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Examining Software Liability In the Open Source Community

Soukyan Re:New guidelines (241 comments)

This becomes a hard guarantee to make. As a poster above stated, it can take millions to produce a relatively small amount of bug-free code. Not that it is impossible. It is costly and time-consuming, but certainly possible. Doing an analysis between the costs of bug fixes and shipping a bug-free product might provide more insight, but then again, there's the issue of what caused the bug. Was it a platform issue? Was an interaction with other software? Was it an untested configuration? We might begin to see shorter lists of supported platforms, and hear more responses stating that software is not supported on that configuration, so there is no guarantee. I do not think someone should knowingly ship flawed software, but I do think that some bugs will always be found after the software has been "in the wild".

more than 5 years ago

Examining Software Liability In the Open Source Community

Soukyan Can a "level" of liability be set fairly? (241 comments)

While a number of coders could be responsible for a software defect, it would be the responsibility of a given software project to correct that defect in a timely and effective manner. The reliance on an open source application can be guaranteed in part through support contracts, but simple ethics would dictate that the developers should hold themselves accountable for the final product. I wrote an essay (Liability, Reliability, and Safety) that briefly touches on this topic back in 2007.

One point that I argue is "[c]ompanies must constantly look at their level of liability and manage the reliability and safety of their systems. Spinello discusses some issues of reliability such as software 'bugs' which are an inherent problem with any piece of software and are to be expected, within reason. However, the programmers of the software are expected to assume the responsibility for providing fixes for the bugs and improving upon the existing code."

The problem lies in defining what "knowingly" means. After all, "software vendors know that the nature of software guarantees a certain amount of bugs thereby raises the risk to the vendor. However, it is not unreasonable to expect that any crippling system bugs would be removed from the final release product. Asking software vendors to assume some liability would help to drive the quality of the software upward."

Ironically enough, I ask the question at the close of my arguments: "From a legal perspective, the United States has some way to go to resolve the problem of liability, especially in the software industry. Software products and systems are not only used to process secure transactions and enable consumers to manipulate data, but they are also used in environments where human lives are at stake and sensitive private data is handled by many different people at all hours of the day. Negative feedback has been proven to work less effectively than positive feedback when dealing with the human psyche, but should software vendors be offered incentives to provide better offerings and assume more liability, or should they be forced to accept a minimum level of responsibility by law and an increasing amount of accountability based upon the industry and the application of the product?"

So, in the case of open source software, should an application targeted at the medical industry be more liable than an application that serves personal media on the Internet? While I would like to see more open source software used in more organizations, I believe that as things stand now, service level agreements and quality of support on standard platforms play a large role in determining whether or not to use an open source application.

As for the risk of litigation,where does the onus of responsibility fall when there is no corporate entity? Does the owner of the individual project become the liable one?

more than 5 years ago

Preview the Office 2007 Ribbon-Like UI Floated For OpenOffice.Org

Soukyan MS Word UI will soon be like Adobe Photoshop (617 comments)

It won't be long before Microsoft changes the Word UI to using a main toolbox and multiple customizable, tear-able, collapsible palettes similar to the Adobe Photoshop or GIMP interfaces. After all, when so much functionality is packed into an application, there are only so many functions you can show on the screen at once. Ever try turning on all the toolbars in Word 2003 or older? Was similar to the ribbon UI, but took up far more vertical screen real estate. The ribbon is bound to grow, too, or will just turn into a nicely skinned, context sensitive, menu bar, which is what it appears to be in Office 2010.

more than 5 years ago

Ask Turbine's Jeff Anderson About LOTRO

Soukyan In-Game Music System (282 comments)

As a former subscriber to Asheron's Call 2, I was disappointed to see that game go for a particular social aspect that goes unrecognized and unimplemented in other MMOGs - the music system. As a beta tester, you can imagine my delight at finding out that Turbine had added a similar system to LoTRO. I am now a paying subscriber based upon this one feature that I feel adds depth to the world and serves as a great community building tool. Could you expound upon the music system and its implementation as well as future plans for the system?

more than 7 years ago


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