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Re: CVS is the `released version'

From: Robert J. Chassell
Subject: Re: CVS is the `released version'
Date: Thu, 10 May 2007 11:43:44 +0000 (UTC)

   Are you willing to state on the Emacs web site which day's Emacs is
   "good enough" for regular use?  That must be updated regularly, of

The issue is not whether I am willing, the issue is whether an expert
would be willing.  I think it would be hard.  As David Kastrup
<address@hidden> says

    It takes expertise to know which might be the best date.

There is no doubt that nowadays

    There are quite a few more Emacs users out there than those who
    read CVS commits ...

That is true.  I think the real question is moral.

We live in an age of professionals.  Often they know more, a huge
amount more, than enthusiastic amateurs.  Professional programmers
know more about programming than people who type reports about
something else.

The moral issue is whether amateurs should give up power to

When amateurs give way to professionals, willy-nilly, they promote a
scalable, but awkward social form which gives those on the top more
power than those on the bottom.  Consider RMS and GNU Emacs as

The alternative, which I know RMS seeks even though he is poor at it,
is a world in which professionals and amateurs cooperate.

That does not mean that professionals do not do their jobs (unless you
presume that professionals are always on top).  But it does mean a
different model.

As for specific points:

    > That presumes most people are not going to contribute, which may
    > well be true.

    I don't see this at all ...

Most of the people I know who are still using Emacs 21 do not
contribute.  Often they don't know how to.

As far as I can see, contribution involves interest and attention.
Most people I know are no more interested in software development than
they are in road construction.  (I think they ought to be interested
in both, but that is another issue.)  Their attention is directed
towards other people or towards non-peopled activities that have
nothing to do with either software development or road construction.

    > The argument may be that people should find it easy to
    > contribute.

    And they can't contribute if there contributions never end up on a
    user's computer.

But if the contribution does end up on a user's computer ... that is
the moral argument.  The moral position is that users fetch a current
release.  Except for instabilities which a professional detects (and
talks about), the release for users will be today's or yesterdays, or
since you may not restart Emacs very often, last month's.

I am not saying that GNU Emacs fits this model.  For one, no good
professional tells amateurs that "today's update is bad" for them (but
possibly good for professionals).  However, I am saying that the claim
that `contributions never end up on a user's computer' is true only if
you presume that users fetch or are forced to fetch big numbered

    > But others do not think of those [i.e., daily] updates as releases.

    Word games don't help in the current situation.

It is not a word game.

In order to avoid problems, many previously hierarchical
organizations, purely hierarchical, have instituted `matrix
management' and the like.  (Most of the solutions, I think, are crazy;
but they indicate felt problems.)  In the United States, I frequently
see references to `pointy haired bosses'.  These are references to a
character in a cartoon.  Among other things, that cartoon attacks
professional managers because they cannot contribute technically about
that which they know nothing.  Nonetheless, such bosses had to have
known how to become managers.

    Robert J. Chassell                          GnuPG Key ID: 004B4AC8
    address@hidden                         address@hidden
    http://www.rattlesnake.com                  http://www.teak.cc

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