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Re: Please assume good faith

Nikolaus Rath <Nikolaus@rath.org> writes:

> To cut a long story short, I am not convinced that by open sourcing my
> code I am acquiring a moral obligation to take into account the
> preferences of potential users in future versions - no matter how large
> (or vocal) the userbase.


Obviously, there are drawbacks to not maintaining backward compatibility,
and some people (possibly a lot of people) may decide not to use the new
version.  But as long as one is clear about what one is doing, there isn't
any more of a moral obligation to maintain backward compatibility than
there is to continue to work on the open source software project in the
first place.  (It should be trivially obvious why this is the case.)

Unless we think upstreams should no longer be allowed to stop doing their
volunteer maintenance of their projects, we can't argue that they should
be required to maintain backward compatibility either.

If you want control over how someone maintains software, get into a
contractual arrangement with them.  This will probably require money
changing hands, since at that point you've turned the software maintenance
into a job.  People are generally only willing to give up their autonomy
in this fashion in exchange for some other benefit, generally money.

If one doesn't have that sort of contractual relationship, politeness
dictates that one stop at expressing preferences or discussing possible
alternatives and not continue on to dictate what other people do with
their time.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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