Open Source does not imply dictatorship

From Dave Winer’s piece on The theory of Twitter

In open source communities they call the imbalance a benevolent dictatorship. Far from being a perfect democracy some people imagine open source to be, actually a project sinks or swims based on how good the central decision-maker is. Again, people complain about the A-list, but that’s okay, work gets done over the objections.

Well, not all open source projects are dictatorships. Apache, Eclipse, and Subversion are examples of prominent open source projects whose governance model is not a dictatorship.

7 thoughts on “Open Source does not imply dictatorship

  1. Dave Winer

    Sorry I didn’t mean to imply that all open source projects were benevolent dictatorships, just some. I’ll probably edit the piece to make that clear.

  2. Doug Dobbins

    You seem to have less of a chance of a “benevolent dictatorship” occurring when the buy in on goals is deep in the community and well understood, even by people not on the project.

  3. Ted Leung Post author

    Eduardo – the license makes forking a deterrent to bad dictators

    Doug – benevolent dictatorships are frequently a choice by the community, not in opposition to it.

  4. Rams

    Commit access
    Is there a transparent process for deciding commit access ? At no point in time do the archives of the committer only mailing become public – even political documents can be had with freedom of information acts in many democracies. Who becomes the member of an open source cabal is probably decided in many cases based on the level of culture comfort the committers feel with the new contributer. Notice how fast some of these Google Summer of Code participants get commit access ? Wonder what’s going on here.

    Private companies claiming to be doing open source
    There was a rant on this some time back on about this. Quite a few companies don’t even publicly advertise their open source repository locations. How does that make it open source ?There is no process by which patches can be submitted. There are too many people jumping on the bandwagon hoping to cash in on this OSS thing.

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