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Jimmy Wales's Open Source Collaboration Tips 129

Posted by kdawson
from the unpunishing-good-deeds dept.
destinyland writes "In a new interview Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales acknowledges his debt to Richard Stallman's Free Software Foundation and discusses his new open source search project. He applauds the way Open Source developers work around their ideological differences, acknowledges that he's an Ayn Rand objectivist who's skeptical of the wisdom of crowds, and blames Slashdot for his grandstanding comment that Wikipedia would bury Encyclopedia Brittanica within five years."
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Jimmy Wales's Open Source Collaboration Tips

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  • by jrockway (229604) <jon-nospam@jrock.us> on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @02:23PM (#17817816) Homepage Journal
    If you're actually looking for open source collaboration tips, take a look at Karl Fogel's (freely-available) book:

    http://producingoss.com/html-chunk/index.html [producingoss.com]
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @04:18PM (#17819374)
      This paints a picture of most open source projects being run like Wikipedia is, in an "anyone can edit" mode. What crap.

      I know of no successful open source software projects run that way. On all the successful open source projects only few are granted write access to cvs/svn and most open source projects are run by one or two very opinionated people who do not accomodate others on a whim. In most cases, people finding a problem submit a patch and onte of the trusted few will apply it. In many cases, the patch will not be applied directly, but will be rewritten to achieve the desired effect better.

      Sure people can take all the code and fork the project, but that is very different to having control over the document. You very seldom get wikipeia-style edit wars in OSS code bases because "the boss" does not tolerate it. Abuse the privaledge of write access and you lose it.

      To draw a parallels between Wikipedia (which is uncontrolled) and Open Source (which is controlled) just does Open Source a disservice. There's enough anti-Open Source FUD out there and we don't need people thinking that any dummy with a chip on their shoulder can modifyt open source.

      • by jrockway (229604)
        Did you read the book? His experience is modeled off Subversion (he wrote it). Subversion is pretty successful.

        As an aside, we run Catalyst [catalystframework.org] the same way (but with a little bit less bureaucracy, and fewer core contributers).
        • svn is an example that supports my statements. svn is successful and it is not "anybody edits". If you wish to contribute to svn, you either have to become a committer or you send in patches which get vetted and applied by the patch manager (read svn's website for details on the process). Joe Sixpack can't just jump in and modify svn code, like you can do with Wikipedia content.

          Thus, drawing parallels between Wikipedia content and OS projects is misguided. Perhaps if Wikipedia pages were controlled by "patc

      • by ajs (35943)

        To draw a parallels between Wikipedia (which is uncontrolled) and Open Source (which is controlled) just does Open Source a disservice.

        Well, first off, Wikipedia isn't uncontrolled, and what you are focusing on seems to be a fundamental difference in release cycles rather than development models. In an open source project of sufficient scope to map to Wikipedia, there are typically a core of "admins" who do not write code nearly so much as they make sure the various sub-projects are working together. Wales and the Wikimedia Board do this for Wikipedia et al.

        Then you have the various projects that make up the whole product. Look at the Lin

  • by catbutt (469582) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @02:27PM (#17817866)
    you should throw all your money at the stock market, because if you have any brains whatsoever you can get rich. You should certainly be able to predict better than those stupid crowds whether the stock will go up or down.

    Maybe the problem is that wikipedia, as it is currently designed, doesn't tap into that wisdom as effectively as a market does.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by kfg (145172)
      . . .you should throw all your money at the stock market

      Dude, that's what the crowd does.

      KFG
    • you should throw all your money at the stock market, because if you have any brains whatsoever you can get rich. You should certainly be able to predict better than those stupid crowds whether the stock will go up or down.

      Hmmm.... Am I to take it that you believe that the crowds "predict" the stock market?

      That's a fallacy, and is akin to saying that voters predict the outcome of elections. Just as the voters determine the winner of an election, the crowd -- the market -- steer the value of stocks.

      HAL.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by catbutt (469582)
        Huh?

        Try something simpler, like prediction markets (example: intrade.com). The crowd predicts the chances of whatever happening. For example right now it is predicting that the chance of Obama being the democratic candidate is around 19%. Do you think you can consistantly predict more accurately? If you can, you can make a ton of money.

        Stock markets are basically the same thing. Calling it a "fallacy" is ridiculous....its just a way of looking at things, and a valid one.
        • The difference between the "prediction market" you're talking about, and the actual stock market, is that in the prediction market, the bettors (for that's what they really are) don't determine the outcome.

          If you bet on whether Obama is going to be the next Democratic presidential candidate, your bet doesn't directly influence the outcome (except perhaps in some very indirect, butterfly-effect-like fashion, but we'll ignore that). The two are independent. It's just like betting on a horse race, or a footbal
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by catbutt (469582)
            The ultimate long term prediction of the stock market is how much profits the company will make. However, you can also bet on the short term, which is whether the stock will go up or down.

            Note that you can play the prediction markets the same way, betting on the price of the shares (selling prior to the date of the election/game etc)

            In any case, if it makes it easier to see the point, just talk about prediction markets. You are left with one of two logical conclusions: 1) the crowd is remarkably accura
    • by WolfWithoutAClause (162946) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @03:19PM (#17818552) Homepage

      On that basis predicting the weather should be easy, since molecules in the atmosphere are dumb as rocks, even dumber that dumb people.

      And yet... weather forecasting requires supercomputers.

      You're confusing dumbness with predictability. They're not the same thing, although dumb people can be predictable sometimes.

    • by FallLine (12211) *

      If you don't believe in the wisdom of crowds you should throw all your money at the stock market, because if you have any brains whatsoever you can get rich. You should certainly be able to predict better than those stupid crowds whether the stock will go up or down.

      Maybe the problem is that wikipedia, as it is currently designed, doesn't tap into that wisdom as effectively as a market does.

      First, this is a non sequitur. One could be able to significantly out-predict the market, but rationally choose no

  • If you are skeptical of crowds, you should try to use one of them talk pages once...
  • Yeah, well (Score:5, Funny)

    by User 956 (568564) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @02:32PM (#17817920) Homepage
    [He] blames Slashdot for his grandstanding comment that Wikipedia would bury Encyclopedia Brittanica within five years.

    Actually, according to Wikipedia, the number of years in which Wikipedia will bury Encyclopedia Brittanica has tripled in the last six months.
  • Jimmy Wales needs to learn that reality has become a commodity.
  • by destinyland (578448) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @02:48PM (#17818156)
    There's a little bit more detail and context in the audio of the interview [rusiriusradio.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @02:50PM (#17818184)
    He doesn't blame Slashdot, he blames himself for writing something on Slashdot to rile up the Slashdotters.

    Come on, summarizer! This is the guy from Wikipedia, who discusses the importance of distinguishing a channel from its content just a bit higher up in TFA, for crying out loud. Read the damn thing!
  • by andy314159pi (787550) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @02:51PM (#17818202) Journal

    that he's an Ayn Rand objectivist who's skeptical of the wisdom of crowds
    Kill the wise one!
    • My understanding of Ayn Rand is as an existentialist story teller [AKA: writer/philosopher].

      Yes, I agree Ayn Rand was an objectivist; However, as an objectivist the story/philosophy must be equally skeptical of the wisdom of self and crowds. As an existentialist, you decide for only yourself (no others). As an objective existentialist, you may decide for only yourself (no others) which (self, crowd, ...) wisdom/philosophy a/o decision [AKA: The Experience and Knowledge (TEK)] is the best.

      Ayn Rand the existe
  • Two more (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Apotsy (84148) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @03:09PM (#17818426)
    Here's a couple you won't see mentioned:
    • Oust your co-founder and start claiming that you are the sole founder. It's okay if your organization's own [wikipedia.org] past [wikipedia.org] press releases [wikipedia.org] contradict what you are now saying. No one will notice!
    • Claim that the majority of work is done by a group of people who actually don't really contribute that much [aaronsw.com].
    I'm sure there's more.
    • by Moryath (553296) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @03:27PM (#17818646)
      is a "troll."

      Advocate banning "trolls" whenever possible, especially when they threaten to expose malfeasance on the part of your worst employees.

      Call one of your detractors a "disease" in your IRC channels, then deny you said it (even though it was logged) and create an entire "biography" on the person devoted solely to libeling them, in violation of publication laws and your own "standards" for biographical entries.

      Suggest in your logged, publicly available email lists for the project that "lone wolves" should start filing dishonest "complaints" with the hosting ISP against a site critical of your behavior.

      Take the money donated for "the project" and build a new house with it.
      • by nuzak (959558)
        How about a few links? If Wikipedia has taught me anything, it's that unsourced information is bullshit.
        • by Apotsy (84148)
          You needed wikipedia to teach you that?
          • by nuzak (959558)
            As Foghorn Leghorn would say: Son, you're about as sharp as a bowling ball.

            No, I didn't need Wikipedia to teach me that. I think coders are the most gullible people on earth, because they have an automatic assumption that what's put down to text is representative of perfect logical truths. Must explain the Rand thing too.
  • by cheezfreek (517446) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @03:11PM (#17818456)
    When in doubt, blame Slashdot. It's fun for the whole family.
  • but then again, I'm no Atlas
  • by TheNarrator (200498) on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @03:50PM (#17818930)
    When I was a young lad I was really into Ayn Rand for a long time and read all her books and all the non-fiction stuff. It was fun and interesting. I was a randroid, debated on usenet. blah blah.

    Then I realized that there aren't all these super-human man-god objectivists that are being held down by the evil-evader looters. Really the world is a big soup of mediocrity, confusion, uncertainty and incompetence and everybody just tries the best they can. Even people who are genius architects are probably about average as track atheletes or at writing poetry. Thus the need to co-operate with other people who are good at different things and the need for humility, listening to people, etc.

    Really Rand is a reflection more generally of Russian thought which is that everything is either perfect and godlike or low, despicable and corrupt. Look at the characters in the Brothers Karamozov for example. The real world is a lot more ambiguous.
    • Were you one of those Randroids who didn't actually read her books, perhaps?
      • Has to be, since he characterized them as being "fun and interesting".

        Just poking good-hearted fun at it, not flaming :)

        But seriously, The Fountainhead may be the most overrated novel ever. The worst part of the experience of reading it is when you realize that she's not really going anywhere with this, and that the "lesson" from the first episode (and every. single. subsequent. episode.) is actually the only thing she's trying to say. Possibly a salvageable situation if you throw in some interesting and
      • I read her books, and they turned me into an anarcho-syndacist. Because that's what the society at the end of Atlas Shrugged is.
  • by pfafrich (647460) <rich@nOsPAm.singsurf.org> on Tuesday January 30, 2007 @04:35PM (#17819668) Homepage
    It seems like Wales is on a project creation frenzy, it seems like every month theres yet another project launched from Wales and Beesley. Actually I exaggerate but the previous big announcement http://campaigns.wikia.com/ [wikia.com] seems to be pretty inactive now. I fear the same will happen for the new search engine. Does jimbo have the time to dedicate to making this happen, or is it vapor-ware?
  • One thing I've noticed over the years as a Wikipedia contributor is that there's nothing done to stop Rand's wacko cult followers from turning her article into a shrine to her. I once tried to fix this problem, but it turns out that her cult will not allow anything, no matter how well cited, to make her look bad. To this day, I can still point to biases left in the article that they will not allow anyone to correct. And even when there are admins around, her followers are allowed to harass contributors who
  • RU: Have you been interested in the open source movement for a long time? Are you a fan of Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation?

    JW: Oh yeah. We really owe Richard a debt of gratitude for all that.
    So do I. [googlepages.com]

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