Subject: Re: Interesting business morality statement
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1999 11:15:10 -0500

> writes:
> >    No member of the open source community shall take unfair advantage
> >    any other member of the open source community.
>Unless they define "fair", it's useless.  Fairness means "equality of
>opportunity" to some people, and "equality of outcome" to others.

I was at that talk (sitting next to Karsten in fact), and the statement as
made was perhaps ambiguous, but not useless.

Here is the context.

David Shields said that the one thing which changed for him dealing with
Open Source is that now, several times a day, he feels that he faces
ethical issues.  More than that, he drew a parallel between the open source
community and a scientific academy.  As he said, whenever he talked to
anyone in the community and said that he was trying to take Jikes open
source, the immediate reaction was, "How can I help?"

And they did.  Competitor, friend, press.  People cooperated and helped.
In his analogy, the statement about taking Jikes open source immediately
made this, "Academy business and Academy rules apply."

After the above quote he illustrated it with a comment from CalTech about
how coming into conflict with the honor code was mainly an issue in cases
where people have gotten out of the habit of thinking through the honor
code.  He gave an example where he saw a 404 on the CalTech website.  He
could have ignored it.  But then he thought that it would be cute if he
gave a link to it in a talk, and made a comment about, "You know, this
stuff is hard.  If even they can't get it right, what hope do the rest of
us have?"  Having had that thought, he realized that he would be using his
knowledge of a broken link to take unfair advantage of an undoubtably
harried administrator.  In fact it was his obligation, having the
knowledge, to make sure that nobody else would have the same temptation,
therefore it became his obligation to notify the administrator of the
broken link.

Given the statement, plus some of the context in which it was made and
meant to be interpreted, is it a little less useless than you thought?