Making forking the norm
Forking another spec: generally less than ideal. Spooning w another spec: weird. Knifing another spec: generally indicative of larger issues
— вкαя∂εℓℓ (@briankardell) April 28, 2014
— Kip Hampton (@kiphampton) April 28, 2014
Free and Open Source software licenses make forking legal. Git makes forking easy. GitHub makes it easy to fork sociably. Can we just make this normal?
Meanwhile, in a reminder that specifications can fork too, Ian Hickson put his objections to the W3C forking a WHATWG spec on www-archive to make sure his complaints of plagiarism would be part of the permanent record. WHATWG specs are licensed CC0, so once again, it’s legal.
It seems to be a common pattern to want to grant rights, but only want other people to use those rights if they acknowledge our control. (I sometimes have similar tendencies, granted.) We hope that people will contribute to our works while recognizing our power and our ownership over those works. Even the fact that we have to choose licenses at the start of a project gives us a sense of ownership and control, often hiding the (excellent) lack of control that comes once those licenses are applied.
All trust is misplaced. And that's probably the way it should be.
In the wake of Heartbleed, there’s been a chorus of “you can’t trust open source! We knew it all along.”
It’s amazing how short memories are. They’ve already forgotten Apple’s GOTO FAIL bug, and their sloppy rollout of patches. They’ve also evidently forgotten weaknesses intentionally inserted into commercial security products at the request of certain government agencies. It may be more excusable that they’ve forgotten hundreds, if not thousands, of Microsoft vulnerabilities over the years, many of which continue to do significant harm.
Yes, we should all be a bit spooked by Heartbleed. I would be the last person to argue that open source software is flawless. As Eric Raymond said, “With enough eyes, all bugs are shallow,” and Heartbleed was certainly shallow enough, once those eyes saw it. Shallow, but hardly inconsequential. And even enough eyes can have trouble finding bugs in a rat’s nest of poorly maintained code. The Core Infrastructure Initiative, which promises to provide better funding (and better scrutiny) for mission-critical projects such as OpenSSL, is a step forward, but it’s not a magic bullet that will make vulnerabilities go away.