So, I recently installed some software on my linux box.

I saw on the homepage for the software that they were looking to make a new home page. So, I made a new one for them. I just took their content, threw in some divs and made a simple CSS. Took me about 2 hours (I’m no expert).

The project lead quite liked it. I sent him the files and he put it to the dev list.

What happened? The very first response was: I like it but I think it would be better if we had a wiki front page.

This is absolutely typical open source:

  • There’s a problem or an issue.
  • Someone takes the initiative and solves the issue or problem.
  • They put the solution to the inevitable committee and immediately everyone’s hither to unmentioned preference comes to light.

What’s most annoying about this is that often you can tell that the responses are from people that have never put any thought into a resolution for the problem or issue before but now it’s been bought to their attention their brain has wandered off and decided how they’d do it (better). This wandering nearly always fails to take into account that they don’t have time to do it themselves.

What’s even more galling is you know that if you approached “the committee” for preferences before you start, you’ll just get bogged down in discussion and indecision anyway, again taking into account the opinions of people that don’t intend to actually contribute to the solution in a practical way.

So, the work that’s already been done is pretty much discarded and a new solution is proposed, taking into account the newly revealed preferences. As with everything designed by committee, this new solution will then limp along, unfinished for months or even years, because no-one has the time. In the meantime, the perfectly decent solution initially proposed could be filling the gap nicely but instead it sits unused and the time already spent is wasted.

The solution? Well, there’s two possible outcomes but no real solution:

  1. get to a point in the “hierarchy” where you just implement your ideas, without even checking with anyone (really ballsy and often risky)
  2. you get really fucking lucky and create a solution that everyone likes and meets everyone’s expectations with an almost psychic degree of accuracy

Good luck!