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"I do see an ethics problem"

An ethics problem with cloning a site and releasing it as open source? Under an Apache license no less?

http://code.google.com/p/cnprog/source/browse/#svn/trunk

Not only do I not have an "ethics" problem with that, I think it's a good thing.

"Isn't there ANY thing to improve in StackOverflow? "

Well, they "improved" the logo! Seriously though, it's probably a single guy. He probably can't afford a designer, hell it's probably a hobby site. He probably, like me, absolutely loathes writing CSS and so just copied the whole thing. I don't see what the big deal is; you see things like blog themes cloned/ported all the time.

And he did do a lot of work - he rewrote the whole thing in Django and released it open source! Isn't that something? Compared to the effort involved in writing the back end, the font sizes are not a big deal.

"It's all China can do? Copy western things, making them cheaper due to their lower salaries compared with Western salaries?"

Now this borders on offensive. China is not some giant hive mind, acting as a whole in pursuit of a grand shared vision. It's a nation of individuals just like the USA - if anything it's even more diverse. You don't even know if the owner of this site is in China. Regardless, shame on you for lumping "them" all together like that.

Anyway, developing countries have a long and glorious tradition of shamelessly stealing the intellectual work of their more established contemporaries, including America, back in the day. 40 years ago it was Japan stealing from the USA. Now Americans copy their cultural styles all the time. And let's not forget where that grand American company, Disney, filched all its fairytale ideas from. What do you think the Germans thought when Disney copied practically every Grimm brothers story ever written, making billions, and now dares to protect and market its "trademarks"? Doesn't seem so bad when it's your side doing it, does it? But the german newspapers of the time said exactly what you just said about China - all the Amerikaner can do is copy and hide behind convenient legal fictions.

Pull back and take the larger perspective. Stack Overflow is a good thing, right? Well, now it's open source, with a Chinese version online. It's still a good thing.

And the Chinese programmer who takes your outsourced job will be that much more knowledgeable a programmer because of it ; )

(edited to emphasise & link to the open source code for the site)




1 China is not some giant hive mind

You are right there and I was wrong and too simplistic.

2 Stack Overflow is a good thing, right? Well, now it's open source, with a Chinese version online.

I haven't notice that. I just browse the site. And yes, it's a great thing, I agree with you.

-

Also, why, then, there is no mention to StackOverflow at all on CNProg.com? A bit of acknowledgement will be fine, even if it's an Open Source thing.

Disclaimer: I'm not American (I'm from Spain), I'm not a programmer and do not have any problems with outsourcing at all

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"Also, why, then, there is no mention to StackOverflow at all on CNProg.com?"

http://blog.cnprog.com/2009/01/why-create-cnprog/

My chinese is pretty rusty, but in the 3rd section on that page it links to stack overflow and says something like, "Stack Overflow was just released from beta, and it's really great, but slow with localisation" as a reason why this site was created.

Sorry for assuming you were American. I should have guessed from the name! Now it's me making incorrect assumptions : /

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Don't worry, I enjoy this kind of threads :-) I will contact the programmers of SO and offer my help to translate CNProg to other languages now I know it's an Open Source initiative.

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I don't see what the big deal is

For one, it's borderline fraud if users don't know what site they are on. Perhaps that's not the case in this situation, but there are many situations where it is the case. Secondly, it's a dirty move. Cloning a website no different than creating a cola, naming it "Cokke," copying the packaging and having it stocked on shelves next to the original.

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Its not borderline fraud. Fraud is an act of deception. There is no deception here.

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My statement was a conditional if statement: If someone clones a product or service to the point that it confuses users, that's borderline fraudulent activity and deceptive. This is usually a different kind of issue for material products and geographically-limited services, but the web is global and most web apps are already available in the market, making a carbon copy in another language absolutely no different than a carbon copy in one of the app's supported languages.

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I have to disagree with most of this. My perspective may be unique in that I am a "white" American and have been nurturing programming groups from Shanghai for 9 years now.

Let me begin by saying there is and never has been a promise that the first creator of something on the web has rights to world domination. Its a naive and childish notion of "mine".

The position that an English based community can serve the world shows you do not understand that the Chinese community would never have immersed themselves into the current StackOverflow community. They need their own Mandarin based "community" that is run "within China". It is a great thing to see the Chinese programming community mature. They need their own forums for this to happen. Expecting or demanding they assimilate into the English language community shows a lack of understanding of how communities form and nurture themselves.

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The position that an English based community can serve the world shows you do not understand that the Chinese community

This issue is absolutely NOT about an "English based community" or a "French based community" or an "Arabic based community" or any other language based community, it's about conducting business in the global marketplace. My first startup was based in both Hong Kong and the US, so I'm saying this from a perspective of already dealing with both markets and with an understanding product development patterns in emerging markets.

The biggest question here is that some people in the global web startup world want to pretend they can hide behind language on the internet, as if it mimics geographic borders, which it increasingly doesn't. You operate in a global marketplace and if you clone a site or app using labels with mandarin or arabic it's no different than cloning it in a language that the application supports.

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I certainly don't think you're a fool or don't have enough global experience. Clearly you do. I just, in this specific case, disagree with you.

In general, I do not believe there is agreement on rules for a global marketplace. You play in China, you play in that market. You play in the U.S., there are different legal and cultural rules. You want to play in both, you get two sets of rules. Despite a desire by owners of intellectual property to see a convergent gobal marketplace with one set of rules, it does not exist.

Further, I do not believe that global "monopolistic" attitude is healthy. It does not create enough room for fragmentation. Fragmentation and boundaries (physical or otherwise) enables evolution and economic growth.

People complain all the time about China not being inventive enough and copying things. How do you expect this to change without going through this process. A process that clearly is just a repeat of what many established countries did to bootstrap themselves.

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Creating a competing product or service is absolutely not the same thing as cloning a product or service. With web applications, this is even more true since they are literally operating side by side on the internet.

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They are not literally operating side-by-side on the Internet. There are many differences. Perhaps you need to live in China (not Hong Kong) for a while to appreciate them.

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