When I put the reference implementation onto the website, I needed to put a software license on it. I looked up all the licenses that are available, and there were a lot of them. I decided the one I liked the best was the MIT license, which was a notice that you would put on your source, and it would say: "you're allowed to use this for any purpose you want, just leave the notice in the source, and don't sue me." I love that license, it's really good.
But this was late in 2002, we'd just started the War On Terror, and we were going after the evil-doers with the President, and the Vice-President, and I felt like I need to do my part.
So I added one more line to my license, which was: "The Software should be used for Good, not Evil." I thought I'd done my job. About once a year I'll get a letter from a crank who says: "I should have a right to use it for evil!"
"I'm not going to use it until you change your license!" Or they'll write to me and say: "How do I know if it's evil or not? I don't think it's evil, but someone else might think it's evil, so I'm not going to use it." Great, it's working. My license works, I'm stopping the evil doers!
Audience member: If you ask for a separate license, can you use it for evil?
Douglas: That's an interesting point. Also about once a year, I get a letter from a lawyer, every year a different lawyer, at a company – I don't want to embarrass the company by saying their name, so I'll just say their initials – IBM…
…saying that they want to use something I wrote. Because I put this on everything I write, now. They want to use something that I wrote in something that they wrote, and they were pretty sure they weren't going to use it for evil, but they couldn't say for sure about their customers. So could I give them a special license for that?
Of course. So I wrote back – this happened literally two weeks ago – "I give permission for IBM, its customers, partners, and minions, to use JSLint for evil."
[laughter and applause]
And the attorney wrote back and said: "Thanks very much, Douglas!"
Thankfully that's been true most of the time -- a world in which anyone but him used Frontier is not one in which I want to live. But a few of his clusterfucks did slip out: XML-RPC, SOAP, his epic mismanagement of RSS (which only ended with a headshot from Atom).
The man singlehandedly set the web's progress back about a decade! If not for him, the nightmare of WS-* would not have existed -- the likes of Microsoft and IBM would have done something stupid in a big way, but they wouldn't have pretended it had anything to do with the web.