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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] Free software is not trusted software

From: bill-auger
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] Free software is not trusted software
Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2019 20:07:02 -0500

On Sat, 26 Jan 2019 18:35:15 -0500 bill-auger wrote:
> such rankings could only lead to some projects optimizing
> for the "score" as to snowball it into the "leader" position; 

allow me to elaborate on that a bit - that was not merely a vague
prediction - it already happens - i have experienced it directly and
it is disturbing

recently, i was informed that one of my scripts had been added to a
a popular software repo (i do not care to promote it by name) - i looked
at it's entry on the web and noticed that every package is assigned
automated "scores" for quality, maintenance, popularity, and so on - my
script was assigned an extremely low score in all categories, so i
looked into their criteria out of curiosity - here are some of the more
ridiculous example of where my script fails so miserably:

* if the project does not have at least 4 "badges" in its README file
  on github, it loses points for "code quality"
* if the project does not use travis-ci, it loses points for "code
  quality" - (IIRC, some points can be earned only by using premium
  proprietary web services)
* if the project does not create an official "release" on github at
  least once each month, it loses points in the "well maintained"
* and IIRC, it actually loses points for not having their specific
  packaging metadata file prominently the root of the repo master branch
  (precisely named with their corporate brand, of course); where it is
  actually just pollution, as packaging metadata serves no purpose in
  the release tarballs (aka. the git master branch)

to put that into context, my script has been full-featured and stable
for probably a longer amount of time than that company has existed
- my script would not benefit from any of those "essential" prescribed
webby adornments; and we should hope that no one would be compelled to
add them, merely to achieve a better score on some gamified

it should be obvious that any developer who puts stock in such rankings
is going to spend a disproportionate amount of time catering to the
scoring system rather than getting any real work done; but if people
treat software development like a game, and put popularity as a priority
goal, then that is exactly what will happen, and it is actually
counter-productive to the goal of quality

that is not to mention how insulting it is to an experienced developer
to be labeled with such badges of shame, when they know damn well that
their software is not poor quality; but that ignorant readers of such a
website which claims to be the authority on the topic are given exactly
that misleading impression

so i would say that for the sake of being responsible net-izens, it
would actually be preferable not to want your favorite software featured
on such a website at all, and to recommend that no one accepts such
rankings at face value - it certainly does no favor for otherwise
responsible developers, and misleads users into valuing only those
prescribed generic quality criteria - most disturbingly, it rewards
developers for treating their craft as a game, and punishes the ones
who take they work more seriously, and who avoid adding unnecessary
baggage for frivolous "populous" reasons

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