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It was chilling to read the last section (starting “This was pretty cool ... for a while ...“). The network got big enough that people who “had nothing to do with the design, creation or maintenance of the FidoNet software” started asserting control over how the project was run, and forming committees. Shortly after, it sounds like political struggles led to forks and disillusioned members.

When I think about all the code-of-conduct/governance/etc advocacy that comes from outside the core of today’s big projects, it’s hard not to worry about the similarities.




Reminds me of Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy:

> In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.


Sounds a lot like US government politics today, sadly.


Funny you say that. When I was sending compressed FidoNet Trafic (Looking like encryption) to Soviet block countries I got a knock on my door from men in black suits (FBI) asking me what I was doing?


The thing with FidoNet though, after they created the hierarchical zone:net/node.point system, is that the higher up in the hierarchy you were, the higher your phonebills would be, and the more responsibility you had in the form of delivering the mail of your downstream nodes. Everyone was "indebted" to the people above them in the hierarchy, creating an almost feudal system.

But at the same time, you had to be technically competent to be a higher-up, to be a coordinator of some sort. And if you weren't, everyone below you would simply move to a different upstream node, or demote you from your position. So it was a weird meritocratic sort of feudal system.


> it’s hard not to worry about the similarities.

I don't find it hard to not worry about it at all.


It's all fun and games until the locusts run out of crops to eat.




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