CyberTech Rambler

June 9, 2008

The real SandCastle’s (and Microsoft’s) problem

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:24 am

Mary Jo Foley reports that Microsoft had pulled a project called SandCastle from CodePlex for not publishing the source code as required.

It is not surprising to me that someone posted something claiming to be open source but isn’t. There are a lot of factors including ignorance of what open source actually mean. One particular trend I always see with companies, especially big companies, is employee simply “doing his/her job” by mechanically going through the motion, assuming that everything has been checked and decided before it reaches them. As for those who actually make the decision to post the program at CodePlex, my assumption is that we again see some big company dynamics: Boss tell me that we should post to CodePlex so I tell my staff to do it…, by passing my brain of course.

Therefore, I do not think this “violation” a big deal. The fact that Microsoft had corrected the mistake relatively quickly, i.e., in a week is good enough. I do not think an apology is necessary.

Microsoft is less well versed in Open Source like IBM, so I would expect more of the same in the future until the information about what open source actually is filtered through the rank and file. Even after all rank and file are well versed in it. being “mixed source” company, some employee somewhere will still do this mistake once in a while. So it is important that we see it as it is, i.e., a mistake.

Just one thing I would like to add. I do not like the idea that the project is completely withdrawn, taking together with it everything said about this controversy. The discussion about this controversy should still be made available NOT to punish the people who created the mistake, but as an archiving/history perspective. No one project is without some dirty history that we want to forget, but to err is human. Removing those history does not make us richer but poorer, as others might not learn from our mistake.

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