|XP is just a number
Open sourcing perlmonksby BUU (Prior)
|on May 28, 2005 at 02:06 UTC
I've noticed recently a fairly large numbers of posts in this dicussion section that mostly boil down to a request for features. Of course none of these get implemented because the people suggesting them don't produce any code to implement the feature and nobody else cares enough to produce the code for them. So if you want a feature to get included, you should write the code for it.
Here's the problem though, people suggesting the improvements can not write the code to implement them because they do not have access to the source code of perlmonks! That's right, perlmonks is effectively closed source. As it stands now, if you actually wanted to write code for a feature, first you have to come up with the idea based purely on using the website, then you have to design it completely, then you have to make a request to some group of people, then you have to convince some of those people that you are a good enough person to have access to the holy source code, then after that you finally get to see the source code and decide if your idea is possible or not.
Am I the only one who thinks this is silly? Isn't the entire point of this site to discuss perl, and isn't perl open source? If open source is good enough for perl, why isn't it good for perlmonks? Is there some kind of technical flaw that prevents easy access to the source code?
The only argument I've ever heard to counter open sourcing software is that closed source some how makes it more secure. That if people can't see the source code, they can't attack the site. Frankly I don't think that argument holds any water. Obviously there are hundreds of programs that get attacked on a daily basis by people who don't have the source code, so hiding it probably doesn't get you anywhere. And of course, if it was open then the actual members of this site, who number hundreds of very skilled programmers in their ranks, could actually examine the source code for errors and fix any problems before they were exploited.
In short, I think open sourcing of perlmonks would give several useful benefits, such as more features, less security holes and bugs in general. I feel that there is ample evidence of open source actually improving software such as linux and perl itself.
(Just a note to anyone who wants to mention the everydevel link at the bottom, yes perlmonks runs on the everything engine, but it runs on a very old and highly modified version of such, so the downloads at everydevel aren't particularly useful.)
To address a few concerns in the below posts:
A) I never intended that just anyone be able to modify the actual code that is running the site, I agree that would be silly. I'm all for having any patches being vetted by some community, I just think people should have to opportunity to write the patch.
B) It wasn't my intention to accuse the pmdevs of not doing any work, obviously they do a ton of work that is very rarely noticed, but just as obviously if only one person cares about a patch, they're the only people likely to work on the code.