Talk:Eric S. Raymond/Archive1

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CatB "unreadable"?[edit]

I have now removed a statement of this sort two times. The first time I thought I was just removing an uninformed crack along the lines of "Libertarian writes essay making a plug for open-source software; therefore, by association, it is incomprehensible and full of business buzzwords."

Its reintroduction indicates that its author wishes to contest the point. I put that CatB is written, not in corporate jargon, but in programmers' jargon. I put further that it is a popular essay that convinced many programmers, including those at the GNU project, to switch to the "bazaar" development model, which provides evidence in favor of my subjective analysis.

Before the equally subjective analysis of CatB's "unreadability" is reintroduced to the article, I request that evidence in favor of it be provided. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 14:15, 8 December 2008 (EST)

Take a chill pill. You are taking this place way too seriously. Secret Squirrel 22:02, 9 December 2008 (EST)

Free / Open Source Software, Linus Torvalds, and Collaboration[edit]

The article's got some rather silly statements in the Open Source section. My edit to them was reverted, with the request to discuss on the talk page. Here's the reasons for editing/removing them:

Open Source and Free Software are legally the same thing, but advocated from two different angles

This is not correct: Free Software is a subset of Open Source Software. Notable packages that are open-source, but not Free, software are:

  • OpenBSD, NetBSD, FreeBSD, and other BSD derivatives (BSD license)
  • X.Org (MIT license)
  • Python (Python license)
It would appear that the GNU project itself disagrees with you, on all three counts. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 20:32, 7 March 2009 (EST)
According to the definition of free software, none of those listed software systems are Free; If I have received a compiled version of X.Org, the distributor is under no obligation to provide the source code. Therefore, I cannot properly modify the software installed on my computer. Furthermore, third parties may add additional restrictions on distribution.
Merely because the software is available under a Free license, does not make the software itself Free. — Unsigned, by: Janin / talk / contribs
Yes, it does. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 21:53, 7 March 2009 (EST)
You are right that Free Software and Open Source are not the same thing, but not in the way you say. You are totally wrong about permissive software being open source and not free software, as you do the classical fallacy that nearly every open source advocate do, by literally not reading those licensesI suggest you checking my draft Draft:Free Software, but I am gonna reply anyway.
* Permissive licenses are Free Software as well. Free Software means the software that has four freedoms and MIT, BSD, MPL and others have those. The protection of those licenses are another thing, which is called copyleft and doesn’t have anything to do with software being free or not. It is a subject of protection and copyright, not software freedom. I suggest that specific person to take a look at what Permissive Licenses are, especially MIT and BSD:
If you think Wikipedia is biased and wanna see it from their official sites, here you come:
* Literally the only license that is approved as “open source” by so-called OSI and not by FSF is a very odd license called NOSA (which I have also mentioned at my draft.
* FOSS is a term invented by OSI, to show Free Software as a small part of so called “umbrella term of open source”. That is bullshit tho, as Free Software is much more older and already exists as a term that defines all of the so called OSI-approved licenses, except for NOSA which is odd.
* Open Source was invented/ is currently serving as a market strategy invented by ESR that eanted to make his own movement and make money out of it. I think its clear after how he had produced gis books under O’Really, and OSI got donations from big companies like Microsoft and works in their favor, as they use the fmarket term Open Source repetatively.
I hope that helps, and gives a basic information to contributors to write facts regarding Free Software and so called “Open Source” bs. --Comrade-yutyo (talk) 12:05, 30 April 2020 (UTC)

The most notable difference is that it is possible to convert open-source software to proprietary, but practically impossible to do so with Free software. If I distributed a customized version of Python, without the source, I would have effectively converted the open-source package into a proprietary package. In contrast, Free licenses prevent this (usually through copyright law).

It can be argued that the Open Source movement helped gain respectability for the Free Software movement.

The Free Software movement, outside of a few specialist circles (such as security and authentication systems), has yet to achieve any particular "respectability". Whether correct or not, the idea that users have no rights to modify the software installed on their computer continues to be widespread.

wp:Linux adoption Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 20:32, 7 March 2009 (EST)
Linux's adoption has little to do with being Free, and everything to do with being inexpensive and reliable. If Linux had not been developed, it's likely some BSD variant would now be enjoying its place as the most popular open-source kernel.
For an apples-to-apples comparison, note the adoption of Ubuntu and Gnusense. — Unsigned, by: Janin / talk / contribs
Free software is, by definition, the least expensive software you can have. Furthermore, a large factor in Linux's proliferation has been people's ability to customize it for their own use, an ability that is unique to free software. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 21:53, 7 March 2009 (EST)

The Cathedral and the Bazaar popularized the aggressively collaborative development model that is now par for the course

Sadly, collaborative development is far from "par for the course". Relatively few projects have moved to a Linux-style model of distributed responsibility; the vast majority continue to use the model of a few maintainers screening all patches.

But do they also develop the patches? Two different things. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 20:32, 7 March 2009 (EST)
Irrelevant. While a project that refused external patches would obviously be using the Cathedral model, projects that accept external patches can also use this model. For example, many official GNU projects (glibc, gcc, etc) are Cathedral-ish. — Unsigned, by: Janin / talk / contribs
If a project starts accepting external patches, it ceases to be a pure example of the cathedral model and starts to lean towards the bazaar model of collaborative development. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 21:53, 7 March 2009 (EST)

but was originally started by Linus Torvalds

Collaborative development has existed for centuries, if not millennia. In the context of computer systems, it dates at least to the large time-sharing mainframes found in universities during the dawn of the UNIX era. Linus deserves mention for what is possibly the single most successful application of open-source principles to software development, but they were already in use by the time he came on the scene.

However, I do agree that Linus has done more to popularize collaborative development than Raymond, if for no other reason than that Linus practices what he preaches.

Janin 20:12, 7 March 2009 (EST)

The article does not say that Torvalds invented collaboration. It says that he introduced a particular development model in the context of FOSS development, which he did. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 20:32, 7 March 2009 (EST)
The full quote is "the aggressively collaborative development model that is now par for the course, but was originally started by Linus Torvalds" -- not correct. The idea that software did not have to have any particular owner was already popular among open-source circles. — Unsigned, by: Janin / talk / contribs
The cathedral and the bazaar are distinguished by the number and distribution of developers, not "owners." Both models, considered within the context of FOSS, are based on the premise that software is not supposed to have any particular owner.
In future, please sign your posts by placing four tildes at the end. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 21:53, 7 March 2009 (EST)


The "Atheists Can Be Soulless Bastards, Too" section implies that Raymond is an atheist. I do not believe he is; I think he's some sort of neo-Pagan/Zen combo, though from reading this essay of his, its kind of hard to pin his beliefs down.

  • I had completely forgotten about that when I wrote the title, so changing it was a good call. EVDebs (talk) 17:57, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
Richard Stallman is an atheist, so you probably just had the wrong software guy in terms of religious beliefs (or lack thereof), not so much the soulless bastard part considering how much Stallman talks about ethics. --GastonRabbit (talk) 02:18, 18 July 2010 (UTC)

The figurehead that wouldn't die[edit]

Speaking to people who've dealt with him before, they agree with the thesis of this article as it stands, i.e. a good and competent software engineer and valuable commentator on software who should not be spoken to on any other topic. And that he has more social and hygiene skills than RMS. And that it'd be nice if the OSI could get out from under the shadow of the lunatic stuff, even with the figurehead stepping back. Nothing I can attribute, though. - David Gerard (talk) 08:14, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

  • At the risk of picking up a case of Jack Thompson syndrome (where the article grows measurably everytime the target says something stupid), should we mention that based on his recent posting about women in science and technology that Raymond is a sexist pig as well? I feel like it needs to be mentioned, but I don't want people needing a shovel and a biohazard suit just to read the article. EVDebs (talk) 17:55, 17 July 2010 (UTC)
As one who has actually been in his home and spoken at length with him, granted in 1999, his horse wasn't hitched to the wagon that well back then. He had an umbrella stand with shotguns in it in preparation for Y2k. Time and lack of treatment does not help resolve mental instabilities, it makes the problems gradually become worse. Or to put it differently, he can successfully out-weird Zaphod Beeblebrox.Wzrd1 (talk) 17:27, 18 October 2014 (UTC)

Utter madness[edit]

Apparently, Donald Knuth has called upon him to make a new release of INTERCAL. Watch this space. MARCVS ANTONIVS 20:32, 29 July 2010 (UTC)

  • I have to say, I don't see that as being relevant to RationalWiki, except maybe as a passing mention. (Hell, it ranks just about that and not much more even in a Wikipedia article.) I mean, it's not like anyone has ever tried to write serious production code in Intercal, even Raymond. Now if he was someone like David Stes, who is a former Usenet troll with a long-running vendetta against Apple (and NeXT before that) for replacing the old Smalltalk-style Objective C (in other words, the main language for Mac and iPhone programming) class libraries with OpenStep, it might be on-mission -- if Raymond was aggressively evangelizing the Intercal data model. Suffice to say even Raymond isn't that nuts. EVDebs (talk) 20:37, 29 July 2010 (UTC)
It's really the whole "Donald Knuth" bit, as well as the fact that he's asking one of the current implementors to join forces with him. It just all seems a bit surreal. MARCVS ANTONIVS 20:40, 29 July 2010 (UTC)
Um, no. INTERCAL is one of the things that is ESR working in his sphere of powerful competence. He is a geek, Donald Knuth is a God-mode geek, INTERCAL is the canonical esolang, this shit is way cool all the way down.
I do not like this article because it does not sufficiently acknowledge what ESR is good at and famous for. He wrote large chunks of libgif and libpng - without him your web browser would be a much sadder place. He has code in every Linux-based gadget you use - if his contributions disappeared, your broadband modem and even your television would be bricks. Like Lubos Motl, his crankery is a counterpoint to his area of brilliance, not a negation of it. And I disagree with just about every political opinion ESR has. (And have actually argued them with his good friend Jay Maynard.) - David Gerard (talk) 20:46, 29 July 2010 (UTC)
I like INTERCAL, but I still hold that it seems weird. MARCVS ANTONIVS 21:46, 29 July 2010 (UTC)
...And it seems to have been true all along. O.o Mindless bastard Hoover! 21:34, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

scientific racism and "hardcore"[edit]

It's my understanding that scientific racism, being as it is a post-hoc justification of hate via pseudoscience, is as hardcore as racism gets. As for the matter of white supremacy specifically attacking Jews, that is the case with most of them, but I don't see that as being particularly material to the term. I am restoring David's footnote to the original post, but for the most part I'm just rolling back to my changes. (Not to mention "weasely" and "hardcore" are not in any way mutually exclusive.) Discuss? EVDebs (talk) 03:51, 9 April 2012 (UTC)

If you're going to accuse someone of something, you need to be specific. There's a whole taxonomy of fuckwittery here. ESR isn't a white supremacist, he'sa different sort of racist. What you wrote is actually wrong. And you really need to show, not tell - let his own words condemn him.
And that Jargon File fork - can you produce any evidence that anyone gives a shit about it, or any other fork of it? - David Gerard (talk) 07:40, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
The racism stuff will stay because nobody cares about your elaborate taxonomy of racists but you; to everyone else, he's a white supremacist. The revised JF fork footnote will stay because ESR did ruin the Jargon File, and because you accuse the critics of doing nothing about itand then remove evidence of them doing something because of the suddenly added proviso that you have to care for it to count. Mindless bastard Hoover! 11:33, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
No, really - is there any evidence anyone has ever given a shit about a Jargon File fork? Do you have any at all? - David Gerard (talk) 11:45, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
The fact that someone went to the trouble of making one. Can I take this to mean that you're going to let us call your beloved Eric a white supremacist now? Mindless bastard Hoover! 11:53, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
While I have in fact married him, the fact that someone declares a fork doesn't mean anyone gives a shit or it's worth noting. Whiny bitches declare forks all the time that die. Like the difference between "crank" and "woomeister". If we're going to criticise ESR, the criticism has to be accurate - exaggerating because of the halo effect (ESR is a fuckwit therefore throw in every bad thing you can think of) is just how to make the article shitty and blunt its effects, which would achieve the opposite of the effect you're after. e.g. Use quotes to substantiate the specific claim of white supremacism, if you wanted to convince someone who didn't already think it, that sort of thing - David Gerard (talk) 12:07, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
Here then, I'll break it down for you: white supremacy is the ideology of believing white people are inherently superior to people of other races. Point (11) "The mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites. The least intelligent ten percent of whites have IQs below 81; forty percent of blacks have IQs that low. [...]" clearly shows the author of the article believes black people are inherently inferior to white people on matters of intelligence, and claims any evidence to the contrary is due to political effects, i.e. the inferiority of black people is inherent, and the system is designed to work around the inherent supremacy of white people by unfairly rewarding black people, leading them to spread their incompetence.
esr clearly agrees with the article and denies it is racist; therefore he believes that he is not discriminating unfairly but instead believes the superiority of white people (and hence inferiority of black people) is an inherent attribute of those races, and he therefore wants to demolish the affirmative action he believes unfairly privileges black people over superior white people, therefore he is a white supremacist. Mindless bastard Hoover! 12:26, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
As I noted before, ESR also comments noting that Jews and Asians score higher on IQ tests than whites. This is not something your typical white supremacist/white nationalist believes in or admits, even when pressed. We're not talking about the same sort of creature here. So saying "ESR is a white supremacist" sets up expectations of what he would believe that aren't accurate. His racism is clear, but if you're going to name the specific kind of racism there's such a thing as getting it more right or more wrong. I haven't read further down the thread (I felt I'd had enough sewage for the day), but no doubt you can find something that is clearer - David Gerard (talk) 12:39, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
The part about Jews and Asians having higher IQs is the standard scientific racism line these days. See, for example, the writings of J. Phillipe Rushton. White supremacists today promote the writings of Rushton and others like him since they establish inherent differences between races. And then there is the question of whether this belief hasn't been present in white supremacy already. White supremacy traditionally hasn't just been about "we are superior to Africans/Hispanics/Amerindians/Arabs/etc and that is why we are right to colonialize and subjugate them" but also about fear of the "yellow peril" and the "international Jewish conspiracy". Secret Squirrel (talk) 13:36, 9 April 2012 (UTC)

To David Gerard: Enough with the hairsplitting and the business about the Jargon File. I think Secret Squirrel has summed up my logic better than I could. To Phantom Hoover: Cut it out with the slash and burn. Not all of what you keep yanking is David's work, and there are points where we have to give credit where credit is due. That is not the same as slipping hagiography in by the back door. EVDebs (talk) 15:14, 9 April 2012 (UTC)

He's now posting screeds straight from American Renaissance (well, it's via Instapundit); his commentariat is bringing the more traditional white-nationalism, while making high-minded noises about simply being an even-handed seeker of truth. This reads to me as a particularly pompous brand of racism, like someone who holds all these noxious beliefs and prejudices, but doesn't want to believe that they do. (talk) 14:37, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

Ugh. I saw that. Figures he'd puke out a heavy dose of Texas Sharpshooter In A White Pointy Hood. EVDebs (talk) 17:42, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
That's absolutely spectacular, and the comment thread is great too - David Gerard (talk) 11:33, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
It saddens me that Jay "Tron Guy" Maynard is one of ESR's fans. Turns out the guy who made cosplay respectable for grownups is a right-wing asshole -- wonder if he's a brony? (Anyway, it seems he's given up lead maintainership of the Hercules mainframe emulator, so, um... yay?) EVDebs (talk) 23:42, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
I knew Jay from the assorted spinoffs of alt.sysadmin.recovery. He seems to have been a 13yo libertarian his entire life - David Gerard (talk) 20:53, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
That seems like it should relate to his stewardship of a mainframe emulator somehow, but I can't quite put my finger on how. On the other hand, it sadly does explain the Tron suit. EVDebs (talk) 06:48, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

Trayvon Martin "exposed"?[edit]

A news story involving a shooting was uncovered, as well as Martin's unstable behavior and the fact that most experts agreed it was he on top of Zimmerman, confronting Zimmerman as he returned to his car. Everyone agrees Zimmerman could've handled it differently. Even if one completely sided with Trayvon, what exactly was "exposed"? I suppose the hidden racist conspiracy, but since everybody knows that America is still very evil and racist, I'm left asking the same question. What exactly was "exposed"? Burkean (talk) 20:23, 7 May 2014 (UTC)

Not much, save the obvious. Zimmerman was instructed by the 911 operator to stay in his car and *not* confront Martin. Zimmerman proceeded to not follow instructions, in a typical cop wannabe manner and ended up killing the young man. As for Eric, I've met him and been in his home. Back in 1999 he wasn't wrapped to tight, he's certainly gotten even more batty 15 years later.Wzrd1 (talk) 17:31, 18 October 2014 (UTC)
I don't think at any point this should surprise anyone. Raymond pretty much went full white supremacist by endorsing something John Derbyshire wrote. There's no way you'll convince him. EVDebs (talk) 04:38, 19 October 2014 (UTC)
No, he was advised by the 911 operator that "we don't need you to do that." An American 911 operator is not a law enforcement officer and their words carry no more weight than those of any other civilian. King Skeleton (talk) 06:28, 19 October 2014 (UTC)
I don't suppose it's occurred to you that whether he was required to do what the dispatcher said is irrelevant, since he really should have done that anyway? EVDebs (talk) 00:59, 21 October 2014 (UTC)
Yes, but that argument tends to get made as if he was breaking the law by not obeying the dispatcher, which isn't true. King Skeleton (talk) 01:56, 21 October 2014 (UTC)

The Ada Initiative libel[edit]

What, if anything, are we to say about this? Most people won't take it too seriously because it comes from Breitbart, but GamerGate et al are all over it. EVDebs (talk) 03:00, 5 November 2015 (UTC)

I think it should be mentioned. I've mentioned it on G+, where I have friends in common with ESR, and even they're having a hard time claiming this essay wasn't, um ...
The Patricia Torvalds interview, btw, is pretty much the perfect riposte - David Gerard (talk) 12:51, 6 November 2015 (UTC)

I don't know where to put this[edit]

but an anagram of "Eric S. Raymond" is "Yonder Racism" - David Gerard (talk) 23:02, 19 January 2017 (UTC)

My particularly lazy approach would have it end up in parentheses in the summary. ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 23:30, 19 January 2017 (UTC)
How the fuck did you figure that out, DG? Facepalm (Hahah Th hug.gif) Reverend Black Percy (talk) 23:59, 19 January 2017 (UTC)

Dark matter[edit]

Quote from the article:

[ESR] denies the existence of dark matter, to which a cosmologist can only say "Well, what do you think all that missing mass is?" which suggest he has come completely off his hinges.

The actual quote from ESR:[1]

I judge that that “dark matter” is no better than phlogiston as an explanatory device, and therefore believe without being able to prove it that there is something very deeply wrong with the standard model of cosmology.


  1. The comparison of dark matter with phlogiston is common "among the general public", even if "almost all astronomers are certain: dark matter and dark energy exist".[2] ESR is not an astronomer and could be reasonably described as a member of the general public, so there is nothing particularly unusual about his view.
  2. The dark matter hypothesis may be perfectly legitimately criticized for being very difficult to falsify. For that matter, even phlogiston worked quite well for a while, and its proponents were not all idiots.
  3. There are alternatives to dark matter, provided by modified gravity theories. They may be currently incomplete, flawed, or somewhat arbitrary, but scientists who work on them aren't considered crackpots, and I don't think anybody would say that e.g. MOND theorists have come "completely off their hinges".

If the article needs to pile on ESR any more than it does already, pretty much anything would be better than this. (talk) 14:55, 12 June 2019 (UTC)

Dark matter hypothesis has literally had observational tests of localized gravitational phenomena, and they're doing Xenon vat experiments to test the WIMP hypothesis of dark matter composition today. Difficult to falsify my ass. ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 15:07, 12 June 2019 (UTC)
Your comment seems to imply that failure of xenon vat experiments to detect anything out of the ordinary would falsify dark matter. This is obviously not true. Even a complete breakdown of all attempts on the WIMP front (currently not far from it: [3]) cannot falsify dark matter, because goalposts would be moved with the simple conclusion that dark matter is not made of WIMPs after all. It is impossible to disprove dark matter by failing to detect its constituent particles experimentally.
All this is, however, less important: the thrust of my argument is that doubts about dark matter are not a symptom of crackpottery, especially if worded cautiously, which seems to be the case here ("believe without being able to prove it"). (talk) 13:31, 13 June 2019 (UTC)
Falsifying particular theories would indeed falsify those particular theories. That's not goalpost moving. That's killing an entire branch of theory. One thing we thought was possibly true would be proven untrue. As dead as miasma theory. You can't falsify "there is a mechanism not currently present in the standard model and makeup of the universe drawing regions of matter together without emitting or absorbing light" merely because it's already been more than adequately demonstrated by reams of data. The chance to reasonably falsify that was in the 1980s and 1990s. ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 16:35, 1 July 2019 (UTC)