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Re: [Bug-gnupedia] Important decisions should not be rushed

From: Richard Stallman
Subject: Re: [Bug-gnupedia] Important decisions should not be rushed
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2001 02:25:29 -0700 (MST)

Over the years, I've noticed a behavior pattern: when a programmer
feels enthusiastic about a project whose goal is developing
information (not software), he is likely to respond by saying, "First
let's develop special tools to do this project with."  There are two
potential problems with this pattern:

1. In many cases there are advantages to using standard software,
and using something ideosyncratic would actually be worse.

2. If people work on tool development, instead of the project's own
goal, that can mean nobody works on the project itself.

Every project that asks for support in the community of programmers
but whose focus is not software development has to guard against
getting sidetracked into development of tools.

There is an additional problem with trying to develop tools too early:
it's hard to tell what kind of tool is useful until you have real
experience doing the project.  This means that it is premature to work
on any sort of support platform until there is a considerable number
of articles and a number of people writing articles.  Imagine trying
to design programming tools as the first program on the first
computer.  How would you know what they should do?

Once encyclopedia work reaches the point where there is enough
experience, then it will be useful for people to look at how work is
done, and figure out what sort of tools could make it easier.

We're talking now about merging GNUPedia and Nupedia (which would
switch to the GFDL as license).  This would mean we'd have a lot more
articles; perhaps the combined experience of the two projects would be
enough to enable people to see sort of tools would be useful.

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