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I would love a story on

"I don’t like much what the underground programming world became in recent years"

What could he mean? What underground programming world is he talking about?

Underground as in programming for fun or as art, because you enjoy it as a hobby/subculture. Opposed to the "above ground" programming world of programming for other people (possibly also for money, but OSS is often just for recognition) where people have demands about unimportant features, terminology, coding styles, codes of conduct, etc. Sometimes they get quite aggressive about their demands, too.

Probably the roving mobs on Twitter who occasionally brigade project issue trackers and mailing lists. Check out the master/slave post he wrote a while back.

Or just the toxic nature of some open source communities, especially on Reddīt for whatever reason.


The underground in underground programming refers to maintaining low visibility, as to present low target silhouette. Additional benefit is not attracting too many participants that are in it for the clout, rather than for solving problems & good engineering.

Open Source is no longer sufficient for software freedom; the current 'battlefield' is maintaining security from activist pressure or gradual take-over.

I created the Occupy Wall Street website nine years ago. Believe me when I say the lengths people will go, to try and control community projects, is downright traumatizing. I never could have imagined that same kind of nastiness would impact open source.

If you don't feel comfortable engaging with the new toxic culture, you can use my underground liferaft. My liferaft isn't an operating system, but rather an attempt to help us not depend on them as much. I have no idea who's controlling GNU/Linux these days and Occupy was enough drama for one lifetime. My code has the same focus on clarity that Antirez put into his Redis codebase. My liferaft also empowers you to build and distribute tiny native portable programs (like Kilo!) using hermetically sealed tools. See https://github.com/jart/cosmopolitan

Thank you for the interesting angle.

>the lengths people will go, to try and control community projects

I've heard that echoed a couple times in Tim Pool's discussions of the (american) OWS. Scary stuff indeed.

This implies that a lot of the politicization of open source projects has to do with outsiders making power plays (for in group status or just because narcissism). I think this is part of it, for sure. I also think it can also manifest when parts of the community get trapped in a purity spiral, which is somewhat related but comes from within rather than without.

Advice? I don't know. Stay underground and ignore the mobs, they will get bored and move on if you ignore them.

Ironically, I think lowering the barriers for involvement in open source has let in a mass of people who have no fucking business being there.

Counting contributors & contributions is about as sensible as counting kLOC and pages of manual.

Conway's law about software architecture implies existence of management-space CAP theorem equivalent.

Communication suffers combinatorial explosion[1], and graph problems are pretty expensive to solve in meatspace.

Attention is an exhaustible resource, and easily DDoSed.


dilandau - please note I've carefully avoided certain spicier keywords & expressions in the previous post as to not off put a casual reader and avoid attracting quick downvotes.

The couple spicy keywords in your response end up needlessly detracting a casual reader from the correct point you are making. And I'm not talking about the "fucking" adjective :)


[1] l = (n-1)*n/2

This is not first time Antirez quit. 10 or 8 years ago he deleted his Twitter account with 10k followers. I think today it reached critical mass, and he does not want to be public figure anymore.

Replying to myself to highlight antirez's own comment upthread:

>Yep it's the open source, and in general the "spontaneous" development world, that happens without big money, just for hacking. This "place" once was kinda free and not observed much. Now you can't say anything, if you don't respect a good practice (LOL) people yell at you on Twitter. Even saying that commenting is a good idea is a problem. Not cool.

So yeah, pretty much twitter.

Probably the same which was the reason Guido left Python as BDFL.

I am assuming low level systems in commercial software systems, would like to hear from @antirez :)

Perhaps the fact that a recent (2018, but posted here recently) blog post of his got flagged on HN after 141 comments has something to do with it...

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