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To Open Source Obama's Get-Out-the-Vote Code Or Not?

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the changelogs-we-can-believe-in dept.

Open Source 356

An anonymous reader writes "There's a battle brewing amongst Obama's election team. The political folks want to keep the get out the vote code closed source so republicans never get access to it, but the programmers want it open sourced so it can be improved upon. 'In this sense, the decision to mothball the tech would be a violation of the developers’ ethical principles. But the argument is about more than whether putting the tech back in the hands of the public is the right thing to do. "The biggest issue we saw with all of the commercial election software we used was that it’s only updated every four years," says Ryan. It was these outdated options that convinced team Obama to build all the campaign tech in-house. If the code OFA built was put on ice at the DNC until 2016, it would become effectively worthless. "None of that will be useful in four years, technology moves too fast," said Ryan. "But if our work was open and people were forking it and improving it all the time, then it keeps up with changes as we go."'"

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356 comments

LOL (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660315)

Fuck the Republicans. Bunch of intern raping, prostitute fucking, closeted faggots.

Who is "Ryan?" (1)

joelwhitehouse (2571813) | about a year ago | (#42660321)

The summary doesn't say, so we may never know!

Re:Who is "Ryan?" (2)

ThorGod (456163) | about a year ago | (#42660379)

I noticed that as well. I looked repeatedly for a mention of who Ryan was. Without further development, the context could lead you to believe it's Paul Ryan...

Re:Who is "Ryan?" (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#42660553)

I didn't get that far. I got stuck trying to parse this bit:

The political folks want to keep the get out the vote code closed source

Re:Who is "Ryan?" (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | about a year ago | (#42660645)

Oh good. I was concerned I was the only person bothered by this.

I figure it's just Ryan, like Cher or Teller.

Re:Who is "Ryan?" (2)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about a year ago | (#42660683)

Third paragraph, first sentence.

"The software itself, much of it will be mothballed," believes Daniel Ryan, who worked as a director of front-end engineering at OFA.

Re:Who is "Ryan?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660845)

The FA may have said who Ryan is, but the summary did not. Bad editing!

put up or shutup time (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660333)

Ok folks put up or shut up time

Open source and 'bad people' can use your code. Or keep it closed...

Re:put up or shutup time (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about a year ago | (#42660493)

Indeed, see for example the heavy use of Linux in North Korea. Information may "want to be free", but it doesn't particularly care about who has it.

false dilemma (2)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about a year ago | (#42660853)

You talk like the code is all locked away, and that the keepers have the power to keep it that way.

Trying to keep widely spread information away from "bad" people is a fool's quest. How many programmers worked on this project? Dozens? How easy would it be to duplicate the ideas, if not the exact code? Pretty easy. The data may be more difficult, thanks to the sheer quantity, but that's also the most perishable part.

Do you realize how easy it is to design nuclear weapons? I suppose you'd like to think it's a big, carefully guarded secret. It's not. Why else would a backward nation like North Korea be able to build them? The hard thing is obtaining the material. Also, the rocket science required for the preferred delivery method is not exactly easy. But as for the bomb itself, if you have enough material, a very weak explosion, or even just slamming two hunks together with a sledgehammer, is enough to set it off. With high precision, less material is needed.

And this is source code we're talking about here, not munitions, WMDs, or assault rifles. Such being the case, why make a big stink about it? Release it, and save everyone the trouble. Let's head off the possibility of people being dragged into court to defend themselves for leaking.

Re:put up or shutup time (3, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#42660539)

Open source and 'bad people' can use your code.

Puh-leese, that ship has already sailed. They worked hard to re-elect a guy who, according to the NYU/Stanford report [livingunderdrones.org] has killed nearly a thousand civilians with drones, including 176 children, not to mention the number of injured.

If these programmers' work was actually influential in the election's outcome (I doubt it, but for the sake of argument...) then they share in the responsibility for every additional man, woman, and child who will be murdered in the next four years. They could have chosen to work for one of the peace candidates, but declined to.

There are no 'good people' in this equation. There are only political opponents.

Re:put up or shutup time (-1, Flamebait)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#42660601)

including 176 children

Correction: 178 children [huffingtonpost.com], and that was as of August, 2012.

(and for entertainment value, let's see how many 'flamebait' points the above post gets from those who can't stand that 'their team' kills children).

Re:put up or shutup time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660713)

happy to oblige.

Re:put up or shutup time (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660679)

Only a thousand? More than a million civilians were killed and 10s of millions displaced during Bush's reign of his wars.

Re:put up or shutup time (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660769)

I'm sorry... the alternative was to change the U.S. into a corporate state. That was Romney's open goal here.

Re:put up or shutup time (1)

Fwipp (1473271) | about a year ago | (#42660835)

If these programmers' work was actually influential in the election's outcome (I doubt it, but for the sake of argument...) then they share in the responsibility for every additional man, woman, and child who will be murdered in the next four years. They could have chosen to work for one of the peace candidates, but declined to.

Everyone with their head on straight knew back in 2008 that the winner of 2012 was going to be either Barack Obama or whoever the Republicans backed, barring some unprecedented public outcry. If they worked for Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, or some other candidate, the odds of a Romney win would have increased,while doing nothing to increase the odds of their actual preferred candidate winning.

There's something to be said for making a living wage while working to avoid the greater of two evils.

Re:put up or shutup time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660841)

The Manchaen idea that the world is divided into good versus evil comes from comic booksm it doesn't match the world I live in.

Context! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660857)

Open source and 'bad people' can use your code.

Puh-leese, that ship has already sailed. They worked hard to re-elect a guy who, according to the NYU/Stanford report [livingunderdrones.org] has killed nearly a thousand civilians with drones, including 176 children, not to mention the number of injured.

That's a fantastically low number for a US president.

Re:put up or shutup time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660859)

According to the actions of the politicians in the summary, they think the President was elected by this software and not on his platform. Why else keep the source closed?

Re:put up or shutup time (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#42660921)

I'd like to say they'd share in every dollar of the approximately $5 trillion in extra debt over the next four years, but it was $400 billion a year, not counting Bush's bank bailout. And on top of it, the Republicans would maybe pare back spending 10%, so the most these programmers would be complicit in would be about 10% i.e. $130 billion per year, worst case.

Re:put up or shutup time (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#42660927)

Puh-leese, that ship has already sailed. They worked hard to re-elect a guy who, according to the NYU/Stanford report [livingunderdrones.org] has killed nearly a thousand civilians with drones, including 176 children, not to mention the number of injured.

Don't forget the kittens and puppies.

Re:put up or shutup time (1)

oldwarrior (463580) | about a year ago | (#42660737)

Applies to all open SRC. Open source wants to be free. If your political users ideas are good enough, you can take the competition using similar tools. It would be immoral to restrict code based on politics. Eew.

Re:put up or shutup time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660819)

For me, being a fairly liberal person the answer is simple, open source. i dont consider (most, although admittedly less and less) republicans to be bad people, and im not sure they would use it anyway, they don't seem to want to "get people out to vote" they seem to want people to stay home and not vote, or at least go out an not be able to vote.

Improving you say (2, Insightful)

gadzook33 (740455) | about a year ago | (#42660351)

Personally I wouldn't want my code maintained to levels I've come to expect from open source "standards".

Re:Improving you say (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660699)

LOL, you mean it will fail miserably in the marketplace unless some charitable PRIVATE company spends shitloads of money to fix all the massive quality problems introduced by craptacular socialist open sores programmers?

In light of all the gerrymandering going on ... (4, Interesting)

emagery (914122) | about a year ago | (#42660355)

... open sourcing the software may be critical; not only does it expose to anyone who needs to know that its done well and ethically, but it can also serve as a platform (at all levels) for the majority of voters to fight back against the exponentiation of aforementioned gerrymandering.

Re:In light of all the gerrymandering going on ... (3, Informative)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about a year ago | (#42660461)

Except they had a huge electoral advantage from their software. The GOP does not have very sophisticated get out the vote tools. So why on earth would the DEMs give the GOP one of their proprietary competitive advantages?!

"Hey we heard you wanted to gerrymander the districts even further. Here's a tool to help you elect officials to enable you to do that!"

Re:In light of all the gerrymandering going on ... (3, Insightful)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year ago | (#42660507)

You mean the same way that Maryland gerrymandered districts to eject a Republican congressman? District 3 in Maryland isn't even consecutive, it is 3 areas of the state that are 10-20 miles apart. Only fair that some Republicans in other states get to do the same.

Re:In light of all the gerrymandering going on ... (5, Insightful)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a year ago | (#42660675)

The only 'fair' thing is to remove politics from the district drawing process altogether. Not easy or simple, but Money and Political District Drawing are 2 things that quite literally are a direct threat to our governmental system.

Re:In light of all the gerrymandering going on ... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660733)

You're an alabaster retard. Yes, the same way. I dislike Obama, and I hope someone drops thermite on whatever server is hosting this software (and all the personal information it contains about millions of Americans), but the Republican Party gerrymanders harder, better, faster, and stronger than anyone. It's fine to be bothered by Maryland, but be bothered on behalf of the citizens whose votes have been stolen, not on behalf of the party that's done more to damage voting rights than any entity since Jefferson Davis.

Re:In light of all the gerrymandering going on ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660891)

You mean the same way that Maryland gerrymandered districts to eject a Republican congressman? District 3 in Maryland isn't even consecutive, it is 3 areas of the state that are 10-20 miles apart. Only fair that some Republicans in other states get to do the same.

Oh is it two-wrongs-make-a-right day here on Slashdot?

Re:In light of all the gerrymandering going on ... (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#42660901)

If there's a way in politics to cheat and get elected, it will happen, because anyone who doesn't will lose their office to someone who does.

Thus gerrymandering will continue to happen, by both parties, unless voters punish them for doing so, and support those who don't gerrymander. But that requires an electorate that pays attention.

Re:In light of all the gerrymandering going on ... (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42660517)

The GOP does not have very sophisticated get out the vote tools.

Evangelical Christianity?

Re:In light of all the gerrymandering going on ... (2)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | about a year ago | (#42660741)

... open sourcing the software may be critical; not only does it expose to anyone who needs to know that its done well and ethically, but it can also serve as a platform (at all levels) for the majority of voters to fight back against the exponentiation of aforementioned gerrymandering.

What does this software have to do with gerrymandering? Sure, it gives them an idea of what type of voters are where, but so does the actually county by county public vote tallies after each election.

Re:In light of all the gerrymandering going on ... (1)

houghi (78078) | about a year ago | (#42660917)

For those who did not know what gerrymandering was. A movie that explains it in 5 minutes is right here [youtube.com]

simple. (5, Insightful)

ThorGod (456163) | about a year ago | (#42660359)

Have the DNC set aside $400k or so to keep a 3 member team of coders updating it for the next 4 years. Don't forget, there are midterms in 2 years.

Who paid for the development (3, Informative)

schneidafunk (795759) | about a year ago | (#42660465)

This raises the interesting question of who owns the software and who's decision it is to open source it or not. The LA time link claims that specifically Obama and his campaign team is retaining the software, not the DNC.

Re:simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660761)

$400k would barely retain a 2 member team if they were to work on it full time.

Wasn't a lot of it already open source? (2)

eksith (2776419) | about a year ago | (#42660389)

A bit like a Linux distribution, they used existing components and avoided as much work from scratch as possible due to the time constraints and need for as reliability and flexibility as is possible. Some of the AWS wizardry and front-end stuff may be what's really missing from the picture.

so republicans never get access to it ... (0, Offtopic)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about a year ago | (#42660395)

I'm not sure why they are worried about that. Obama is the most conservative president the US has had in at least 30 years. If the next democratic nominee runs on the notion of continuing what he has done so far the GOP won't be able to field a candidate who is more conservative.

Re:so republicans never get access to it ... (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#42660429)

Because they don't care about good policy, they care about their team winning.

Re:so republicans never get access to it ... (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#42660565)

People who care about good policy do not get elected even in primaries (Ron Paul) and clearly can't get elected in the general elections (Gary Johnson).

Re:so republicans never get access to it ... (0)

ronpaulisanidiot (2529418) | about a year ago | (#42660651)

People who care about good policy do not get elected even in primaries (Ron Paul)

Wow, you call extreme fascism [slashdot.org] good policy? I'd love to know what constitutes bad policy - perhaps anything that actually considers the will of the people?

Re:so republicans never get access to it ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660795)

People who care about good policy do not get elected even in primaries (Ron Paul)

Wow, you call extreme fascism [slashdot.org] good policy? I'd love to know what constitutes bad policy - perhaps anything that actually considers the will of the people?

FYI, douchenozzle - a link to your own blog post does not equate to a valid source citation... unless, that is, you're trying to show how much of an uncompromising douche you are.

In the case of the latter - well played, I guess?

Re:so republicans never get access to it ... (2)

ronpaulisanidiot (2529418) | about a year ago | (#42660911)

People who care about good policy do not get elected even in primaries (Ron Paul)

Wow, you call extreme fascism [slashdot.org] good policy? I'd love to know what constitutes bad policy - perhaps anything that actually considers the will of the people?

FYI, douchenozzle - a link to your own blog post does not equate to a valid source citation... unless, that is, you're trying to show how much of an uncompromising douche you are. In the case of the latter - well played, I guess?

If you read through roman_mir's posts (including posts he writes from his sock puppet udachny [slsahdot.org]) you'll see that he does it all the time.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When discussing fascism, do as roman_mir does.

Re:so republicans never get access to it ... (0)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#42660655)

Gary Johnson cares about the profits of the private prison industry more than he does the people of New Mexico.

Re:so republicans never get access to it ... (2)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a year ago | (#42660701)

Ron Paul is a loon. Like a broken clock he's right twice a day, as in Liberty'O'Clock. But other than that, he's quite literally batshit crazy.

Re:so republicans never get access to it ... (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#42660839)

Ron Paul is a loon. Like a broken clock he's right twice a day, as in Liberty'O'Clock. But other than that, he's quite literally batshit crazy.

... But the people who keep voting in the same oligarchs, time and time again, expecting said aristocracy to actually do things differently at some point, are not somehow 'batshit crazy?' Or are you silently acknowledging that the D and R voters are just-as-if-not-moreso crazy than those who vote for Paul?

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results" -- Albert Einstein

Re:so republicans never get access to it ... (3, Insightful)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year ago | (#42660887)

if by batshit crazy you mean advocating the withdrawl of U.S. troops overseas and not wanting to start pointless wars, or supporting 1st, 2nd and 4th Amendment rights and opposing the expansion of TSA, Patriot Act, stop the indefinite detention of American citizens, or wanting to reduce federal spending and balance the budget, or legalize marijuana and stop the war on drugs, or support gay marriage and other civil rights for gays, then yeah I guess he's batshit crazy.

Re:so republicans never get access to it ... (2)

gfxguy (98788) | about a year ago | (#42660569)

Yup... it still a hard choice, though. Means to an end? It's OK if your candidate wins because of advertising, money spent, catch phrases and slogans, or computer software instead of winning because they had the best ideas and most tenable solutions to problems? I'm not starting an argument about whether or not Obama won that way - we're talking about the future. If the people involved actually wanted the best candidate to win, then they wouldn't try to advantage one over the other. Obviously, people want their side to "win," whether or not their candidate was better. Who are we to tell them what to do with their software?

Re:so republicans never get access to it ... (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#42660633)

Yup... it still a hard choice, though.

No, there's no hard choice. Neither major party has the best ideas or most tenable solutions to any of our problems. Any support for either is supporting the continuation of our anti-democratic system. Whether Republicans win or Democrats win in 2014 or 2016 is irrelevant. The only question that matters is when we fix our electoral system.

Re:so republicans never get access to it ... (0, Troll)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about a year ago | (#42660727)

Because they don't care about good policy, they care about their team winning.

Granted, the republicans did show in 2012 that there are actually millions of people in this country who are so partisan that they will vote for anyone with an (R) after their name, regardless of policy, just to remove someone who instead has a (D) after theirs. But the republicans already know who these people are and how to find them; they don't need sophisticated software to do that.

So indeed, they don't give a shit about policy and might well never again now that they have been boxed into a corner and forced to depend on hyper partisans rather than issue and policy voters. However this means that the Obama team really doesn't have much to worry about in terms of the possible outcome of the republicans getting their software.

Re:so republicans never get access to it ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660881)

Yeah, they're almost as bad about that as the Democrats!

Obama is not (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660883)

Obama helped pass the requirement for people to buy health insurance, which while more conservative than single payer, is not conservative. Obama allowed homosexuals in the military, not a social conservative position. Obama has been in favor of financial assistance for underwater mortgages. Obama wanted a program to double American exports.

Bush tried to get rid of Fannie Mae. Bush wanted Congress to get rid of Social Security. Bush opposed Federal regulation of electricity sales in the aftermath of the 2001 California electricity price runup. Bush greatly restricted federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

Re:so republicans never get access to it ... (4, Informative)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | about a year ago | (#42660895)

I'm not sure why they are worried about that. Obama is the most conservative president the US has had in at least 30 years. If the next democratic nominee runs on the notion of continuing what he has done so far the GOP won't be able to field a candidate who is more conservative.

"Most conservative?"

You have avery limited definition of Conservative. He's the left-most President in history on gay rights. He's left of Bush on health care, taxes, military spending, Immigration Reform (he supports a path-to-citizenship for all illegals, not just DREAMers), and regulating Wall Street. That encompasses pretty much everything in most Americans top 10 issues facing DC. And we still haven't gotten to the #1 Conservative project: re-making the Supreme Court in their image.

Pretty much the only area he could be considered right of Bush is his use of drones, and that's only because Bush didn't have this many drones to play with.

Re:so republicans never get access to it ... (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | about a year ago | (#42660923)

I understand saying Obama is conservative for Europe. But you are comparing him to other US presidents from the past 30 years.

He is the most (publicly) pro-abortion president we have ever had. He is for socializing healthcare (just wasn't able to get that far.) He is trying to severely limit the 2nd amendment. He firmly believes the government is best suited to solve with most social and economic issues. He speaks vocally against corporations. He is pro-gay marriage. He is against limiting to Social Security and Medicare. He relaxed the welfare requirements. There are tons more examples. Whether you agree or disagree with his goals, you can not honestly say he is more conservative than Reagan, Bush Sr, or even Clinton.

Just because he claims to be Reagan, doesn't make it true.

Huh? (4, Interesting)

tilante (2547392) | about a year ago | (#42660411)

Why would they put it on ice for four years? There are plenty of state elections, local elections, and Congressional elections between now and the next presidential election, and I find it hard to believe that the software is so specialized that it's only good for presidential elections - for one thing, if it were that specialized, open sourcing it likely wouldn't help, since no one's going to bother working on code that's of no use for anything else.

And also, "none of that will be useful in four years" sounds like BS to me. The hyped usage was in targeting who to have workers phone or visit. Polls, addresses, phones, etc. aren't going to change significantly in four years, and unless they did some seriously messed-up stuff, their code should still compile and run with only minor tweaks at worst four years from now.

Re:Huh? (2)

tilante (2547392) | about a year ago | (#42660497)

Update: misleading summary is misleading. In the actual article, the "none of that will be useful in four years" was referring to commercial election software, not the code that OFA wrote. *Sigh*. I really should stop expecting the summary to actually give proper context to quotes....

Re:Huh? (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | about a year ago | (#42660909)

Your points are still valid. One of the reasons Obama won was because he was able to organize on the local level better than Romney. This implies that the software would be useful for local elections.

That's what you get (-1, Flamebait)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year ago | (#42660413)

So the Obama administration, which is actively engaged in drone strikes around the world, refuses to tell the truth about Benghazi, gives so-called "assault rifles" to Mexican cartels, and approves an NDAA which allows for active-duty military personal to make arrests on American soil, doesn't want to open-source information?

Seems very out of character for them. Who would have thought that an administration involved in all of the above would not want to give out information?

Re:That's what you get (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660767)

"Flamebait && Disagree" works for me. Troll.

Re:That's what you get (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660807)

The NDAA byt ys the only thyng here that ysn't stupyd.

As if there was a choice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660417)

The bean counters running the campaign will never agree and (one of) the techies will just release anonymously.

Ownership? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660423)

Who owns the code? Who paid for it?

If it is copyrighted then the copyright owner can decide how to release it. End of story.

Re:Ownership? (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about a year ago | (#42660511)

Unless that copyright owner is considered to be "The US Government" or any subsidiary group, in which case it is open by default as far as I know? (eg NASA images)

Huge hole in that argument (0)

sethmeisterg (603174) | about a year ago | (#42660453)

Of course the republicans are going to fork the code...and keep it secret, regardless of the license in use. You think they really care about playing fairly and contributing to a common goal? NO WAY.

Re:Huge hole in that argument (1, Funny)

operagost (62405) | about a year ago | (#42660525)

You forgot to call them Nazis who want to tell women what to do with their bodies and shoot gay people with assault weapons.

Editorial Notes: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660865)

You're doing great so far, and I like where it's headed. If I could change one thing, I'd say, "Leave out the bit about telling women what to do with their bodies," because that's more or less explicitly written into their national platform. Otherwise, great work, I can't wait to see more next week.

Improve what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660471)

Obama won 2 elections. Republicans' Orca software was a big wet flop, and they have the most to gain out of an open source code.

conflicting goals (2)

turbidostato (878842) | about a year ago | (#42660491)

It gets as simply as this:

The developers who created the baby want it grow to be a nice piece of useful code that can benefit everybody.

Politicians want to have an edge on their rivals.

Re:conflicting goals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660931)

Except that it's not actually possible for it to benefit everybody. It exists solely to violate the privacy of the electorate to the benefit of a private organization (the Democratic Party). Every improvement makes it worse, and every additional user makes life a little worse.

This is a joke right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660527)

Considering we only ever get to pick from two hand selected candidates who will pretty much sell us out in very much the same way I'm not getting the joke here....

The next election has already started, hasn't it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660529)

At least for half (47%) of the country...

The code should be used with Organizing For Action (Organizing for America?) in the next 4 years to spur volunteering in the community and connecting people with causes.

I'm sure the GOP could hire a few programmers to make the same software...

The solution is simple... (2)

LordStormes (1749242) | about a year ago | (#42660545)

Let the DNC hire the programmers and keep them on staff. Keep the code closed-source (so the Rs don't get it) and also expand it to work with local races in the House and Senate.

They don't want us to know what they know about us (2)

C R Johnson (141) | about a year ago | (#42660575)

If the code is open, we might then have a notion of the scope, depth, and detail with which all of us are being tracked by the party. And that would probably be shocking to all of us who thought we had some level of privacy left. So I don't expect it to be open for just that reason.

Re:They don't want us to know what they know about (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#42660703)

If the code is open, we might then have a notion of the scope, depth, and detail with which all of us are being tracked by the party. And that would probably be shocking to all of us who thought we had some level of privacy left. So I don't expect it to be open for just that reason.

It's not the Democratic Party that is doing the tracking - its the commercial data sources that they buy their data from. And you don't need to look at Obama's source code to see the depth that we are all tracked.

Does it run under Windows? (0)

whoever57 (658626) | about a year ago | (#42660589)

Probably doesn't matter then. Reading articles about Orca, there were hints that Orca ran using Micorosft technologies (like the fact that Microsoft did some consulting on Orca).

I'll probably get a troll mod for this from some Windows fanboi!

Re:Does it run under Windows? (1)

schneidafunk (795759) | about a year ago | (#42660631)

Doubtful, considering the "dream team of engineers from Facebook, Google and Twitter". I'd bet linux servers, running apache &mysql, with either PHP or ruby running the server side language.

Re:Does it run under Windows? (1)

Mike Frett (2811077) | about a year ago | (#42660763)

You are right actually, Microsoft was a Consultant. And you're right about getting Modded down, every time I mention 'Linux' I am marked as a Troll and I JUST registered. We should all just go back to posting as AC lol.

As for this Code being Open Sourced, I can understand the reluctance from the DNC and the urgency for the RNC.

There's always hope (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year ago | (#42660605)

Someone who is confident in their beliefs has no qualms with a level playing field. ...then again, isn't this a manipulation tool?

Ethical concerns (5, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#42660635)

In this sense, the decision to mothball the tech would be a violation of the developers’ ethical principles.

Unless the developers were tricked into thinking they were developing an open source software platform, I don't see where ethics come in. Why would a business release the software that is widely believed to have given it a competitive advantage?

. "It’s going to send a very bad signal to engineers who might consider working on the next election cycle in 2016," says Rathee. "It shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how we work."

There are lots of programmers that understand confidentiality and realize that their code is never going to be open sourced. Is there a growing body of developers that want everything to be open sourced and free to the world?

The things we built off of open source should go back to the public," says Manik Rathee, who worked as a user experience engineer with OFA. The team relied on open source frameworks like Rails, Flask, Jekyll and Django.

Isn't this exactly the type of thing Rails, Flask, Jekyll and Django were built for? To allow developers to quickly develop and deploy applications? This is the kind of FUD that makes corporations afraid to use open source - they think that if they take advantage of an Open Source framework then they are obligated to open source their code even if it's used only for an in-house application.

I don't see the source code for Google's search engine or Facebook's core code available for download even though both companies take advantage of FOSS software in their infrastructure -- that's not to say that they haven't released some of their support code, but the "secret sauce" that runs the business is still private.

Let the Republicans set up a jobs program!! (1)

biomech (44405) | about a year ago | (#42660643)

Seriously, the RNC should set up its own programming task force and pay good money to develop their own system. It would put money into the economy and . .

Wait, how many H1-B's do you think they'll hire to save money??

I doubt they have much to worry about. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660677)

Conservatives wouldn't stoop to using open sores code written by a bunch of lazy hippie socialist slackers who apparently can't get a real programming job in the private sector. They'll prefer to outsource the task to private contractors represented by the management consultants that they're used to dealing with.

Just to make sure, the Democrats could release the code under the GPLv3. Then the GOP would be afraid of even downloading the source, lest it virally appropriate the GOP's IP.

some arguments on both sides... (1)

happyjack27 (1219574) | about a year ago | (#42660685)

for closed: *if you actually look at the stats of open source code, you see it's primarily written and maintained by a small handful of very good and very productive coders. *elections are war. and war is by nature closed-source. *programmers are like 99% democratic, since the brain structure for programming and thinking like a democrat go hand in hand. i don't think they want to give the fruits of their intellectual labor to the intellectually lazy. that's kind of anti-darwinian. *it's pretty much certain that RNC will try to sabotage it if it's open-sourced. after all, that's essentially their modus-operandi. for open: *benefits of open sourcing is not to be disregarded. i'm sure there are peopel who can come up with better probability models and what not. *open-sourcing the code is not the same as open-sourcing the data. *the RNC already has very high voter turnout. it probably won't be that much of a benefit to them, certainly not in proportion to the benefit to the DNC, which has low voter turnout.

Much like the NRA... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42660739)

I say open-source it. Much like the NRA, the more they communicate with the American public, the less they're liked. Some of the biggest helpers in Obama's success were the off-color comments of Romney (47%), and those two wacko abortion Republicans. Another lost election or two and they might figure out they don't represent the majority of Americans anymore.

RNC has money (1)

schneidafunk (795759) | about a year ago | (#42660749)

With the amount of money in politics, I would be extremely surprised if the RNC was not already investing in their own software development. In fact, take a look at this recent press release [gop.com]

Re:RNC has money (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | about a year ago | (#42660907)

The problem is that any new program will be commissioned by and paid for by Republicans. That means everything that can be outsourced will be, and we all know what the quality control on outsourced code is like.

Even if they did manage to come up with a brilliant GotV system, they are a dying party. Those under 30 went 2/3 for Obama this election. Conservatives have lost the moral war on gay marriage and they're not doing themselves any favor on other subjects, like rape and abortion. As for the economy, they need to stop pandering to their fellow rich white guys and recognize that consumers are the real "job creators" - not the investors who shove all their extra earnings into tax shelters abroad.

Just find the right place to use it. (3, Interesting)

smoore (25406) | about a year ago | (#42660773)

I know for a fact the Republican Party of Florida has similar a software/database setup that is constantly tweaked, maintained and used. There are too many elections between Presidential ones to let it go to waste. The DNC just needs to sell it to the state party offices to keep it useful.

As always... (1)

zildgulf (1116981) | about a year ago | (#42660833)

As always the political people keep looking at this issue in the short term, not the long term, with "sound good" assumptions that may be dead wrong. At this point you need to look at your adversary's weaknesses. The GOP's weakness is their hesitation to change is the key. Therefore the assumption that the Republicans wouldn't come up with something this effective independently by 2016 is wrong, they would, unless you make the system open source and allows improvements to be made at a faster rate than they can cope with the changes, much like someone trying to shoot an accelerating target without "leading the target". The GOP historically has been slow to embrace change, with some rare and noteworthy exceptions. If anything the GOP tends to be more reactionary than the Democrat party. At least some of the Democrats know that what worked for 2012 maybe not work the same for 2014 or 2016.

Well... (1)

Enry (630) | about a year ago | (#42660847)

For one thing, were the programmers paid for the work they did and was it clearly understood that their work may not be released as open source before they started (IOW, who holds copyright on the code?)

For another, that code could come back into play in 2014 for the midterm elections. Or it could be used sooner depending on how quickly 2016 starts to heat up.

Do you think the Republicans will contribute back? (1)

TwineLogic (1679802) | about a year ago | (#42660919)

If the Democrats open-source, and the Republicans don't, won't such a situation provide a permanent edge for the Republicans?
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