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When Open Source turns sour: A brush with mistaken identity (opensource.net)
12 points by Brajeshwar 23 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 2 comments

> The theory was that since I was involved with creating the Zsh logo, I was somehow possibly involved with “zi.”

What a very strange theory.

Far too often internet sleuthing seems to be picked up by folks who have watched one too many Law and Order episodes. Very tenuous threads between only the most tangentially related of things become smoking guns, become hard evidence as the game of telephone is played out. I'm sure a lot of the time it just starts as someone rubber ducking their thoughts on the matter, I can remember multitudes of times when troubleshooting a system I've called out connections that I thought were related that turned out to be dead ends and red herrings. The difference was my troubleshooting sessions aren't public and aren't used as the basis 4 or 5 layers removed to pillory some innocent person or server.

It gives a really good feeling for how things like the 80's satanic panic stuff and earlier moral panics could have gone on so long. A real and legitimate threat appears in one place, people get emotionally and personally involved, they dunning-kruger their way into thinking they know more about a situation, sometimes they get suckered in by grifters that want to capitalize on the fear. Suddenly there are communists hiding behind every modem, compiling your linux kernel backwards installs NSA back doors and an obscure blog posts from when someone was younger and dumber and the world was different becomes proof of a grand conspiracy to destroy open source from the inside.

What's frustrating is that often there are very real threats and a level of paranoia and caution is warranted. The xz attack was very real, malware has existed for almost as long as the first portable programs, formerly trustworthy organizations get co-opted or sold and nation states really do engage in cyber warfare on various levels. So how do you encourage a healthy skepticism while also minimizing the damage people's tendencies to go off the rails can cause? How do you get something you're concerned about in front of the many eyes that OSS has while keeping it from going "viral" and having a mob of onlookers and speculators destroying reputations and possibly lives as the mob moves from suspect to suspect, devouring all and leaving wreckage in their wake?

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