Communism doesn't mean not-Capitalism.

I think it was when Karl Marx was spending his days in the British Library, that he first said "It is when a man...

Oh wait, shit. Look at me, I was just rambling on and on there like as if you weren't a retard. My mistake.

It's okay, didn't mean to wake you. You can go back to sleep now.

redTEETH
Kindly do shut up. "Now that we've shot your examples full of holes", my ass.

Naazima
If we ask the farmers to let others grow crops in their fields, are we paying them for it? Or are they just supposed to do it out of the kindness of their heart? And the secretary?? Maybe if she was having an affair with the boss would she go naked, otherwise, I'm pretty sure (cause I've been a part-time secretary) no secretary would go naked. I'm looking for holes... and other than me needing an explination on the compensation of the Farmers... I don't see any.

RavenBlack
Mm, that's pretty much my point, Naazima. Nobody (except possibly a totalitarian government) would ask farmers to let others grow crops in their fields with no compensation, but people will happily insist that programmers should give away their source code.

Frogg
//Applauds Raven

AttackOfTheSpam
That's kind of odd. It's annoying to pay, but I see you point - of course, I will have to keep bitching at my friend Andrew out of principle. He rants about open-sourcing at least once per day. He says it's the end of Western civilization just waiting to happen. Such that Western civilization is, anyway.

Radu
Your analogy (in fact all of them) are flawed, or incomplete.
For example, a farmer would most likely be willing to give you a part of his land so you can cultivate your crops if:
1. You respect certain guideliens set by that farmer on what to/not to cultivate.
2. You also irigate his crops (or parts of them)
3. You share some of the proffit with him.

As for the giving food away thing, you'd might be surprised to find out that there are farmers who actually do give some food for free to various charities, or hungry people, etc. Of course, most of them don't, but I don't think it is unresonable to ask a farmer to do that.
I am a programmer, and I did give some of my code as GPL, some other code as open source but udner a license that allows me to retain the copyright of the changes other people make, and there is code I keep for myself, closed source.

RavenBlack
Er. How is that an example of the analogy being flawed or incomplete? I suppose it could be considered incomplete in that I didn't say those things, but they aren't relevant at all, so aren't supposed to be any part of the analogy.

Some farmers might choose to do that, some programmers might choose to open-source, but my point is that nobody *expects* farmers to 'open-source' their land. People don't push and nag secretaries to work naked, even though *some* might choose to.

The point of an analogy is to illuminate what you're trying to say, not to be an exact parallel in every way or to note every single thing that is similar or differs between the two parts. Some people, at least, have been so illuminated.

Frogg
I was illuminated a while ago. Hence the applause.

AttackOfTheSpam
Err... Radu, what did that have to do with anything? I don't think you can irrigate programming - unless you count caffeine, but I don't think you do. How would you share profit with a programmer unless you were paying? And setting guidelines on a programmar would just restrict them, don't you think? I mean, let them go. That's their job.

Kanada Ten
I would make the analogy to asking if a writer with publish the work or make it freely available -with the resulting answer dependant on the quality of the work, neh?

Open-source can also be used as advertising for a more spiffy program. I donít see it as unreasonable to ask, though I do see it as unreasonable to expect.

Kanada Ten
/writer *will* publish/

Damn it. Besides, it this Blog not an example of open-source tipping?

RavenBlack
I'm not saying open-source is bad. I have written several open-source things. I'm saying *asking* someone to open-source is rude and annoying.

I can see how it would seem not unreasonable to ask, but imagine being asked every month by a different person, for the source to the same piece of software. Not so bad, yes. Now imagine having several freely available (but not open-source) pieces of software, each of which gets the same thing. It's bloody irritating.

And it's not like asking if a writer will publish or make freely available the work. The *program* is the work - *freeware* is analogous to a writer publishing the work freely. Open-source is analogous to publishing it freely along with all the rough drafts and notes that you never intended anyone to see. (Except in the case where something was intended to be open-source from the start, but if that's the case then nobody has any reason to be asking for the source so the analogy doesn't work.)

Kanada Ten
True, in that the notes for a writer are something you save for your children to publish.

However, the rough drafts are not analogous to open-source anymore than beta-software is. When you write something in the sense of language, the source is contained in the product. The emotions and images provoked by written word are analogous to the running program. When decompliers become fully functional this issue will be fully analogous to writing.

You have convinced me never to ask a programmer to open-source. After all, if they plan on it then they will certainly let the downloaders know.

RavenBlack
Mm, emotionally analogous (for some programmers, ie. me) rather than functionally analogous.

Kanada Ten
I wonder if that is not the key analogy: The emotion used in creating written art and the logic (source) of the program...
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