Open Source has a lot in common with Terrorists.

  • Both "groups" are decentralized, made of many sub-groups, and pretty much do what they want to do, believe what they want to believe, and are quite fluid in nature.
  • Nobody knows how many people are part of the Open Source community. Nobody knows how many terrorists there are.
  • Both groups are spread all over the world.
  • Nobody speaks for the whole Open Source community, just as nobody speaks for all terrorists.

But that doesn't seem to stop Eric Raymond from opening his ever-growing mouth and claiming to speak for all of us. Yes, every single last one. Notice his use of "we" where he should be using "I" in his writing?

When beating the SCO dead horse to death:

We regret that you have become the latest victim in the campaign of barratry, fraud, and stock-kiting that SCO has been waging. We want you to know that you are not alone, and that you have in fact just made a great many friends.

It's clear that he's referring to "The Linux community, and the wider open-source software movement of which it is a part" when he says "we" there.

And when bitching about CUPS:

...they may write crappy insecure overpriced shoddy software, but on this one issue their half-assed semi-competent best is an order of magnitude better than we usually manage.

I'm no terrorist, but I do consider myself part of the Open Source "movement" (or whatever you want to call it) as a user, advocate, and developer. Does that mean I have to agree with everything Eric says about Open Source?

I sure as hell hope not.

When I hear the translations of terrorists "leaders" ranting, it's pretty clear that they're trying to speak for their own little group of supporters and not the larger group of crazies.

Eric, please continue to fight for what you believe in. But don't drag my name (or those of my friends) through the mud in the process. I'm more than capable of doing that on my own.

Speak for yourself and let others do the same.

Posted by jzawodn at March 03, 2004 03:28 PM

Reader Comments
# Scrivs said:

Finally, someone agrees with me. After the CUPS thing I turned him out. The one who speaks loudest isn't always the one who is right.

on March 3, 2004 04:09 PM
# david said:

Interesting..people in the comments (in the article) agree with you. In history I believe kings also used "we" instead of I to declare themselves (similarity here? Maybe..).

I know plenty of people guilty for using "we" in their writing. This is the first where that kind of crosses the line. He definitely does not speak for me either.

Thanks for all of that Jeremy.

on March 3, 2004 04:26 PM
# Koz said:

Eric Raymond is a lunatic. Fetchmail's great, the cathedral and the bazaar was good for its time. But it's time he retired and spent his days worshipping the goddess and shooting at things.

I tuned him out with his 'announcement' of comparator:

"I didn't invent the shred technique, but I may have perfected it," Raymond said.

on March 3, 2004 04:39 PM
# Seun Osewa said:

Perhaps you need to ask him what he meant by "we"; it may not be what you would love to think. A writer must write! And I think it's pretty clear to anyone reading his articles that he speaks for himself; we all do.

on March 3, 2004 07:06 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

I think you're underestimating how carefully Eric chooses the words he uses.

on March 3, 2004 07:42 PM
# Kalyan said:

I'm also annoyed by his "Open Letters". I was kinda glad Sun gave him the finger ( though I personally like to see Java in the open )

on March 3, 2004 08:24 PM
# rentzsch said:

I've heard this before...

on March 3, 2004 09:53 PM
# John Stanforth said:

Sorry if I'm raining on a bash-ESR parade here, or if this post seems focused on semantic differences, but even beyond writing for himself, ESR -is- a founder of the Open Source Initiative, OSI, a non-profit corp and ideology defining group for many in the open source camp. So when he says "we," it can safely be assumed that he's at least representing that group, rather than using a royal We. Sure, there are other messages I disagree with (notably: guns, guns, guns), but throwing stones at pronoun usage seems excessive.

Also, Jeremy, the "open source movement" (to which you belong) is not the same as the Open Source Initiative (note caps), as one is a general idea and one is a formal organization. To borrow an analogy from -actual- religious wars, you don't have to believe in the Pope to be a Christian. Start your own group and say "we" as much as you like. ;-)

on March 4, 2004 12:13 PM
# Garrett said:

Regardless of ESR's status as part of the "Open Source Initiative", if you read any of his writing it's clear that he is claiming to speak for the "Open Source Community", not for his organization. That is what offends me. As Jeremy says, there are far too many different opinions within this community for one person to claim to speak for it, and personally, I wish he'd just stop trying.

on March 4, 2004 03:43 PM
# John Stanforth said:

So maybe I should have rephrased my earlier post... ESR -does- speak for OSI, which includes many in the open source community (no caps needed). He of course doesn't speak for the FSF or anyone in that camp, and even in the open source community, those who disagree are free to speak up too; Jeremy and his band of "me too" posters here are doing just that, which is great. That's how it's -supposed- to work. ESR seems to speak for open source because few others bother to.

And since no one will ever perfectly match 100% of the opinions of their group, I don't understand the logic that he just stop trying. There was a time when he -didn't- speak for open source, and I think the community is better off now because of his early work. So does this basically boil down to the view that with major commercial support and even Linux tv commercials from IBM, the community no longer needs ESR?

on March 4, 2004 04:17 PM
# said:

ESR is one ugly mug...

on March 5, 2004 10:24 AM
# agreed said:

I couldn't agree more. It is exactly how I feel. He assume that he control all of us and that we have to believe in whatever he says. By threating others he is also terorizing us, because now if you want to be part of this thing called open source, you have to agree with him, otherwise you are with Microsoft, SCO, whatever. He should shut up, or speak in his own name.

on March 6, 2004 03:27 AM
# Aristotle Pagaltzis said:

He had some good points in his CUPS rant, but I feel it could have been said in half as many words with half as much anger and twice as much persuasion. This is far from the first time I've felt that way, though it's been the most drastic. Ever since he uttered the words "we [the hackerdom, Ed.] are the cognitive elite" I think he's full of himself.

It's worth noting that he touts his views on guns despite the fact that more than a few of these "we" consider his very own views (Guns! Guns! Guns!) questionable at best. Of course, since "rapists love anti gun laws", you're obviously blind not to agree with him. (Isn't that the same tactic the G.W.Bush gov't has been employing?)

Now I don't at all care about (or for, for that matter) his views on guns, but what pisses me off is that at the same time, he speaks of "we" as if hackers (whichever group of them he is referring to) were some kind of Secret Saint Society; as if they were somehow less susceptible to moral faults than anyone else.

I don't want to be spoken for by someone with such glaringly lacking ability of modesty and self reflection.

on March 7, 2004 02:20 PM
# Ask Bjørn Hansen said:

Hear, hear!

on March 8, 2004 12:12 AM
# Haugland said:

I think the most scary aspect about ESR is Now we have a few people (read: ESR) who think they can decide which licenses qualifies as open source and which does not. "Open source" is now a concept owned by OSI. Scary!

on March 8, 2004 02:22 AM
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