[Geowanking] Measuring Open Source Citenzenship - Reconsidering
danbri at danbri.org
Sat Apr 21 03:48:16 PDT 2007
Regarding "I'm not saying that what these companies are doing is wrong,
but I think it is obvious that some companies are better open source
partners than others."
1. it's far from obvious to me that there is a single simple ranking
A company could be a fabulously good citizen in opensource terms,
pouring millions into community, openness or whatever, ... yet have
chosen to boost opensource for entirely competitive reasons, eg. to
damage a rival in the marketplace, support a file-format that they've
other investments in, or whatever.
You mention that this might be considered "unethical". Others might
consider it business as usual.
How such scenarios are ranked is so subjective, that it becomes
painfully simplistic to claim "betterness" is in the general case
obvious. Of course there are some cases which are going to be obvious:
If my company Semantic Web Vapourware Ltd releases my 1982 ZX81 classic
10 PRINT "DANBRI IS COOL"
20 GOTO 10
Under GPL (share & enjoy!) perhaps I'm being a lesser opensource citizen
than say IBM; 50% of the lines in my public codebase are probably
considered harmless, after all. And they may not be entirely original,
either. But what practical purpose does such a ranking achieve? Is a
company that ships the above code under GPL a "better" or "worse"
opensource citizen than Microsoft? *who cares* :)
2. Why pick on companies?
Same issues crop up with individuals and non-profit organizations such
as universities. Some are better or worse at various aspects of ceding
and sharing control, at communicating, at following through on promises,
on balancing vanity and leadership, ... at making themselves understood.
I really don't see much merit in pursuing quite this line of
investigation. Sure, list some factors that work well or don't, in
various contexts. But don't try to turn them into a single ranking, ...
and note that many of those factors work just same for individuals who
are opensourcing their personal works...
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