On Saturday 08 August 2009 09:18:34 drew Roberts wrote:
That seems reasonable on the surface. It needs to be examined in the scope
of free software as an eco-system.
In FOSS viewed as an eco-system, similarly named applications that are from
the same lineage can be better than dissimilarly named ones. A fork obviously
benefits from the code of the original in this system, as well as interest due
to the name. But the original also benefits due to the similar name that
results in an all around higher profile for the application seen as a family
of applications with variations. The original can always benefit from the
modifications added to the variations. But it can also benefit from friendly
rivalry that spurs positive progress within its own family of applications.
If a fork becomes better than the original then the originators should have
enough character to see the benefit of working on the fork rather than the
original for the overall benefit of the application as a family.
The problems that occur with a fork using a similar name are when the
originators react negatively, rather than in a welcoming way that helps its
overall image. It is not that they have to do everything that those who
fork want them to do, but they should have an open attitude that can
gain them more benefits in the long run rather than an automatic knee-jerk
In fact, you will find that some experts on these matters always recommend
to openly welcome forks (see the book "Innovation Happens Elsewhere" for
instance), even helping them, giving them a branch in your SCM, sharing
resources, and so on. If you are going to do that then it does not seem likely
you are going to object to a similar name. That would just be plain
unfriendly and cold.
The proper way to react is to welcome with open arms, not to fight against
that which cannot be prevented in the first place. The negative reaction is
simply futile and overly self-interested. It does not consider the greater
good that a wort can do regardless of which form it takes.
On other projects I work on I always recommend people fork my work and
use the same name for the application, project, etc (you can easily find proof
of this). It is no bother at all because I am confident that I can make a good
version myself and if someone else does better then I will see whether I
can use their modifications to improve mine or consider putting my efforts
into their fork instead. This points to one of the major problems I see with
people complaining about forks and similar names. It definitely shows they
are not open and that is really against the FOSS philosophy.
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