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Jimmy Wales's Open Source Collaboration Tips

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the unpunishing-good-deeds dept.

Media 129

destinyland writes "In a new interview Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales acknowledges his debt to Richard Stallman's Free Software Foundation and discusses his new open source search project. He applauds the way Open Source developers work around their ideological differences, acknowledges that he's an Ayn Rand objectivist who's skeptical of the wisdom of crowds, and blames Slashdot for his grandstanding comment that Wikipedia would bury Encyclopedia Brittanica within five years."

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129 comments

Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (-1, Offtopic)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817812)

What does she have to do with philosophy? Crowds, otoh, I can understand.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (5, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817956)

What does Ayn Rand have to do with philosophy? Indeed. Whenever someone professes admiration for Ayn Rand, I can only assume that it is out of ignorance, a mere reading of her two fat novels without any training in real philosophy. I recently read Jeff Walker's The Ayn Rand Cult [amazon.com] (Open Court, 1998) which, besides being a chronicle of how many lives her and her immediate followers wrecked, talks much about how the philosophy community--even scholars with ethical views similar to her own--reject her work as lacking in rigour, containing much inconsistency and back-peddling, and showing a lack of understanding of the earlier philosophers she cites (putting words into Kant's mouth, for example).

It doesn't reflect well on Jimbo at all to claim such a crackpot and madwoman as a role model. Besides, isn't part of Objectivism supposedly rejecting gurus? Why doesn't Jimbo just say he's an individualist, why bring up Rand at all?

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (2, Interesting)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818160)

If you're one of those Reality-Denoying Looters who doesn't want to pay for a book, the gist is also in Michael Shermer's essay, The Unlikeliest Cult in History [2think.org] . Shermer's name and reputation might be familiar to folks who travel in Objectivist circles too.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (0, Flamebait)

stinerman (812158) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818166)

Even then, if Jimbo is a follower of Rand, he's done about the exact opposite of her views.

Rand would look at Wikipedia and shudder. Wikipedia is the embodiment of altruism. People helping people for reasons other than to further their own status ... sickening. Jimbo should be out exploiting people, not helping them.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (2, Insightful)

haakondahl (893488) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818388)

Helping each other for no reason? Is that what I was doing on Wikipedia? I thought that I was engaging in a hobby I enjoy, which is of benefit to me. I thought I was maintaining a system which I find useful, which is of benefit to me. I thought I was testing my own knowledge and plagia^H^H^H^H^Hresearch skill against others who comment in the same areas; all of which benefits me.

We are all free to engage in behavior which we find pleasing. Please don't call yours altruism when in fact, you derive pleasure from it. Few things could be more thoroughly greedy. It's like bragging about how humble you are.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (4, Interesting)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17819096)

Altruism is doing something that benefits other people when you only indirectly benefit from it. That describes 90% of Wikipedia contributions. Personal pleasure doesn't even enter into it, and can't, because unless you're under coercion you are always doing things for some sort of personal pleasure. Actually even if you're under coercion it's usually the pleasure of a lack of pain.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820490)

Personal pleasure doesn't even enter into it, and can't, because...you are always doing things for some sort of personal pleasure.

So by "not entering into it," you mean "is the single biggest reason people do anything." Got it.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821024)

I mean that it doesn't enter into what altruism means because if it does then there is no altruism and the term itself becomes meaningless ergo my definition.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (1)

Arker (91948) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821168)

No, altruism is doing things for others that you do NOT benefit from.

Doing things for others that you benefit from indirectly is called 'enlightened egoisms.'

As opposed to the brute egoism of those who can't see the indirect benefits.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821260)

Well I say indirectly because IMHO doing altruistic things for other people encourages them to do altruistic things which will eventually benefit everybody including you, in a Prisoner's Dilemma kind of way. That's the evolutionary reason we even have individual altruism at all.

Rationalization (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17821064)

> Is that what I was doing on Wikipedia? I thought that I was engaging in a hobby I enjoy, which is of benefit to me.

Weird. Normal people rationalize away their greed and selfishness. I never realized that Rand's followers rationalized altrusim, instead...

I'm not complaining, mind you--I'd much rather you were altrusitic than some greedy asshole--but I confess that the notion of rationalizing it seems odd to me. You usually only rationalize bad things :-)

Re:Rationalization (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17822594)

They have to rationalize away the fact that they're *gasp* helping the evil societal leeches who deserve to be beneath us superman industrialists!

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (1)

nagora (177841) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818428)

People helping people for reasons other than to further their own status

This must be some alien, non-clique ridden, Wikipedia that I've never seen.

TWW

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (1)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818588)

Wikipedia is the embodiment of altruism. People helping people for reasons other than to further their own status ... sickening.

Have you actually been to Wikipedia lately?

At any rate, I agree that Rand would hate Wikipedia, but only because of its "everyone has a say" open-source traits. Though of course Wikipedia is now making some people "more equal than others."

Rob

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (1)

IL-CSIXTY4 (801087) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818714)

Rand would look at Wikipedia and shudder. Wikipedia is the embodiment of altruism.

I don't think there are people making sacrifices in their own lives to write Wikipedia entries, nor are there people holding guns to the other group making them write Wikipedia entries.

Rand would have loved Wikipedia, IMHO. It's the embodiment of *selfishness*, as she saw the meaning of the word:

  1. People write Wikipedia entries voluntarily
  2. They're building a storehouse of knowledge to make factual information available to everyone
  3. For the most part, people write Wikipedia articles in their free time, instead of doing less productive things like playing video games or watching TV
  4. (most) Article writers are doing it for no reason other than how good it makes them feel. You don't see people claiming moral superiority for how many Wikipedia articles they write, although they may point to an article they wrote and boast about the quality.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (2, Interesting)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818862)

> They're building a storehouse of knowledge to make factual information available to everyone

Why would Rand care about something done for this nebulous "everyone", especially when no one pays for it?

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (1)

IL-CSIXTY4 (801087) | more than 7 years ago | (#17819248)

Why would Rand care about something done for this nebulous "everyone", especially when no one pays for it?
Good point :)

Let's try phrasing it this way:

People with knowledge are creating a resource by which any individual who seeks knowledge may find it, and people are donating the fruits of their labors (money) to the WikiMedia Foundation because they value the dissemination of knowledge to those who value and crave it.

Wow...sounds wordy enough to be from the pages of Atlas Shrugged.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820394)

Yep, with enough turgid prose, you can justify pretty much anything, including outright charity and altruism.

Of course Rand also believed that anyone who liked Strauss as opposed to Rachmaninov was also "denying reality" and directed exactly the same vitriol that way. Same went for painters, actors, and so on. Really goofy boid, that Rand dame.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#17819040)

Wikipedia is the embodiment of altruism. People helping people for reasons other than to further their own status ... sickening. Jimbo should be out exploiting people, not helping them.
I think the word "altruism" doesn't mean what you think it means. I've seen plenty of people on Wikipedia attacking others to further their own status - some editors attack too, not just "vandals". Wikipedia is an exercise in vanity as much as it is even approaching altruism. As to Jimbo exploiting people... certainly not obviously or openly, but I do very much question his motives. His love affair with Ayn Rand does make me suspicious, as does his self-aggrandization. Wikipedia is certainly not my idea of an "open" project.

Just try touching an Ayn Rand article, go on, I dare you... you'll see how "open" it is.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 7 years ago | (#17819820)

The goal of the Wikimedia foundation is to develop and maintain open content, wiki-based projects and to provide the full contents of those projects to the public free of charge.

That sounds pretty "selfless". Now some of the individuals who make up Wikipedia might be assholes, but I don't really do much work there, so I don't know. I contribute because I want to make things better for others. I want everyone to have access to correct information, not because I get a hard-on for having more edits than someone.

I'll concede that Jimbo might have started Wikimedia for his own, selfish reasons. If that is the case, he's no better from a moral perspective than the suits at the RIAA. I'm glad he started it, but he's an amoral person in that respect.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17819072)

What Ayn Rand was against was forced altruism. Voluntary altruism is allowable in Randian ideology if the altruist is being voluntarily altruistic from their own resources, not with someone else's. I don't think she would shudder at WikiPedia.

She would shudder if it was a government funded organization, supporting the lame writing of academics who could not hold their own in the real world. This is not the case with WikePedia.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (2, Insightful)

EricTheGreen (223110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17819250)

Even then, if Jimbo is a follower of Rand, he's done about the exact opposite of her views.

Rand would look at Wikipedia and shudder. Wikipedia is the embodiment of altruism. People helping people for reasons other than to further their own status ... sickening.
Rubbish. As well to say that Rand (or any Objectivist, for that matter) would disapprove of someone volunteering to help out on the local library council. Or promoting an effort to build a new library, for that matter.

Rather, the "exact oppposite" would be if he tried to compel others to build Wikipedia against their own wishes and interests. Or seek legal sanction against those who would not build it for him. Or to manipulative the weight of others to bear against some other encyclopedia group.

And she doesn't condemn altruism, she posits that there's no such thing as 'altruism' -- people do things because those things are in their interest to do, whether pragmatic or abstract. What she condemns is the elevation of a slavery/behavior compulsion ethic deceptively mislabeled as 'altruism' to a position of unchallengeable supremacy in an individual's decision-making process.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (1)

kmweber (196563) | more than 7 years ago | (#17819640)

Actually, no, Rand explicitly rejected the doctrine of psychological egoism--and rightly so.

Rand simply held that one should have his own rational self-interest as his primary motive, not necessarily that everyone does

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (1)

haakondahl (893488) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818256)

You sound like you were beaten up by an Objectivist in college.

"Really, whenever someone professes such hostility toward an old dead woman who wrote turgid novels, I can only assume that it is out of indolence, a mere reading of Walker's book, and a lack of any real training in Objectivism, etc..."

Lighten up. Or you'll get Piekoff on your case.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818368)

Why doesn't Jimbo just say he's an individualist, why bring up Rand at all?

Because a lot more people know about Rand and what she wrote than actually understand the implication of the term Objectivist. It's the easiest way of explaining it to most people.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (3, Funny)

CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818536)

You might be an Ayn Rand objectivist if:

You're a brilliant innovator. Really. You'd show us... but we're not worthy of benefiting from your genius.

You replaced your subscription of Penthouse with the Wall Street Journal and read it for the same purpose.

Whenever you visit a national park you lament all the sky scrapers that should have been built there instead.

You day dream about escaping to Galt's Gulch, even though the male\female ratio is something like 10:1. Hey, it worked for the Smurfs.

It takes you 20 minutes to explain to people the concept of "A thing is itself" and wonder why people think you are condescending.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (0)

AnnoyedDroid (1057688) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818602)

Really, a philosophy is what you make of it. Just because a well known "philosopher" takes issue with Ayn Rand, it doesn't mean she didn't have something to say. I don't really agree with her views, but, like most "philosophy", she has a few good points, and many that are totally off-base. However, if someone is devoted enough to read her material (particularly Atlas Shrugged, that takes serious devotion!) and agrees with her, that is their decision. They found something they feel works for them, so, more power to 'em.

Let's be honest, most philosophers are excellent at writing a lot, but saying nothing. And when they so say something, like Sartre does, you have to wade through the muck and circular reasoning to find out what is actually being said. Ayn Rand is no Kant, Heidegger, or Sartre, but at least she puts down her ideas in a way that is interpretable by the many. It's no surprise that so many people are drawn to it.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818618)

. . .a mere reading of her two fat novels. . .

Is enough to fry your brain into a mass of undifferentiated goo.

KFG

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (0)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818718)

Ayn Rand's novels, like her philosophies, are better at the beginning then they are at the end. The world needs a good little bit of anti-collectivism and acknowledgment of the individual, great and mediocre, and allow him to pursue his own goals. Her scathing attacks on the hyper-communal future society in Anthem and the like do make sense, even if the society portrayed is a caricature; still, I think many youngsters more intelligent than sociable could appreciate, sympathize, and identify with the protagonists.

But ultimately, though Rand should be lauded for such things as assigning individual worth to individuals and not merely to society, or a dogged insistence on personal freedom of action, she fails to take her notions anywhere particularly grand or glorious. The novels start getting dull and repetitive, and one might arrive at the end of a work, and wonder, "what was the point of all that?" The philosophy seems to cover a few basic ideas like this and then... well... spins in some sort of busy-loop repeating the same sort of concepts. Perhaps some future philosopher will take this bright little engine, brush off the dust and the dirt and the icky stuff, polish it up, and actually really go somewhere with it. It will be a good day for the world if that happens.

Only collectivism creates individual freedom (3, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820082)

Collectivism allows the individual to persue his goals. Without the support of others, people are very limited in what they can do. Without collectivism, we would each be at the mercy of the strong and amoral, as well as nature. There's an old African proverb that peaks to the reciprocal nature of individual freedom and social responsibility: Only free individuals can make a strong tribe. Only a strong tribe can make free individuals.

Collectivism can be dangerous too (2, Interesting)

FallLine (12211) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821374)

Collectivism allows the individual to persue his goals. Without the support of others, people are very limited in what they can do. Without collectivism, we would each be at the mercy of the strong and amoral, as well as nature. There's an old African proverb that peaks to the reciprocal nature of individual freedom and social responsibility: Only free individuals can make a strong tribe. Only a strong tribe can make free individuals.
Individualism allows the group to pursue its goals. Without the hard work and insights of the individual, groups are very limited in what they can do. Without individualism, we would each be at the mercy of the collective. There's an old saying that goes something like: First they came for the X, I remained silent, I was not X. Then they came from Y, I remained silent, I was not a Y.... When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.

Another quote: Pure democracy is kind of like three wolves and two chickens voting on what to have for dinner.

Most of us can agree that it is proper and even critical role of government to secure basic freedom. However, to move from securing basic freedom to redistributing assets, excessively controlling consumer choice, etc is a very dangerous and slippery slope. You totally ignore that there are many collectivist organizations in 20th century that have done great harm to the individual (e.g., Naziism, Communist Russia, Communist China, etc). There is no guarantee that a simple majority vote, even an overwhelming ones, delivers justice or freedom.

Re:Collectivism can be dangerous too (1)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821698)

Survival is the most basic freedom of all. If I do not have access to the means of survival because I do not own property, I am at the mercy of property holders. I may technically have all the freedom in the world, but I would have to give it all away to survive. Redistributing assets would then amount to protecting basic freedoms.

All natural resources were originally shared by any who could use them. What gives a person the right to steal from us all for his own personal gain? Before a person works land, they have no valid reason to call the land their own. Yet to work it, they need to own it. So ownership of real property is theft, and society has a right to distribute property so that all men have the ability to support themselves without selling themselves into slavery.

Groups are not limited without individuals, they are non-existant. Duh. Yet without groups, as I mentioned, individuals are at the mercy of forces beyond their control. You seem to be taking my point to be that individuals should be subserviant to society. That is wrong. It is just as wrong to think that society should be subserviant to the individual.

Society and the individual exist in mutual interdependence, which is a concept most individualists are VERY uncomfortable with, yet which forms the basis of society. Most individualists are socially inept, uncomfortable with the messy reality of human interaction. They want to reduce the complexity down to a few simple rules, and they create a make-believe Authority (Natural Law! Don't Question It!) to force people into accepting their simplified interpretation of rights.

Here's a quote: no man is an island.

Here's another: I am my brother's keeper.

Here's what I'm basically hearing from the "rugged individualists," "Nyah, nyah. You're not the boss of me! No one is!"

Naziism is not a form of collectivism. Marx would be turning over in his grave if he knew what was being passed off as communism. Here's a clue: communism has never even been tried.

Individualists know that collectives priovide the weak with the best protection. Individualists feel the weak are their rightful prey, and resent anything that allows their prey to escape. That is the true reason they oppose collective action: they want to take advantage of people one by one.

Re:Collectivism can be dangerous too (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821880)

> Here's a clue: communism has never even been tried.

I'm no philosopher, but perhaps there's something inherently wrong with a sociopolitical theory that, despite hundreds of earnest and large-scale attempts across the many years and places, hasn't been judged to have risen to the level of even having been tried, let alone accomplished.

Or maybe the "true XYZ has never been done" rationalization is just a variant on the No True Scotsman fallacy.

Re:Collectivism can be dangerous too (1)

birdboy2000 (1053598) | more than 7 years ago | (#17822204)

It's not a no true scotsman fallacy, its an acknowledgment of Lenin's serious deviations from what Marx actually wrote, what with a dictatorship, "vanguard party" (Read: New elite) and all, and the fact that Leninism, not Marxism, was the driving force behind the other communist revolutions worldwide.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 7 years ago | (#17819092)

What does Ayn Rand have to do with philosophy? Indeed. Whenever someone professes admiration for Ayn Rand, I can only assume that it is out of ignorance, a mere reading of her two fat novels without any training in real philosophy

There are a small number of people (a few dozen worldwide, maybe) who don't fall into that category, and Jimmy is one of them. Although his background is primarily in economics and I wouldn't accuse him of being a deep philosophical thinker, in the mid-90's he organized and ran the only worth-while electronic forum on objectivism, the e-mail list MDOP (Moderated Discussion of Objectivist Philosophy). A significant number of participants had reasonable scholarly credentials, at least some of them in philosophy. Admitedly, I believe that participation in MDOP was sufficient to get one banned from the more conventional objectivist organizations, which are all about orthodoxy and not at all about philosophy.

Jimmy is at his best as an organizer and bringer-together of others, and the fact that he was able to create and maintain for some years a rational, productive forum for the discussion of a topic as famously flamegenic as objectivism is a measure of his ability in this regard.

As for Rand, some aspects of her anti-realist metaphysics and epistemology actually can be fruitfully studied, although the usual crtiques regarding her lack of scholarship certainly apply.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (0, Troll)

NewIntellectual (444520) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821062)

I encourage anyone reading CRCulver's flat-out lies about Ayn Rand's writings to read her works for themselves. Evidently he considers her philosophy - which holds that reality has natural laws, men should use logical thinking and should have rational self-interest, that capitalism is good - is "crackpot". Objectivism is the philosophy for thinking people - and it is true that it really riles up both the religious mystics, and secular mystics who believe that "society is all".

If you love science, reasoning, don't hate yourself, like trading the things that you create for things of value created by others, and generally find that your own happiness is important to you, it's likely that you'll love Ayn Rand's writings.

If you can't stand logical thought, think that every blade of grass on earth is more important than your own life, want a handout from the government, and think that all that counts is serving others, well, there's always Jesus or Karl Marx for you ...

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (0, Offtopic)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821316)

The point of my post was that Rand's thought is not taken seriously within the philosophical community. If you beg to differ, please tell me which peer-reviewed journals Rand sought to publish in and what tenured scholars base their research and teaching on her work. K thx bye.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (2, Interesting)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821924)

If you love science, reasoning, don't hate yourself, like trading the things that you create for things of value created by others, and generally find that your own happiness is important to you, it's likely that you'll love Ayn Rand's writings.

I love all those things up til you get to Ayn Rand. She's a poor writer, a hateful polemicist, and a shoddy philosopher. I don't find it the least bit inconsistent that her vile bilge is inconsistent with my own philosophies, even if they overlap halfway.

If you can't stand logical thought, think that every blade of grass on earth is more important than your own life, want a handout from the government, and think that all that counts is serving others, well, there's always Jesus or Karl Marx for you ...

Well hey, congratulations on your, uh, rational analysis.

Objectivism: comic-book reality (2, Insightful)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17822476)

If it weren't for people who help other people, I probably would be in a much worse place than I am in right now. Several of my teachers have said that I am the smartest person they have ever known, and I'm not even making this up. But I have Asperger's Syndrome and it has lead to me being almost entirely emotionally inept. Things like this are the standard for smart people--one switch on, one switch off. Supporters of individual fanaticism like the majority of the Objectivist movement is predicated on the belief in a superman who is perfect everywhere and the false dichotomy between "the projection of an ideal man" and a man whose main goal is leeching off of society. Thinking in ones and zeroes may work when programming circuits but that's not how it works with people. There is no "ideal man" and most of those whom the Randian society sees as leeches aren't. Belief in the "ideal man" is just as illogical as belief in the Second Coming, but I can forgive the latter as it was invented in the Roman society when the nature of reality was not as well-defined as it was in the twentieth century when Rand lived.
Objectivism may be based off of logical reasoning from assumed premises, but all the reasoning in the world is for naught when it's based on false principles. The majority of Objectivists tend to ignore their weaknesses, considering that if they acknowledged both their weaknesses and Objectivism then they'd have to admit that they are a leech on society. Which leads to them considering those who are strong in their weaknesses as the leeches on society. This leads to the false belief in "I should only care about myself" and the delusions Objectivists get of being the intellectual equivalent of Superman. In other words, belief in Objectivist reality is like believing in Superman reality. Superman may make for a decent story but all-powerful people like Superman only exist in the comic books. No, wait, Superman used his powers to help people who obviously don't deserve to be helped because otherwise they'd be able to fly away from certain death themselves. And then there's Kryptonite which requires other people to oh my god help him. No wait, the Objectivist hero barely even makes a good story(only insomuch as Chuck Norris facts make a good story) considering that most Superman stories are chock full of kryptonite because of how boring and unrealistic somebody with absolutely no weaknesses is.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17821282)

> besides being a chronicle of how many lives her and her immediate followers wrecked

I hear that Jesus Christ and his followers have wrecked a couple of lives too.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (1)

bogie (31020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818112)

Not sure if you are joking, but he's referring to Ayn Rand of the Atlas Shrugged variety. Whenever I hear anyone mentioning Rand it seems to be in the vein of laissez-faire capitalism and an "every man for himself" philosophy. Usually I end up not liking that person very much, but that's just me.

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (2, Interesting)

udderly (890305) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818408)

Atlas Shrugged is a melodramatic joke of a book with such a childish storyline that I'm surprised that anyone takes her "philosophy" seriously. As other posters have indicated, her "serious" philosophical work is regarded with derision by most in the field. Her so-called ethical system had been demolished by others more rigorous and of greater intellect (Kant, Hume, Hobbes, Kierkegaard) before she was even born.

Like you, I have to admit to a experiential distaste for her adherents. I have found that those espousing her philosophy are usually just selfish creatures trying to justify their own selfishness. Bleh...

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17818736)

> Like you, I have to admit to a experiential distaste for her adherents. I have found that those espousing her philosophy are usually just selfish creatures trying to justify their own selfishness. Bleh...

I can't agree with you enough. Well, I guess I've known a couple who were okay people, but they always seemed to attribute their silliest ideas to Rand. Hell, I wouldn't have ever known who the hell Ayn Rand was if I hadn't wondered why all these kooks I saw on the internet were citing her as the source of their ideas...

Re:Ayn Rand? The fan dancer? (1)

Pxtl (151020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818790)

Suicidal graduate English assignment:

Compare and Contrast the Turner Diaries and Atlas Shrugged.

If you can complete this project without your brain melting, you get a free straight-jacket. /not that I'm saying that Atlas Shrugged is anywhere near on the level of monstrosity as The Turner Diaries - I'm just picking out two books that tend to make people wince at the very thought of their existence.

Article and title don't match... (3, Informative)

jrockway (229604) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817816)

If you're actually looking for open source collaboration tips, take a look at Karl Fogel's (freely-available) book:

http://producingoss.com/html-chunk/index.html [producingoss.com]

OSS idealogical differences... what a crock! (3, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17819374)

This paints a picture of most open source projects being run like Wikipedia is, in an "anyone can edit" mode. What crap.

I know of no successful open source software projects run that way. On all the successful open source projects only few are granted write access to cvs/svn and most open source projects are run by one or two very opinionated people who do not accomodate others on a whim. In most cases, people finding a problem submit a patch and onte of the trusted few will apply it. In many cases, the patch will not be applied directly, but will be rewritten to achieve the desired effect better.

Sure people can take all the code and fork the project, but that is very different to having control over the document. You very seldom get wikipeia-style edit wars in OSS code bases because "the boss" does not tolerate it. Abuse the privaledge of write access and you lose it.

To draw a parallels between Wikipedia (which is uncontrolled) and Open Source (which is controlled) just does Open Source a disservice. There's enough anti-Open Source FUD out there and we don't need people thinking that any dummy with a chip on their shoulder can modifyt open source.

Re:OSS idealogical differences... what a crock! (1)

jrockway (229604) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821738)

Did you read the book? His experience is modeled off Subversion (he wrote it). Subversion is pretty successful.

As an aside, we run Catalyst [catalystframework.org] the same way (but with a little bit less bureaucracy, and fewer core contributers).

svn is not "anybody edits" (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17822584)

svn is an example that supports my statements. svn is successful and it is not "anybody edits". If you wish to contribute to svn, you either have to become a committer or you send in patches which get vetted and applied by the patch manager (read svn's website for details on the process). Joe Sixpack can't just jump in and modify svn code, like you can do with Wikipedia content.

Thus, drawing parallels between Wikipedia content and OS projects is misguided. Perhaps if Wikipedia pages were controlled by "patch managers" you would not get some of the errors and shit-wars that you do get, but then content would get generated more slowly too.

I am not at all saying "Wikipedia is broken". Wikipedia deals with human knowledge/opinions etc which is often very subjective and is more toleratant of errors etc. What I am saying is that Wikipedia content and OSS projects have different needs aand use very different mechanisms to interact with the community and that it is wrong to say that they are similar.

If you don't have the time, don't do it (-1, Troll)

heroine (1220) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817860)

If you don't have the time and the resources to fully support what you put on the internet, don't do it, or plan on a huge legal bill. You will be sued for negligence. You will lose your job. You're obligated to support what you put on the internet, whether or not the GPL says "no warranty".

Re:If you don't have the time, don't do it (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817976)

I assume you're talking about cinelerra or something. Negligence is when your build instructions don't work. Thank you, and have a nice day.

Re:If you don't have the time, don't do it (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818216)

Really? They don't work?

Have you been successful in getting it to work? Because I was about to try that app as soon as I had the chance...

Re:If you don't have the time, don't do it (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818640)

Have you been successful in getting it to work? Because I was about to try that app as soon as I had the chance...

Well, they didn't work for me anyway, on Ubuntu. I did go around installing things. Finally I found a repo that would let me install it; if I were booted into Linux right now I'd look it up and tell you what it was. Suffice to say that you can find binary packages and this is definitely the method I'd suggest for trying out cinelerra. I noodled around with the build for quite a while and finally gave up and installed the binaries.

Re:If you don't have the time, don't do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17822398)

Are you talking about cinelerra or cinelerra-cvs? I compiled the cinelerra-cvs version on ubuntu a while ago but it was pretty tough. I had to install tons of dev packages, finding out which ones were required each time just by reading the error output on each compile attempt and then I had to check irc for why the rendering would'nt work, turned out some of the symlinks were in the wrong place. It might have got better now but I would definatly go for the binary if you just want to try it out.

Re:If you don't have the time, don't do it (1)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818010)

I take it you have not graduated from Slashdot Trolling 101 yet?

Re:If you don't have the time, don't do it (4, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818080)

I

f you don't have the time and the resources to fully support what you put on the internet, don't do it, or plan on a huge legal bill. You will be sued for negligence. You will lose your job. You're obligated to support what you put on the internet, whether or not the GPL says "no warranty".
Obligated by whom? If Linus and his band of merry kernel hackers got together and said "Ok, we've all had enough of Linux. Time to move on!", except to fulfill 3rd-party contractural obligations (i.e., Linus works for OSDL, Alan Cox for Red Hat, etc.), what would prevent them from doing so? Nothing!

You use software that you didn't pay for, in terms of support you deserve exactly what you paid for. If the authors happen to be kind enough to return your e-mails instead of snickering 'RTFM', that great, but a FOSS author is under no obligation to support anything. If he wants his project to succeed, he will have to support what he's written for at least some time, but nobody's gonna put his feet to the coals for dropping support for a project he no longer has time for.

Re:If you don't have the time, don't do it (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17818172)

"If you don't have the time and the resources to fully support what you put on the internet, don't do it, or plan on a huge legal bill."

Based on what legal theory?

"You will be sued for negligence."

What did I "neglect" to do?

"You're obligated to support what you put on the internet, whether or not the GPL says "no warranty"."

Bullshit. I'm not 'obliged' (that's the word you are searching for) to provide anything for free) to do anything unless you pay me. That is called a 'contract'. You provide me something in 'consideration' for something else. If I give you something for nothing, that is all you expect to get in return.

If you don't believe in the wisdom of crowds (2, Insightful)

catbutt (469582) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817866)

you should throw all your money at the stock market, because if you have any brains whatsoever you can get rich. You should certainly be able to predict better than those stupid crowds whether the stock will go up or down.

Maybe the problem is that wikipedia, as it is currently designed, doesn't tap into that wisdom as effectively as a market does.

Re:If you don't believe in the wisdom of crowds (3, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818370)

. . .you should throw all your money at the stock market

Dude, that's what the crowd does.

KFG

Re:If you don't believe in the wisdom of crowds (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818430)

you should throw all your money at the stock market, because if you have any brains whatsoever you can get rich. You should certainly be able to predict better than those stupid crowds whether the stock will go up or down.

Hmmm.... Am I to take it that you believe that the crowds "predict" the stock market?

That's a fallacy, and is akin to saying that voters predict the outcome of elections. Just as the voters determine the winner of an election, the crowd -- the market -- steer the value of stocks.

HAL.

Re:If you don't believe in the wisdom of crowds (2, Insightful)

catbutt (469582) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818608)

Huh?

Try something simpler, like prediction markets (example: intrade.com). The crowd predicts the chances of whatever happening. For example right now it is predicting that the chance of Obama being the democratic candidate is around 19%. Do you think you can consistantly predict more accurately? If you can, you can make a ton of money.

Stock markets are basically the same thing. Calling it a "fallacy" is ridiculous....its just a way of looking at things, and a valid one.

Stock market vs. betting parlor (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818922)

The difference between the "prediction market" you're talking about, and the actual stock market, is that in the prediction market, the bettors (for that's what they really are) don't determine the outcome.

If you bet on whether Obama is going to be the next Democratic presidential candidate, your bet doesn't directly influence the outcome (except perhaps in some very indirect, butterfly-effect-like fashion, but we'll ignore that). The two are independent. It's just like betting on a horse race, or a football game, or anything else. You're trying to determine what the outcome will be, but unless someone in the game is crooked, what the crowd thinks the outcome will be, doesn't affect the results.

In the stock market, things are more complicated: the value of the shares are the direct result of what people are willing to pay for them. So if I think that a stock is going to increase in value, and want to buy some of it, I'm going to offer slightly more than the price it's currently trading at, in order to acquire some. If I buy a lot of it, or if a lot of people do that, it'll cause the price to increase all by itself. It's as though, by betting on a horse, or on Obama, you actually make them more likely to win whatever event they're competing in.

Re:Stock market vs. betting parlor (2, Insightful)

catbutt (469582) | more than 7 years ago | (#17819142)

The ultimate long term prediction of the stock market is how much profits the company will make. However, you can also bet on the short term, which is whether the stock will go up or down.

Note that you can play the prediction markets the same way, betting on the price of the shares (selling prior to the date of the election/game etc)

In any case, if it makes it easier to see the point, just talk about prediction markets. You are left with one of two logical conclusions: 1) the crowd is remarkably accurate and predicting, or 2) you are an idiot to not put a bunch of money into them.

Re:If you don't believe in the wisdom of crowds (3, Insightful)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818552)

On that basis predicting the weather should be easy, since molecules in the atmosphere are dumb as rocks, even dumber that dumb people.

And yet... weather forecasting requires supercomputers.

You're confusing dumbness with predictability. They're not the same thing, although dumb people can be predictable sometimes.

Re:If you don't believe in the wisdom of crowds (1)

FallLine (12211) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820014)

If you don't believe in the wisdom of crowds you should throw all your money at the stock market, because if you have any brains whatsoever you can get rich. You should certainly be able to predict better than those stupid crowds whether the stock will go up or down.

Maybe the problem is that wikipedia, as it is currently designed, doesn't tap into that wisdom as effectively as a market does.
First, this is a non sequitur. One could be able to significantly out-predict the market, but rationally choose not to because they lack the funds, the time, the connections, and the risk tolerance to stomach it. Even once you remove the market's "wisdom" there is still a significant amount of risk or pure dumb luck that simply can't be predicted or even be known due to lack of total transparency. For instance, I might be able to far more accurately predict Pfizer's financial perfomance over the next 3 years, but still lose, say, because their 3 biggest blockbusters get pulled from the market (due to real newly discovered side-effects, regulatory, legal, media or other bs).

Second, the stock market is fundamentally different than Wikipedia and other internet-schemes which utilize the so-caled "wisdom of crowds".

A) The stock market recognizes that not everyone is equal. Better investors/managers (e.g., Warren Buffet, David Swensen, etc) are given much more influence (far more capital behind their decisions) than the average schmoe.

B) The vast majority of influencers in the stock market have a very real stake in the outcome of their investments (either their own fortures or their careers).

C) They can only spend their capital once (Ok, they can leverage it and engage other techniques... but these are limited and typically increase ones risk dramatically). The investor is forced to either put more of their money behind those things which they're more confident in or simply diversify and spread their money around equally.

D) Their "correctness" is ultimately judged based on actual objective outcomes that are fairly hard to refute. Ok, we can dispute the long term value of an enterprise at any point in time, but it's hard to dispute, say, that some company did not earn several billion more 3 years after the investment was made (the market might not react 100% predictably... but that's a different issue). Someone that is really able to accurately predict earnings will tend to profit greatly (and thus their influence will increase... see Warren Buffet).

Contrast this with something like Wikipedia. If you "vote" wrong, what do you lose? Nothing really (OK, maybe you might loose some geek cred... whatever). If you vote right, what do you gain? Nothing. If I'm uber-knowledgable in some area and super-confident that the current position is wrong, there's really no mechanism that would allow me to exert more influence than the other blathering idiots (in the stock market, say, I might dump half my capital into a position). If the majority of editing users have a certain philosophical take, there is nothing to stop them from effectively silencing critics, even if they have doubts about their own position, except for their own integrity and perhaps the editors.

   

Once again Stallman will be infuriated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817872)

Yet again, someone else who doesn't know that Open Source is not what the FSF write....

Yeah, well (4, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817920)

[He] blames Slashdot for his grandstanding comment that Wikipedia would bury Encyclopedia Brittanica within five years.

Actually, according to Wikipedia, the number of years in which Wikipedia will bury Encyclopedia Brittanica has tripled in the last six months.

Reality (1)

Torgo's Pizza (547926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817922)

Jimmy Wales needs to learn that reality has become a commodity.

Re:Reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17818286)

And that brings us to tonight's word: Wikiality.

Re:Reality (1)

Pinkfud (781828) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818314)

Seems like I read that just yesterday on meta.wikimedia.org. Are you the one who made that little mess?

What's that encyclopedia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17818042)

Only a Slashdotter can spell Encyclopædia Britannica so wrong.

Re:What's that encyclopedia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17819276)

The Encyclopedia Britannica is marketed under that name in the United States.

Re:What's that encyclopedia? (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 7 years ago | (#17822554)

No it isn't. Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. is an American company headquartered in Chicago. "Encyclopaedia Britannica" is that company's trademark. Typesetting the "ae" as a ligature is optional.

No, he does not blame Slashdot. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17818184)

He doesn't blame Slashdot, he blames himself for writing something on Slashdot to rile up the Slashdotters.

Come on, summarizer! This is the guy from Wikipedia, who discusses the importance of distinguishing a channel from its content just a bit higher up in TFA, for crying out loud. Read the damn thing!

Crowds always make good decisions (4, Funny)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818202)

that he's an Ayn Rand objectivist who's skeptical of the wisdom of crowds
Kill the wise one!

Two more (5, Interesting)

Apotsy (84148) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818426)

Here's a couple you won't see mentioned:
  • Oust your co-founder and start claiming that you are the sole founder. It's okay if your organization's own [wikipedia.org] past [wikipedia.org] press releases [wikipedia.org] contradict what you are now saying. No one will notice!
  • Claim that the majority of work is done by a group of people who actually don't really contribute that much [aaronsw.com] .
I'm sure there's more.

Claim that anyone who isn't in the groupthink (4, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818646)

is a "troll."

Advocate banning "trolls" whenever possible, especially when they threaten to expose malfeasance on the part of your worst employees.

Call one of your detractors a "disease" in your IRC channels, then deny you said it (even though it was logged) and create an entire "biography" on the person devoted solely to libeling them, in violation of publication laws and your own "standards" for biographical entries.

Suggest in your logged, publicly available email lists for the project that "lone wolves" should start filing dishonest "complaints" with the hosting ISP against a site critical of your behavior.

Take the money donated for "the project" and build a new house with it.

Re:Claim that anyone who isn't in the groupthink (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818826)

How about a few links? If Wikipedia has taught me anything, it's that unsourced information is bullshit.

Re:Claim that anyone who isn't in the groupthink (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17819168)

If Wikipedia has taught me anything, it's that links don't mean anything.

I have a problem with Wikipedia because there is no responsibility for the material. According to the policies, nothing can be posted unless something can be cited. Citing something doesn't make it true. And if you have original or researched knowledge, that is excluded because it can't be cited.

Wikipedia is a nice starting point on many subjects. Just don't let the subject be too contraversial. And always read everything with a bit of scepticism and bias.

Re:Claim that anyone who isn't in the groupthink (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821114)

A link may not be a guarantee but stubborn refusal to provide a reference of any kind is suspicious and rightfully so, because the number one cause of that is if you're pulling it out of your ass.

Re:Claim that anyone who isn't in the groupthink (1)

Apotsy (84148) | more than 7 years ago | (#17819412)

You needed wikipedia to teach you that?

Re:Claim that anyone who isn't in the groupthink (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820332)

As Foghorn Leghorn would say: Son, you're about as sharp as a bowling ball.

No, I didn't need Wikipedia to teach me that. I think coders are the most gullible people on earth, because they have an automatic assumption that what's put down to text is representative of perfect logical truths. Must explain the Rand thing too.

The secret to not being a lame-o Objectivist. (3, Insightful)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 7 years ago | (#17818930)

When I was a young lad I was really into Ayn Rand for a long time and read all her books and all the non-fiction stuff. It was fun and interesting. I was a randroid, debated on usenet. blah blah.

Then I realized that there aren't all these super-human man-god objectivists that are being held down by the evil-evader looters. Really the world is a big soup of mediocrity, confusion, uncertainty and incompetence and everybody just tries the best they can. Even people who are genius architects are probably about average as track atheletes or at writing poetry. Thus the need to co-operate with other people who are good at different things and the need for humility, listening to people, etc.

Really Rand is a reflection more generally of Russian thought which is that everything is either perfect and godlike or low, despicable and corrupt. Look at the characters in the Brothers Karamozov for example. The real world is a lot more ambiguous.

Re:The secret to not being a lame-o Objectivist. (1)

Capitalist1 (127579) | more than 7 years ago | (#17819148)

Were you one of those Randroids who didn't actually read her books, perhaps?

Re:The secret to not being a lame-o Objectivist. (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820728)

Has to be, since he characterized them as being "fun and interesting".

Just poking good-hearted fun at it, not flaming :)

But seriously, The Fountainhead may be the most overrated novel ever. The worst part of the experience of reading it is when you realize that she's not really going anywhere with this, and that the "lesson" from the first episode (and every. single. subsequent. episode.) is actually the only thing she's trying to say. Possibly a salvageable situation if you throw in some interesting and not completely predictable characters... but, well, so much for that.

Anyone here ever seen the movie? Definitely a candidate for some amateur MST3K treatment :)

It has... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17819078)

Hold on, Wikipedia has killed Encyclopedia Brittanica.
Most people I know use wikipedia, and not one of them uses EB.

Wikipedia is a mess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17819540)

Jimbo Wales, I'm sure, means well, but Wikipedia is a mess.
Here's a couple of truisms that he should have kept in mind.
1.) The average person is of average intelligence. In crowds, the overall intelligence is, at best, average. Comparison to Linux is inappropriate here because in order to contribute to Linux, you need to be able to write code. Anyone who can write a spoken language can contribute to Wikipedia. Comparison to the stock market is inappropriate here because there is no cost in contributing to Wikipedia, but there is a cost to contributing in the stock market. In other words, people self-select. When the self-selection is towards higher levels of quality (as it is in Linux and the stock market (due, respectively, to expertise required and cost of participation), crowds can be smarter than individuals. When the self-selection is towards the local average (as it is in Wikipedia articles on controversial subjects which appeal to the masses - on which everyone thinks they're an "expert" on a moral crusade), crowds encourage mediocrity.
2.) Small groups find it easier to organize and are more prone to do so than are large groups. What this means is that point of view in Wikipedia articles tends to reflect the small groups which have organized rather than the large groups which have not.

One project too many? (2, Interesting)

pfafrich (647460) | more than 7 years ago | (#17819668)

It seems like Wales is on a project creation frenzy, it seems like every month theres yet another project launched from Wales and Beesley. Actually I exaggerate but the previous big announcement http://campaigns.wikia.com/ [wikia.com] seems to be pretty inactive now. I fear the same will happen for the new search engine. Does jimbo have the time to dedicate to making this happen, or is it vapor-ware?

Re:One project too many? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17822640)

Rumor has it he is trying to talk the wikiseek people into open sourcing their stuff. It makes you wonder if he's actually used it...

And Rand's article gets polished nicely (1)

LGagnon (762015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821216)

One thing I've noticed over the years as a Wikipedia contributor is that there's nothing done to stop Rand's wacko cult followers from turning her article into a shrine to her. I once tried to fix this problem, but it turns out that her cult will not allow anything, no matter how well cited, to make her look bad. To this day, I can still point to biases left in the article that they will not allow anyone to correct. And even when there are admins around, her followers are allowed to harass contributors who don't worship her as well. I've often atributted this to Wikipedia's inability to stop large biased mobs from taking over any article they want to (as admins refuse to stop people from adding biased information). Still, I've had a long-standing suspicion that this has something to do with Jimbo's worship of her, and I am still not convinced that I'm wrong.
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