Inclusionism vs. .* ?

Inclusionism is a philosophy held by Wikipedians who favor keeping and amending problematic articles over deleting them.(read more at Mediawikis Meta Wiki) – thats just as a start for discussing some issues that Wikis andopen source projects do have in common. I think one could call me an inclusionist. But not in all aspects. I love the inclusion of everything so nothing will be lost.
I have just experienced the force of Wikipedia Deletionists in the german Wikipedia. I wrote an article about unconferences. That was deleted, but only weeks after that a similar article with the title BarCamp was written: The deletion was led by a highly respected Wikipedian who is a journalist . She search for the german word “Unkonferenz” and only got 64 results. So somehow this article got deleted, because she argumented it was not relevant. Indeed, if she had searches in english she would have gotten 1.2 million results. This is just one but a good example how “quality assurance” indeed leeds to less quality and redundant work. I would not say that wone should never delete a Wikipedia article but it should be the last choice for really stupid articles that do not make any sense at all. At least a REDIRECT should be possible.

Similar problems come up in open source. See the article “About leaving” from Russel Coker. Fedora decided not to support Xen for older CPUs like his (that he got from Red Hat as he left the company). There we see the problems with the classic WONTFIX approach. I found that distributions like FreeBSD have this WONTFIX attitude more often – and sure Fedora also does this more often than Debian. I think it is understandable if you have limited ressources but want to get a working release in time. I think the probklem is starting if people have less opportunities and are forced to switch (like from Fedora to Debian). There are other examples where people siwtch from Debian to Fedora for similar reasons. On my partI switched to Fedora because Debian never had uptodate software. Ubuntu really filled a gap here. Maybe I had switched to Ubuntu and not Fedora if it had existed at this point. I think the problem is that users often like to have a fork, something slightly different but that the efforts for switching or extending are often big. We still have different package formats. So as a user you often stuble accross a site where a developer builds only for his distribution (that might be Gentoo, Debian, or Fedora/Red Hat, etc.) and that just does not is what you are using right now. I think there is something wrkong in this development processes. People are starting to write for a distribution because they have limited ressources. At the same time that emans that many users will not be able to uses their packages and that some extra work will have to get in migrating the package.

I think the classic distribution development is outdated. Understandably but outdated. This approach only makes sense for tools that should only be run on one distribution and never on another platform. I am not a developer but I think it should be possible to automatically build for different distributions
while programming? Ok, sometimes you want to build on one library version that does not (yet) exist on other distributions, but this could be solveable. Maybe a tool could help you in deciding where to build on knowing what libraries all distributions use. Also I think development tools should enable users to write code that immediately is published online like with wikis or with Gobby. So certainly a devtool needs a jabber chat built in! So I am talking about live programming. And I am also astonished that translations of GNOME still happen via mailing lists and not while the code is written. This is ridiculous. This takes weeks instead of hours or minutes to fix some characters. The problem is that open source development is “traditionally progressive” – but in fact it often does not usenewest technologies to do the job better. hail to Launchpad that enabled very easy translating without people having to subscribe to mailing lists and so on. This social software stuff really is about enabling people to help each other more easily without much administrative hassle. But organisations like Fedora think that open source development needs strict organisation, while indeed it does not. Or better: development does not, creating a distribution DOES. Fedora really chose the opposit principles to Debian. While Debian chose to release when “it is ready”, Fedora chose to release on a regular basis. But a release often is nothing more as a working snapshot. I found the efforts of FedoraUnity interesting because they were able to build releases of their own without all the administrative overhead. I really think development and release building should be a complete seperate process. Distributions should not be proprietary. So it just does not makes much sense to waste time in trying to build a product as whole. I think distributions need to share much more ressources. I think distributions like Gentoo, Fedora and Debian should have a collective developer base. So that many packages get audited and worked on together and only after that the packaging happens in the manner that all developers try to automatically build packages for all possible distributions. And after that distributors fetch these packages and make installable ISOs out of it. in open source combining powers always will leed to better results. Do your forks like Inkscape did from SodiPodi but do not develop for a distribution. Development needs freedom. Freedom from policies like DFSG or Fedora meritocracy. Its just plain stupid to bind users and developers to a specific philosophy. Science and softwre development need as much freedom as can be. If the common basis would be bigger I could see much more choice for each distribution. The authors could enforce the use of specific licsenses if they want, but it should not be the distributions that bind the developers. And that you can see on many distributions nowadays. Take OpenBSD, take Debian, take OpenSUSE or FreeBSD. All do have their philosophy but mostly development and distribution comes in one. Let the developers discuss their philosophies and let the users decide what they want. The problem today is that you really would have to build Linux From Scratch and do all the work of you want to have your freedom. But doing all the work is also redundant and unneccessary!


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