Open-source efforts derailed by 'loud minority'

Open-source efforts derailed by 'loud minority'

Summary: An open-source advocacy group says a minority within the community is hampering efforts to increase adoption by making personal attacks on CIOs

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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Efforts to increase the adoption of open-source software are being derailed by the efforts of a "loud minority" within the community who have made personal attacks on individuals who have expressed doubts about the software, according to one of the open-source movement's main advocates.

Jeff Waugh of open-source advocacy group Waugh Partners was disheartened after a series of personal attacks directed at the heads of Australian government agencies. These included comments directed at Australian Taxation Office chief information officer Bill Gibson, after he told ZDNet.com.au that his agency's adoption of open-source software had been stalled by security concerns.

Some of the public responses to the article labelled Gibson a "bureaucratic parasite" and his concerns "short-sighted".

While Waugh believes the open-source model holds better security outcomes than its proprietary equivalent, he describes the vitriolic reaction to Gibson's comments as being "disgraceful" and says they achieve nothing for the industry.

"Bill Gibson's comments simply reflect the concerns that chief information officers have," he said. "It is precisely in his job description to ask those questions."

"This kind of language makes it extremely hard for the open-source industry to get the appropriate level of consideration in government departments," Waugh continued. "It pushes all the other chief information officers the wrong way. None of them will talk about open source because none of them want to get their head bitten off."

"I can tell you that at the very highest levels of government, there is interest and opportunities that exist for open source," Waugh said. "This doesn't help."

Waugh was also disheartened when personal attacks were levelled at Standards Australia's Alistair Tegart over Microsoft's push to have its OOXML format accepted as an ISO standard. "I suspect that as a result, [Teggart] is becoming deeply cynical about open source," Waugh said. "I'm not saying it would affect his professional judgement, but his job has been made uncomfortable."

Waugh said government IT agencies such as AGIMO (Australian Government Information Management Office) have also been critisised for not taking enough interest in open source. Waugh insists that AGIMO has "done plenty" with regards to symposiums and open-source surveys within government.

"These [comments] are the loudest voices, but they are a minority view in the community," Waugh said. "Very rarely are these people practitioners — they are not part of what's going on. We feel its important that people know that from a practitioner's standpoint, we don't think this is a reasonable form of discussion."

Waugh said the open-source movement needs to recognise that those with differing opinions or points of view are not enemies but merely people with whom the industry needs a better dialogue.

A better response to Gibson's dilemma, he said, would be to promote open source as "the best process we have for creating code in a transparent and scientific environment that benefits from incredible exposure".

"Security through obscurity, of which hiding your source code from the world is one form, only makes you 'feel' safe — but it also slows down the process of finding and rectifying issues," he said.

"In the open-source world, you benefit from the shared resources and enlightened self-interest of a global community. When an issue is found and fixed, everyone benefits."

Topic: Tech Industry

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5 comments
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  • Please mention "Australia" in the opening paragraph

    You have to get to paragraph 3 before the views of an open source consultant in Australia are mentioned.

    The title and opening paragraph imply this is global news rather than the consequence of intra-community bickering down under.
    anonymous
  • Mommmmy!! The other boys said bad things about me!!

    Are you kidding me?
    Does Waugh want us to hold his friends hands?

    If you cant take critiques, then maybe the internet isnt for you.
    And if you are giving up on open source because of a few flames, then you are a twit. Yes, I did say it and meant it too because no other word describes better someone who would quit for such reasons. But if someone is LOOKING for a reason to quit, then I understand how its perfect.

    Ever go on the web?
    Visit any blogs and forums?
    Ever tell rabid Mac fanbois that you think little of their little closed down toys? Has this affected Apple in any way?
    Ever get in between a gaming console wars? Its beyond mindless but hasnt affected sales for any of the three main companies.
    "Nintendo sales dropped dramatically this month due to nasty comments about Reggie Fils Aime's toupee in internet forums and blogs." will never happen. (Reggie has nice hair BTW, in case someone gets their knickers in a bunch)
    Ever go to some sports sites, blogs,etc?
    You think athletes dont get it 1000X worse?

    Open-source efforts ARE NOT derailed by loud minorities. That's rubbish. IF anything they let those who claim to speak for open source that they dont represent them.

    Sure, some people go out of their way to bash but some people also are very passionate about meaningless things (cough..tech toys...cough).
    Im sure youd like to have them all drink tea with their pinkies up but this is right up there with another mental midget in the US, Tim Couch, who introduced legislation earlier this month that would outlaw anonymous postings on WWW. Right up there with Turkey, Pakistan and China.

    Do Gnu/Linux and Open Source supporters sometimes raise their voices?
    Have you EVER read Linus Torvalds posts?
    How about Miguel de Icaza or Theo?
    Yup, lots of opinionated people in the VARIOUS communities (to lump Everyone together is ...ok, you choose the insult instead) and very vocal as well. Throw in the fact that the majority know very well how Microsoft has acted towards open source and still does, I can comprehend their anger.

    As someone who has been directly affected by Novell's deal with Redmond, I can sympathize.
    When someone threathens you or your livelyhood, you react. And you should.
    Dont say anything and it will be ' See, no one complained about it".
    Of course, there are different levels to this kind of discourse. As someones who is at times a 'Non-Compensated Individual Hobbyist Developer', I feel particular disgust against those people who have made a pact ($$$) which affect me and if I call those people morons, I am in my right. Just as they are in their right to do stupid things.

    As for Teggart becoming deeply cynical about open source, I feel even more cynical about his plan to support the abortion that is OOXML just like I feel cynical about any company using the word open to convey some sort of relationship with open source. We've seen how Microsoft has stacked the deck in other countries, so its not a far leap to think that Teggart is in Redmond's back pocket (or some in his pocket).

    My suggestion is why dont you grow a pair, be a man and move on. Maybe call mommy to console you and tell you that stick and stones can break your bones...

    If that doesnt help, might I recommend staying off the internet.
    Because, lets face it, anyone who gets offended at being called 'short-sighted' is ----------.
    Again, fill with your own adjective.
    God knows how someone would react to a stronger 'insult' than short-sighted.
    zeke123
  • Mommmmy!! The other boys said bad things about me!!

    Are you kidding me?
    Does Waugh want us to hold his friends hands?

    If you cant take critiques, then maybe the internet isnt for you.
    And if you are giving up on open source because of a few flames, then you are a twit. Yes, I did say it and meant it too because no other word describes better someone who would quit for such reasons. But if someone is LOOKING for a reason to quit, then I understand how its perfect.

    Ever go on the web?
    Visit any blogs and forums?
    Ever tell rabid Mac fanbois that you think little of their little closed down toys? Has this affected Apple in any way?
    Ever get in between a gaming console wars? Its beyond mindless but hasnt affected sales for any of the three main companies.
    "Nintendo sales dropped dramatically this month due to nasty comments about Reggie Fils Aime's toupee in internet forums and blogs." will never happen. (Reggie has nice hair BTW, in case someone gets their knickers in a bunch)
    Ever go to some sports sites, blogs,etc?
    You think athletes dont get it 1000X worse?

    Open-source efforts ARE NOT derailed by loud minorities. That's rubbish. IF anything they let those who claim to speak for open source that they dont represent them.

    Sure, some people go out of their way to bash but some people also are very passionate about meaningless things (cough..tech toys...cough).
    Im sure youd like to have them all drink tea with their pinkies up but this is right up there with another mental midget in the US, Tim Couch, who introduced legislation earlier this month that would outlaw anonymous postings on WWW. Right up there with Turkey, Pakistan and China.

    Do Gnu/Linux and Open Source supporters sometimes raise their voices?
    Have you EVER read Linus Torvalds posts?
    How about Miguel de Icaza or Theo?
    Yup, lots of opinionated people in the VARIOUS communities (to lump Everyone together is ...ok, you choose the insult instead) and very vocal as well. Throw in the fact that the majority know very well how Microsoft has acted towards open source and still does, I can comprehend their anger.

    As someone who has been directly affected by Novell's deal with Redmond, I can sympathize.
    When someone threathens you or your livelyhood, you react. And you should.
    Dont say anything and it will be ' See, no one complained about it".
    Of course, there are different levels to this kind of discourse. As someones who is at times a 'Non-Compensated Individual Hobbyist Developer', I feel particular disgust against those people who have made a pact ($$$) which affect me and if I call those people morons, I am in my right. Just as they are in their right to do stupid things.

    As for Teggart becoming deeply cynical about open source, I feel even more cynical about his plan to support the abortion that is OOXML just like I feel cynical about any company using the word open to convey some sort of relationship with open source. We've seen how Microsoft has stacked the deck in other countries, so its not a far leap to think that Teggart is in Redmond's back pocket (or some in his pocket).

    My suggestion is why dont you grow a pair, be a man and move on. Maybe call mommy to console you and tell you that stick and stones can break your bones...

    If that doesnt help, might I recommend staying off the internet.
    Because, lets face it, anyone who gets offended at being called 'short-sighted' is ----------.
    Again, fill with your own adjective.
    God knows how someone would react to a stronger 'insult' than short-sighted.
    zeke123
  • The point is....

    ...that normal businesspeople, as well as technical folk who aren't as psychologically dependent upon one side or another of the FLOSS/commercial conflict, see what gives every appearance of a growing crowd of ever-more-immature individuals who apparently shout without listening. These individuals, and you could definitely have counted me among their number five or ten years ago, are truly a large part of the problem rather than the solution. Businesspeople just want to get their work done, whether that's analyzing financial data, managing a manufacturing line, or whatever. They see PCs (of whatever make and OS) as tools, as glorified typewriters. One of the great successes of the FLOSS movement has been highlighting the increasing commoditization of software. Business people see this; they see that when they order new systems, they come with one set of software, which everyone they deal with is comfortable with; they can (with recent exception) be confident that any document they exchange with another colleague or customer will Just Work. They know that "these computer thingies" aren't always as reliable as typewriters, tending to fail just as an important deadline approaches. They're generaly willing to listen to practical, reasoned arguments on how to do what they're already doing better/more reliably/faster/cheaper. They're *NOT* interested in theological debate, and raised voices generally ensure that the speaker gets no further hearing within the listener's organization, or any that the listener has influence over.

    People have tried to point out for some time that the various "fringe communities" have gone egregiously overboard in a number of ways. (For a related example, try Googling 'Kathy Sierra' if you're not already familiar with THAT travesty.)

    Basically, we in the FLOSS community need to conduct ourselves, individually and organizationally, in a way that projects reassuring, knowledgeable professionalism, and not the latest episode of Overgrown Middle Schoolboys Gone Wild on Fox. We've seen that people who get into FLOSS tend to get enthusiastic about it; that's how we all started. If we're going to survive, we've got to grow in ways that we as a community have steadily resisted for decades. But that's true, at least in general terms, of any living thing: anything that doesn't grow in a way that's respectful of its environment eventually dies. Think 'cancer'.
    Jeff Dickey
  • Incompetent CIOs are costing and wasting billions...

    The point is that many CIOs are incompetent and psychologically dependent on MS junk and propaganda, and I believe that poor, (in fact, incompetent) decisions being made should be pointed out, and the people making them should be called to account. Whining about how someone has pointed out your incompetent decisions is NOT the way to go. One needs to evaluate and change. Sticking with MS trash and brainwashing, or denigrating open source, is a sign of incompetence, ignorance, etc., IMHO, and needs to be addressed at every opportunity.
    anonymous