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Contributor Agreements Considered Harmful (linuxjournal.com)
71 points by ronjouch on July 8, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 100 comments

I don't know about CLAs, but the way the FSF asks for copyright assignment isn't as careless as Eric makes it out to be. The FSF does require a statement from your employer that you're able to do the copyright assignment. I know of at least one prof whose university wouldn't grant that assignment and therefore the copyright couldn't be transferred. There was no "legal voodoo"; everyone was aware of what needed to happen and understood that it couldn't because the university didn't want it to.

Whether the FSF getting copyright assignments is helpful or not, I'm not sure, but it seems that it is: Hellwig's Linux GPL enforcement case against VMWare has so far hinged on him being able to ascertain copyright over the bits of code that VMWare allegedly violated, and last I heard, the court threw out his claims because they decided that git blame logs are not enough proof of his copyright ownership. If all of the Linux devs could collectively enforce copyright over their code as a single legal entity with single ownership, this particular obstacle wouldn't be there.

Edit: Just checked. Hellwig decided to no longer appeal. A second court decided to also not hear the case, on "purely procedural grounds", which I think again is about the question of copyright ownership:


On the other hand, it's good that VMWare has decided to become GPL-compliant anyway.

So, yeah, I think the FSF has a good reason to have copyright assignments, to avoid this particular obstacle.

> Eric S. Raymond is a wandering anthropologist and trouble-making philosopher. He's been known to write a few lines of code too. Actually, if the tag "ESR" means nothing to you, what are you doing reading this magazine?

Seems unnecessary and gatekeepery.

In summary, and just because you asked, Eric S Raymond is a mediocre programmer who has made a career of trying to pose as a hacker, define what a hacker is, tell people how to become a hacker, all while viciously, personally, professionally, and unfairly attacking actual successful influential hackers like Richard Stallman, including his philosophy and his life's work, by hijacking and distorting the definition of Free Software and the very definitions of words in the hacker's dictionary, to reflect his own extremist narcissistic racist political ideology, which most certainly does not align with the non-bigoted ideology in the Hacker's Manifesto: "We exist without skin color, without nationality, without religious bias."


When I was getting into Linux as a teenager in 2008 esr came up a lot, but apart from writing The Cathedral and the Bazaar and a few shorter essays and contributing to relatively-minor opens source projects…what has he actually done? Especially recently? He frequently feels like someone who's famous because he's famous.

I'm not trying to slander the guy; he's definitely contributed more code and ideas to the open source community than I have. I just don't consider him to be anywhere near the same level of hacker as Linus or rms.

His "The Art of Unix Programming" book is also pretty good; it's free on the internet[1]

But yes, you assessment seems about accurate. You don't even need to compare him to RMS or Linux; there are many many people who are doing the kind of things ESR is doing, but are just bragging about it less. ESR seems to have a bit of a misplaced arrogance problem.

His "how to become a hacker" essay from 2007[2] is probably a good example of it; it's pompous beyond belief and if it had a different author I would have believed it to be satire.

His Patreon page[3] is another good example.

[1] http://catb.org/~esr/writings/taoup/html/ or https://arp242.net/the-art-of-unix-programming/

[2]: http://www.catb.org/esr/faqs/hacker-howto.html

[3]: https://www.patreon.com/esr

I'd say I'm a fan and I'd agree he's not a hacker in Linus or rms class. His utility is explaining hackers, their actions , and the reasons for those actions to non hackers in a way that everybody doesn't disagree with too badly.

I couldn't articulate why I wanted to release software under an Open license to my boss, but ESR's writing helped them understand as far as they were able.

He certainly believes he's the most famous programmer in the world.

At least Terry Davis could write code.




tptacek on Dec 10, 2016 [-]

I think we're all pretty sure ESR is not in fact a god, and that nothing could have occurred with ESR or his magic flute to have demonstrated to him that he was. Rather, the story is more broadly illustrative of a pretty extreme narcissism and --- challenging --- variant of self-awareness. For a more down to earth example, consider how many of us would non-ironically write the following passage:

I’m wondering about this because my wife Cathy asked me a simple question last night, and I realized I didn’t have an answer to it. “Are you” she asked “the most famous programmer in the world?”

This was a question which I had, believe it or not, never thought about before. But it’s a reasonable one to ask, given recent evidence – notably, the unexpected success of my Patreon page. This is relevant because Patreon is mainly an arts-funding site – it’s clearly not designed for or by techies.

It goes on in this vein. Here, by the way, is a link to his Patreon page:

[link redacted]

Apparently we value "the code that makes our digital world work" a bit less than we value the person who fries our french fries at McDonalds. If that sounds mean, well, it is, but it was also Eric Raymond who put forward the idea that his Patreon page may indicate that he's among the most famous programmers in the world.

For a nerdier take on ESR's merits, hunt down Terry Lambert's take on fetchmail. (You should know who Terry Lambert is, if you don't already).

[link provided to "A tangential diatribe on the unsuitability of fetchmail"]


armitron on Dec 10, 2016 [-]

Not to mention that ESR was, at some point, a multi-millionaire. Pretty sure he still is, in which case that Patreon page of his would be nothing but a con.

> He certainly believes he's the most famous programmer in the world.

This raises an interesting question: who actually is the most famous programmer?

(Obviously it's a fuzzy standard, but I'd broadly want to say "famous largely for coding work". I don't think Brin or Page were household names until they were in executive roles. Whether Zuckerberg counts, or rather when his fame stopped counting, is tricky. Snowden, Assange, Swartz, etc. I'd discount for the same reason.)

Offhand, the same-generation names that I think beat esr are Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds, and maybe Knuth. The overall winner might be Sir Berners-Lee, who regularly gets mainstream press coverage - unless we're including Turing.

He's not that famous outside of hard core geek circles, but I am a huge fan of James Clark (not the SGI guy, but he's awesome too for different reasons), who wrote the Expat XML parser, Relax/NG XML schema language, and many other widely used standards and bodies of code that drive the Internet.



He has such clarity of thought and mastery of diverse languages (some of which he invented and implemented). He saw exactly what was wrong with XML Schemas, and addressed it practically and elegantly with TREX, which he and others refined through humble constructive collaboration into Relax/NG. And he's a big proponent and creator (not just a talker like ESR) of free open source software.


Here's a fascinating insightful DDJ interview of James Clark, "A Triumph of Simplicity: James Clark on Markup Languages and XML":


>A Triumph of Simplicity: James Clark on Markup Languages and XML

>If you peek under the hood of high-profile open-source projects such as Mozilla, Apache, Perl, and Python, you'll find a little program called "expat" handling the XML parsing. If you've ever used the man command on your GNU/Linux distribution, then you've also used groff, the GNU version of the UNIX text formatting application, troff. If you've ever done any work with SGML, from generating documentation from DocBook to building your own SGML applications, you've undoubtedly come across sgmls, SP, and Jade.

>Whether you've heard of him or not (and mostly likely, you haven't), James Clark (below right) has made your life easier. In addition to authoring these and other widely used open-source tools (see http://www.jclark.com/ for a complete list), Clark served as the technical lead of the original W3C XML Working Group and as the editor of the XSLT and XPath recommendations. He recently founded Thai Open Source Software Center (http://www.thaiopensource.com/). His latest project is TREX, an XML schema language. Clark sat down with Eugene Eric Kim to discuss markup languages, the standardization process, and the importance of simplicity.


>DDJ: You're well known for writing very good reference implementations for SGML and XML Standards. How important is it for these reference implementations to be good implementations as opposed to just something that works?

>JC: Having a reference implementation that's too good can actually be a negative in some ways.

>DDJ: Why is that?

>JC: Well, because it discourages other people from implementing it. If you've got a standard, and you have only one real implementation, then you might as well not have bothered having a standard. You could have just defined the language by its implementation. The point of standards is that you can have multiple implementations, and they can all interoperate.

>You want to make the standard sufficiently easy to implement so that it's not so much work to do an implementation that people are discouraged by the presence of a good reference implementation from doing their own implementation.

>DDJ: Is that necessarily a bad thing? If you have a single implementation that's good enough so that other people don't feel like they have to write another implementation, don't you achieve what you want with a standard in that all implementations — in this case, there's only one of them — work the same?

>JC: For any standard that's really useful, there are different kinds of usage scenarios and different classes of users, and you can't have one implementation that fits all. Take SGML, for example. Sometimes you want a really heavy-weight implementation that does validation and provides lots of information about a document. Sometimes you'd like a much lighter weight implementation that just runs as fast as possible, doesn't validate, and doesn't provide much information about a document apart from elements and attributes and data. But because it's so much work to write an SGML parser, you end up having one SGML parser that supports everything needed for a huge variety of applications, which makes it a lot more complicated. It would be much nicer if you had one SGML parser that is perfect for this application, and another SGML parser that is perfect for this other application. To make that possible, the standard has to be sufficiently simple that it makes sense to have multiple implementations.

> The Cathedral and the Bazaar and a few shorter essays

I think The New Hacker's Dictionary (aka The Jargon File) is the missing piece here. It's had an enormous cultural impact in a few different ways, and gave esr a voice and reputation among people who've never engaged with any of his other work.

First, it documented and popularized hacker culture to the point of being suggested as a gift by the NYT. Second, it became a formal source for everyone from the OED to NatGeo, which gave it a lot of indirect influence. Third, it actually helped shape a generation of coders; much like Neuromancer with cyberspace, the Portrait of J. Random Hacker was a partially self-fulfilling vision that motivated people to go out and emulate it.

It's obviously important to note that esr didn't write the Jargon File, or even create the first edited or printed version. But his 1991 version was the most popular, and the first to emphasize the ultimately more influential Unix culture over PDP-10. The people who document and popularize a culture pretty commonly become more notable than those most deeply involved in it, and I think esr is no exception.

And then there's Linus's Law, which he made up, then tried to blame on Linus.

"Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow." -Eric S Raymond

"My favorite part of the "many eyes" argument is how few bugs were found by the two eyes of Eric (the originator of the statement). All the many eyes are apparently attached to a lot of hands that type lots of words about many eyes, and never actually audit code." -Theo De Raadt


>In Facts and Fallacies about Software Engineering, Robert Glass refers to the law as a "mantra" of the open source movement, but calls it a fallacy due to the lack of supporting evidence and because research has indicated that the rate at which additional bugs are uncovered does not scale linearly with the number of reviewers; rather, there is a small maximum number of useful reviewers, between two and four, and additional reviewers above this number uncover bugs at a much lower rate.[4] While closed-source practitioners also promote stringent, independent code analysis during a software project's development, they focus on in-depth review by a few and not primarily the number of "eyeballs".[5][6]

>Although detection of even deliberately inserted flaws[7][8] can be attributed to Raymond's claim, the persistence of the Heartbleed security bug in a critical piece of code for two years has been considered as a refutation of Raymond's dictum.[9][10][11][12] Larry Seltzer suspects that the availability of source code may cause some developers and researchers to perform less extensive tests than they would with closed source software, making it easier for bugs to remain.[12] In 2015, the Linux Foundation's executive director Jim Zemlin argued that the complexity of modern software has increased to such levels that specific resource allocation is desirable to improve its security. Regarding some of 2014's largest global open source software vulnerabilities, he says, "In these cases, the eyeballs weren't really looking".[11] Large scale experiments or peer-reviewed surveys to test how well the mantra holds in practice have not been performed.

The little experience Raymond DOES have auditing code has been a total fiasco and embarrassing failure, since his understanding of the code was incompetent and deeply tainted by his preconceived political ideology and conspiracy theories about global warming, which was his only motivation for auditing the code in the first place. His sole quest was to discredit the scientists who warned about global warming. The code he found and highlighted was actually COMMENTED OUT, and he never addressed the fact that the scientists were vindicated.


>During the Climategate fiasco, Raymond's ability to read other peoples' source code (or at least his honesty about it) was called into question when he was caught quote-mining analysis software written by the CRU researchers, presenting a commented-out section of source code used for analyzing counterfactuals as evidence of deliberate data manipulation. When confronted with the fact that scientists as a general rule are scrupulously honest, Raymond claimed it was a case of an "error cascade," a concept that makes sense in computer science and other places where all data goes through a single potential failure point, but in areas where outside data and multiple lines of evidence are used for verification, doesn't entirely make sense. (He was curiously silent when all the researchers involved were exonerated of scientific misconduct.)

Many say that if ESR had not written Cathedral and the Bazaar in 1997, then Netscape Corporation probably would not have decided to make their browser open source. The Mozilla Organization was created (by AOL, which bought Netscape) to shepherd the development of this code base. Firefox is a descendant of this code base. (Firefox started outside Mozilla as a fork of the code base, which IIRC was called the Mozilla browser at the time. After a few years, Mozilla renamed the fork they were working on to SeaMonkey and endorsed and embraced Firefox.)

ESR is the main instigator of the "rebranding" of "free software" as "open-source software":

>The free-software movement was launched in 1983. In 1998, a group of individuals advocated that the term free software should be replaced by open-source software (OSS) as an expression which is less ambiguous and more comfortable for the corporate world.


This rebranding was very influential.

For example, it probably caused Sun Microsystems in July 2000 to open source OpenOffice (the direct ancestor to LibreOffice).

Linus starting using the term "open source" shortly after the rebranding. Interest in Linux by IT departments worldwide exploded. Large annual conferences devoted to Linux appeared. Seeing a way to decrease the hold exerted by Microsoft on its customers, IBM in 2001 launched a multi-million-dollar ad campaign dubbed “Peace, Love, Linux”:


In summary, ESR said in 1997 and 1998 that free software would become much more popular with organizations if it were explained differently, then put a lot of work into explaining it differently (e.g., founding a non-profit, the Open Source Initiative, writing many documents, including the most influential responses to Microsoft's attacks on free software), then over the next 3 years interest by organizations in free software exploded.

With the possible exception of Richard Stallman, ESR has clearly been the most influential explainer of free software to non-programmers.

>With the possible exception of Richard Stallman, ESR has clearly been the most influential explainer of free software to non-programmers.

That's funny, since ESR has made his career ATTACKING "free software" and trying to destroy everything RMS has done, not explain it.

I would say that Michael Teimann (founder of Cygnus Solutions in 1989, VP of Open Source Affairs at Red Hat) deserves credit as one of the most influential, constructive, and successful explainers (and developers, and leaders, and entrepreneurs) of free software and open source.

And Michael Teimann, unlike Eric Raymond, has actually written a WHOLE LOT of excellent, practical, widely used code himself. (Like the Gnu C++ compiler and debugger.) And he was explaining free software in 1989, years before Raymond ever started, by successfully explaining and selling millions of dollars worth of his free software company Cygnus's services to Sun, Sony, and many other clients. "We make free software affordable." And he's not bat shit crazy or racist, either.


>Michael Tiemann is vice president of open source affairs at Red Hat, Inc., and former President of the Open Source Initiative. He was the chief technical officer of Red Hat. He served on a number of boards, including the Embedded Linux Consortium, the GNOME Foundation advisory board, and the board of directors of ActiveState Tool Corp. He is also co-owner with Amy Tiemann of Manifold Recording Studios.

>He co-founded Cygnus Solutions in 1989. His programming contributions to free software include authorship of the GNU C++ compiler and work on the GNU C compiler and the GNU Debugger. Tiemann is featured in the 2001 documentary Revolution OS. Opensource.com profiled him in 2014, calling him one of "open source's great explainers."


>How to think like open source pioneer Michael Tiemann

>Ancient Greece had its Great Explainers, one of whom was Plato. The open source community has its Great Explainers, one of whom is Michael Tiemann.

>From a conference room on the 10th floor of Red Hat's Raleigh, NC headquarters, Tiemann is prognosticating. The place affords the kind of scope he relishes: broad, sweeping, stretched to a horizon that (this morning, anyway) seems bright. As the company's VP of Open Source Affairs explains what differentiates an open source software company from other firms in a crowded market, he exhibits the idiosyncrasy that has marked his writing for decades: the tendency to pepper his exposition of open source principles with pithy maxims from a diverse range of philosophers, politicians, political economists, and popular writers. It's a habit borne, he says, of the necessity of finding something that resonates with the many skeptics he's confronted over the years—because necessity, he quips (quoting Plato, of course), is the mother of all invention.


>The view was not always as clear. In 1987, when Tiemann was struggling to find a way into the fast-moving market for compilers, he stumbled upon the writing (and the code) of Richard Stallman. Because the code for the GNU C compiler was open, Tiemann was able to properly study it and port it to new architectures—with results that trumped even the most polished efforts of the time.


>"By making small contributions to this code, I became a member of a community which aggregated all their enhancements as well," Tiemann says. "And so I put in a little, and I got back a lot, and that seemed to me to be an outrageously great trade. And it seemed to everyone else that they were making a great trade, too."

>So trade he did. In 1989, Tiemann established Cygnus Solutions, the world's first open source software company. Each of the company's three co-founders put up $2,000 to get the business moving (the amount should have been $5,000 apiece, but Tiemann couldn't afford it). But what Plato once said held true: "The beginning in every task is the chief thing." A decade later, Cygnus merged with Red Hat in a deal worth $687 million.


>More than a decade has passed since Cygnus' merger with Red Hat. From 1999 to 2008, Tiemann worked as Red Hat's CTO and helped architect the relationships that propelled Linux into the enterprise. He also served as president of the Open Source Initiative, stepping down in 2012. As Red Hat's VP of Open Source Affairs, Tiemann continues the meticulous work of tracking open source trends—not all of which excite him.


>"What encourages me," he says, "is that there is a lot of positive energy from both the younger people getting into open source as well as the older people who have seen the generational ebb and flow of proprietary versus open systems, and I think that there still are a lot of people who are not as interested in seeing what can be destroyed as they are in seeing what can be built."

>Plato was adamant: The world we know today may change, but the perfect forms persist. As a new generation of open-minded advocates take up the cause, one can only hope they build something in harmony with the laws of an open source universe—which Michael Tiemann will gladly explain.

He's racist. I can't believe I'm still seeing anything about him on HN. I really wish HN had a filter/mute function.

I guess you mean this: "Police who react to a random black male behaving suspiciously who might be in the critical age range as though he is an near-imminent lethal threat, are being rational, not racist."

I don't think that ESR associates color of the skin with some intrinsic propensity to become a criminal (this would be indeed racism). The fact is that many members of Afro-American community leaves in a rather poor conditions (lack of education, contact with drugs, gangs) what results in a over-representation of the (violent) criminals in that group.

This is very unfortunate, but statistics is statistics - there are significanly more crimes committed by Afro-Americans than white people, so, indeed, it is rational to expect that someone having black color of the skin and behaves in a suspected way could be a criminal.

Maybe there are some other racist claims by ESR I don't know about, however I don't find this particular sentence to be racist.

But I'll give you this one to start with:

As much as he thinks he and everyone else should own lots guns, Eric S Raymond has recently stated (2017) that he believes blacks are too unintelligent to own or to be trained to use guns:


>Unfortunately, this doesn't cover the BLM crowd, which would have an average IQ of about 85 if it's statistically representative of American blacks as a whole. I've never tried to train anyone that dim and wouldn't want to.

And another (I could keep this up indefinitely, and by the time I was done he would have written even more -- Thomas Ptacek actually raised $100,000 to stop himself from tweeting vile ESR quotes. Maybe I should try raising some money for charity too?):




esr on 2015-11-25 at 15:14:09 said:

>So when Chicago cops seem a bit paramilitary, it might have something to do with Chicago’s homicide rate being more typical of Africa than peaceful civilization.

Recalls a point I have made several times on this blog, that criminologically the U.S. is divided into Switzerland and Swaziland. Or, more precisely, mostly one big Switzerland – white, very low crime rates – and a bunch of Swaziland-like enclaves, mostly black, with very high crime rates. Chicago is one of the Swazilands.

That is the tiniest tip of the iceberg. He has a long well documented track record of making racist claims. I will give other people a chance to post some of them (and for more of his racist sycophants to come out of the woodwork and out themselves by attempting to rationalize what he's said), since I don't have the time to get into it now, and would like to encourage you to go look for yourself first. Maybe I'll post some of the most egregious ones later, if nobody else does.

These examples posted so far all seem to fall into the "What You Can't Say" heresy camp, rather than actual overt racism. I can't speak for his character in general, but the stuff here comes off entirely as him having different political beliefs, a lack of tact, and the nerve to speak about his beliefs publicly.

I've known him and RMS (who he's made his career trying to destroy) for well over 30 years, so I can testify that ESR has always been insufferably narcissistic, arrogant, and smarmy, but 9/11 sent him over the deep end of racism, islamophobia and misogyny (google "Is the casting couch a fair trade?").

His software work is unremarkable (fetchmail is trivial and buggy, and CML2 was rejected by the Linux kernel developers), and he's made his career not by writing software but by attacking real hackers like Richard Stallman and trying to bring down their work, not by actually constructively developing any useful software himself. Attacking real hackers and trying to discourage people from using "free software" isn't "hacking".

He used to call himself "Eric the Flute", and he would go on and on ad nauseum about his beloved "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle NetNews Reader" and how it was so much better than every other netnews reader. But he never collaborated with anyone, and he never released it under any license. Much more Bizarre than Cathedral.

Just keep reading the other posts and quotes in this threads. You have a lot of catching up to do if you're still not convinced he's racist, assuming you're not just another one of his racist sycophants trying to rationalize his beliefs, carry his water, and mansplain away his racism.

See his blog for many more examples of his racist statements ("Affirmative action _is_ racism, by definition." -ESR) and his followers sucking up to him.


He has a huge following of racist alt-right pro-gun whack jobs (even the occasional self-loathing gay brony, not to mention "Tron Guy") who he panders to.

Yes. THAT "Tron Guy":


I absolutely agree that he significantly overblows his technical acumen, and appears to make his name as a sort of ex-spokesman for open source. As you said, it seems that he's unfortunately moved more toward attacking others, which is sad.

> assuming you're not just another one of his racist sycophants.

Implying that all who do not agree with you are racist is a bit of a weighty allegation. I have no doubt you will call me a racist sycophant in retaliation. This is not to say I agree with him; I don't.

> mansplain away his racism.

Please don't use this term. It implies someone is doing something because of gender; how do you know the gender of the explainer? Or of all the explainees? It's a silly term used to attack certain points of view. If some one is a condescending horse's rear, just call him a condescending horse's rear.

> Affirmative action _is_ racism, by definition

This is a point agreed upon by many. Half the nation doesn't agree with you. This includes non-whites; it isn't fair to assume that every one who doesn't agree with you is racist.

> He has a huge following of racist alt-right pro-gun whack jobs

Guilt by association is not fair. Just because some one agrees with something I say doesn't mean I agree with what he says. Also, again not fair trying to paint all pro-gun people as whack jobs; much of the country disagrees with you.

In summary, you make generally good points, but adulterate them with a political message hostile to many. You needlessly attack people for political beliefs which are reasonably main-stream, thus turning them away from otherwise good points about ESR's deficiencies. Discussion on this ought to stay intellectual, rather than devolving into personal attacks on vast swathes of people you have never met or conversed with.

>Implying that all who do not agree with you are racist is a bit of a weighty allegation.

Quite the contrary. I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt that you're not one of his racist sycophants.

>> mansplain away his racism.

>Please don't use this term.

Every one of his racist sycophants I've ever encountered have been men. Perhaps his Sex Tips for Geeks don't make him and his ideas as attractive to women as he thinks they do.


>>Affirmative action _is_ racism, by definition

>This is a point agreed upon by many.

Many who have an extremely simplistic, distorted understanding of what racism is. That doesn't make them right.

>In summary, you make generally good points, but adulterate them with a political message hostile to many.

If anybody wants to ignore the objective facts I've presented because I hurt their feelings by implicitly criticizing their political beliefs by associating them with Eric Raymond's racist beliefs, then that's their problem. If they don't have a problem with the hostile political messages that ESR adulterates all of his arguments with, then they should be able to tolerate mine too.

Perhaps they should read ESR's Sex Tips For Geeks advice about Avoiding the Curse of Oversensitivity:


>"As one of my beautiful geekgirl assistants pointed out previously, women have egos too." -Eric S Raymond

> I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt that you're not one of his racist sycophants.

Much appreciated, but the way you word this implies that if some one disagrees with you, he is a racist sycophant.

> Every one of his racist sycophants I've ever encountered have been men.

But I've usually heard "man splaining" defined as a man explaining "at" a woman. Have all the targets of his "racist sycophants" been women? You are making sex an issue where it does not need to be one.

> Many how have an extremely simplistic, distorted understanding of what racism is. That doesn't make them right.

You can't just claim every one who disagrees with your point of view on this has a "simplistic, distorted understanding" without supporting that. My understanding is pretty simple: racism is deliberately treating people differently because of race. I guess you could take that as simple, but I view it as a stark moral wrong and so don't see the need for a more complex one. If you disagree, please feel free to discuss why.

> criticizing their political beliefs by associating them with Eric Raymond's racist beliefs

No reason to try to draw a baseless association between other stuff and bad stuff some one has said.

> objective facts.

Any thing you didn't provide a link for I consider subjective. You can't declare your opinions "the objective fact".

> If they don't have a problem with the hostile political messages that ESR adulterates all of his arguments with, then they should be able to tolerate mine too.

I don't like the political message with which he adulterates his beliefs, nor did I say I did. I opened my above reply by criticizing him. However, I see no reason why I cannot criticize you for adding unnecessary political opinions to a discussion.

> Perhaps they should read ESR's Sex Tips for Geeks

This whole "writing" seems to be contemptible. I'm not defending it.

In summary, I'm not defending this guy; I don't like him either. I just don't like the way you stated your objection.

> My understanding is pretty simple: racism is deliberately treating people differently because of race.

Out of curiosity, I looked through your history and found https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19727302#19737906 where you decided to use the Wikipedia definition of racism - "the belief in the superiority of another" - to support your argument that a facial recognition systems which provided more precise results for light skinned people was not 'unintentionally racist'.

Have you changed your mind in the last three months?

> My understanding is pretty simple: racism is deliberately treating people differently because of race.

That's precisely what I meant by a simplistic, distorted (mis)understanding of racism. I could refer you to wikipedia, but that would be leading a horse to water.

Merriam webster, 3: racial prejudice or discrimination


Seems pretty simple to me. I could be sarcastic and snarky too, but I'm not going to. If you've got a reason to prefer your definition, I'm genuinely open to being convinced other wise. Affirmative action is, by that definition, racist. Do you have a different definition which is for some reason preferable which states otherwise?

You're wrong. Read the entire definition again, this time not skipping 2/3 of the meanings. Affirmative action is certainly not based on the "belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race". Quite the opposite. You led yourself to water, and still didn't drink.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism: "Racism is the belief in the superiority of one race over another, which often results in discrimination and prejudice towards people based on their race or ethnicity."

How exactly is affirmative action based on the belief that one race is superior to another, and how exactly is it discrimination and prejudice?

Affirmative action's aim is meant to compensate for the effects of discrimination and prejudice, and it's based on the belief that races are equal. The opposite of racism, not the definition of racism.

But if you want to ignore those important facts, and contradict the actual meaning of both the dictionary and wikipedia definitions of racism, in order to cling to Eric Raymond's conveniently simplistic mis-definition of racism, which is based on his mistaken beliefs that races are not equal, go knock yourself out. When you lay down with the dogs, you get up with fleas.

Are you going to whine about "reverse discrimination" next?

> not skipping 2/3 of the meaning

No, I picked the third definition entry. You have to give me a better reason to prefer than "it's got a lower number in Merriam Webster's". More importantly, affirmative actions essentially posits that black people cannot get ahead because of an inherent characteristic - skin color. It says that race effectively determines the capacity of a black without other intervention. It's demeaning.

> Labor force participation != gender equality. If women want to stay home, it's their choice. Wage equality is a bogus measurement, especially considering that men move more, stay overtime (including unpaid) more, die more on the job, work outside more, work more hours, etc. Same goes for estimated earned income. Gender ratio of bureaucrats is inconsequential; fewer women run. Again, their choice. Professional and technical workers again bogus; their choice. Literacy is fine in a nation where every one is supposed to be literate (such as America), but college and post-grad are again choices and therefore bogus. Life expectancy is bogus; women live longer and so that can't be counted. Women in parliament is bogus; not all nations have those. Also, again, people choose to run or not run for office; fewer women run in America. Ministerial positions are what, exactly? This is clearly written for commonwealth nations and those set up according to the English prototype. America is not, therefore she is not easily compared in this area. Years with female head of state is bogus. Individual choices.

It is discrimination and prejudice when you down-weight the application of a more-qualified asian to a less-qualified black. That is definitionally discriminatory and prejudicial, as you are attempting to select more blacks at the expense of others because of race.

> Affirmative action's aim is meant to compensate for the effects of discrimination and prejudice, and it's based on the belief that races are equal. The opposite of racism, not the definition of racism.

What discrimination? What prejudice? Blacks are equal. Can you quantify any?

> But if you want to ignore those important facts, and contradict the actual meaning of both the dictionary and wikipedia definitions of racism, in order to cling to Eric Raymond's conveniently simplistic mis-definition of racism, which is based on his mistaken beliefs that races are not equal, go knock yourself out. When you lay down with the dogs, you get up with fleas.

I'm not sticking with Eric Raymond's definition, I'm using the one which I believe to be correct. You can't use yours, other wise saying blacks can't vote would technically not be racist (by your definition only) if you didn't believe they were inferior but did so for purposes of politics. Your definition takes the issue to one of belief (which cannot be quantified), whereas mine deals with concrete actions.

That said, the burden to prove your definition is still on you, and you haven't actually defended the substance of the definition based on its merits. You've just said "mine's got a higher number in the dictionary".

> Are you going to whine about "reverse discrimination" next?

Depends on the definition, again. By my definition, [0] qualifies (music festival tried to charge whites double). By yours, it wasn't based on a belief of superiority and so didn't qualify. However, I don't believe there is significant racism on either side.

[0] https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/festival-white-people-...

Please don't do ideological flamewar here, regardless of how wrong or bad another comment is. It's against the site guidelines.



ludwig@mises.gq: It's no surprise that somebody who names himself after a Hitler apologist would choose to be such a rabid ESR apologist himself. This is not the place for your and ESR's pseudoscientific rationalizations of racism.

"The fact that the capitalists and entrepreneurs [in Germany], faced with the alternative of Communism or Nazism, chose the latter, does not require any further explanation. They preferred to live as shop managers under Hitler than to be "liquidated" as "bourgeois" by Stalin." -Ludwig von Mises, again apologizing for Hitler rather than criticizing both dictators.

Please don't do ideological flamewar here, regardless of how wrong or bad another comment is. It's against the site guidelines.


Eric is an ass. I say that as someone whose first-ever Amazon purchase was a copy of The New Hacker's Dictionary in 1998.

Funny, I've noticed the same sentence, only my reaction to it was to feel intrigued to learn more about ESR... generation differences in sensibility, I guess...

Are you younger or older?

I'd guess older...

FTA: "If it ever comes to a court case, one of the first things [sic] the judge is going to look at is community expectations and practice around our licenses. A jurist is supposed [sic] to do this in contract and license cases; there's some famous case law about the interpretation of handshake contracts among Hasidic Jewish diamond merchants in New York City that makes this very clear and explicit. Where there is doubt about interpretation and no overriding problem of of equity, the norms of the community within which the license/contract was arrived at should govern." [Emphasis added.]

The first two sentences of this quote are flat-out wrong and give false hope about the supposed willingness of (U.S.) courts to rescue people from "unfair" contracts. Only in the italicized part of the final sentence does ESR get it right, and even then only partly so.

1. In American law's protocol ("subroutine") for interpreting contract language, a judge will never get as far as looking at industry standards unless the judge first determines that the language is ambiguous, that is, capable of two or more plausible interpretations, and that evidence of industry standards can be helpful in resolving the ambiguity.

2. "Equity" generally doesn't enter into contract interpretation or enforcement, at least in U.S. law. The normal governing principle here is "freedom of contract" — as in, you're free to make a really dumb deal, and (with rare exceptions such as "unconscionability") the court won't rewrite the contract for you just because you come to regret having entered into it.

3. If the judge does get as far as taking industry standards into account, then: (A) Evidence of just what those standards are will need to be presented; (B) the finder of fact — possibly the jury — might have to weigh the evidence and "decide" what those industry standards are, for purposes of deciding the case; and (C) the industry standards won't necessarily be controlling in any case.

Source: I teach business-contract drafting as a part-time law professor; my relevant course materials, with links to additional reading, are at https://toedtclassnotes.site44.com/#AmbigTop

Thank you for this. The claim that community expectations are relevant in the face of a clearly-written contract sounded bizarre to me, but it's nice to have some actually informed confirmation.

As an aside, do you know what case law he's talking about with the diamond merchants?

Not only can I not find any such "famous case law" with a quick search, I'm instead finding articles like this which specifically claim those handshake contracts aren't enforceable, and analyze how they function in the absence of legal protection: https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer...

This seems like making a mountain out of a molehill.

To get an ICLA all legit while you are employed, run it by the legal department of the company you are employed by, and they can give you an idea if any changes to the agreement is needed (and of course, if you are allowed to spend company or private time on the project), and get it signed legally and on file for all parties involved. Done.

Many of the issues outlined here can be resolved by properly communicating all the concerns before signing a legal document (which is recommended practice).

It seems like ESR is treating these contributor agreements as static one-way agreements rather than things that can be changed as needed.

>To get an ICLA all legit while you are employed, run it by the legal department of the company you are employed by, and they can give you an idea if any changes to the agreement is needed (and of course, if you are allowed to spend company or private time on the project), and get it signed legally and on file for all parties involved. Done.

IME company legal departments are unlikely to indulge this kind of thing unless they owe you a favor.

Where they do, their blanket response is usually "no, now go away".

Ideally any solution to this problem should take account of corporate legal departments' aversion to extra work and risk.

Of course it is, it's Eric Raymond.

End of the day, if you assert the ability to do something, and that assertion is fraudulent, you, the committer, are fucked.

It's so sad this guy is still getting airtime and attention.

No it's not sad, that's how a healthy society is supposed to work: harmful content is being criticized and marginalized while useful contributions are accepted, even if they come from the same person.

I don't know wtf is up with people these days that they want to erase other humans from public discourse because they have done something bad. People aren't black and white, history has numerous examples of those that contributed beneficial things, while at the same time being less than ideal human beings.

Please feel free to explain the author's transgressions through a comment in every submission of theirs, and leave the rest of us to judge the value of the submission on its own.

I certainly don't want to erase ESR. Just the opposite: I want to highlight him with the indelible marker of his own words. I want to educate people about what he's said and done. I want more people to know about his long well documented track record.

The earnest questions people are asking about him in this thread means that many people don't actually know about him, and I and other people who do know have every right to answer those questions, provide quotes and citations, and even first hand testimony about his character and behavior from people who have known him for decades and had in-depth discussions with him in person and online, like I have (since the early 80's, when he used to hang out at science fiction conventions also attended by RMS, who he has made his career trying to destroy).

I hate to come off like I'm trying to assassinate Eric Raymond's character, but it's fair game to quote the words of someone who's made his career trying to assassinate another person's character, who's done orders of magnitude more great work than he has. At least I'm not trying to make money and fame and sell books by attacking RMS, like ESR does.

ESR does an excellent job of assassinating himself with his own words. So I will quote some of the worst ones (there are so many to choose from), but I don't have the stomach to actually link directly to his web site.

Lest anyone criticize me for naming and shaming:


Eric Raymond: "Name them and shame them. Do not hire them unless you want your organization politically disrupted and its productivity destroyed. Um. Disrupted by them, I mean. Not me or their opponents and innocent victims; we have more respect for liberty and freedom of association than that." [retweeting "The Complete List of SJWs]

You're free to do all of the above, but it's uncivil to want to forbid any and all possible contributions from someone in all domains because they said some hurtful things.

This is what the person I replied to was suggesting.

No jasonvorhe wasn't suggesting that, you are. He just said it was sad this guy is still getting airtime and attention. He didn't call for him to be banned from any domain, or propose any other course of action. And ESR isn't entitled to free airtime from any platform he wants. I sure don't know how you leaped to the mistaken conclusion of "forbidding" him from "all domains" or "erase other humans from public discourse" (italics yours) from what jasonvorhe said.

I'd be happy for him to show his face around here and explain himself, rather than sending over his flying monkeys in spandex to speak for him, like he does to slashdot!


Yes, THAT Jay Maynard:


Could you elaborate on why you hold a distasteful attitude towards this person?

Just curious.

Eric Raymond has some questionable beliefs in my opinion, and this is likely what OP is referring to.

I'm a big fan of The Cathedral and the Bazaar. But currently Eric Raymond has come out as a climate change denier, a racist, and also has pushed some odd conspiracy theories.

And he hijacked the Hacker's Dictionary and proceeded to inject a bunch of his ideological words and definitions in, that in no way represent the hacker community around the early ARPANET and MIT-AI lab from which it came.


And as if hijacking the Hacker's Dictionary wasn't enough, he tried to hijack and corrupt the very meaning of the word "hacker" itself, by presuming to define what a hacker is, by preaching to people about how to become a hacker, by blatantly misrepresenting himself as a great hacker and respected leader of the open source community, even though his programming chops are lackluster and outdated, his social skills are deceptive and manipulative, and his hacker spirit is mean, vindictive, and envious of RMS.

And then there's his death threat to Bruce Perens that he tried to excuse by explaining that he was only trying to "defame" him.

In 1999, Debian developer Bruce Perens published an "email threat" that he allegedly received from Raymond. Raymond then "clarified" that he only meant to defame Perens. From this we can assume that he is batshit insane and will fucking kill and or write to anyone that says anything about him or his software. If you are lucky you might get an O'Rielly book about you.


    To: debian-user@lists.debian.org
    Subject: email threat
    From: bruce@perens.com
    Date: 5 Apr 1999 22:48:42 -0000
    Message-id: <19990405224842.2386.qmail@perens.com>

    Today I received the following threat in e-mail from Eric Raymond. The message
    was copied to the Silicon Valley Linux User's Group officers, who you may
    consult regarding its authenticity. The police have been notified.

    Because I know that Eric is a firearms enthusiast, for my own protection,
    I feel the best strategy is for me to publicize the threat widely.


            Bruce Perens

    > Damn straight I took it personally.  And if you ever again behave like
    > that kind of disruptive asshole in public, insult me, and jeopardize
    > the interests of our entire tribe, I'll take it just as personally --
    > and I will find a way to make you regret it.  Watch your step.
The irony of Eric S Raymond threatening someone else for behaving "like that kind of disruptive asshole in public" is rich -- very rich.











Have a quick read of Wiki or google and make your own conclusions. From my POV I appreciate his historical contributions but he’s been pretty aggressively against inclusion in tech. Has said a lot of misogynistic and anti-gay things and is very unapologetic about anything he’s said or done. He wants free/open source community to be like it was in the 90s again, and seems pretty anti-progress in anything that’s softer than code.

That’s my 2 cents but everyone has their own interpretation.

Rational Wiki has a pretty accurate article about him. But it's not up to date with all his racist tweets.


Although WikiQuote has some but not all of them (when quoting him be sure to put an attribution lest somebody think you're saying those words):


"In the U.S., blacks are 12% of the population but commit 50% of violent crimes; can anyone honestly think this is unconnected to the fact that they average 15 points of IQ lower than the general population? That stupid people are more violent is a fact independent of skin color." -Eric S Raymond: http://esr.ibiblio.org/index.php?p=129

"A clash of civilizations driven by the failure of Islamic/Arab culture (though I would stress the problem of the Islamic commandment to jihad more than he does). I think he [Steven den Beste] is also right to say that our long-term objective must be to break, crush and eventually destroy this culture, because we can't live on the same planet with people who both carry those memes and have access to weapons of mass destruction. They will hate us and seek to destroy us not for what we've done but for what we are." -Eric S Raymond: http://armedndangerous.blogspot.com/2002_09_15_armedndangero...

"When I hear the words "social responsibility", I want to reach for my gun." -Eric S Raymond When receiving an award from an organization called Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. "Geeks Win: A survey of the oddballs who write the codes that make the 21st-century world go round". The New York Times Book Review: p. BR18. 4 November 2001. ISSN 03624331. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Standard_Serial_...

I think it's unfair to say he is a racist when the point he makes in the first post is that people are unwilling to talk about these important issues of IQ because they will be labelled racists:

>For anyone who believe that racial equality is an important goal, this is absolutely horrible news. Which is why a lot of well-intentioned people refuse to look at these facts, and will attempt to shout down anyone who speaks them in public. There have been several occasions on which leading psychometricians have had their books canceled or withdrawn by publishers who found the actual scientific evidence about IQ so appalling that they refused to print it.

>Unfortunately, denial of the facts doesn’t make them go away. Far from being meaningless, IQ may be the single most important statistic about human beings, in the precise sense that differences in g probably drive individual and social outcomes more than any other single measurable attribute of human beings.

And here he makes the main point:

>And that is actually a valuable hint about how to get beyond racism. A black man with an IQ of 85 and a white man with an IQ of 85 are about equally likely to have the character traits of poor impulse control and violent behavior associated with criminality — and both are far more likely to have them than a white or black man with an IQ of 110. If we could stop being afraid of IQ and face up to it, that would give us an objective standard that would banish racism per se. IQ matters so much more than skin color that if we started paying serious attention to the former, we might be able to stop paying attention to the latter.

I don't see how you could honestly read all this as racist. I'd imagine similar reasoning goes for the rest of your quotes.

Not only does Eric S Raymond believe blacks are stupid and violent, but he also virulently agrees with Russ Nelson's infamous article entitled "Blacks are Lazy", and calls people who found that objectionable "fools and thugs". (And as we all know, "thugs" is a dog-whistle for the n-word.)


Eric S Raymond threw down the gauntlet and defended Russ Nelson's infamous "Blacks are Lazy" article by calling everyone who wanted him to resign his position as president of OSI "fools and thugs", and demanded OSI spend their precious time and resources fighting critics of racism and defending Russ Nelson's racist beliefs which ESR shares, instead of promoting open source software.


>“Abetting somebody elses witch hunt is no less disgusting than starting your own.” “Personally, I wanted to fight this on principle,” Raymond said. “Russ resigned the presidency rather than get OSI into that fight, and the board quite properly respected his wishes in the matter. That sacrifice makes me angrier at the fools and thugs who pulled him down.”

A reason people consider this racist thinking is that people of color in the US have been aggressively denied the same education and housing opportunities that whites have. So there are a lot of indirect contributions that should make you question any adult statistics on IQ and crime. Also, crime statistics are skewed also by a racial bias towards people of color. Many laws are written specifically to target the poor and black communities disproportionately. For example, gun laws, and things like powder cocaine vs crack cocaine.

Combining that with the questionable value of IQ in the first place, making these kinds of arguments without considering the whole picture are setting themselves up for appearing racist.

I think it's a matter of perspective.

If you believe IQ is completely genetic, then a statement that more blacks have a lower IQ can be seen as racist against blacks.

But if you believe IQ is malleable (fixable to some extent), then the statement that more blacks have a lower IQ can be seen as a lambasting of the system, and empathy towards the black community.

Personally I think ESR's goal is the latter, a declaration that the black community has an IQ problem, and we need to think about how to fix that rather than dismissing them.

If you want to make this argument, first prove IQ measures genetic intelligence. Is that even a thing? Can someone with no education but genetic IQ be shown to be more intelligent than someone with a higher education and lower genetic IQ? This sounds absurdly easy to refute.

This test would also need to apply across cultures and communities.

Maybe you’re just playing devil’s advocate, but I can’t understand how anyone can make these arguments without serious scientific evidence.

We shouldn’t be making statements on entire groups of people with our beliefs. Also, people of color are genetically identical to those not of color.

what the hell are you on about? I made no argument, simply explained why some people think pointing out that IQ for blacks is lower is a racist statement and others do not think it's a racist statement.

Hey, you're the who's pathetically attempting to white-wash Eric Raymond's long well documented track record of racism by making the ludicrous claim that he has "empathy towards the black community".

"The average IQ of the Haitian population is 67... Haiti is, quite literally, a country full of violent idiots." -Eric S Raymond

"... The minimum level of training required to make someone effective as a self defense shooter is not very high... unfortunately, this doesn't cover the BLM crowd, which would have an average IQ of 85 if it's statistically representative of American blacks as a whole. I've never tried to train anyone that dim and wouldn't want to." -Eric S Raymond


Empathy, riiiiight. How about "contempt".

that's nowhere close to a reasonable reading of any of my posts. You're on a crusade that no one else cares about.

Well, I care about it. I've been watching this exchange, and believe that your original comment, at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20383146 , incorrectly describes the issue, and that the explanations you give for why "some people think pointing out that IQ for blacks is lower is a racist statement and others do not think it's a racist statement" are both something that a racist - perhaps different racists - might agree with.

Your first point:

> If you believe IQ is completely genetic, then a statement that more blacks have a lower IQ can be seen as racist against blacks.

The evidence is that parts of what is measured in an IQ test is indeed genetic. There are people with genetic problems which, for example, make those people unable to advance beyond the mental skills of a baby.

However, there is no evidence that whatever it is that an IQ test measures has any association with the genetics of black skin, and the evidence against a causative relationship continues to grow.

Bear in mind that the genetic diversity of people with black skin is much higher than that of people with white skin, and the genetics show a "white race" is NOT a meaningful genetic concept.

Your second point:

> if you believe IQ is malleable (fixable to some extent), then the statement that more blacks have a lower IQ can be seen as a lambasting of the system, and empathy towards the black community.

As codezero pointed out, the question that must be addressed first is, is IQ testing meaningful, and if so, what does it measure?

A large body of evidence shows that IQ testing was developed alongside "scientific racism", and definitely used as part of the American eugenics programs. There's also a long line of justified complaints that many of the tests were "Eurocentric", and not just in knowledge of facts but also on how it relates to certain cultural viewpoints.

As a result, most of the people who make an argument based on IQ, rather than economic inequality or systemic racism, are on shaky grounds to start with, so must make a much harder effort to justify their arguments - something that Raymond hasn't done. As he styles himself an anthropologist, he must surely know the issues. His interpretation, as best as I can tell, is that there's a conspiracy against talking about the truth.

My own interpretation is that he's wrong, and that "the truth" is mostly an expression of racist beliefs combined with cherry-picked information and misinterpreted statistics.

Going back to how you "explained why ... others do not think it's a racist statement."

Do you agree that a racist might make a racist comment and not think it's racist? So your clarification might be completely correct, but still describe an expression of a racist viewpoint.

The most influential anti-vaxxer don't say that vaccination should be banned. They instead "caution" about unexpected consequences, and big-pharma coverups, and the like.

The most influential racists no longer cry out "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever".

Raymond has a long history of saying things that a racist would agree with, and it's much more likely that your interpretation of his non-rascist intent is not correct.

For example, "bullets slathered in pork fat", mentioned in another subthread of this discussion, is a not uncommon xenophobic phrase. The bullet is to kill Muslims, and the pork fat alludes to religious prohibitions on eating pork. The phrase is constructed to imply that Muslims should be killed, and desecrated in such a way they cannot enter heaven. It's also based on a false understanding of Islam.

(It also echoes complaints by both Muslims and Hindus in India about cultural suppression during the rule of the British East Indian Company. The grease for the Enfield P-53 rifle cartridges could contain beef and pork tallow, which was offensive to soldiers who were adherents of either religions. This helped lead to Indian Rebellion of 1857.)

The quote comes from Raymond's comment on NadaNet, archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20090624235730/http://www.catb.o... . NadaNet was "a network of hackers formed to support the democratic revolution in Iran. Our mission is to help the Iranian people by setting up networks of proxy severs, anonymizers, and any other appropriate technologies that can enable them to communicate and organize — a network beyond the censorship or control of the Iranian regime."

He also wrote on that page "I already got my jihadi death threat from Iran in 2006 before NedaNet" which is itself odd as, quoting from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jihadism "The term jihadist is almost exclusively used to describe Sunni extremists". Yet "90–95% of Iranians associate themselves with the Shia branch of Islam, the official state religion, and about 5–10% with the Sunni and Sufi branches of Islam" says https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Iran .

I don't know what that death threat was, but characterizing it as 'jihadi' when coming from Iran seems based in ignorance - which is something that a racist would easily do but something any anthropologist deserving of the description should know to avoid.

When you described me as a racist for making an innocuous observation I stopped reading.

I pointed out that the other poster was being unfair, and I guess you expected that doubling down was going to get more of my time?

I don't know what you expected, but whatever it is, you were wrong. There are entirely too many jackasses willing to scream racism, and I'm too fucking old to do anything but dismiss them.

Where did I say you were a racist?

I said that you were wrong that no one else cares for the points that DonHopkins is raising.

I pointed out that you were being unfair to the other poster. Yes, there are interpretations of what Raymond has written which are not racist. Just like there are statements by anti-vaxxers which are not anti-vaccination.

However, given the context of what Raymond writes, your non-racist interpretation does not seem to be valid.

> and that the explanations you give for why "some people think pointing out that IQ for blacks is lower is a racist statement and others do not think it's a racist statement" are both something that a racist - perhaps different racists - might agree with.

The implication here is that I'm racist. You then go on to explain that having an opinion that a racist would agree with is problematic.


Consider the phrase "we need to be cautious about vaccinations." That's true. Everyone agrees that that's true. The medical system is set up to be cautious about vaccinations.

You can say it without being an anti-vaxxer at all, and support the current vaccination scheme.

But an anti-vaxxer will say that we need to be cautious well beyond what has been demonstrated to be a correct level of caution.

So, if someone makes that statement you CANNOT TELL if someone is an anti-vaxxer or not. You must look to the larger context.

Similarly, a non-racist can make the statement "that more blacks have a lower IQ can be seen as a lambasting of the system, and empathy towards the black community".

But so can a racist. A racist who accepts the decades of racially biased IQ testing might conclude that we need to treat blacks with special empathy the way that children or pets need empathy, and lambast the system of racial equality put into place by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as being unrealistic.

Thus, your interpretation cannot, by itself, be read as something that only non-racists would agree with.

Even if non-racists CAN and DO agree with it.

Looking at the larger context of Raymond's writings, he's a racist. Not an overt racist in the George Wallace mold, but clearly a racist along the lines of the pseudoscientific "scientific racism" which has long since been disproven.

ah I see, empathy towards minorities is now racst.

I'm done.

You are being quite unfair to me. Just how serious was your earlier complaint about unfairness?

Even a basic understanding of US history shows that women were second-class citizens. They did not have the right to vote, were prohibited from many jobs, and often received lower wages even for equal or better work.

One of the justifications for the so-called "protection laws" for women comes from empathy. The belief was that women were not as intelligent and more frail than men, so needed special laws to protect them, their morals, and their ability to become mothers.

If empathy based on an incorrect perception of what women can and want to do could support the highly sexist laws of the 1800s, I see no reason why a similar sort of empathy based on the incorrect perception of what black people can and want to do could only be perceived as non-racist.

I have a special empathy towards babies. I think they must be treated different than how we treat adults. I don't think they should have the right to vote, or to carry arms. I think my views are based on a correct perception of their abilities.

If I were to apply that same empathy to black men, and infantilize them, then I would be racist, yes.

His favorite technique is to play this game of Libertarian Click Bait Chicken, where he says something that's totally racist on its face, just to bait people, and then attempts to argue that he's actually operating at a higher level and much more clever than everyone else, and is really right, but just misunderstood, because everyone else is an idiot.

Russ Nelson made a ham-fisted attempt to emulate Raymond's standard technique in his "Blacks are Lazy" posting, but it cost him his job as President of the Open Source Initiative.

But ESR threw down the gauntlet and made a full throated public defense of Russ's "Blacks are Lazy" premise, by attacking the people who wanted him removed as "fools" and "thugs" (dog whistle for the n-word).

Raymond actually wanted OSI to get into a public knock-down drag-out fight with the "social justice warriors" who wanted Nelson to resign, at whatever cost in cash, credibility, alienating minorities, and endangering the mission of the OSI. Not exactly a shining example of leadership.


Note that although Russell withdrew the article, and admitted it was badly written, Eric S. Raymond is on the record as having defended it by accusing people asking Russell to step down as being "fools and thugs".


Eric S. Raymond wrote: “The people who knew Russ as a Quaker, a pacifist and a gentleman, and no racist, but nevertheless pressured OSI to do the responsible thing and fire him in order to avoid political damage should be equally ashamed,” Raymond said. “Abetting somebody elses witch hunt is no less disgusting than starting your own.” “Personally, I wanted to fight this on principle,” Raymond said. “Russ resigned the presidency rather than get OSI into that fight, and the board quite properly respected his wishes in the matter. That sacrifice makes me angrier at the fools and thugs who pulled him down.”

I'm not up to speed on ESR, but I didn't get a racist vibe from the initial quotes, and your response goes further in convincing me he isn't racist, just forthright.

Which is an admirable trait.

And on that note, I personally think people like ESR are more likely to help fix the problem than those screaming that he's a racist.

How do you fix reality if you refuse to accept reality? I don't know, and neither do they.

"And for any agents or proxy of the regime interested in asking me questions face to face, I’ve got some bullets slathered in pork fat to make you feel extra special welcome." -Eric S Raymond

I have no idea what this quote is supposed to mean. Is bullets slathered in pork fat supposed to be a racial comment?

Your naïve act is wearing thin.

Google it.

>"your response goes further in convincing me he isn't racist, just forthright. Which is an admirable trait."

Don't blame other people for forcing you to tolerate intolerance and admire racism. That was 100% your decision.

Or some of us just don't have race at the center of our thoughts constantly.

And to head it off, I'm not white, but much like I don't consider religion that important, I don't consider race that important either.

I'm actually more interested in the new release of .net core than I am in a persons race or religion. Which means I don't ingest news/information sources where these are high up on the list of things talked about. I consider them personal things, much like I don't want to hear about my coworker's sex life.

but hey, maybe my not actively looking for constant negativity in my life makes me a horrible human being? I'm guessing you're going to tell me it does...

> makes me a horrible human being?

Do you really not have any idea what "bullets slathered in pork fat" refers to?

no I don't.

Many thanks for this.

I think the telling point is that his most troubling proclamations aren't un-sourced comments he uttered at a bar or off-mic at a conference: they're from his freaking blog. He is completely unapologetic about them.

Thanks, this is an even better summary than my poor recollections and quick wiki summary, which leaves out a ton of stuff.

"They will hate us and seek to destroy us not for what we've done but for what we are."

Sam Harris pics apart one ISIS publication that pushes exactly this point. But of course, I'm talking about ISIS and not your run-of-the-mill Muslim that lives in Britain.

"About one-third of respondents said they would tell the police if they knew someone who was getting involved with supporting terrorism in Syria. The same proportion refused to condemn people who take part in violence against those who mock the Prophet Muhammad. Almost one quarter said they favored replacing the British legal system with Islamic law." - https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/15/world/europe/poll-british...

The 12-50 statistics happens to be fact, I do not know how pointing that out is racist. Also ESR seems to be making the point that violent crime is result of low IQ instead of skin color.

A lot of people including Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris etc. have pointed out the dangers of islam and why in modern times it is the possibly the most dangerous religion. That does not make them or ESR an islamophobe.

I find it distressing to hear people pushing the idea of ignoring data. As imperfect as they might be, research is our best effort of making sense of things as they are and making decisions based on our best sense of the facts.

Speaking of violent crime, here's a quote from the guy who threatened Bruce Perens' life, then tried to excuse it by explaining he was only trying to defame him:

"When I hear the words "social responsibility", I want to reach for my gun." -Eric S Raymond

>A lot of people including Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris etc. have pointed out the dangers of islam and why in modern times it is the possibly the most dangerous religion. That does not make them or ESR an islamophobe.

Well, Sam Harris did get into trouble for promoting racial profiling for terrorism.

In any case, what I remember from ESR's blog (been about a decade since I read it), he did have a stance similar to "If you claim to be Muslim, I will assume you are in favor of X unless you make a statement renouncing it" (where X was something related to terrorism, etc). Ditto for famous Muslim figures - requiring a public statement for them to be OK in his book. Things like "If the Imam of your mosque is not denouncing terrorism every Friday then he is likely a closet terrorist supporter" (like they don't have anything else to preach about in villages in Indonesia?).

He also did not welcome dialogue on the topic. When someone would post a comment confronting him on his blog, he pretty much said "It's my blog and I can say what I want - you are just a guest here, and I delete comments I don't like," While it's his right to do so, it's not exactly the attitude of someone looking for disconfirming perspectives or dialogue.

(In fact, I think most of his horrible stuff were when responding to comments on his blog, not the actual blog posts).

Not sure he still has those posts up on his blog.

Personally, I think he's a horrible person. However, I'm against an outright ban of his stuff on HN. He was an important figure in the free software world, and did make very useful contributions with all the documentation he wrote.

He's an outspoken misogynist and homophobe.

And has a long unrepentant well documented track record of racism and islamophobia and climate change denial.

And he's made his career by trying to destroy RMS's life's work, instead of doing anything constructive.

I could go on.

Source: I've known him since the early 80's.

> And he's made his career by trying to destroy RMS's life's work

What are you referring to ?

I don't know what commenter was writing about, but he often played the "RMS is an extremist," card and would position himself as the sane person. Some people didn't like that, even though RMS is an extremist. I think many people (including me) got the sense that he was being manipulative to gain power.

Other than that, every once in a while he makes an annoying jab at RMS, and in at least one case, I felt he was grossly misrepresenting something RMS had said in order to gain more support for his own agenda.

I will give other people a chance to respond first, and for you to practice your google-fu, before turning the firehose of historical facts on you. There is a lot of evidence out there.


Here is but one facet of many that explain why. If this isn't enough, I can quote some of his many racist tweets and blog postings for you, but they will turn your stomach.


>The Decline and Fall of Eric S. Raymond

>Around the start of the millennium, Eric S. Raymond was one of the philosophical leaders of open source. His essay and book, The Cathedral and the Bazaar was obligatory reading for executives trying to understand open source. Now, after lying low for over a decade, Raymond is getting attention again, this time for two blog entries in which he rants about how so-called Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) threaten open source.

>[...] Raymond's call to defend open source from SJWs is as deceptive as anything he attributes to his enemies. Free and open source software is too widespread to need defending, and his attempt to create an issue does not map well on to actual events. For those who remember his earlier contributions to open source, his recent comments make for a disappointing epilogue.


Congratulations on your iron gutted tolerance of intolerance.


As I said, he had a lot of sycophants and supporters who his thinly veiled and blatant racism resonates with, instead of disgusts. They hang out on his blog, and sometimes come out of the woodwork to drop his name, carry his water, and justify his racism, whenever they notice discussions like this.

Namedropping "ESR" http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=5266 (read in a smarmy voice)

    "2. Do drop my name if by doing so you can achieve some
    mission objective of which I would approve. Examples
    that have come up: encouraging people to design in
    accordance with the Unix philosophy, or settling a
    dispute about hacker slang, or explaining why it's
    important for everyone's freedom for the hacker
    community to hang together and not get bogged down in
    internal doctrinal disputes." -Eric S Raymond
What makes you believe I don't think he's entitled to his beliefs? Or is that just a straw man?

He's entitled to believe anything he likes, just not entitled to be tolerated for his intolerance. But if you want to do that yourself, go knock yourself out.

He's also entitled to have other people openly discuss and criticize his beliefs, and drop his name after quoting his own words.


It must be so soothing and sanguine for you not to be upset by racism and sexism, nor to be able to recognize it.

Why are you having such a hard time forming your own opinion? You shouldn't let the color of words or skin prevent you from doing that. That's certainly not my intention. That's why I'm providing you with direct irrefutable quotes. I'm just a guy saying stuff, too. It's not my fault if you choose to agree with him instead of me.

Does this quote tickle your fancy, or turn your stomach? Should all sensible white women abandon the software industry? Would you like to mansplain what they should be doing instead?

>"The SJW’s definition of “being a dick” is “having one”. A white male cannot be hired at google unless he physically chops it off. America is a disgusting aberration." -ceee3

"No, most of their techies are still white and male. People who meet the IQ minimum for those jobs are too rare in non-white populations other than East Asians for it to be otherwise. And most white women who meet the threshold have sensibly decided they can have better lives somewhere other than software engineering." -Eric S Raymond

(I won't link to his blog, but you can easily google for his words if you want to read them in context and relish the color he adds.)

And that is where your comments are a microcosm of the greater political picture: I don't have to agree with either of you.

> It's not my fault if you choose to agree with him instead of me.

Do I agree that white males have to chop off their penis to be hired at Google? No, but what is the average testosterone level of the males at Google vs the greater population? That would be an interesting data point.

Please don't do ideological flamewar here, regardless of how wrong or bad another comment is. It's against the site guidelines.


Yeah that devolved fast. Keep up the good work dang.

So will you mansplain what you think those sensible threshold-meeting white women should be doing instead of software engineering?

Please don't do ideological flamewar here, regardless of how wrong or bad another comment is. It's against the site guidelines.


From where did white women come into the picture?

Use your browser's search feature.

Yeah, these got popular with GitHub on bigger projects. It’s like lawyers for these organizations aren’t sufficiently well versed enough in the laws around open source to realize they’re already protected, so they apply contracts law, which is what they learned in law school.

What’s kind of ironic is that I wonder if these are even valid contracts.

Contracts are required to have 5 characteristics: an offer, acceptance, consideration, competency, and legal intent.

Open source agreements that require disclosing source code changes may lack the ability to give consideration as you are, in a sense, required to contribute changes back.

Consideration means you get something in return for signing a contract. The thing you get for signing ULAs and the like are the ability to use a product.

What are you getting in return for signing these agreements? The ability to contribute? Already that seems like a pretty weak consideration, but when you add in that you are required by some licenses to disclose changes and I think these contracts are completely void of any legal basis.

The author seems to base his argument on:

1) assuming the reasons a project owner might want to mandate an agreement; and then

2) demonstrating why those assumed reasons are not fulfilled by an agreement.

However there exist other good reasons a project may want to mandate a contributor agreement or assignment. If I can demonstrate just one, then his entire claim is moot.

Here is one reason. A project owner may want to relicense the project in the future. This would require them to either contact every copyright holder (some of whom may be unreachable in the future), or to require a copyright assignment for all contributions, or to require an agreement permitting such relicensing in the future.

I'm sure some contributors explicitly do not want such relicensing to be possible in the future. That's fine - but the author has not argued that this makes such agreements or assignments a bad thing.

Here's a legitimate example: what if your project is licensed under the GPL but later you want to add SSL functionality by linking with OpenSSL? You'll need an "OpenSSL linking exception" from all copyright holders which can be extremely difficult to obtain. If you had a contributor agreement or assignment in place, then you wouldn't.

What about other things like this that would generally be accepted by the community in the future, but you haven't thought of today? A copyright assignment or suitable contributor agreement derisks you from these.

On his "work for hire" point, the same argument applies to any contribution whatsoever, since if the contributor doesn't have permission to assign copyright, that contributor may also not have the permission to license their work.

I'm not trying to argue for or against these agreements here; I'm just saying that it seems like the author's arguments are moot because of the very narrow scope of the assumptions that he's made.

Beware this analysis. Intent can matter in copyright law in many important ways, even if not on the core question of whether there was infringement.[1] And the fact that a bad actor with a big legal budget can still make hell does not make something worthless. By that standard, all contracts are worthless. It’s also worth remembering that not everyone is a bad actor. You can help secure good will and trust by making sure that the other guy has a full understanding and proper notice of your arrangement.

I don’t know much about CLAs and I’m no expert in copyright law, but I’m just saying that this piece doesn’t pass the smell test. It might still be the case that CLAs aren’t worth your trouble—I really don’t know—but I’d want better reasons that the ones in this piece.

[1] https://www.trademarkandcopyrightlawblog.com/2013/12/innocen...

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