Is eBay really friendly to open source?

Summary:I fear many companies tip-toeing into the open source world expect this to be a one-way street. That is, you write stuff that I like and I'll take all the benefit, plus I'll control what you write at the same time.

This week eBay launched its previously-announced eBay Community Codebase. The service, hosted by CollabNet,  lets developers enhance eBay in a variety of directions. There's now an eBay toolbar for Firefox, for instance, and a TiVo plug-in.

All well and good. But when you open yourself up to open source developers it's a two-way street. There are going to be some ideas you don't like.

Here's one. It's a national search function for Craigslist, now 25% owned by eBay. It's a natural extension, but Craigslist has ordered it shut down, claiming they're all about the local. The developer did, and that may be the end of the story.

But it should not end the discussion.

I fear many companies tip-toeing into the open source world expect this to be a one-way street. That is, you write stuff that I like and I'll take all the benefit, plus I'll control what you write at the same time.

Life doesn't work that way. When you open yourself up to third parties, you open yourself up. If you can't stand the heat stay out of the open source kitchen.

Topics: E-Commerce

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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