Posted by joconner
on July 24, 2006 at 5:00 AM PDT
After reading a recent java.net poll about open-source projects, I ask a slightly different, more focused question: "Would you contribute to the open-source Java project even though it might be dominated by Sun?"
[I have edited this entry after its original post to more accurately communicate my own question and not to infer intent from the original poll.]
I think the most recent java.net poll is a carefully worded question. The author assures me that the question is not specifically about Sun, and the poll question doesn't ask about a specific project. However, I think it leads naturally to a more specific question. I could easily change the question to this:
Would you contribute to the open-source Java project (Java SE for example) even though it will be dominated by Sun?
If I understand correctly, most open source projects operate as a meritocracy, an organization in which contributors gain trust and influence in direct relation to the quality of their contributions. Contribute reliable, bug-free code, then your influence and respect increase; try to push slow, buggy bits, then you get a bad reputation, and you might not get more chances to contribute.
From a contributor's point of view, maybe nothing changes, regardless of who dominates. I dominate and control many things in my household (please don't tell my wife I said that), but I really appreciate when my kids help out. I want them to help, I beg them to help. If I had a really big house, maybe as big as Sun's house, I'd take help from almost anyone...as long as they don't hurt anything or try to rob me.
So now I have a few questions myself:
- What does it mean to "dominate" an open-source project anyway, specifically the open-source Java project?
- Who might want to hurt this project?
- Who might want to take it over or "dominate" outside of Sun?